Marketing: 24 Secrets of Ebook Publishing Success by Randy Ingermanson

(Editor's note: This is a reprint of an article by Randy Ingermanson)

I'm currently reading a free e-book by Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords. I heard Mark speak last year at the Novelists, Inc. conference, and I was tremendously impressed with him.

Smashwords is an e-book distributor that helps you publish your work and distribute it to most of the major online retailers (all except Amazon).

Mark's new e-book is free. You can get it at The title is THE SECRETS TO EBOOK PUBLISHING SUCCESS. You can get it here:

Here are my thoughts (Randy's) on a few of Mark's secrets:

Secret 1: "Write a great book."

This is the conventional wisdom among publishing professionals, and I agree. One of the linchpins of my own strategy has always been that marketing is easy if you have great craft. So spend your energy developing your craft.

This is why my own teaching focuses so heavily on craft. You might get some short term success by brilliantly marketing a second-rate book. But you'll be forever marked as a "great marketer, lousy writer." Who wants that?

Mark thinks that about 80% of the success of a book is due to its quality. I don't know whether this is true or how one would prove this. It seems plausible, but I'm not married to a number.

The main point is that great marketing starts with a great product. If you want to make your marketing easier, improve your craft.

Secret #5: "Write another great book."

Mark's point here is that every book you write is a marketing platform for every other book you write.

What? Not Facebook? Not Twitter? Not your blog?

Well, no. A post on Facebook or Twitter has a lifetime of about 3 hours and then it's gone. After that, it has no more effect on the world and can't do a blessed thing to help market any of your books.

Whereas a book you wrote ten years ago may very well be the road by which a new reader discovers you today. If you've written another 20 books in those ten years, then that old book now serves as a sample of all 20 of your other books.

And furthermore, each of those 20 serves as marketing for the ten-year-old book. And for each other.

All your books are marketing for all your other books. There is a simple math rule to describe roughly how effectively your books market each other.

Having 2 books published is about 4 times as good as having only 1 book.

Having 3 books published is about 9 times as good.

Having 10 books published is about 100 times as good.

Every book is helping market every other book. (As long as you have followed Secret #1 and written a great book. Bad books don't help each other.)

Yes, it's true that you can get short-term results from Facebook or Twitter. Nobody seems to know how much, but you can get something.

Yes, it's also true that you can get results from your blog. A blog post is forever, and so a blog can give you long-term results.

But e-books are forever too. They never go out of print unless you get embarrassed by them and pull them from the online retailers. The advantage of an e-book is that it's the best indicator of what your other books are like. If a reader likes one of your books, she'll probably like all of them.

So write your best e-book and then write another, and another, and another.

Secret 11: "Give (some of) your books away for free."

I have long been a fan of giving away some things for free. And not your worst stuff, either. I believe in giving away some of your very best stuff. Give away some of your gold.

Just as an example, one of the very best ideas I've ever had was the ten steps for designing a novel that I named the "Snowflake method." I posted an article on the Snowflake on my web site about nine years ago. It has since been viewed over 2.5 million times and it has
made me famous. I constantly hear from people who say that the Snowflake has revolutionized their writing. It's not for everybody, but it's gold for many people.

Giving stuff away free works. Mark Coker does this a lot. You can convert your books to e-books on Smashwords at no cost. You can post them for sale there at no up-front cost. (Smashwords will sell them for you and keep a small percentage as a consignment fee. This
is a great deal for you and it gives Smashwords an incentive to give you great service.)

Mark's e-book is free. Why? It helps authors and it gets the word out about Smashwords. Any writer will benefit from his e-book, and many of them will choose to work with Smashwords, which will then eventually earn him a tidy profit.

I don't think you should give everything away for free. You need to eat and pay your bills. But giving away some of your very best stuff can make good sense.

Mark estimates that free books on Smashwords are downloaded 50 to 100 times more than paid books. This works wonderfully if you have a number of other titles, because the free book acts as marketing for all the others. (Remember Secret #6.)

Secret #17: "Platform building starts yesterday."

Your platform is whatever you have in place that allows you to reach readers. This may be a speaking business, a web site, a blog, a Facebook page or profile, a Twitter presence, an e-mail list, or whatever.

If you don't have a platform today, then you can't use it for marketing your books. But you can use your books to help build your platform. Then tomorrow, your platform may be of some value in promoting your books.

Mark has a simple formula for building a strong platform: Be useful to other people.

By no great coincidence, this is essentially the same as my own formula for building a platform: Say things that are valuable to other people.

You don't actually have to say much about your products when you follow this formula. If you are useful to other people, if you say things they value, then they'll tell other people about you and your platform will grow.

A small fraction of those you reach with your platform will buy your products. It's silly to worry about those who don't buy your stuff. Focus on doing things that make the world a better place and you'll be rewarded financially. Maybe a little; maybe a lot.

I've talked about 4 of Mark's secrets. There are a couple of dozen more. Here are some of the most interesting:
* "Practice metadata magic"
* "Understand the algorithm"
* "How retailers select titles for feature promotion"
* "Architect for virality"
* "Practice the never-ending book launch"
* "Maximize distribution"
* "Think beyond price"

I highly recommend THE SECRETS OF EBOOK PUBLISHING SUCCESS. There is gold in this e-book. And you can't beat the price. Free.

The world would be a better place if all authors took the advice Mark gives in this book. Authors would do better. Readers would have an easier time finding the books they want.

Here's the direct link to Mark's e-book again:

Have fun!

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced
Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 30,000 readers.
If you want to learn the craft and marketing of
fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to
editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo

I love the way Liparulo's mind works. It is just as devious and dark as his characters else how could he create such deep, dark characters? But I know he is kind and courteous and loves God with all his heart. The suspense is gripping, just as in his other books. It builds to a frightening crescendo and doesn't let up until the next to last page. Liparulo can build a climax and milk it to an inch.

He also does an excellent job with character construction. Each one has a mind and personality which doesn't happen very often these days. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense and mystery. Another 5 of 5 stars for Liparulo's latest.

Be sure to check out Liparulo's interview.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Tribe
Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012)
Robert Liparulo


Best-selling novelist Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first three critically acclaimed thrillers—Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall—were optioned by Hollywood producers, as well as his Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults. Bestselling author Ted Dekker calls The 13th Tribe, released in April 2012, “a phenomenal story.” Liparulo is currently working with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) on the novel and screenplay of a political thriller. New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” Liparulo lives in Colorado with his family.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:, or at Twitter @robertliparulo.


Their story didn't start this year . . . or even this millennium.
It began when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Tired of waiting on the One True God, the twelve tribes of Israel began worshipping a golden calf through pagan revelry. Many received immediate death for their idolatry, but 40 were handed a far worse punishment-endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God.

This group of immortals became the 13th Tribe, and they've been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since-by killing sinners. Though their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable. Their wrath is unstoppable. And the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans have ever seen.

Jagger Baird knows nothing about the Tribe when he's hired as head of security for an archaeological dig on Mt. Sinai. The former Army Ranger is still reeling from an accident that claimed the life of his best friend, his arm, and his faith in God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Tribe, go HERE.


Cooking the Books by Bonnie Calhoun


I  do not like stories that flip back and forth among characters, especially those stories written in first person by one of the characters. However, Calhoun does a bang-up job with this novel, even if it is written from several different viewpoints.

This begins as a sassy story and sassy heroine who has a huge nervousness with the gun her mother gave her. The bookstore and the building now belong to her, but she'd rather have her mother back alive. The characters are developed well, but the storyline drags just a little. I think if the whole thing was written in first person, that would not be noticed at all. I love the peek into Sloane's thought processses!

The ending is full of tension and nail-biting suspense. I was on the edge of my seat! It is a worthy read :) 4 out of 5 stars!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cooking The Books
Abingdon Press (April 2012)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


As the Owner/Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Bonnie has helped use the 220+ blogs of the Alliance to promote many titles on the Christian bestseller list. She also owns and publishes the Christian Fiction Online magazine which is devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. She is the Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At ACFW she was named the ‘Mentor of the Year,’ for 2011, and she is the current President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network. Bonnie is also the Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie, and teaches Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and HTML as recreational occupations. She also has a novel coming out in the Abingdon Quilts of Love series. Her novel Pieces of the Heart will publish August of 2013.

Bonnie and her husband Bob live in a log cabin on 15 acres in upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff.


After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Cooking The Books, go HERE.

Watch the book video:

If you'd like to read interviews with Bonnie, try these:
Everbody Needs A Little Romance
A Christian Writers World
Novel Rocket
ACFW - Fiction Finder
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