Keys to eBook Success

by Matthew Cavnar on

Yesterday we directed you to the presentation I gave at LavaCon last week. After three years of helping publishers, authors and media companies create eBooks, I’ve learned that digital has made nothing easier. The mechanical process of printing a book can seem simpler than the complicated task of getting digital text properly rendered on a wide variety of screens and devices.

I’ll break up my thoughts into two buckets:

1. Basic Tactics
2. Enterprise Efforts

Basic Tactics

Everyone who creates an eBook can get these right—and if they seem obvious, they’re worth remembering.

  1. The Thumb Rule of Covers: Design your eBook cover not for print but for the digital real estate on the computer screen. Basically, make sure your cover looks good when it’s the size of your thumb. Our Brief Histories and eBooks for Gaiam are excellent examples
  2. Have a Webpage: Every author should have a Webpage. That’s where you drive all your traffic. Until you can sell eBooks directly yourself, you have to direct your readers to the store that matches their devices. There are many excellent Webpage programs that can build you a site in seconds and we offer the service on Vook. Try for a more design-oriented approach.
  3. Reviews: Once you’ve got your eBook files that you want to distribute, create an email with explicit instructions on how to download the file and open it on their devices. Include a link to different versions of the file for different devices. Then, send that link to reviewers. It’s still hard to deliver review eBooks due to technology complications—but this will let you get it over to the right people quickly.

Enterprise Efforts

If you have the resources, you should do more than one eBook—and you should quickly establish an ediotiral calendar that will allow you to publish eBooks regularly. EBooks are like any other content game on the Web—readers expect new pieces on a schedule.

  1. Scale catalogs: Find a content area (like Gaiam did with Yoga) and make sure you produce an entire catalog of similarly branded content in that area. A catalog gives you more pull with distributors and a strong library that can cross promote itself.
  2. Sell direct from your site: If you have a site with significant Web traffic, you can create a book store attached to it (check out GigaOm books) to siphon off sales from that traffic and build the reputation of your eBooks.
  3. Track analytics for ROI on marketing: Get a sales dashboard solution (we offer one at Vook) that shows you daily sales across all marketplaces for all of your titles. Your marketing team should use this dashboard to judge what's working and not working and make adjustments in their outreach.

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