6 ebook marketing ideas guaranteed to grow sales

Commerce Digital Products
18 min read
In this Article

You have an ebook idea. You know it’s going to help many people. But you also have a fear that no one will buy it.

In fact, that fear might be what’s keeping you from even starting to write your ebook.

The solution? Simple and effective ebook marketing ideas. Promotion needs to be a big part of your ebook launch strategy. Without a clear plan for finding buyers, that fear will be there when you start writing—and it won’t leave.

You’re working hard to brainstorm and write an ebook, edit it, and publish it for your audience. You deserve to see it succeed and to turn it into a reliable income stream.

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As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

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With these ebook launch and promotion ideas, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

Before we start: Why you should focus on building your email list

6 ebook marketing ideas to grow your sales

You’ll notice that some of the ebook marketing strategies we’re about to show you are about getting people to join your email list.

You might be wondering…

“If these promotion tactics are so effective, why do I need an email list on top of that?”

Here’s why:

If social media was a crowded event with a stage that everyone gets to use to speak into a microphone, email would be a quiet, cozy living room that your subscriber personally invited you to.

Building connections with your target readers on social media is important (in fact, it’s one of the strategies we’ll discuss).

But when social media is your only way to reach your audience, you don’t have a way to reach out to all the people that follow you at once. You’re at the mercy of:

  • Social media algorithms. How many of your followers will actually get to see your content on their feeds? For many of them, it will be buried below dozens of other tweets, Instagram posts, and stories. Also: you don’t own your social media audience, and if a social network disappeared, so would your access to your followers. That can’t happen with an email list.
  • Time zones. When you post, much of your audience might be sleeping or simply not online at that time. Even if your audience is spread across just two or three time zones, a big chunk of them will miss what you share.
  • Platform constraints. Social media platforms limit the media formats, text length, text formatting, and many other things about the messages you’re sharing. These limitations are good because they make social media enjoyable (Instagram stories would be much harder to consume quickly if each slide was 60 seconds long), but if they’re all you use to talk about your ebook, you’ll miss out on conveying your full message.

By focusing on building your email list, you bypass all of this. You’ll never have to count on a social media algorithm or the exact times your target audience is online. You no longer rely on an external platform. Your messages look exactly the way you want them to, and they reach your ideal reader at a time you choose.

A bonus point? Email subscribers can be up to 15 times more valuable than social media followers.

With that in mind, let’s dive into powerful ebook promotion strategies so you can publish your ebook with the attention it deserves.

ebook launch ideas

1. Build a hyper-interested email list with a specific lead magnet

Lead magnets are free downloadable incentives you give your audience in exchange for joining your email list.

The ultimate rule of lead magnets: the more specific they are, the more targeted an audience you’ll attract. By offering something closely related to your ebook, you can build an email list packed with people who can’t wait to hear from you about the topic of your ebook.

Here are two ways you can put this strategy into action.

Turn the first chapter of your ebook into a lead magnet

Giving away the first chapter of your ebook is an easy, quick, and straightforward way to build hype—and your email list.

There are several benefits of doing this:

  • A free chapter gives people valuable tips they can implement and see results from
  • You’re teasing the quality of the full, paid ebook, making the decision to buy it easier
  • You can create this lead magnet even before you write the complete ebook

Here’s an example. Freelance writer Kaleigh Moore uses this exact approach to attracting relevant email subscribers. She gives you the first chapter of Write Better Right Now, her paid ebook, for free in exchange for your name and email address:

Kaleigh Moore’s pop-up that offers the first ebook chapter for free.
Kaleigh Moore’s pop-up that offers the first ebook chapter for free. Image via Kaleigh Moore

Create a free ebook related to your paid ebook

Another way to use a lead magnet is to create an ebook (or a similar resource) closely related to your paid ebook’s topic and offer it for free.

A free ebook will attract the most relevant subscribers and bring them lots of additional value. By doing this, you’ll grow trust from your email subscribers because you’ve given them a complete guide to achieving something meaningful—for free.

This way, when you promote your paid ebook to them, they’ll already know your ebooks are worth their time and attention—and now money.

Tom Hirst, a freelance web designer, created a free ebook called 10 Steps To Becoming A Better Freelancer around three months before launching his paid ebook, Pricing Freelance Projects. Around 2,000 people downloaded the free ebook and gave him a way to reach out to them when he released the paid ebook.

Kaleigh Moore’s pop-up that offers the first ebook chapter for free.
Kaleigh Moore’s pop-up that offers the first ebook chapter for free. Image via Kaleigh Moore

Create a downloadable resource related to your paid ebook for free. Image via Tom

Tom didn’t stop at sharing his free ebook once. He added it to his Twitter bio right next to the paid ebook. By doing this, he increases his chances of getting a new subscriber, and potentially a new customer, with every new follower.

Make your lead magnet always visible on your social media accounts.
Make your lead magnet always visible on your social media accounts. Image via Tom Hirst on Twitter

How to make free downloads easy and automated

Once you’ve exported the chapter you want to offer as a lead magnet, you can easily set it up as part of an incentive email in ConvertKit.

The process is simple:

  1. Select a landing page template
  2. Click Settings in the top bar
  3. Select the Incentive tab
  4. Choose “Download” under “After confirming redirect to:”
  5. Select your free chapter
  6. Hit “Save”
Upload your free chapter as an incentive in ConvertKit’s landing page editor
Upload your free chapter as an incentive in ConvertKit’s landing page editor

That’s it—you can promote your free ebook chapter in a matter of minutes.

2. Pre-sell your ebook

Instead of writing your entire ebook before kicking off sales, you can outline your ebook idea, share it with your audience, and use pre-orders to spark engagement and attract early supporters.

Pre-selling your ebook means you’re getting actual money from people who want the ebook, often before you’ve even finished writing it. There are a few huge upsides to pre-selling:

  • It helps you validate your ebook idea; getting a financial commitment is stronger idea validation than “I’d definitely buy it” responses
  • You can generate revenue before you write the ebook
  • You’re creating a group of early adopters who are likely to share and support your ebook when it launches

This is exactly what Steph Smith, a writer and growth marketer, did with her Doing Content Right ebook.

First, she tweeted about her product idea, which came from an outline she wrote a year ago, asking her followers if they’d pay $10 for it:

Steph Smith first checked if her Twitter audience would be interested in an ebook about writing and growing a blog.
Steph Smith first checked if her Twitter audience would be interested in an ebook about writing and growing a blog. Image via Steph Smith on Twitter

Just hours later, after getting feedback from her followers, Steph shared her commitment to write the best guide on this topic and a link to pre-order the ebook. On top of that, she offered the ebook for the initial $10 price, but with a caveat: she added tiered pricing, which meant the ebook price will go up after the first 30 orders.

Steph Smith announced a pre-sale of the ebook just hours after the initial tweet.
Steph Smith announced a pre-sale of the ebook just hours after the initial tweet. Image via Steph Smith on Twitter

She hit 30 sales within hours and started raising the ebook price every time she sold 30 copies. This ebook promotion tactic works. In Steph’s words, here’s why:

If you just launch a product on the day it’s ready to launch, you don’t have anyone listening. By adding a pre-sale, you essentially add an additional launch. When I first mentioned my ebook, before it was anything more than an outline, it brought in some people. They were listening to what I had to say as I was building the book. Then, on the actual launch day when the book was ready, they were my marketing engine and shared the ebook along with their experience. Without the pre-sale, I wouldn’t have any of that.

Getting early supporters during pre-sale will help you amplify your marketing efforts down the line. They’ll be ready to write ebook reviews and share your ebook with their followers.

3. Show what’s inside with a table of contents

Sharing your ebook’s table of contents is an easy, powerful way to stand out from other ebooks and digital products on a similar topic to yours. It’s similar to the free chapter strategy from earlier. While the free chapter shows what the rest of the ebook looks and feels like, the table of contents shows every subtopic you’re covering in the ebook.

This is the strategy Steph Smith used in her launch. She posted her ebook’s table of contents on social media, and reposted it every time she updated it:

Steph Smith used the table of contents to show what’s inside the ebook and to remind her followers of the pre-sale.
Steph Smith used the table of contents to show what’s inside the ebook and to remind her followers of the pre-sale. Image via Steph Smith on Twitter

She also features it on her ebook landing page:

Steph Smith’s table of contents took up more than half of the ebook landing page.
Steph Smith’s table of contents took up more than half of the ebook landing page. GIF via Steph Smith

This is the same strategy Julia Evans, a software developer, uses to promote zines—paid PDF downloads full of short, informative comics that teach programmers about a specific topic.

Julia Evans shares her table of contents on Twitter and on her product pages.
Julia Evans shares her table of contents on Twitter and on her product pages. Image via Julia Evans on Twitter

By sharing your ebook’s table of contents, you’re making it easy for people to say: “This is exactly what I was looking for!”—and boosting the chances they’ll buy your ebook.

4. Use automated email sequences

The benefit of automated email sequences is right there in their name: they’re automated. You only need to write and set them up once—they’ll do the hard work of promoting your ebook on autopilot.

Here’s how email automation works with sequences. You define an action that triggers an email, or a series of emails, in the days that follow. For your ebook promotion and launch, you can use these two triggers:

  • Downloading your first ebook chapter for free
  • Purchasing your ebook

Let’s dive into each of these.

Use case #1: Promote your paid ebook to subscribers that downloaded a free chapter

When subscribers download a free chapter of your ebook, you give them a taster of the full meal. But no matter how good the free chapter is, you still need to remind them to check out the rest of your ebook—otherwise, they may not remember to do so themselves.

A simple way to do this is to send an automated email a couple days after they downloaded the chapter. Your email should cover two things:

  1. Ask what they thought about the chapter and to share how they took action from it.
  2. Share the call-to-action to the ebook landing page where they can purchase the full ebook, with a bullet point summary of what it will help them do.

Once you write your email, it’s easy to automate it with a tool like ConvertKit.

First, use Sequences to write and set up this email inside ConvertKit. You can edit when to send the email, the email subject line, and its content:

ConvertKit’s sequence editor is simple and straightforward
ConvertKit’s sequence editor is simple and straightforward.

From here, you can create the automation by selecting the free chapter download as the trigger, and the free-to-paid email sequence as the action that follows:

Creating an automation in ConvertKit takes less than 30 seconds
Creating an automation in ConvertKit takes less than 30 seconds.

That’s all it takes. Now every time someone downloads your free chapter, they’ll also get an email that nudges them to buy the ebook—without you having to do any extra work.

Use case #2: Get reviews and shares from existing ebook customers

Automated sequences are also great for getting those that already bought from you to help you sell even more ebooks.

The process isn’t scary or complicated—in fact, it’s very similar to the one we just covered. The trigger is now an ebook purchase, and the sequence is one or more emails that encourage your customer to review your ebook.

Here’s how Jimmy Daly, founder of Superpath and creator of courses and resources for content marketers, got great results by automating the call for ebook reviews:

One of the emails in the sequence for folks who get the ebook is the ask for a one-sentence ebook review. I ask them to post it on Twitter and to send me the link to the tweet. I’m collecting the screenshots of those reviews, which I’ll eventually put on the landing page, but they’re also just helping me share the book, which I can retweet and engage with.

The result? Plenty of reviews, which both confirm the quality of the ebook and spread the word about it further.

Let your customer speak about your book and then amplify their words.
Let your customer speak about your book and then amplify their words. Image via Jimmy Daly on Twitter

5. Add and promote extra ebook formats and additional resources

Remember that your ebook isn’t just an ebook. Yes, it’s packaged in a PDF with a certain number of pages—but an ebook is much more than that. It’s the key for your reader to achieve the result they want.

Some of your ideal readers may want to read a Kindle ebook instead of a PDF on a desktop or tablet. Others may like listening to books more than reading them.

This is why you should consider:

  • Recording an audio version of your book; Jimmy Daly’s ebook, 10 Advanced Content Marketing Concepts, is also available as a 48-minute audio
  • Offering additional file formats, like EPUB (for the Universal Book Reader app) and MOBI (for Kindle devices); this is what Steph Smith did with her ebook

You don’t need to delay or complicate your launch if you don’t have these formats ready. The best way you can do is to ask your email subscribers and social media followers about their preferred ebook formats—this is exactly how Jimmy Daly and Steph Smith ended up creating their additional formats.

Another way you can make your ebook more attractive and valuable to your potential customers is by adding extra resources and materials you don’t offer anywhere else.

For Steph Smith’s ebook, these resources are accessible to a community of creators, 22 exercises, and 12 recorded live sessions going over the material.

In the case of our very own Nathan Barry’s Authority ebook, you get:

  • The ebook
  • The audiobook
  • Expert interviews
  • Tutorial videos
  • Additional resources
Nathan Barry’s Authority is a complete resource to build an audience and gain financial independence—so much more than just an ebook.
Nathan Barry’s Authority is a complete resource to build an audience and gain financial independence—so much more than just an ebook. Image via Nathan Barry

6. Build and nurture a dedicated social following

The final way to promote your ebook is less of an ebook launch strategy and more of an overall approach to how you market and position yourself as a creator.

Becoming a creator isn’t about one successful launch; it’s about consistently showing up and teaching everything you know. By doing this, you’ll build a following on social media that’s about more than just numbers.

These people will follow you because they want to hear more from you. More tips, more behind-the-scenes, and more of what you’re good at—so give it to them.

Use these tips to show up on social media consistently:

  1. Set up a schedule to share advice about your topic in micro-content format. Twitter threads, Instagram posts, and Instagram stories work really well for this purpose.
  2. Draw these tips from your past blog posts, newsletters, videos, and questions you often hear from your audience in comments, DMs, and emails.
  3. Occasionally link to your free and paid content from these tweets and posts. It’s a hyper-relevant context, and your followers will appreciate it and likely engage with it.
  4. Interact with other relevant people in your field. This will get you on their radar, especially if you engage with influencers and other larger accounts. Use social media to be social!

Kaleigh Moore does these threads several times per week and experiments with length and style. She uses this as an opportunity to link both to content from other resources and to her paid ebook:

Kaleigh Moore features her paid ebook towards the end of the Twitter thread.
Kaleigh Moore features her paid ebook towards the end of the Twitter thread. GIF via Kaleigh Moore on Twitter

Tom Hirst focused on building his Twitter audience around 10 months before releasing his first paid product. He now has more than 10,000 targeted followers. He shared what worked for him:

Showing up on Twitter daily and sharing useful tips has definitely built momentum. I aim for 5-10 tweets per day. Batch writing these tweets a week at a time, in advance, really helps with the consistency.

Another thing Tom does really well is reusing tweets and threads that worked in the past. He regularly retweets his past tweets, which helps him show valuable content to people who didn’t follow him at the time he originally posted it.

Tom Hirst regularly mixes fresh tweets with retweets of older content.
Tom Hirst regularly mixes fresh tweets with retweets of older content. Image via Tom Hirst on Twitter

Create an ebook marketing plan you can rely on

Now that you know: there’s nothing that can stop you from launching a successful ebook. Whether you’re just starting to write it or it’s ready for your readers, you can focus on any of these six ebook promotion ideas and get it in front of the right people—your target readers.

The best part? You don’t need to start from scratch with any of these tactics. With ConvertKit, you can start with a landing page template, and thanks to ConvertKit Commerce, you can start selling your ebook without extra tools or payment processors.

You’ll build an ebook marketing machine, create another income stream, and keep more money from your ebook sales. All you need to do is get started. You got this!

 

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Marijana Kay

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer for leading B2B SaaS companies. She uses data-backed, actionable content to help them hit and exceed their growth goals. In her spare time, she collects books and logs running miles.

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