The Great Kindle eBook Experiment – Part Two: The Follow-up

eBook Marketing Experiment Proves Valuable – And Educational

Recently, I convinced my friend Richard, to begin an experiment in marketing an eBook. We chose to use an existing eBook, one which he had written a couple of years 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. His ultimate goal however, was to help new and returning cyclists to get over their fear and rediscover the joy of cycling all of us experienced as children.

Originally, Richard had placed the book for sale on his bicycle rebuilding website, Mile-Hi Cycle Guy, and Mile-Hi Cycle Guy Facebook Page where, if you “Liked” the page, you received a free excerpt from the book (back when like-gating was still hot on Facebook). He 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! He gave away about 100 excerpts and sold not a single book!

Apparently, this is not at all unusual for self-published, self-marketed books … at least it is if you don’t take the advanced time to do it right.

Obviously, we needed a fresh idea, a new energy and a new marketing strategy. So I came up with The Great Kindle eBook Experiment <= part one, to sell his ebook using Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore, and more specifically their KDP Select program. We did this very quickly and on the fly, without preliminary planning and marketing seeding. The experiment was to see how a book launch really goes for someone who doesn’t have much of a list and doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on marketing.

Phase One Marketing Promotion – August 24-26

What we did (or had planned to do):

  1. Update the book cover – DONE – Actually, we are continuing to refine the look of the book cover. More on that to follow…
  2. Join Kindle’s KDP Select program and schedule the first set of free days around an event. – DONE
  3. Notify family, friends, colleagues, and email 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
  4. Also, asking for real reviews on the Amazon page. Reviews are essential for successful exposure and ranking in Amazon. – DONE
  5. Use a Facebook Page post promotion to increase its visibility. 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.
  6. Write a blog post about the eBook launch and the Free Days. – DONE (both Richard and Andrea did blog posts)
  7. 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.
  8. We did get it submitted to to be published in their Free Friday publication and email.

The below is a screenshot of the best rank the ebook received during the 3 day free-days promotion, #686 Free in Kindle Store:

selling your ebook on kindle

The 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 I promoted it was 553:

selling your ebook on kindle

There have been a few sales and lending after the promotion ended, which is cool. The numbers as of 9-2-12 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:

1. 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 (Richard) 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Cycling books are very popular…with cyclists; budding cyclists; and returning cyclists.

5. 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!

6. 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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. At a minimum, do a series of follow up blog posts to let people know how your book launch went and continues to go.

5. Spend time a few weeks before the launch to send your ebook to others and ask for reviews. Getting some reviews BEFORE your launch is great social proof, plus you can put them in the book description in the Kindle store. Encourage those reviewers to also add the review to your book’s page on Amazon. It is imperative that you make this a priority. They don’t even need to be long and detailed reviews. If you feel resistance from those you are asking, remind them that the review can be as simple as “Great book. I really enjoyed it and will definitely recommend it to others”. You’re not necessarily looking for book-critic quality comments, just a simple statement will do. Any 3-5 star reviews will do wonders for your book ranking and visibility.

6. It should be said that if you’re a non-fiction writer to inform and educate, unless you are extremely lucky and hit upon a some hot topic that is really popular, your sales numbers are going to be a lot less than those of fiction books. The trick is to keep writing and continue to produce several (many) non-fiction ebooks. Maybe a series that you can brand with a similar book cover? The trick is about quantity, as well as quality. That’s just the way it is, folks. On the other hand, if you develop the book content right, it can be a wonderful lead generation tool, and your ebook is a way of letting new people get to know you.

Don’t forget that ebooks can be quite a bit shorter than what you would write as a fiction book. Non-fiction books should be short and sweet. Your readers don’t have time for fluff. You could take your 15,000 to 18,000 word ebook on the benefits and best uses for widgets, and turn it into a 3-part series. BAM! You’ve got yourself a series!

Or how about this – take 15 of your blog posts that are of a related topic, rework just a little bit to update and freshen, group them into a batches that will make up a 3-book series. You might even be more comfortable calling them reports instead of ebooks if each group ends up under 20 pages in length. Also note this, a 30 page Word document in 12 point font with a couple of images will end up displayed in the Amazon store as about a 42-ish page book.

Now it’s time to ramp up our marketing in Phase Two!

Some additional marketing items we’re going to implement for the next promotion:

1. Update the ebook cover with extra color and some eye-catching design elements. The Goal: go from pleasant to POP.

2. Update the ebook with question-style chapter titles. I’m also encouraging him to add a new section about cycling with children and families, as well as something for seniors turning to cycling as part of a fitness and enjoyment plan. In addition to those sections I want him to include some online resources for readers to discover and explore bike path information in their area.

3. Between now and the promotion, possibly lower the price to get more visibility and get some more reviews.

4. Between now and the promotion, hounding asking family members to review the book until he gets at least 5 good reviews.

5. Create a 1 minute marketing video for posting to various places.

6. Write up 2 press releases to be posted during the 2 days of the promo event.

7. Enhance the book description in the Kindle store to: open with a question, and use primary keywords he wants to rank for.

8. Advertise in some ezines, promote in some newsletters

9. Promote on some freebie Facebook Pages, on Kindleboards and Goodreads

10. Schedule posts to various websites that promote free Kindle books.

11. Incorporate some strategic pricing methods before and after the promo event.

New direction for the ebook cover.

In the image below, take a look at the new direction the 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.

selling your ebook on kindle

How is your ebook experience coming along

Are you close to launching your first ebook? Have you made your pre-launch plan and checklist?



About Andrea Kalli

Since 2007, Andrea has been helping entrepreneurs develop their business dreams through solid online marketing strategy planning, implementation, marketing, and maintenance. "Your goals are my goals. We do this together." ~Andrea

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