Friday, April 19, 2013

Jimmy Buko on EBook Marketing 101 #TBSU

Hello Readers,

This is Jimmy Buko. You may know me as the half-billionaire from Twelve Nights. Well, a little more than a half-billion now, but who's counting. If you're trying to picture me, think of a young Harvey Keitel. Here's a candid shot that's floating around the Internet of Harv that looks a lot like me. If you know who took it, let me know and I'll give them credit.

On to the point of this post, marketing Ebooks. Carole is a good friend, and she and I were having a coffee a couple of days ago and she asked me for help. The way she described it was that she feels like she's sitting in a boat in the middle of the lake (nice lake, beautiful view, BTW) and has just now figured out that maybe she could use a paddle. I'm the paddle.

Brand Name

First step to marketing widgets, er books, is the brand name. People buy Kellogg's cereal automatically because they trust the name Kellogg. Rightly or wrongly, but that's not the point. Your brand identity as an author is your NAME.

To back up that brand name, you must have the second element of success, quality.


The first component of brand quality is the books themselves. All I'll say here, not being a writer myself, is... EDIT! Don't rush to print just to be in print. Sticking with Kellogg's as an example, they started with a quality product, Corn Flakes, about 100 years ago. Still on every supermarket shelf today. Make sure your first book is top notch. Hire an editor if you need to. Since Carole is an editor, with twenty or so proteges' books in print, I'll let her add a few sentences here.

My advice to first time novelists is the same as Stephen King's: CUT! 
and Agatha Christie's: MURDER YOUR DARLINGS! (If you looove it, 
delete it!) Try to eliminate one third of the words in your manuscript. 
Much weak writing is simply overwritten, and would be improved
by cutting unessential words!

This blog post by Wm. Luke Everest has a succinct 
summary of Stephen King's advice.

The second component of quality is in every other scrap of writing that goes out with your name behind it! Yes, that includes Tweets (keep it real and personal), Facebook postings, and most especially blog posts.

Google Love

So, now you have your brand and your product. The next step is to get it out there. Carole gets points here. (Don't worry, the demerit points are coming...) Type Carole Remy in Google Search and you get five pages of listings. Go ahead and try it. Impressive, eh?

How do you get love from search engines? You can find tons of articles out there about SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Read them all if you want, but I'll tell you the key in a single word, and it's the same key word. Quality. Write interesting, durable blog posts, not just advertising and what you ate for breakfast. Write interesting, durable guest posts on other blogs. Going on a book blog tour can get you started on the guest posting circuit. What's durable? That's an article that the reader opens up five months after it was originally written, because it says something that she's now interested in reading.

Now It's Time to Sell Books!

I told you there were demerit points coming, right? Carole has the platform down solid. If you want to pursue the first metaphor, she's built herself a sturdy little boat! But in terms of actual book sales, she's still one oar shy of a pair. Here's the next step.

Understand the Market

Amazon Kindle is a very specific market. It obeys different rules from a grocery store, and different rules from a brick and mortar bookstore. Here are the basics for Kindle:  
  • a great cover that fits the type of book, but perhaps isn't totally stereotypical (think cereal box), 
  • a catchy blurb that pulls readers into the story,
  • correct placement (don't put your cereal in the canned veggies aisle).

Keep Your Book Visible

Amazon determines what books show up where in the listings. You want your book to at least be visible on the first page when someone types your title! Amazon uses a complicated formula that nobody understands (probably not even Amazon), but there are three aspects you can manipulate: likes, sales and reviews.

  • Ask everyone you can think of to LIKE your book! It costs them nothing, and it helps your rankng.
  • When sales dip, GIFT the book yourself. Make a list of people you could give your book to, people who would actually enjoy receiving it!, and GIFT through Amazon a few copies a week. Up front, it costs you a few dollars per book, but you get back 70%, right? So a $2.99 gift book only really costs you $1. Your friends think you're generous, you feel generous (Law of Attraction, anyone?), and it actually costs almost nothing.
  • If you want REVIEWS, you want to think up some way to reward reviewers. Free books is the traditional route. It works, so give away all the advance reader copies you can. But there are other forms of rewards. Reviewers want publicity. That's why they review in the first place. So give them all the publicity you can. Tweet and FB your little heart out, not just for your own but for friends' reviews. Create and advertise a Pinterest board with excerpts and links to every good review. Use your imagination, and find ways to entice reviewers to wait in line review your books!

Free Days

Another marketing tool that's if not unique, then is certainly identified with Kindle, is free book days. Carole hasn't tried this yet, but I'm urging her to.

Okay, Jimmy! Stop twisting! 
Twelve Nights is going on a free promotion soon! Promise!

Giveaways are an age-old marketing tactic. The basic marketing principle is to elevate the perceived value of your product ahead of the giveaway. I read a couple of articles about Kindle free days, so I could advise Carole how to proceed. You can read the same articles and learn how to actually set up the days. I'll just summarize a few key marketing points.
  • Raise the price a day or two before the free days. Make people think they're getting an even bigger bargain. Leave the price higher for a few days after the sale, to reap the maximum benefit from sales.
  • The day before you raise the price, GIFT a bunch of copies, say ten or twenty. You want to go into the freebie days with as high an Amazon ranking as possible. Don't wait until after you raise the price, or you've just cost yourself some extra cash!
  • Write a post on your blog a day or two before the free days. Be creative. Maybe a couple of your characters are super excited about the sale. Maybe they have a funny conversation about buying shoes on sale at DSW. (Stop giving away all my ideas, Jimmy! Don't you just love DSW, ladies!)
  • Scramble to get as many reviews as possible posted. Wait until your novel has at least six solid reviews before you do a giveaway. More is better.
  • Contact the media outlets, now known as Twitter, Facebook, etc, and let them know about your upcoming freebie days. Click the articles link for lists of who to contact.

During the Freebie Days

Now your book is free on Amazon Kindle. Relax and watch the downloads flow in? Not quite.

  • Without being obnoxious or a spammer, let people know your book is now free for a limited time.
  • All the great contacts you've nurtured on Twitter and Facebook? Count on them to help you spread the word!
  • Ask your friends who haven't already bought the book to download a copy, even if they received a free non-Amazon copy earlier directly from you. Ask your friends who have already bought the book to download copies and give them as gifts. 
  • Write a post on your blog on the first freebie day. Again, something fun. Not a blatant ad. Something that a reader will enjoy reading even after the free days are over.
Okay, NOW you can relax and watch the downloads mount!

Whew! Enough for Now!

Thank you so much, Jimmy! My brain is on overload.

You're welcome, Carole. I'll come back after the first set of Kindle Free days for Twelve Nights and we can do a postmortem. In the meantime, readers, if you have any questions or comments, I'll stick around for awhile. What marketing strategies have you tried? How have they worked out? I'd say Carole needs all the help she can get, but then she's punch me.

Darn right, Jimmy!


Bye for now!

Check out these related posts:

Some great blogs, courtesy of The Blog Scratchers' Union! #TBSU


  1. Wow! What an awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing all this info... I haven't published anything yet, but I've got a couple of books currently in the works and this is going to be so useful when I do get to the publishing stage. :-) I'll be re-reading this post a few times, just to make sure I've absorbed everything!

    1. Thanks Nathalie.

      I'm glad the post is helpful The choice was either to write a formal marketing plan or to put it all in a post. This way was more fun. I love Jimmy's voice! I imagine him sounding kind of gravelly, both kind and authoritative at the same time. He's a sweetheart!



  2. A young Harvey Keitel eh? ;-) Lots of great info here MC! Will return to digest it - several times! Can I ask Jimmy a personal question though? How's life now? I know you can't say too much as it would give away the ending to 'Twelve Nights' but I'd love to know how things are going. Just a hint perhaps? Xxx

    1. Hi Molly,

      Handsome devil, aren't I? Glad this information is helpful. Let me know when your book comes out, and I'll give you some more hints on promoting it.

      Carole keeps reminding me no spoilers, but she said I can tell you that I have a daughter and son, twins, who are three years old and ready to take over the world. Carole's a proud auntie!

      Come visit us in Vancouver. Our kids can play together.


  3. Now that's an offer I can't refuse!
    Thanks Jimmy, thanks Carole!
    Aw... Twins! :-) xx