With the growth of e-books, e-readers, apps and the new digital distribution channels serving them, the number of unique titles available to consumers has reached 30.8 million on Amazon alone, increasing hourly. With only 40 million U.S. adults (17 percent) regularly buying books, 30.7 million of those titles sell but a few dozen copies a year at best, making book publishing, and specifically e-book publishing, a challenging business.
While e-books are available instantly to anyone, anywhere, with a computer, smartphone or e-reader—unlike selling print books through physical bookstores—online distribution on its own does not provide new-book awareness. As a result, e-book publishers must focus on breaking through the clutter so that shoppers discover their books and are converted from browsers to buyers.
The good news is that digital distribution and marketing analytics give publishers unprecedented information on what's working well, or holding a book back, so they can develop and instantly test new and better approaches during each title's launch to increase e-book success.
Codex-Group, a book audience research firm, has interviewed more than 200,000 book shoppers online to learn how they discover and decide on which new books to buy. Here are 10 tips based on that learning to help e-book publishers take advantage of this exploding new market.
Discovery: "Do shoppers know a new book even exists?"
1. Focus on your intended audience.
Every book contains unique topics that appeal to specific reading audiences. Publishers must decide which audience to focus on, learn where they hang out, the key words they use for search, and where they indulge their interests—then intercept them there with the book's message and cover, in both online and offline locations. Mass appeal is rarely effective.
2. Create an irresistible title and cover; then test it.
The role of a book's cover is not to be "beautiful," but to make the book stand out, and captivate shoppers enough to make them, in the case of e-books, "click." Develop multiple title and cover options geared toward the target audience. Before publication, informally ask these readers which option they would "click" (not which one they "like"). If it doesn't captivate them, it won't be discovered or remembered.