by Nina Amir
Don’t wait until you release your ebook to discover if readers want to purchase it. Discover if your ebook will have an audience and if that audience will be eager to read what you’ve written by publishing your manuscript in post-sized bits on your blog.
Test-marketing your topic is one of the best reasons I know for blogging an ebook, and your blog provides the most effective and inexpensive test-marketing tool. Every entrepreneur knows the value of test-marketing a product before investing money into mass production and distribution.
An ebook is a product, too, and should be test-marketed. (I wrote about this extensively in a previous article.) As you blog your ebook…write, publish and promote the first draft on your blog…you discover if you have an audience who will not only purchase the ebook once finished and published but your other products and services as well.
Indeed, if you are just developing your business, you can use your blogged book effort to test the market for your business and for your ebook at the same time.
Don’t Waste Time and Money
Good sales figures for an independently published book would prove the book had a market—an audience. This data would help the agent convince a publisher the book was a viable business proposition, which would possibly land me a traditional publishing contract.
To do what my agent suggested I would have to get the book written, edited, designed, and published. This would cost me both time and money—without assurance that anyone would purchase it. Indeed, the whole point of the test-marketing exercise revolved around finding out if I had a market or an audience at all.
If the book sold well, it would behoove me to keep on self-publishing it. I’d surely make more money. The only reasons at that point to change my model to traditional publishing might have been to gain broader distribution or more credibility.
If my test-market venture failed and I sold just twenty copies, for instance, I would, however, be out the time, effort, and money I put into backing my own publishing business experiment. (In the process, I would have actually started my own independent publishing company.) Yet, the whole point was to discover if book idea was viable before I went to all that time and trouble.
As a self-publisher, you invest in your own book project rather than having a publisher back it financially. Whether you produce an ebook, a pbook or both, you still need to invest in the project. Even with just a digital book, you need an ISBN, a cover design and an editor.
Plus, you have conversion and promotion costs. After investing your own money (and time), you want to be sure you earn back this investment. You don’t want to dish out that money before you know if you’ll earn it back with good sales.
Save Time and Money
Blogging an ebook entails mapping out the content for your full ebook and dividing it up into small bits of content you publish regularly on your blog.
This first draft becomes your manuscript, which you then edit and turn into your finished ebook. This doesn’t cost much in terms of money or time.
Writing an ebook means you don’t need to wait to complete the manuscript before you find out if anyone is interested in what you wrote. You discover this as you write.
You can hire an editor, but the majority of bloggers review their own work or have someone on their staff that proofs and edits prior to hitting the “publish” button. Thus, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a developmental or copy editor to get that first draft of your book published.
You will publish it post by post—in 300-500 word installments—on your blog. No waiting to get a response or to see if readers show up; you will know almost immediately.
Over a 3-9 month period you will have a good idea of whether your content strikes a chord in your market, especially if you publish posts 2-7 times per week and publicize them well on social networks.
Blogging a book is inexpensive compared to actually publishing a print book. Of course, ebooks are fairly inexpensive, since you only need editing, a cover and conversion.
Here are some average costs for blogging a book:
- Blog hosting: $99/year; you can also choose a free blog platform.
- Blog design: free if you use standard themes; premium themes can be purchased for under $100, or you can pay between $250-1,000 for help from a blog designer.
- Art: You can add images to your blog for free or for a minimal cost from sites like miscrosoftclipart.com, freedigitalphotos.net, flickr.com, 123RF.com, morguefile.com, or dreamstime.com; you can even have banners created for just $5 at fivrr.com.
- Email subscription: free or varied cost; if you don’t yet have subscribers, some email providers provide a free service; look into Constant Contact, Aweber and Mailchimp.
Time Well Spent
During that time you commit to promoting each and every post on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest. Maybe you also add a YouTube video per month that recaps a blog post or two and drives traffic to the blog.
Don’t simply decide after a week or two that your Test-marketing has proven your idea a failure. It may not be a failure. Your promotional efforts might have been insufficient.
Blogs take a while to catch on—even with good promotion. If you publish your blogged book on a new blog, it will take six months to a year (with really great promotion) to gain decent traffic, and that’s if you publish posts 3-7 times per week.
Watch your blog analytics. You can use Google Analytics, which is free, or the ones that come with your blog hosting company. You want to know if your unique visitor count is growing day to day and month to month. If you publish your blogged book on an existing blog, watch your analytics to see if you gain new unique visitors during this time and if readership goes up on certain blogged book posts. This indicates reader interest.
Just like a potential reader goes to Amazon.com to purchase an ebook, they search online for blogs to read. If they find your blogged book among the thousands—no millions—of others and like it, they’ll “buy” it, meaning they’ll return more than once to read it or they’ll subscribe to your RSS (really simply syndication) feed so it shows up in their browser each time you post. Subscriptions provide you with another indication that your test-marketing attempt has succeeded (or failed).
Reading Your Results
You might know in a month or two if your market is responding favorably to your ebook. Depending upon the length of your ebook, after 3-9 months, your book will be written and you will be ready to self-publish it as an e-book if you have garnered enough readers to show the project is viable.
You will have spent little money in the process and used your time well. If readers have not shown up your test-marketing has succeeded in demonstrating that your idea does not have merit, needs to be tweaked, needs more promoting, or should be aimed at a different market.
You’ll know you need to go back to your research and development phase. Either way, you’ll have successfully completed your test-marketing.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.