Sunday, April 06, 2008

Targeting an E-Publisher (Part 4)

Continuing on with examining e-publishers to narrow down those you want to target for submissions.

Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Read part three here.

E-Publisher Website Usability
TeddyPig did a feature on his blog talking about publisher website designs and how easy or hard they are to use for readers. I highly recommoend reading his thoughts in addition to my own.

The reason you look at this is that it has a direct impact on your sales. Websites that are difficult to use or problematic can frustrate readers and make it difficult to find or buy your stories.

Can you find new releases?
Are new releases displayed prominently so readers always know what’s new? Many readers look at the front page of the publisher’s website to find brand new releases. New releases should be listed in date order because it’s frustrating to have to check every book released in “this month” to see which ones are new this week.

Can you find other books in a series?
If a book is part of a series (single author or multi-author), can you find the other books in the series easily and can you tell the order of the books in the series? This can make it far easier for readers to buy an entire series if they like one book in it or to keep track of a series at any time.

Can you find other books by a particular author?
Can you easily find other books by any particular author? If you open any book’s page, can you click on the author name to go to a bio or a page that contains links to other books by that author? This makes it easier for readers to discover your backlist and buy it when they like the book they’ve purchased.

Can you find a list of coming releases?
Is there a Coming Soon page that shows you the cover, blurb and author information for books that are coming soon? You want to be able to start promoting a book heavily once it shows up on the Coming Soon page and readers go through that page a lot more than some authors think, often announcing they’ve found new books by their favorite authors on it and asking for details.

Can you understand the Categories?

Are the e-publisher’s categories fairly standard or are they being customized to the point they are no longer recognizable. If your readers can’t understand the categories because they’re specific only to that author, they may not bother to browse them and you may lose a reader that may have otherwise stumbled across your book.

Can you easily purchase a book and download it?
How difficult is it to purchase a book and get it downloaded to your system? Do you have to go back and forth to a 3rd party fulfillment site? Do you get a download link immediately or do you have to wait to get an email? What formats are offered?
If you buy a book, do you pay per format or can you download any format at the end?

This can be a bit of a minefield and not many, if any, e-publishers do everything in the way I’d prefer but mainly you’re judging the pain factor of trying to be one of your potential readers by buying one or two books that interest you. If it’s too difficult, readers won’t bother to keep coming back and may not even complete their first transaction. That’s a sale lost.

Part Five tomorrow.

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