Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tips for Creating a Successful eBook

I read an interesting blog post from SmartMoney talking about whether or not Microsoft's investment in the Barnes and Noble Nook will actually hurt the success of e-readers. Some believe that as ebooks become more available to read on multiple devices, readers will use their smart phones, tablets, etc. to read rather than traditional e-readers. Others believe if readers have more options, then they'll demand more ebooks. I think anything that increases the demand for ebooks is a good thing.

I also believe readers are smart and will not only demand more ebooks, but will demand good ebooks. We've all heard (and witnessed) the complaints that many ebooks aren't well written. This is where authors need to start. According to Smashwords founder Mark Coker, the number one secret to having a successful ebook is publishing a great book!!

This means spending the time and money necessary to have your book professionally edited and a cover professionally designed. First impressions are still key, even in the ebook world.

Below are several other secrets from Mark Coker that I think are worth mentioning:

Publish a great book, then publish another great book. Best selling authors publish more than one book. If you have multiple books available, offer the first ebook for free. Assuming readers like it (and if it's a great book they will) then readers will come back and purchase your additional titles, especially if you have a series!

Maximize distribution for your ebooks. Make your books discoverable and purchasable. Although many readers find and purchase books from Amazon, there are plenty of readers who use other booksellers, so make sure your reach is as wide as possible.

Build your Author Platform. Contribute, support, and share ideas on your social networking platforms. Be visible (but not by spamming your network with solicitations for your book). According to a Smashwords survey, 29% of their readers discover new book titles from online forums, blogs, and message boards, whereas only 4% rely on recommendations from family/friends. The online community is your friend!!

Word of mouth (whether in person or online) continues to be the number one way books are discovered. So focus on reaching your "first reader" and eliminate any obstacles to reaching that person, which means make your ebook easily discoverable, available to sample chapters for free, and easy to purchase from multiple booksellers.

 Be Patient!! Ebooks follow a different growth curve than traditionally published books. They start small and grow slowly before breaking out. Don't pull an ebook because it's not selling initially! Ebooks never go out of print. Nurture your online author platform and make sure your book is visible to readers.

For some additional interesting data and facts that Smashwords has collected, you can view Mark Coker's presentation here. He has gathered data from Smashwords authors that show ebook trends, such as the longer the word count, the better it sells, which ebook genres sell the best, and what price points sell the most books. The information is not intended to change the way authors write, etc., but rather give authors something to consider.

If you have any thoughts on eBook trends or ways to make your ebook successful, I'd love to hear them!

--KSR Writer


  1. Some good thoughts in this post.
    Write a great book, yes, but one thing I would like to add, and I am seeing it more and more, is when I have downloaded a free ebook and purchased an ebook, many are missing a clickable Table of Contents.
    I'm not going to mention names or titles, but it drives me crazy, which in-turn, says to me not to buy another ebook from that author again.
    Yes, write a great story, but please get the formatting right as well. It's not hard.

  2. What a great and relevant post! I think there is still a lot to learn about ebooks- and you gave us some helpful advice. I don't have anything to add at this time, but I will keep these tips in mind.