I’ve self-published a number of Kindle e-books as part of my blog. This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the blog. A few lessons:
- People love free content… I had heard that one of the best ways to promote a book on Kindle is to mark it for free a few days after release. At first, I dismissed this. I am going to price this book at under five dollars, I thought.Who wouldn’t buy it? Boy, was I wrong. The day I set it for free, my ebook launched to #1 in the Guitar section of the Kindle store (for free books). A small accomplishment, but it was incredible to think that all over the world, people were going to check out my first book. It felt like getting angel investors — for free!
- …but only if they’d pay to get more. One source of traffic I really overestimated was my personal social media. I thought that sales and reviews would come flooding from friends and family. But they are not this book’s tribe.Most of my social network couldn’t care less about buying a first guitar. Why would they check out my book, even if it’s free? On the other hand, people who had never heard of me downloaded it: folks from guitar forums, Facebook groups, etc. If I publish a second (paid) book, they would be more likely to purchase than even my closest friends. I learned here that I can’t depend on everyone to buy my product — I have to find the right audience.
- Getting reviews is hard. Now I know why every podcaster I know ends with a request to “please review this show!” Come to think of it, even I haven’t reviewed some of them — and I’m a daily listener. How much less likely, then, for someone to review my obscure debut book. Related to the second point, getting reviews comes down to finding your tribe.
- You are not a one-man show. My first objection to trying a Kindle book was “I don’t know how to do all that design work!” Turns out there are people a click away who do know. From cover to proofreading, ebook assembly is a collaboration. This showed me that to accomplish things, I don’t have to know how to do everything — I just need to find the right people.
- Writing is fun. I attended a liberal arts college where some classes required 60+ pages of writing per term. Fast forward a few years and it would be rare to write that much in a year now (emails excluded). I was afraid that after college, I would not have an outlet to write. Now I found one that extends far beyond a rural Michigan campus.
Posting this short ebook on the Kindle store has taught me a lot. And it’s great when lessons come the fun way.
Photo courtesy of Gratisography.com