Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ASK PZM - Oct 2011: ebook promo

Q:  How do authors promote ebooks online?  And what about promoting ebooks offline?
Great questions. 
First, let’s agree that by ebook we mean both the ebook version of a physical book (self-published or traditionally published) and an ebook that has no corresponding physical presence.  And let’s also agree that you have a cover image for an ebook-only project.
Ebook online promotion:
It seems to me – and this is what I’m doing – that everything that works online for physical books should also work for ebooks.
These marketing steps include:
·      Social media participation, including my “Book Marketing” group on LinkedIn

·      Dedicated website for the ebook (yes, even an ebook-only novel – see )

·      Posting on your own blog and posting comments on other people’s blogs

·      Amazon author page that includes your ebooks

·      Book marketing sites such as (I’m trying out the $9 a month option; in the past I’ve only used the free option)

·      Tweetchats about ebooks – Suzanna Stinnett (@Brainmaker on Twitter) has an #EPubChat every Friday 3-5 p.m. PACIFIC

Ebook offline promotion:
As I looked for answers to this more difficult question, I happened to read an item in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s ezine newsletter for writers. 
Here is the item with permission from Carolyn to reprint:
Q: How do authors take advantage of "book displays" at book fairs and conferences when the authors only have ebooks to offer?
-- Mindy Phillips Lawrence, author of the upcoming ebook "An Itty Bitty E-book on Writing"

A: Authors make posters using the fake bookcovers we all provide for our ebooks -- the ones that help sell our books when they're pictured on sites like Amazon's Kindle section and Smashwords.
Authors make a little pad of paper (or bookmarks or business cards) with the same book cover image, a fantastic blurb and a little mini synopsis (sometimes called a pitch or logline) and the URL (web address) where a copy of the book can be purchased or downloaded.
These takeaway reminders to buy the ebook are displayed next to the poster.
-- Carolyn Howard-Johnson 
(Authors will benefit from subscribing to Carolyn's newsletter. Send an e-mail to her at and put SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. Learn more about Carolyn at
Only a couple of days before reading this item I realized I needed to get business cards for my ebook-only novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS and to re-do the business cards from over three years ago for my novel MRS. LIEUTENNANT.
This realization hit me as I waited in Coffee Bean here in Los Angeles for my exercise partner (children’s book author Susan Chodakiewitz – see 
A man sat by himself reading on a Kindle.  I went up to him and asked some marketing research questions.  He said he was going on a flight to China and would have lots of time to read.
I gave him the business card for my 86-year-old father’s comedy short story physical book (and ebook) – see – and dug out the old card for MRS. LIEUTENANT.  

Then I realized I had no card for LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS even though that ebook was the most likely of the three books to interest him.  (The novel deals in part with the hotly disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and he was flying to China!)
When Susan and I got to the treadmills at the gym, we hatched a plan to get business cards for our books and ebooks to pass out whenever we saw people with an ereader or a tablet.  In fact, we are planning to try out this idea at a major mall here in Los Angeles that has Apple, Microsoft, and Sony stores.
In conclusion, you may know that I am not an advocate of cards for physical books.  Why?  You hand out the cards and hope people will remember to get your book the next time they’re online.
But if you hand out cards with a link to your ebook formats (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords), people who have their ereader or tablet with them can buy the book RIGHT THEN.  

Plus your ebook price is probably considerably less than the price of a paperback and provides instant gratification, which should help make it much easier for a reader to say YES to buying your ebook.  
Please share your own ideas in the comments below – we can all benefit from this exchange!
© 2011 Miller Mosaic, LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company
You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at

* * *
ps. We're off to see our new grandbaby, so if I'm quiet, that's why.


  1. Wonderful suggestions, especially referring to offline ebook promotion, as my book is ebook only. It's good to hear of ways it can still be promoted.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, that is all really interesting. I always considered promoting ebooks or any book for that matter to be intense. I guess it all starts with the know how. Great interview! :)

  3. Great information here. Thank you for sharing it! :)

  4. Too much to think about. I just can't wait to have a reason to promote, period!

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting today! I always value your words!!

  5. I've been asking about promoting e-books since I signed my contract with MuseItUp Publishing. Some of the advice given answered a few of my questions.

    One in particular stood out. Why do I need cards (I knew I did)? And, what am I going to do with them when I get them? Your examples were great. I especially liked the one about giving a card to anyone we see with an e-reader.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Michelle Pickett
    Concilium, available July 2012

  6. Carol, Laila, Carrie, Nancy, and Michelle, I'm thrilled that you found Phyllis's post helpful. That's what it's all about, helping each other. Can't tell you how much you've all helped me.

    I'm off to New Brunswick to meet our new grandson, but I'll try to keep in touch. Be good while I'm gone.

  7. Thanks for having Phyllis' helpful post on the blog, Joylene. I will take the advice to heart, but I have a strong feeling that I'd find more cattle in the fields with e-book readers than I'd find cowboys.

    It should all help, tho'.

    Have fun down east with the family.

    Chris H.

  8. I am glad I was with you at Coffee Bean that day. Handing out cards now has just been notched up to another level. It is almost like putting the book into a reader's hands especially if they have a computer/tablet or e-reader with them. Better than being in a bookstore! Especially if you are talking right with the author... Wouldn't you want to buy the book written by the author who is taking to you?

    thanks PZ

  9. Lots of good tips here. Thanks for sharing. :)

  10. Thanks, everyone, for all these comments.

    Here's a question I just got from my guy ( doing my cards for "Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders":

    Do I want to put a QR code on the card?

    Why did he ask that?

    Because my business partner Yael K. Miller reminded me that the idea of the cards was to hand to people reading ebooks.

    Yael said I needed to switch from giving the URL (for example) to to make it easy for people using electronic devices to go immediately to the correct page. Hence the question about the QR code.

    Any opinions?

  11. For those of us with ebook-only "books" -- here is the good news in my opinion:

    This is my new blog post "What We Can Learn About Marketing From the Amazon Tablet" --

    What Barry Graubart says is so true.

  12. @Chris, anytime you find something helpful off my blog is a good day. Yes, I'm very excited about our trip. Wish we could stop in Calgary and say hi. Maybe next time.

    @Susan, hi. I'm certainly sold. I think Phyllis has a great idea, and I'm definitely implementing it. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Thanks for stopping by, Carol. Hope you have a great week.

    @Phyllis, it sounds as if your guy is keeping abreast of the newest technology. I can't advise you because I don't know, but I'd certainly look into it. Thanks for the link.

  13. Thank you Phyllis. Very helpful information. I know I must make some bookmarks and cards. How brave of you to walk up to a stranger and offer your cards.

    Congratulations Grandmother! More joy added to your life, Joylene.

  14. Wendy --

    I'm not sure it was brave to walk up to a stranger. Coffee Bean is a friendly place -- and at first I was just doing market research, asking what he thought of his Kindle. Only as we talked did I realize that he might be interested in my books.

    And Joylene -- I've been keeping my eye on QR codes for some time. I'm just not sure about using one on a business card - partly it depends on how small the code can be and still work. Otherwise the code might take up too much "real estate" on the card.

    Plus, for people who don't know what a QR code is, it can look very funny.

    I'm still pondering this decision!

  15. Hi Joylene and Phyllis .. great information for authors .. we always seem to forget the little things don't we - that can make that big difference ..

    Cheers - Hilary

  16. Thank you Phyllis-I also approach eBook readers. They love to talk about how much they love them.
    Una Tiers

  17. Hilary --

    The only problem is that there are so many "little things"!

    Una --

    Exactly! I just learned firsthand that ebook readers love to talk about their devices.

    P.S. Update: I saw Richard Jacobs -- my printing guy -- at our weekly networking meeting this morning. I'm probably NOT going to put a QR code on the cards.

  18. Great suggestions. I haven't taken my ebook to a conference yet, but I loved the idea of a poster. I have made up postcards, which I've distributed at some of my local bookstores.

  19. Thanks for this great post! I'm going to bookmark it for future reference! I always like reading about how writers can market their work.

    Thanks again! Keep up the good work!

  20. Thanks for all this great info. Have fun with the new little man! :)

  21. New info:

    The Amazon French site just started having Kindle on it. Now there are four Amazon sites with Kindle -- US, UK, Germany, and France.

    Plus I just listened to a paid webinar by Shelley Hitz (http:// about author opportunities on Amazon. I have been incorporating her great ideas -- including signing up for

  22. @Wendy, thanks!

    @Thanks for letting me know about the codes, Phyllis.

    @Hilary, you're welcome!

    @Una, thanks for commenting.

    @Penny, thanks for stopping by.

    @Lauren, thanks!

    @Thanks Karen.

    I'm home and still catching up on emails. Missed you all.


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