The iBooks market is becoming an evermore appealing option to authors. Over 120 million iPads means over 120 million digital bookshelves and, as with most things Apple, that number is only going to go up. Apple’s free iBooks Author software also makes creating an eBook pretty damn easy.
So how should you approach the iBooks market? How should you design your book, set your price, plan your launch and market an iBook? Working on Tablo Publishing has given me an insight into some of the great iBook success stories, and comparably some brilliant struggles. Here’s a collation of what I’ve learnt.
Forget everything you know about paper.
Every paperback book I’ve come across starts with a blank page, a copyright notice and a dedication. It’s a widely accepted, unoffensive convention, but it’s not a convention we need to carry over to the multitouch screen.
On an iPad, these formalities (the copyright notice in particular) present an unnecessary barrier between the reader and their book. It can be time consuming and confusing to swipe past a layer of formalities on a digital book. Move your copyright statement to the end of your book or, if you’re feeling particularly crazy, discard it altogether. Immerse your reader in your content as soon as they tap the cover.
Turn your introduction into a video.
On paper we print forewords and introductions. They’re often brilliant openers – the story behind the story – and we can now embrace this section.
iBooks Author allows you to insert Intro Media. Rather than write your introduction, turn it into a video. It can be as professional or as webcam-esque as you like (even verbalising your written introduction will do). When a reader first taps on your book they will be indulged in a short introductory video and, when the video finishes, it will gracefully slide away and present your book’s first chapter.
There is so much potential in intro media. It’s impressive showmanship, it’s personable and it’s how all great books should begin.
Take your book’s launch seriously.
The iBookstore is growing and there’s duly more potential for your books, but it’s also easier for your book to become lost in the growing backlog of the iBookstore. Regrettably, many books on the iBookstore fail to gain traction and sell just a handful of copies. For this reason, making a concerted launch effort with your book is more important than ever.
There are two sections on iTunes to note – the Bestsellers list and the New & Noteworthy section. The books featured in these fields are determined entirely by unit sales and time. Basically, if you sell a lot of books in a single day, you’ll have the best chance of making it into the iTunes rankings and your category’s front page.
At Tablo, we perhaps undersell the ability to set a launch date for your book. Setting a specific launch date and organising as many sales as possible for that day through family and friends, your blog, external reviews etc., can be a crucial determinant in your book’s long term success. Entering the Bestsellers list or New & Noteworthy section will make it easy for iTunes browsers to discover and purchase your book.
Pricing can make all the difference.
There’s a famous adage in the eBook market. If you set your price low you can boost sales and duly earn more revenue. eBook and iBook pricing is fascinating, but it’s not as shallow as commonly believed.
If the competition on iTunes is vast and you have no external means of marketing for your book, that’s when you should set your price low. If your book targets a niché market or you have a strong audience outside of iTunes, thats when you have the flexibility to bump up your price. If your book is full of valuable knowledge, that’s when you should confidently charge your reader what it’s worth.
That’s perhaps an overly condensed pricing guide, so we’ll be covering what we’ve learned on pricing in more detail in a future article on writing.ie.
Make calls, send emails and seek reviews.
At the end of the day, your success on iTunes depends on how determined you are to sell books. Googling book clubs or blogs that cover your industry can present you with an incredible array of valuable contacts. Email or call these writers, pitch for a review and offer a free copy of your book.
Upon request, we can provide authors with free download codes for their books, and I trust other publishers publishers can offer the same thing. Build up a list of contacts and reach out to them one by one. Keep your contact brief and, if they respond, offer a promo code and discuss a review or story further. Through blogs and news sources, there are opportunities to connect directly with your readers. Make this effort and you’ll no doubt be rewarded.
Conquering the iBooks market is far from challenging. Embrace the iPad’s features, rethink the structure of your book and market your book with determination. If there’s one overriding trend I’ve seen, as with every facet of life, it’s the people who make the effort that generally succeed.