How I Failed At Marketing My Ebook (And What I Did Right)

Editor’s Note: This post was written by guest blogger Sara Lancaster. Learn more about her in the bio below this post.


sharp blog content sara lancasterEarlier this year I wrote my ebook 103 Ways to Create Sharp Blog Content and offered it for free online. I had three goals for the book: build links, attract new clients, and reach 5,000 downloads.

I’ve reached the first two goals, and I’m more than halfway to reaching the third goal, despite a few failures.

FAILURE #1: Expected a lot of easy love

I reached out to colleagues, friends, and blogging acquaintances and asked them to take a look at the book and provide a testimonial that I could publish on the landing page. A couple responded quickly with very generous testimonials, but a surprising number of people did not respond. I’ll admit that hurt.

Did they hate the book? Did my email go to spam? Were my friends too busy to care?

I vote for busyness.

For my next ebook promotion I’ll ask more than a dozen people for a review.  In fact, I think reaching out to a list of 30+ folks would be reasonable.

FAILURE #2: Didn’t get all the design pieces right

When you create an ad, you need a border. You also need to make all of your images pinnable for Pinterest. My bad. It’s critical to have a social-friendly product.

FAILURE #3: Settled for fizz

When I first launched the book, some buzz happened naturally. People took notice on Twitter especially. But aside from re-tweeting a few posts, I didn’t do much. I should’ve waited to release the book until I had the time to arrange an online book tour, create an infographic, and complete other marketing efforts to heavily promote in a shorter time frame.

My goal should have been to foster a frenzy over the book. Instead, I settled for a little fizz.

A few things I did right

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s a look at what I did that helped me reach (or get close to reaching) my three goals for the book:

WIN #1: Wrote a book with marketing in mind

Before writing a single word I thought about how I could get the most exposure. I did keyword research. I searched for competing books. I thought about what my ideal reader (customer) would want to read. Lastly, I found a way to get other people to participate in the project with the hopes that they’d help promote the book.

WIN #2: Made the book and marketing pieces pretty

I set a budget for my ebook project, and the biggest chunk of that money went to design. The book cover gets complimented frequently, and the custom landing page and online ads have allowed me to promote the book with ease (aside from the challenges I listed above).

WIN #3: Created more content and a pop-up box

In addition to the landing page and ads, I added a reference to the book on a handful of other web pages, including my “free writing resources” and “ebook writing services” page. I’ve also experimented with a pop up box for the book, something I once detested but changed my mind about when I saw that it worked.

WIN #4: Got official with a press release

The second biggest chunk of my budget went to a press release. I submit my releases through These releases don’t come cheap, but you get more links than PRWeb.

WIN #5: Invested in Facebook advertising

The third largest chunk of my ebook marketing budget went to Facebook advertising. The campaign took a bit of finessing before I found that sweet spot, but the work was worth it. So far, 13% of book downloads have come from Facebook.

WIN #6: Participated in group blogging projects

During the month of May I participated in a group writing project called the WordCount Blogathon. I blogged every day that month and visited as many of the other participating blogs as possible. I find group writing projects to be a great way to promote my brand and latest project.

WIN #7: Focused on the usual suspects

  • Hit up my social media profiles
  • Curated a Pinterest board specifically for the book
  • Published blog posts about the book launch
  • Wrote several guest blog posts (with mention of the book in my bio)
  • Included a write-up in my email newsletter
  • Created a Slideshare presentation

Truth is that with any marketing campaign you’re going to have a few wins and a few losses. Overall, I feel good about the work I’ve done, but it’s not over. I won’t stop until I reach 5,000 downloads. Less than that is one failure I refuse to accept.