Recently, my friend and online business mentor Andrea Kalli and I began an experiment in eBook marketing. We chose to use an existing eBook, one which I had written about a year-and-a-half ago about bicycles and cycling. The book was written to help folks overcome the fear and confusion that many experience when buying a bicycle these days. My ultimate goal however, was to help new and returning cyclists to get over their resistance and rediscover the joy of cycling that all of us experienced as children.
Originally, I had placed the book for sale on my bicycle rebuilding website, Mile-Hi Cycle Guy, as well as on my Mile-Hi Cycle Guy Facebook Page where, if you “Liked” the page, you received a free excerpt from the book. We even went so far as to create a Facebook Page for the book itself. The end result of all this creative thinking and hard work was – nothing! We gave away about 100 excerpts and sold not a single eBook!
Apparently, this is not at all unusual for a self-published eBook, or a self-marketed eBook.
Obviously, we needed a new idea, a new energy, and a new marketing strategy. Andrea, being the little dynamo she is, came up with The Great Kindle eBook Experiment, which we promoted during the final weekend of a large bicycle race in Colorado; the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, August 24-26.
Phase One, Cycling eBook Marketing Promotion – August 24-26
What we did (or had planned to do):
- Update the book cover – DONE – Actually, we are continuing to refine the look of the book cover. More on that to follow…
- Join Kindle’s KDP Select Program and schedule the first set of free days around an event. – DONE
- Notify family, friends, colleagues, as well as email lists, and social communities about the Free Days Event a day or two before it is happening, and ask them to also spread the word to their communities. – DONE
- Also, ask for real reviews on the Amazon page. Reviews are essential for successful exposure and ranking in Amazon. – DONE
- Use a Facebook Page post promotion to increase the visibility of the eBook. It’s easy enough to fit that extra $5 or $10 dollars into the slim marketing budget. – DONE – At this time, a limitation of post promotions on Facebook Pages is that you have to have at least 400 Likes on your page, so Andrea did a few of these on the various update posts she published to her page during the promotion weekend.
- Write a blog post about the eBook launch and the Free Days. – DONE (both Richard and Andrea did blog posts)
- Post to some of the Facebook Pages, Goodreads/Kindleboards, and other websites that you can promote your eBook. – NOT DONE – Most of these needed advance notification and there wasn’t enough time for this first promotion, but definitely on the radar for next time.
Below is a screenshot of the best rank the Free Cycling eBook received during the 3 Day Free-Days Promotion:
Below is a screenshot of a promoted Facebook Page post during the promotion weekend. While it didn’t bring the numbers the promotion said it would, out of the 722 people that saw the post, the number of people who DID see it because Andrea promoted it was 553:
There have been a few sales and lending after the promotion ended, which is cool. The numbers, about a week after the Cycling eBook Promotion are: 9 books purchased $2.99 and 4 books borrowed. There were 445 books downloaded for free during the 3-day promotion.
What we learned – from Richard:
- Promoting your eBook takes time – quite a bit of time, in fact. For the two days preceding this promotion, as well as the three day weekend, I personally spent about 3-5 hours per day creating copy and posting it to various sites; including Facebook, Twitter, Author Marketing Club, and both my business website and my personal blog.
- Online Promotions and Online Sales seem to be more effective during the week than on the weekend. When we have bikes to sell, the best day to post them is Friday, which gives interested parties the entire weekend to visit us for a test ride. Marketing an eBook however requires online traffic, which seems to translate into weekday promotions. We will remember this for future promotions.
- Free stuff gets a lot of attention. Believe me, it’s true. We gave away 445 eBooks over the weekend which, for such an obscure little book about a very specialized subject is quite a good number.
- Cycling books are very popular…with cyclists; budding cyclists; and returning cyclists.
- Cyclists love free stuff as much – or more – than others. Cyclists can be very “Value Conscious,” or cheap. We took advantage of this characteristic to garner their interest, and it worked!
- If you overdo it on Facebook, people will ignore you, even if they don’t tell you to knock it off.
What we learned – from Andrea:
- Don’t just wing it. For the simpler promotion plans, it takes a full two weeks of planning and setup before your launch date. If your promotion includes an online book tour, you need at least 4-6 weeks to organize and get things into place. If this is your first eBook promotion, the list of things to do is quite a bit larger than you would think. You will feel yourself getting overwhelmed early on and will probably talk yourself out of doing what you know you need to do.
- Take the needed time to develop and tweak your book cover. Because it will be seen first in a small size, an eBook cover needs to stand out in font clarity, size, and color.
- If you’re going to use social media to promote, you either need to have already built up your social community WELL BEFORE your promotion or you need to know others that have a good social following that will promote your book for you in their social networks.
- You will get more people interested if you get them involved in the project somehow, such as with the book cover design, the book title, or whatever else you can think of. Depending on what your book topic is, you might even get people involved in the development of some content.
Some additional marketing items we’re going to implement for the next promotion:
- Update the eBook cover with extra color and some eye-catching design elements. The Goal: go from pleasant to POP.
- Update the eBook content with question-style chapter titles.
- Between now and the promotion, possibly lower the price to get more visibility and get some more reviews.
- Between now and the promotion, hounding asking family members to review the book until he gets at least 5 good reviews.
- Create a 1 minute marketing video for posting to various places.
- Write up 2 press releases to be posted during the 2 days of the promo event.
- Enhance the book description in the Kindle store to: open with a question, and use primary keywords he wants to rank for.
- Advertise in some Ezines, promote in some newsletters
- Promote on some freebie Facebook Pages, on Kindleboards and Goodreads
- Schedule posts to various websites that promote free Kindle books.
In the image below, take a look at the new direction the Cycling eBook cover has taken. We felt it was time to push the limits of our comfort zone to incorporate some eye-catching color and other visual elements.
Please leave your comments, especially your reactions to the evolution of the cover, below – we LIVE for FEEDBACK!