Thursday, September 1, 2011

On the Marketing of eBooks

Though the eBook revolution has allowed numerous authors to personally control their output, marketing still remains the largest obstacle for new writers.  But this issue should hardly be surprising since the same holds true for just about any business.  An example of this is one of my own hobbies - audio electronics.  I recently had the idea of selling a phono preamplifier of my own design.  I had the PCBs made, bought the necessary hardware and started producing them in my basement.  However sales were nothing but a trickle.  In the end, I did not recoup my expense of making the damned things.

Why?  Marketing was my largest obstacle.  Getting the word out was difficult since I had to depend on my own ad copy to move the preamps, along with word-of-mouth of sales.  It just wasn't enough to bring in the customers I needed.

When I first started writing, I expected that my first published book would sell itself.  I had much faith (and I still do!) that the strength of the story would draw readers in like moths to the flame.  It's easy to get carried away with such ideas, especially if you don't consider the great mass of other books out there.  The consumer is literally awash with eBooks and only a sliver of a percentage will actually be interested in what you write.

I also tried the free book giveaway by creating a coupon for Murder at Zero Hour.  This coupon was distributed to several sites that specialize in free eBooks.  Well, I got plenty of takers for this novelette, but it did not appear to lead to an uptick in sales.  Just because someone gets something for free does not mean they are willing to part with cash when purchasing another book.

When I first started using the internet - oh, way back in 1996 - I belonged to several online communities.  But as the years have gone on, my interest in message boards has waned.  It's mostly a matter of time - I'm a father, a full-time worker, a writer, a music and movie critic, and a dabbler in electronics.  Though I have a small footprint on the Internet, it still isn't enough to draw automatically draw an audience.  And just because someone reads my review of a stereo power amplifier doesn't mean they will want to buy one of my books.

So where does this lead me?  For now, I'm going to concentrate on getting an older novel called At Bull Run out.  After I finish that project, I'm going to finish my latest book.  When that has been published, I'm going to dabble with Google Adwords and advertising via Facebook.  Though this will cost some money, at this point I can't think of anything else to try.

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