This article disputes that fictitious world where the big name publishers care for your work as much as you do.
It also disputes the idea that sales reports and royalties are frequently and promptly delivered to eager authors.
It brings home the cold reality that the author is often left alone and in the dark, forever lost in the shadows of the world's largest eBook store, Amazon.com
Could this article and it's assessment of a single case of poor book marketing be considered unfair?
Perhaps, but let this information serve as a signpost to authors navigating the online marketplace, of what to expect either of themselves or of their publishing partner when marketing books or eBooks online.
This article is born out of frustration experienced from countless authors who feel that that they are not been treated fairly... and are right.
Please understand that this piece is not meant as an attack on the author's choice of publisher.
Unfortunately, I am confident that I could find numerous other examples where these commonly made marketing mistakes highlighted in this article could be the costing the author well-deserved royalties.
As an author you have invested countless hours (and hundreds of cups of coffee) whilst bashing away at your keyboard, whilst shaping your work of art.
You have endured the well meaning comments and doubt expressed by your friends or family, worse than that the self-doubt that arises from within whilst you flesh out ideas into chapters.
Finally however your passion and the important message that you have wished to share with the world finally begins taking shape as the first draft of your manuscript is finally completed.
You have taken all the necessary steps that authors should consider when deciding to share their written work with their eager readers.
Your book cover is a brief but dazzling display of artwork, that captures your readers' attention.
Your manuscript has been proofread by a professional who has sifted out the grammatical errors as a gardener would remove weeds from his prized vegetable garden. You now relax, savoring the feeling that comes now that your work is completed and it's time to hand your prized manuscript over to the professionals.
In this case, you were lucky enough to gain the interest of a publishing house that, for a tidy sum has offered to handle all the marketing work for you.
You now step back, feeling secure in the belief that this publisher will navigate the complex world of book marketing, whilst you simply collect the royalty cheques, adding the title of 'published author' to your CV.
Is this situation familiar to you, or does it perhaps relate to someone you know?
Using this real example of bad eBook marketing through Amazon by a professional publishing house, let's see what should have been done in the process.
eBook Marketing Mistake #1 - The over-priced eBook.
This Kindle eBook is listed (from a South African perspective) as $11.99 on Amazon.com meaning that after removing the $2 Amazon Whispernet Surcharge added by Amazon and the 14% VAT added by the South African government the publishing house intended to sell this work for approximately $8.5
A list price of $8.5 for an eBook written by an author that, from Amazon's perspective, was not well known is a bad move, more likely to dissuade potential customers rather than encourage the purchase of this eBook.
This also fits neatly into the already well-voiced complaint that big-name publishers simply charge too much for eBooks.
The publisher should have rather examined the prices of the competition within the selected eBook categories they chose to list for an idea of how the eBook should be priced, I believe it would have been considerably less than $8.5
eBook Marketing Mistake #2 - Lack of valuable Links within the eBook.
Glancing through the eBook sample that Amazon was kind enough to generate for me I noticed that this author was credited with having written six other books. What is the worth of mentioning these other acclaimed works if they do not have the links pointing customers to the sales info?
The answer unfortunately is they are not worth much.
Whenever the author has other work that would add value to a customer, ensure they are correctly linked to within the eBook, preferably to the Amazon sales link of that book or at least the author's website sales page. These links are similar to "votes" helping curious customers trust that this author's work is credible and worth the purchase.
To be fair, it is possible that at the end of this eBook this linking has been correctly provided, however I doubt it.
eBook Marketing Mistake #3 - Lack of Amazon Author Central Account
So let's for a moment assume that the high price has not dissuaded readers from purchasing.
They carry on browsing through the eBook description, liking what they see, they then do what countless other people using the Amazon Kindle eBook store do and look for the author's profile page.
This author profile page would normally contain pictures of the author, blog posts from the author's personal blog as well as a neat summary of other eBooks written by the author.
This publishing house has forgotten to add this invaluable resource on the sales page, don't ever forget to use this resource when listing your eBook on Amazon.
eBook Marketing Mistake #4 - Lack of book reviews and exposure.
I might be wrong in this assumption however when paying a publishing house to handle the marketing of your book I assume they have access to vast network of potential readers. If this network is correctly used it would give your eBook much needed exposure leading to those golden Amazon reviews that are so important for new authors.
The online promotion of the author's book could take the form of a virtual book tour or posting about the book on publishers Facebook page or blog etc
This eBook currently has zero reviews, this means that customers who see this author's eBook will be less likely to purchase.
Always send your finished book out to close friends/ family/ social connections to get honest and open reviews, I cannot stress what a difference these will make to your sales.
eBook Marketing Mistake #5 - Bad eBook category selection.
Apart from over-pricing eBooks, large publishing houses are notorious for sticking your eBook into categories on Amazon where they die in one of two ways.
Either they place you in a very broad eBook category meaning that you are now competing with 25 000 other authors for your customer's money OR they place you in badly selected categories meaning that customers might feel mislead over the purchase of your romance novel from the murder-mystery category.
This publisher has only used one of the five categories available to them to list this eBook.
This means that four other categories could have had this eBook listed, opening access to their respective best seller lists and loyal customers.
The Literature category chosen for this eBook has 22 000 other eBooks to contend with, lessening the chance that customers would select this particular eBook.
Self-published authors have access to only two eBook categories, as opposed to the five available to big name publishers.
It is recommended that authors select one category with high traffic, meaning more potential customer eyes browsing over your eBook.
The second eBook category selected should be a niche category with less competition making easier for you to stand out.
My hope is that more authors would take the power back into their hands by publishing their own eBook into Amazon marketplace rather than (blindly) trusting a publisher to do this for them. All the steps listed above should be simple enough to carry out, indeed Amazon has made it a breeze for ordinary people to list themselves within their KDP Store.
Don't act blindly, make an informed decision before handing over your ebook or book to someone else to market, they might not care for your work as much as they should.