That Chilling Word – Free – Pricing for ebooks is particularly challenging for garage-band marketers. Many new authors are concerned with making money, and quickly. Such may be an unrealistic expectation – and actually prevent you from making more money later. The garage-band marketer’s primary objective is to build a fan base. Following that logic, new authors should simply give their books away – shouldn’t they? Well, no. There’s also the basic truth about human beings: We value what we pay for. Okay, how about a 99-cent price? Well, no – at least not list price. A low list price tells everyone you’re a newbie. What readers do you know who buy ebooks because they are bargains? Now, consider the other end of the scale. Established authors – especially those who are bestsellers in print – typically command around ten bucks for an ebook. Should you price yours that high? Well, no. A fan will shell out ten bucks for an ebook. But a browser might not unless she is following a link from a particularly impressive review. If you ask Amazon, the Kindle pricing tool typically suggests a price of $2.99. That might still be too low as a list price. Ideally, you want a mid-level price that is reduced for temporary promotional periods – which you publicize. Consult the guidelines of your distributor platform for rules and available features on discounted ebook promotions. Do be careful. We’ve seen one-star reviews on Amazon from readers who liked the book but were angered by a price that they thought was unfairly high. Everyone knows ebooks cost next to nothing to distribute – but not to promote!
A Note About “Free” – Some ebook distribution services will not carry books that have a list price of zero. However, many of them make it possible to do promotions with temporary discounts, all the way down to free.
Serial Fiction Authors Note – A successful romance-lit author advises that, once you have a series of novels selling at or near list price – go back and make the first book in the series free. Your strategy would be to recruit new fans who would eagerly buy the other books in the series.
Nonfiction How-To Authors Note – The above advice on pricing might not apply to you. Branding guru Raymond Aaron (pictured above) advises, “Your book is your business card.” In his view, if your objective is to achieve recognition as an expert and build your professional practice or business – you should give your books away. (At least, your first one!)
A Thousand True Fans – Follow this link for tips. This article does the math on what it takes to build a following and generate self-supporting revenue from it.
Viral Marketing – Annoying Infection or Hot New Trend? Follow this link for tips.
Social Media Clout and Getting Tapped– Fans, Communities, Hubs, and Subject-Matter Experts. Try a tool like HootSuite.com to blast your posts to multiple platforms on a scheduled basis. But also insert ad-hoc posts from time to time to personalize those threads. In garage-band marketing, a blog or site that has more sites pointing to it than away from it – on any particular topic – is called a hub and its associated interested users are a community. In today’s mass media multiverse, when there is breaking news, reporters will identify a community and then find the owner of the hub. That person will become known as a subject matter expert (SME) on the topic – a candidate for on-air commentaries!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Follow this link for tips.
Media Synergy – Blogs, Articles, Columns, Appearances, Speeches, Seminars, Interviews. In your social-media campaigns, emphasize real content. Post not only about your books but also about your opinions, your values, your likes and dislikes – along with reasons why. Let your readers know who you are as a person. Cute videos of cats might get a lot of exposure but say nothing about you as a thought leader.
Who Needs an Agent? As a self-published author – you don’t. If, by virtue of your garage-band marketing efforts, some studio or network wants to make a movie from your book, the agents will be coming to you.
Movie and TV Exploitation – In today’s Hollywood, it may be easier to sell movie/TV rights to a book than to sell a spec screenplay. That’s because books can build audiences, and screenplays that sit on a shelf waiting for someone to buy them don’t. Filmmakers do spec webisodes for TV series, which may be acquired for the Big Show, but even as cheaply as those can be made these days, a modest budget for a webisode series runs to five figures. The main reason? You may be able to get actors to work for free, but someone has to feed them on the set!