This morning I was doing some reports on eBbook sales over the last few years and it struck me how much difference there can be in terms of numbers of sales from one ebook to the next—even ebooks sold on the same blog.
On dPS we have now launched six photography ebooks (and have another about to launch) and the variation in sales numbers is quite amazing.
Of course there are many factors that come into play that could determine an ebook’s success, including:
- timing of release
- cover design
- author’s profile
- and many, many other factors
However there’s one factor that I’m coming to see is extremely important (at least in my experience)—topic.
Of course that’s a pretty obvious thing, but not all topics are equal and even those that you think might be most appealing to people are not always going to succeed.
One illustration of this point are two great ebooks that we’ve launched in the last year or so. They were both written by the same author, and released to the same audience, at the same price, with much the same marketing strategy, and even similar sales copy—yet the results were quite different.
The ebooks were:
- Transcending Travel—A Guide to Captivating Travel Photography
- Captivating Color: A Guide to Dramatic Color Photography.
Which one do you think sold more?
I’ll tell you in a moment.
Both ebooks were written by Mitchell Kanashkevich and their quality was fantastic. Both were beautifully designed, very practical, and full of useful information.
The travel one launched first and we were a little unsure whether it was too niche-focused or not. While most people do travel and take trips, it’s something that most people only do occasionally.
On the other hand, color was a topic we identified as something every photographer really, really needed to know about and understand. It impacts every image a photographer takes, and understanding it can make a massive difference to the outcome of a shot.
Comparing the topics in this way we fully expected the color ebook to outsell the travel one, however, as you may have guessed, this was not to be.
Both ebooks performed well and were profitable but the travel photography one saw almost double the sales of the color ebook during its launch.
Now there could be a number of factors at play here, but as we’ve analyzed the results, one of the things we’ve realized is that while we thought that the color ebook should have been more useful to more photographers, it was somehow less tangible than the travel ebook.
While important, the topic of color was perhaps too wide and general in its focus to actually drive as many sales as we’d expected.
On the other hand, the travel ebook was narrower in focus, but it was going to lead those who bought it to see results in a specific area of their life. It would solve a specific problem that they faced—disappointing travel images.
We have since tweaked the marketing on the color ebook and have seen a rise in sales, but the two launches reminded us that not all topics are created equal.
That’s not to say that we won’t do more ebooks on topics like color, but we’re certainly looking for topics that solve specific, felt needs, too.
The other thing that this has taught us is to think more about marketing our ebooks even before they’ve been written. While we don’t want our marketing team to determine the content of a resource or to compromise the integrity of the authorship process, we’ve realized that if the author has been involved in talking about marketing even before they start writing, they’re more likely to produce something that is not only helpful but will also be easier to sell.