The Ultimate Guide to Writing, Promoting, and Selling an eBook

Have you always wanted to see your name in print? Are you an entrepreneur with a missionary bent? So full of ideas that your blog is no longer the best medium to share them? Or do you simply want to make your affiliate marketing sites more profitable? No matter what your reason for wanting to write an eBook, this article will provide all the information you need to set you on your way. It’s written with the non-fiction entrepreneur in mind; however, the basics will apply to any novice writer, whatever the market.

Write

Writing is communication. To succeed, you need to reach your audience on both an intellectual and an emotional level. You want them to understand your premise–and feel inspired to use your ideas. So, for the moment, forget about sales and promotions and focus on creating a quality product.

1. Ideas

If you’re seriously considering an eBook, you’ve probably got a few viable ideas. But just in case you don’t, here are some places to find inspiration. Remember, choose a topic you enjoy, not just one that seems marketable. If you’re not interested in the subject, it will show– that is, if you finish the book at all.

  • Brainstorming
    Yes, it sounds so obvious, but that’s because it works.  Take a pencil and paper and let your mind go wild.  It may go slowly at first, but you’ll soon find yourself scribbling with abandon. After an hour or so, scratch out everything involving zombies and look at what’s left. Chances are, you’ll find something inspiring and viable.
  • Your Experience
    What do you wish you had known when you started your business? What have you learned–and how did you learn it? What would you still like to know? You know from your blog traffic that people are eager to learn from your experience; an eBook is an ideal way to share it.
  • Your Audience
    Use your blog traffic for inspiration. What topics garner the most interest and comments? What questions pop up over and over again? Which posts are shared most frequently? These are the topics your potential readers care about–the ones they want to read about in an eBook.

2. The Process

Now that you’ve found a subject, it’s time to start writing. Even if you’re used to blogging, you may find writing a book to be little more challenging. Here are some ideas to help you through.

  • Outline
    Yes, yes, we know, but forget freshman English for a minute. An outline is actually a great tool for keeping your ideas organized, your writing on track, and your progress measurable. Without it, your eBook could end up as one big ramble. It’s much easier to build a coherent thesis in an outline than to excavate it later. So take time to write a thorough, logical outline.
  • Research and Documentation
    Your readers are counting on you to provide accurate information, and they’ll catch factual errors quickly. Take the time to research your topics thoroughly. Also, be sure to document your sources, and provide them in the reference section of your book. Never ever plagiarize; not only does it undermine your credibility and damage your (and your company’s) reputation, it’s wrong.
  • Discipline
    Writing a book requires sustained effort, often in less than ideal conditions. It’s important to accept that you won’t always feel like writing, that there will be interruptions, distractions, and some of your routine may be disrupted. No matter what happens, keep working. One of writing’s great mysteries is that, in the end, you won’t be able to distinguish between the passages that took days and two pints of blood to drag out, and those that blasted forth in a moment of joyful inspiration.

 3. Editing

Once you’ve finished your eBook, put it away for at least a week, then take it back out for revisions. You’ll be surprised to find that what seemed perfect is full of typos, dangling participles and flaws in logic. This is perfectly normal. After all, most of successful writing lies in the revisions. Correct what you find, then put it aside a second time. After the next round of editing, ask a few knowledgeable friends to read your work and provide their opinions and suggestions; it’s interesting what a few new pairs of eyes will discover. After several rounds of ruthless edits, you’ll have a new–and better–book.

Promote

You know your book will change the world; but unless the world knows about it, it is unlikely that it will even make any ripples. So what do you do next? Promote it, that’s what. Here’s how to convince others to buy it.

1. Pre-buzz

Promote eBookDon’t be shy; let everyone know you’re writing a book. It keeps you writing, for one thing. For another, it builds interest in the finished product. As soon as you publish your book, you’ll already have a little queue of interested buyers. If you blog (and if you don’t, you should), share the writing process with your readers. Your Twitter followers and FaceBook friends will also follow your progress with interest; some of them may also be inspired to buy the finished product, if only to be supportive.2. Post-publication PromotionsOnce your book is out in the open, it is time to ramp things up a notch. You need to keep promoting the book until you reach the tipping point where your first set of customers will bring in your second set of customers and so on. Here are some tips to create that post-publication buzz.

  • Social Media
    If you don’t already have a company page on Facebook, set one up, as well as an author page, both of which will attract the attention of people who may not want to “friend” you, but are very interested in your topic. The same goes for twitter, google+, pinterest etc. Here you can publicizes special promotional offers, post excerpts from your book, and apply your information to current situations. You can also interact with your fans and potential customers, driving more traffic to your website. Finally, don’t forget to ask. Social media interactions create loyalties between people who may never meet in person; many authors have found that they can boost sales just by asking “friends” to buy their books.
  • Blogging
    Your blog audience is full of potential customers; after all, they already have an interest in your topic, enjoy your writing style, and have a perceived relationship with you. Chances are, they’ll buy your book without much prodding. However, you can make it fun (and attract the casual visitor) with incentives such as giveaways (an autographed hard copy, small token, copy of a popular business-oriented book, etc.). If you can, trade guest blogging gigs with your colleagues; you’ll reach out to new readers and prospects.
  • Advertising
    Use your affiliate marketing experience to advertise for yourself. Implement your own pay-per-click program. Place ads on colleague’s sites. Create several landing pages, each designed to appeal to a certain set of keyword searches. If you have a database of customer email addresses, send a promotional email (no spam, please!). You might consider traditional print and radio promotions, or doing a library program; people are interested in authors, and you’ll reach a hitherto untapped demographic. Whether you are selling Insurance or an eBook, the basic principles are the same – try and reach as many potential buyers as possible.

No matter how you advertise, however, remember one key promotional concept: focus on your customers. Keep their interests, their problems, their objections firmly in mind. You’ve written a  book that addresses their concerns; make sure that your advertising portrays your book as the  solution they’ve been waiting for. Provide excerpts, testimonials, reviews–glimpses of the product to convince readers they need more.

Sell

Now we are in the home stretch. You have written a spectacular world. You have created a wonderful buzz and people are queuing up to place the orders. Now, its time to sell.

 Sell eBook1. Make it easy

Think about it: what makes you terminate that online sale? The price? A clunky website? Too many hurdles? Poor response time? A poorly delivered product? Make a list, then take the steps to ensure none of those reasons will plague your eBook sales.

  • Price
    Price your book competitively. Take overhead into account; however, don’t let dollar signs cloud your vision. It’s often useful to price the competition–and then undercut them slightly, making your book look like a bargain. Don’t underprice yourself, however. Oddly enough, people will appreciate a free eBook, or willingly pay $10.00 for a product they perceive will help them; however, if you price that same book for $.99, they’re just as likely to dismiss it as poor quality.
  • Website
    It’s crucial that you become your own customer. Literally. Buy your eBook, and have a couple of friends do the same.  In this way, you can find potential problems before they end your publication career prematurely. Is the site easy to navigate? Can customers input information quickly and easily? Are payments processed smoothly and securely?  When the eBook is delivered, does the formatting hold? Is the copy clean and professional? Don’t let your sales page go live until potential problems are found and solved.

2. Take it Global

One of the best ways to build eBook sales is to publish it using Digital Text Platform, Amazon’s eBook self-publishing arm. Full (very clear) instructions are available on the website, and the results are professionally produced. If you provide a well-written content description and cover image, it’s impossible for most searchers to discern at a glance whether or not your book is self-published. To encourage readers to take a chance on your book, ask some friends to play critic, post a few honest and balanced reviews and click on a few stars.  Chances are, Amazon attracts more potential buyers in an hour than your website does in…well, a very long time. If you want to garner more sales (and attract more attention to your business), this is a no brainer.

 3. Make it Accessible

Amazon provides another service, as well: CreateSpace, a print-on-demand self publishing program. You’re probably also familiar with iUniverse, another well-known, reputable on-demand company, and there are others out there as well. The fact is, by supplying your book solely in electronic form, you’re missing out on a fairly large demographic; the people who can’t afford an e-reader, are technologically inexperienced, or who simply prefer to use a physical book. You can, of course, begin the rounds of traditional publishing: find an agent, submit, reject, lather, rinse, repeat. But this process (although worthwhile) takes time; print-on-demand publishing allows you to take advantage of the market while your topic is relevant. Do good research; some publishers are far superior to others. But consider producing a hard copy of your book.

For those wishing to move beyond simple affiliate marketing and blogging–to build their platform, audience, and income, an eBook is a solid, cost-effective method. With time and effort (occasionally exhaustive effort), you can produce a quality book that delivers the information your clients need–and leaves them clamoring for more!

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