Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let me tell ya 'bout eBooks

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Lately, I've been fairly immersed in the world of eBooks. More so than, say, six months ago and before. I'm talkin' 'bout photography eBooks, of course.  And not just about authoring and marketing my own books -- plus promoting a select few others -- but also in terms of the photography eBook business as a whole.  It's quite an interesting and complex business!

First off, I've come to the conclusion there are two overall types of instructional photography eBooks available in the marketplace:  Those that are mostly instructional and those that seem little more than an (instructional) excuse to showcase the author's photographs.

The mostly instructional eBooks seem less inclined to attempt to impress people with the photos included between their cyber-pages.  Instead, they use photos to illustrate and underscore the instructional information contained in the book. The "showcase" eBooks seem mostly intended to impress with photos -- and often with a slick and stylish layout and book design to go with them -- sometimes setting too-high instructional goals for readers who are (either obviously or subtly) challenged to try to make photos that are on a par with those in the books.  In other words, to try to shoot photos that look like the author's photos.

Now don't get me wrong. Some of the "showcase" eBooks have their rightful place in the world of instructional photography eBooks. There's nothing wrong with less-experienced photographers aspiring to shoot photos that look similar and as good as the photos of photographers they may be fans of or whose eBooks they've read.  And there's nothing inherently wrong with instructional photography eBook authors showcasing their exceptional work... providing, of course, they actually provide enough instruction (along with their exceptional photos) for the less-experienced photographers/readers to easily digest and integrate into their shooting skills base. (Some "showcase" eBooks do and some don't.)

Here's an example:  If an exceptional photographer routinely shoots exceptional photographs in exceptionally exotic locales around the world, it's pretty freakin' obvious that those exotic locales are major contributors towards making the photos exceptional. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of their books' readers, no amount of instruction is going to make up for the value of the exotic locales the exceptional photographer routinely shoots in.

Here's another example, one that's aligned more closely with the theme of this blog, as well as my very first eBook endeavor: If I were able to author and release a nude/glamour/tease photo eBook with nothing but exceptionally killer shots, captured in truly awesome locations, and with a bevy of incredibly sexy and beautiful models, the kinds of models most photographers will never see in front of their cameras, how fair would it be if I were challenging my readers, either obviously or subtly, to match my photos in terms of their "Wow!" and "Holy Mother of God!" values?

It wouldn't be. Fair, that is. Nor would it likely be too instructional of an instructional photography eBook.

Okay, moving on... (I can already tell this is going to take more than one blog update for me to feel I've said/written all that I feel like saying/writing on this subject.)

You might be wondering, "How do some instructional photography eBooks make their ways to so many people's computers, tablets, smart phones, Kindles and more?"

Marketing, of course.

(Note: For the purposes of this blog update, I'm not referring to selling on Amazon or other places like that. My eBooks aren't for sale via those sorts of sales platforms. That might change in the future but, for now, you won't find my stuff on Amazon or similar sort of eBook seller... yet I still sell a pretty fair number of eBooks. Significantly more, quite possibly, than a large number of authors whose eBooks are exclusively sold from retailers like Amazon... and I don't simply sell mine for less in order to increase my sales. Just saying. Happily.)

Anyway, in terms of non-Amazon-type eBook sales, email marketing is the king. Actually, I should say email lists are kings.

If I had a huge targeted email list (i.e., targeting photographers) I'd be able to sell way more of my eBooks than I do now. Way more, that is, than I do without the help of my awesome sales affiliates, some of whom do have huge targeted email lists and who get paid pretty darn good commissions for using their email lists to promote my eBooks. I do have an okay sized email list collected from the records of each eBook I've sold in the last few years, but my email list is dwarfed  by some of the lists a few of my affiliates have. I mean seriously dwarfed!

A popular photography web site with an email list of, say, 50,000+ subscribers can sell a lot of freakin' eBooks! How? Simply by sending out one (1) bulk email promoting a specific eBook. As you might guess, I spend a fair amount of time cultivating new affiliates, leastwise trying to do so, especially those with big followings and who I suspect have big email lists. And I certainly don't begrudge them the commissions I pay out. (50% commission on each and every sale.) Not in the slightest. They worked hard to develop their followings and email lists and the ability to turn those followings and lists into profits are one of their just rewards.

Alrighty then. I'm done going on about this for now. I'm tired and my fingers don't seem to want to dance across the keyboard any longer without making way too many mistakes. More sometime later.

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