Congratulations on your accomplishment - that is no small feat and it is something you should be very proud of. But now you are asking yourself, what comes next?
To find success in writing you will have to let everyone know about it. If you had published your book through a traditional publisher you would have the expertise of a professional marketing department, but since you self-published your masterpiece it is all up to you to tell the world what a great eBook you have.
Prior to the advent of the eBook, the thought of trying to market your own book might have been enough to keep you from ever publishing your own book. The Old School way of doing things meant you were out hundreds or thousands of dollars having your book printed and bound, and you had boxes of books stored in your garage and house. You also carried around a box of books in your trunk so whenever you were near a bookstore you would stop by to see if the bookseller would be interested in carrying your book.
The New School way of doing things means that you are a one-person publishing business with a unique way of operating that was not possible just a few years ago. Instead of going to bookstores trying to sell books out of your trunk, you can have your eBook sold through the major eBooksellers with just a few hours worth of computer work.
So where do you start? After you have published your eBook - hopefully to multiple eBooksellers - you will want to manage the multiple sites your book is available at and start promoting your work.
I originally published my first eBook - A Collection of Short Stories - written by robots - at smashwords.com and they made my work available at barnesandnoble.com, kobobooks.com, diesel-books.com, and iTunes. Additionally, I published my eBook on amazon.com by myself rather than go through Smashwords - it made a lot of sense for me at the time, though there is nothing wrong with going through Smashwords. I was so excited and proud of my accomplishment that I told everyone I knew about it - even a lady I ran in to at Starbucks that just happened to be using a Nook. Every day I would check the stats to see how many people looked at it, downloaded it, or downloaded a sample chapter.
But once I got over the initial excitement my attention turned to finding ways to promote and market my eBook. Marketing and promotion are simply ways to let people know you offer a product for sale, and injecting some enthusiasm in to the process.
Here is how the promotion of my eBook evolved:
1.). Publish: I published my eBook on Smashwords and within approximately 2 weeks it was available for purchase on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Diesel-books, Kobobooks, iTunes and Amazon. Smashwords is free, and displays up to the minute statistics on the performance of my eBook across all eBooksellers, so I can see how many people look at my book, download a sample chapter, download the complete eBook, and how many sales I have. Each time my eBook would appear at a new site I would see a spike in Viewers.
2.). Social Media and Word Of Mouth: For the first couple of weeks, every time my eBook appeared for sale on one of the above-mentioned sites I would post a link from the eBookseller (Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, etc.,) on Facebook. I would also tell my family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone else that was interested in listening to me. A typical conversation would be: “Hey, go to iTunes and type in my name.” Nothing was more impressive than being able to tell someone that your book was on iTunes. Or Barnesandnoble.com. Or Amazon. Or...
3.). New Avenues: Google has a program - Google Books Partner Program - in which you upload your book to them and after they vet it they will make it available to anyone who searches keywords in your eBook. The neat thing about this program is that it is free, and whenever someone searches keywords that your eBook contains, Google will display a small portion of your the book with the selected keywords along with a link showing where it can be bought. This is a simple way to market your book - all you have to do is make your book available to Google and potential customers are directed to your book.
4.) Blogging: I started a blog as another avenue to make people aware of my eBook. This seemed like a natural way to promote my work, because I could also tie in everything I do as an artist. You see, I love photography and I take tons of pictures. I have tens of thousands of photographs on my computer. A while back I started a website (www.industrialstrengthphotography.zenfolio.com) that was originally just a way to show everyone my photography portfolio. The website has several hundred photographs and abstract artwork that is sold in a wide variety of sizes, prints, canvases and other media. Now I have an eBook that I have written and published, so it seemed obvious that I needed to find a way to tie the two together - hopefully if you find my eBook you will also find my photography work, and vice versa. So I created this blog as a way to connect all my work together. On my blog I have a link for my published eBook on Amazon, links to my photography work, links for people to email me, links for people to share my blog on Facebook, and then links for advertising - a passive way of making money if someone clicks on any of the advertising. So right now I just have two products to sell - my eBook and my photography - and the blog connects the two together. The blog is a great way to connect with other writers, tell everyone how I published my eBook, how others can publish one too, offer advice, get advice, and connect with other writers who are aspiring to find their niche in the world. In the future I plan to have an additional website - a hub - where this blog will be one tab, my photography work will be another tab, and then there will be a store tab where there will be links to buy my eBook. The whole idea is to have my own little eBusiness, with my product being eBooks and photography. This blog is operated via Google and like Smashwords, it offers up to the minute statistics on who is reading it, what country they are from (Hello to everyone from the Netherlands!), how many people per day read it, what type of internet browser they have, what site referred from, and so forth. So in marketing my eBook, I am also marketing my blog, and in marketing one I can market the other. In marketing my blog I came across Stumbleupon.com, which gives viewers random sites they might be interested in, depending on their predetermined likes and dislikes. By entering my information on that site I can have viewers on Stumbleupon.com stumble upon my blog, my photography website, and the various sites my eBook is listed on.
So in answer to the question - I published my first eBook, now what? - what comes next is exposure, advertising and marketing. I have not paid for any advertising, and so far what I am doing is working the various forms of media available and finding a way to connect everything together.
Here is how everything is laid out:
1.) Smashwords.com: A Collection of Short Stories - written by robots, was first published at Smashwords.com for free. The initial process of prepping my manuscript for publishing on their site took approximately 2 hours - I was in no hurry and took my time to avoid mistakes. The upload process took approximately 5 minutes. It took approximately 1 day for the uploaded manuscript to become available for purchase as an eBook on Smashwords.com.
2.) eBooksellers: Smashwords.com takes your manuscript and makes it available in the various eBook-Reader formats so your book can be read on all the electronic reading devices. It creates several different formats and then uploads the correct format to each major eBookseller over the course of a few weeks. Once the eBookseller receives the electronic version of your eBook they enter it in to their online catalog and within another week or so it will show up on their website. Within a month of your eBook being published on Smashwords.com, your eBook will have been sent to the major eBooksellers and be available for purchase at the following sites: Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, iTunes, Kobobooks.com, Diesel-books.com, Sony and Scrollmotion. All of this is free.
3.) Blog: My eBook sits alone, for sale, at 8 different eBooksellers. This blog offers connectivity for all the sites it is sold, plus a way to connect with other writers.
a.) Technorati.com: This website is essentially the Yellow Pages directory for blogs - if you have a blog, you want to have it listed here. Anyone who is interested in finding a blog can go here and hopefully come across your blog in their search. Many people come across my blog each day just because I took the time to register my blog with Technorati.com.
b.) Google and Amazon Advertising: Look, if you do this right, people will come to your blog, look around, kick the tires, read what you have to say, and maybe when they leave your place of business they might stop by one of the ads. If they do so, Google and Amazon might toss a few pennies your way. If enough people do it, you will have enough for a cup of coffee at Starbucks in the year 2067 - at that age, coffee might be the only thing you can drink. It is kind of like when I was a kid - across the street from my school was an auto shop, similar to NAPA or Auto Zone, and every day if I had a quarter or so I would stop by to get a handful of peanuts from their candy machine, and a Coke from the old-style Coke machine in which you had to pull out the Coke bottle (if you did not yank it out hard enough it would stay in the machine and you were out of luck, and if you yanked it out too hard you would lose several layers of skin). This was a passive form of sales on their part - their business did not depend on me buying Cokes or peanuts from their store, but if enough people did, then the owner of the auto parts store could go live the dream in the Caribbean. Or at least live the dream in Flour Bluff, Texas.
a.) Google Books Partner Program: So far the jury is out on this effort. I am convinced that the slowest people on Earth work at Google Books Partner Program. The slowest creature on Earth, the Sloth, moves faster than the people at Google Books Partner Program. Google tells you upfront that the process takes months. Not days or weeks, but months. I am not sure why, other than they must lack the staff. If you have a hard-bound book you can mail it to Google and they will manually scan it in to their system. If that is the case, imagine how many books they receive, how many people they have to do it, and how long something like that will take. It is a passive way to market - enter the information in to their system once and you will never have to bother with it again, and in the meantime, anyone who Google searches a keyword you have written will be shown your eBook and shown where they can buy it. I am 3-4 weeks in to this program and still waiting for Google to vet my eBook - time will tell if this is something worth your while.
b.) Facebook: This is a great way to let your circle of friends know about your eBook. You can also set up a Facebook page for the book itself - one more avenue to market your book. Ideally you would like every friend who reads your eBook to tell someone about it, that person reads it, and they tell someone about it, and so forth. Facebook is the perfect place to start that type of marketing campaign.
c.) Stumpleupon.com: This is just one more avenue to try - have your blog or eBookseller site show up randomly in someone’s internet search.
All of this takes a lot of time, effort and dedication, but I am serious about finding success with my writing - hopefully you are serious about finding success too. So now that you published your first eBook, where do you start? Letting people know it exists.