According to January 2014 Pew Internet report, the number of people reading ebooks is steadily growing. It is up to 28% from 23% last year. The report states:
“The January 2014 survey, conducted just after the 2013 holiday gift-giving season, produced evidence that e-book reading devices are spreading through the population. Some 42% of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34% in September. And the number of adults who own an e-book reading device like a Kindle or Nook reader jumped from 24% in September to 32% after the holidays.”
Just over half of all Americans own some type of mobile device, such as a tablet, iPad or an ereader like a Kindle. In addition to those numbers, one out of every five people in the world own a smart phone. What do these numbers mean for your business? You can reach those who own ereaders as well as those who are using smart phones in a unique and fun way through micro-books.
What Is a Microbook?
A microbook is a longer book that is broken into short, quick chapters and sent out in micro-installments that keep your business in front of the customer.
The idea behind microbooks is a fast read. Keep in mind that you are trying to reach readers who are carrying mobile devices (Nook, iPad, iPhone). They may need a quick read as they commute on the train to and from work, while waiting for an interview, in a doctor's office or one of the may other times each day people find themselves with down time and pull out the trusted mobile device to stay entertained.
What Should Your Book Be About?
Although traditionally, micro-books have been novels, you could certainly offer nonfiction in the same format. Better yet, think about your business model and how you might create a character that speaks to your customers. For example, if you own an auto body shop, you could create a novel about a customer who gets into auto mishaps on a regular basis or write a soap opera style series that is centered around the characters who work in an auto body shop.
The only limit is your imagination.
Also, keep in mind that installments should be very short, so you can utilize social media like Twitter or Facebook.
“A microblogging novel, also known as a micro novel, is a fictional work or novel written and distributed in small parts, defined by the system it is published within. A ‘Twitter novel' would be published in chapters of 140 characters or less, and a ‘Facebook novel' might be limited by Facebook's ‘read more' limitations of 300 characters.” – Wikipedia
Shorter excerpts also lend themselves to SMS messages. The trend of cell phone novels started in Japan in 2003 and has grown so popular in Asia that many novels are turned into this format. In fact, one of my own novels was purchased by a Japanese publisher, translated and sent out this way. It was successful enough that they turned Finding Ms. Right into a manga comic in October of 2013.
According to the LA Times, “One teenager who wrote a three-volume novel on her phone has gone on to sell more than 110,000 paperback copies, grossing more than $611,000 in sales.”
What businesses can learn from this model is that digital novels presented in new and trendy ways are on the rise. In addition, you can send out your book in multiple formats. If you keep it to 140 characters or less you could:
Include a post on your own blog along with an image or interesting video
Send out the segment via SMS
How Should You Deliver It to Readers?
Micro-installments are the key to microbooks, as mentioned above. In the article Bringing Tweets Into Your WordPress Site, Jerry Low discusses how to automate WordPress and include what you've posted on Twitter in your blog's sidebar. This is a great way to keep readers updated on the next segment of your microbook without using precious time and resources posting on more than one platform. In addition, you can use IFTTT to set up additional automated posts. For example, if you post an excerpt from your book on Twitter, you can set up IFTTT so that it automatically goes to your blog, to Facebook and to an SMS list.
Another option, if teeny tiny installments aren't quite your thing is to create small books of 1,000-2,000 words and upload them to SmashWords and Amazon Self-Publishing for Kindle. Smashwords is a fantastic way to offer free installments to readers, because they convert the book into formats for the different e-readers.
ePub (for iPhone, etc.)
Read online via Smashwords (HTML)
Getting the Most Mileage Out of the Book
The great thing about using microbooks for promotion is that you can create one pretty inexpensively or hire someone to ghost write it for you. If you have very specific knowledge, you might find it easier to write the book yourself and hire someone to edit it for you.
Bonnie Daneker was interviewed by Valerie Peterson over at About.com's Book Publishing section and described the advantages of using a book to market your business like this:
“When a nonfiction business book or biography is used to help market a business, it’s a marketing tool, a big business card, introducing your company’s offerings, starting conversations and providing a path to “get your foot in the door.” With international and electronic distribution from companies such as amazon.com, your book is a plane ticket, taking you and your business to places you haven’t been before – new geographies, new industries, and new customers.”
Some things you'll want to do to get the buzz going and keep it going:
Guest blog on other sites and talk about your free microbook and how people can subscribe.
Include multiple ways for people to subscribe.
Be sure to include a link to your website and a description of what you have to offer the reader in every excerpt. If you are doing very short posts, you may need to use a URL shortening service to achieve this, such as goo.gl or bitly.com.
Ask for retweets and shares. A simple “please RT” can signal to readers to share the excerpt in their own Twitter feed.
If you're still a little uncertain about using this platform, consider dipping your toes in slowly with these ideas.
One way to expand your reach in almost any type of promotion you do is to work cooperatively with other business owners. Of course, you'll want to be sure they aren't competition and that their business compliments yours. For example, if you are a cake decorator, you can target the wedding market and team up with a florist, dress shop, photographer and caterer. Each service/product is complimentary but not competing.
First, gather the group of business owners together for a meeting either in person, phone or online. Decide how often installments will be sent out, what the basic storyline is (for a group, it is best to stick with fiction as everyone will have different areas of expertise for nonfiction). Choose a hashtag for the entire group. Example: #weddings
Each business should take a turn, in order, posting the next segment. When that segment is posted, they can include a link to their website, business name, etc. at the end. Each business should also promote the micronovel on their own websites and to their lists of customers.
Short Story or Tips
If you don't want to team up with other businesses, you could also create a short story, which is much less time consuming than a novel. A 1,000-2,000 word story will still give you ten to twenty short posts to work with and should help you reach new customers as the story is shared and new people sign up to receive the excerpts.
If you prefer to stay away from fiction, you can create a series of tips to send out. For example, if you sell shoes, you might want to create a tip a week to send out that offers a shoe tip, such as how to store shoes, how to stretch tight shoes, how to make shoes skid-proof, etc.
Employee Soap Opera
People love a good soap opera. Look at the popularity of prime time soaps like Dallas, Downton Abbey and even Breaking Bad. These shows, while different than a daytime soap, still meet the overall plot line that one could argue qualifies them as soaps.
Get your employees involved in the microbook. Ask them to brainstorm a soap opera set around the workplace and each employee contributes a short bit about a character he or she creates. If your company is big enough, you could send out a new installment every day. A smaller company, with less than 10 employees may want to send out one installment a week instead.
New Ways to Promote
The key to keeping your business trendy and reaching new customers is to seek out new ways to promote. Microbooks are still fairly young in America and have not yet taken off. Now is a good time to get your feet wet and reach an untapped market of young technologically savvy customers who just might love your mini-installments so much that they become loyal customers and share info on your business with other people they know.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.