Vision: A Resource for Writers
By Lazette Gifford
and other financial backing aside, authors who have been published by the
well-known print houses have one big advantage over ebook published authors: bookstores.
People gather in bookstores, look at books, and buy them. Without a
central "store" for electronic published works, they buying process
becomes the equivalent of sending readers wandering from publisher to publisher
and buying directly from the factory. Nevertheless,
in one respect ebooks do have an advantage:
they don't have the "two-week window" in which to make or break
the writer. Ebooks have an indefinite shelf life and time to draw
drawing readers can be a major problem, no matter how much time you have to do
it. The Internet has no easy path for the perfect reader to find your book.
Fictionwise has overcome some of this by becoming something of a
storefront, but they do not carry all the independent ebook publishers, much
less the ezines. AuthorsDen is another good site, with a large gathering -- but
it's not as well known as Fictionwise, and works in a different way.
despite these and other such sites, authors and publishers of ebooks are still
faced with the task of drawing people to their sites and getting them interested
in the material offered there.
next few months, with at least four ebooks on the "stands," I'm going
to try several different approaches to marketing. Most of these methods can work equally well for both
electronic and print publications since the author is reaching for the same
market -- the readers of whatever genre she happens to write.
the ebook-published author doesn't have the large advance, which is money that
could be used for marketing. We
usually have to be more circumspect in what we try.
The most important point in all of this is that you will be the
one behind marketing your novel. Below
is a short list of things that you
These can market the specific type of reader that you are looking for,
but they can also be very expensive. Look
at magazines that offer the type of material you write and find out the ad sale
price. If you can afford it, this
is likely to reach the largest section of readers -- but there are no
guarantees. A badly done layout can
kill any chance of drawing the readers you would like.
Be careful with this one.
Many web sites offer either banners (often revolving with others) or ad
space on their pages. This can work for both print and ebook published authors,
though the latter will likely do better here, depending on the site.
The advantage for ebook authors is that the reader is already on the
computer, looking at a site that offers the same sort of material as the book
written. In other words, check the
sites out and find places where your genre would fit well.
Also look into the site's hit count -- even though this isn't always a
true indication of how busy the site is, it can still help you decide if you
want to put your money into the site.
The only problem with putting fliers in stores is that the people go
there to buy books. They want them now.
A well written, attractive flyer might draw their attention.
Keeping it until they get back home to their computer is another matter.
People pick up things off the freebie tables at conventions.
Fliers, brochures, and even bookmarks (as silly as that sounds for
ebooks), all get grabbed. Many of them likely even make it home.
The trick here is to look interesting enough to stand out from all those
other freebies, both on the table and in the pile at home.
Since many of the giveaways are just black text on paper, two things can
help. The first is good artwork.
The second is color. Color
paper will help, but color artwork is best.
Here is a link to several brochures that I've put together for my own
work. Be aware that they look
better in real life because I've made the graphics so that they'll load faster: http://www.lazette.net/PR/brochures.htm
Some conventions will accept material of this type through the mail and
put them out for you. Or friends,
heading for conventions, might be willing to drop off a few fliers.
Check with web sites to find out how to handle this.
If you are published in a small press, POD, or electronic format (one
that offers disks), a small table
at a reasonably-sized convention might draw some readers. Expect, however, to be overlooked by the majority of people.
It might help to have the work of several authors available, as well as
give-away chapters. Have a clearly indicated way that people can buy the material
when they get home, even if they don't pick it up at the convention. There are
books everywhere at conventions, and most people have limited funds.
But a couple weeks after getting home they'll be looking for something
more to read. A nice talk with an
epublished writer might just lead them in that direction.
Always remember that you are representing not only your book, but
epublishing as well. Some people
will be uninterested, rude, or snide. It
doesn't matter. As long as you
believe in your work, you can stand up with all the politeness in the world and
shrug them off. They aren't your
market. Don't waste time there.
However, if you happen to get on a panel on epublishing at a convention,
feel free to debate all you like. That's what some of those panels are about,
after all. And this is your chance to give free rein to why you like
epublications. Just remember that
you are trying to gain those readers out there, the ones who are currently
reading print books. Telling them
that everything in print is old-fashioned, outmoded, and stupid is not going to
win them over. They have favorite
authors, after all.
If you do craft shows and the like, consider setting up a small area for
your books as well, even if they are not craft-related. This has the advantage
that there are not thousands of other books competing for the reader's
If your library, bookstores, or local conventions are open to readings,
give it a try. The problem with
this one is that you will need to convince the people -- especially in libraries
and bookstores -- that you are offering them something in return for their time
and space. Ebooks don't often fill
that demand. POD might have a
better chance in these circumstances.
Local interest can vary widely for epublished authors.
The smaller the local population, the more likely it is that newspapers,
local magazines, and even television stations are going to be interested in your
If you live in a large area, look for neighborhood publications -- local
shoppers and things like that. You
may be able to at least buy space in one of those for an ad, if nothing else.
If you live in a large town, but were born or raised somewhere else, try
getting the smaller area interested -- especially if your work is based on this
smaller area, although that may not be wise if it's not a "nice"
Regular events, held at your website, can draw people back to check out
what's going on. If the events are
interesting and fun, friends will tell others and direct more people to your
Such activities can include things like a regularly updated newsletter
(something I am woefully bad at), contests to give away free books, and even
on-line stories with regular additions. In
other words, make a presence on the web, not just a site. Find ways to
interact with people who stop by.
Some of the suggestions on this list take cash, some of them just your
time and presence. Keep one
important point in mind at all times, though -- you are representing your work,
even to those who react negatively to electronic publications.
The world of publishing is changing, as well as that of print.
But in the end, we are still discussing novels, readers, and how to get
the two of them together. This is
far from a comprehensive list, but it might help give you a few ideas.