Okay, so we know the ebooks are coming. Figures from the International Digital Publishing Forum show that ebook sales tracked through the book trade skyrocketed to $119.7 million wholesale for the third quarter of 2010. And the holiday season hasn’t started.
Each technical innovation seems to empower self-publishers even more. Ebooks present a fraction of the financial risk that a run of 5,000 printed books does. And ebooks are perfect vehicles for niche publishing.
And even though it seems there are more books being published than ever before, there’s also an almost insatiable desire for information products. Savvy online publishers understand what readers are searching for, and how to come up near the top of those searches.
What are the keys to succeeding in this brave new world? Here’s what I see.
6 Keys to Self-Publishing Success in the Age of the Ebook
- Aggressive Pricing—buyers of ebooks, still conditioned by Amazon’s “all bestsellers for $9.99” policy, want low prices. Low-low. So some writers are building their platform with free books, books for 99 cents, books under $2.99. This audience has its own expectations. Are there any successful trade ebooks for $30?
- Great Content—Let’s face it, either your book addresses readers’ needs and wants, or it fails. It’s your job to make sure your book is good at what it intends to do, whether it’s information, how-to, telling a story, or inspiring readers to act. Do you have a unique take on a subject? Authority or expertise? You can’t succeed without great content.
- Mastering Metadata—Readers find books now with online searches. Recommendations from your trusted indie bookseller? Not so much, since many of the stores have closed, and the seductive convenience of ordering books from your couch is irresistible to American shoppers. Will your book come up on their search? Metadata—information about your book—is crucial and becoming more so.
- Making Noise—What’s your hook, your angle, your Unique Selling Proposition? You have one, right? Some way to stand out from the horde trying to grab the attention of browsers, buyers, readers? You can be counter-intuitive, controversial, or over-the-top promotional. You can be the leading authority in your field, or have an offline following. But somehow you have to get attention or you’re lost.
- Robust Platform—All the time you’ve spent building your author platform—your blog, Facebook presence, Twitter following, LinkedIn network, fan club, subscribers, followers—is now going to pay off. Authors with a substantial following online are going to be way ahead of the curve. The ebook phenomenon is totally digital. Your wired, connected, with-it fans are the ones who will tweet you, fan you, and spread your message.
- A Generous Nature—A side effect of social media and online communities is the rise of a culture of generosity. People—marketers—who understand this create more lasting bonds with their readers, and inspire more trust. Being generous with your content, with your pricing, with your time and your engagement with your readers is becoming one of the best signs of who “gets it” and who doesn’t, who will create the communities that will sustain them long-term as the move to ebooks continues to gather steam.
What do you see?