Thursday, October 05, 2006

E-Book Challenge Update

I think e-books are terrific marketing tools, and I've been self-publishing my own since 2001. Anyone can write and self-publish an e-book, but to make it work as a marketing tool, the author has to 1) get the word out to readers, and 2) hook readers and make them want to read it. For you challengers out there, that means two more things to think about in the weeks ahead.

I. Get the Word Out to Readers

Links: You can count on one link: right here, at PBW. If you write it and put it online by the challenge deadline, I'm going to link to it. If you have writer, editor and/or reader friends willing to post links on their weblogs or web sites, ask them to link to your e-book as well. The more links you get out there, the better chance you have of attracting readers.

Writing-related sites, discussion boards, newsgroups and newsletters: The most unobtrusive way to spread the word at places like these (unless it's specifically against the rules) is to add a link to your e-book to your signature line. Keep it simple, i.e. "Read my free Darkyn novella, Midnight Blues" with a URL link. If you're sending out a newsletter for the month of October and/or November, definitely do a write-up and link for your e-book (if you have writer friends with newsletters who would be willing to do the same, ask them.)

E-mails: If you have a reader e-mailing list, or just want to get the word out to friends and family, e-mail an informal announcement. Ask the folks on your list to pass the word about your e-book along to others they think would be interested. Definitely don't SPAM people or do a mass mailing to people you don't know.

Meetings and Conferences: If you plan to attend a writer's organization meeting or conference in upcoming months, you can print up some flyers, bookmarks or business cards with a short description and/or cover art for your e-book along with the URL (if your local library allows it, drop some off there as well.) If your meeting is small, and you have the time and budget to do it, you can make and hand out free CD copies of your e-book.

II. Hook Readers and Make Them Want to Read It

In my experience, and from feedback you all have given me over the years, these are the best hooks to attract readers:

Provocative Title: Provocative titles need not be explicit, but they should provoke interest, curiosity and/or temptation in your potential reader. I chose Midnight Blues as a title because two vampire cops who work the night shift are a central part of my story; it's also a play off two cop show titles (Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.) Robert Gregory Browne's Kiss Her Goodbye, Rosina Lippi's Tied to the Tracks, Holly Lisle's Last Girl Dancing, and Sasha White's Bound are excellent examples of provocative titles.

Hot Premise: Write one or two lines about your e-book's story that give the potential reader a taste of what's in it, i.e. Can a lonely vampire cop protect a lovely human nun against an immortal sadist who intends to have both of them?

Eye-catching Cover Art

Copy or Teaser: When possible, give your potential reader a taste of the e-book via copy (those blurbs you read on the back cover of a book) or a teaser (an actual excerpt from your story.) I recommend keeping copy to 250 words or less, and a teaser to 500 words or less. Again, think provocative.

One more note, this one for published authors with books coming out in print after the challenge deadline: think about including a short excerpt from your print book in your e-book, and use that as part of your hook. Anyone who reads my e-book Midnight Blues can look forward to reading an exclusive excerpt from Night Lost, book four in my Darkyn series.


  1. I finished my book on Tuesday and am thrilled to have met the challenge! Was curious how you want to handle the links. Should we post them here or email them to you?

    Thank you for this.

  2. I'm republishing a few short stories to a PDF file to my blog. I'm going to try to add a new one to the group as well. I can't wait to read everyone's!

  3. I've written eight ebook that are available at Search under author's name, Bob Liter.

  4. Thanks to your posts on self-publishing two other paranormal romance writers and I came up with the idea of putting out a short-short story available for free on our mutual blog. We "pimped" the first one everywhere on Monday, its release day, and it has been a success! People love the cover and the story. *wg* The next one will be released next Monday, and mine two Mondays later. Thanks for giving so many wondeful ideas! I'm so taking notes! heh!

  5. A nice little plug for KISS HER GOODBYE. Thanks.

    And, yes, it's a title my publisher chose that I immediately fell in love with, and was considerably different, but considerably better -- more emotional, more immediate -- than my previous title.

    A good one can make all the difference.

  6. This is such a wonderful idea, PBW! I have a question but I haven't figured out how to email you directly. Oy!

  7. I have posted a link to my first novel on my blog and I'd really appreciate it if you could link to it here also.
    Thanks in advance.

  8. Ah, I hate to sound like a complete idiot here, but I'm going to squinch my eyes shut, hold my nose and jump right in.

    I'm not quite certain what an e-book is; when I google the term I find several different definitions.

    I searched your blog but couldn't find the answer, so I've gotta ask: What do you mean by the term e-book?

  9. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Annulla wrote: Ah, I hate to sound like a complete idiot here, but I'm going to squinch my eyes shut, hold my nose and jump right in.

    There are no dumb questions here, Annulla.

    I'm not quite certain what an e-book is; when I google the term I find several different definitions.

    I searched your blog but couldn't find the answer, so I've gotta ask: What do you mean by the term e-book?

    An e-book is a novel, story, or other type of fiction or nonfiction work that is published electronically. Depending on the format of the e-book, a reader can read the book on a computer, e-book reader or PDA. In the case of this challenge, the authors all self-published their e-books, but there are also many online publishers who offer e-books for sale. Although e-books are electronic documents, most can be printed out on paper.

    Author Patricia A. Rasey has an excellent article on the subject here if you'd like more information.

  10. Anonymous8:33 AM

    Thanks for this useful list of links. Can I also add a plug for WriteItNow? Although it is not free, it is very reasonably priced, does a great deal for the money. You can try a free demo at


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