You might be wondering if ebook publishing is a good idea for your business.
Before you jump to a conclusion about this, I’m hoping you’ll read today’s rather lengthy post.
You see, ebooks come in many forms and can be delivered lots of different ways. Your business goals will determine the kind of ebook you might need. At any given time, you might want to have a combination of the three categories below (I know I do).
To inspire you to think about how to use ebooks for your business, I approached a handful of people who I consider to be “ebook masters.” Their comments and examples are sprinkled throughout today’s post.
Encourage the Spread of Infectious Ideas with a Viral Ebook
When your goal is to spread your idea as far and wide as possible, the perfect vehicle to use is a viral ebook.
What’s a viral ebook? It’s an ebook that you create and upload to your website that you allow people to download in one click. You don’t require them to register or opt-in to an email list. They just click a link and open the book right up.
Viral ebooks are almost always PDFs, especially when you’re offering them from your own website. Some people offer them on Amazon, though, and price them at $0.00 to make them a no-brainer download for browser on that site.
- You place no barrier between your idea and your audience, so you’re giving it the best chance of spreading.
- People love to share free stuff, so you have a better chance at enlisting others to help you spread the word.
- You aren’t able to capture any contact information, so there’s no way to keep in touch with those who’ve downloaded your ebook.
One way around this disadvantage is to place plenty of links in your ebook that lead the reader back to your website, perhaps to an opt-in style offer you have. When they visit your site to grab your offer, they’ll need to opt-in using an email address, and this allows you to stay in touch.
That’s exactly what I’ve done with my ebook Uncover Your Brand Personality in 10 Minutes or Less. This ebook — which is really a worksheet and some text — has been downloaded hundreds of times from my site. It’s consistently one of the most-visited pages on Big Brand System.
It’s an important concept I wanted to share without asking for an email address in return, so I made it easy to get access to in one click.
Increase Exposure with an Opt-In Style Ebook
When you’re trying to build a list of interested prospects that you can stay in touch with over time, your best bet is an opt-in style ebook.
In order to receive this style of ebook, your interested reader must share his or her email address. You then email the ebook file to them, or direct them to a page where they can download it. It’s free, but they “pay” with an email address.
These ebooks are almost always PDFs, because they’re easy to share through emails or links.
- When your prospect signs up to receive an ebook, they’re expressing interest in a topic. You can stay in touch with them over time, delivering more information and offering products or services related to the topic of your opt-in ebook.
- Getting an email address allows you to develop a relationship with the prospect over time, making it more likely you can build trust and likability (which leads to sales).
- Opt-in ebooks are typically longer and more complex that viral ebooks, and they can be a lot of work to put together. If you don’t have a clear path that will lead prospects to a product or service they can buy, you’ll spend a lot of effort to build an email list that doesn’t actually grow your business.
Johnny B. Truant recently started offering How to be Legendary, an opt-in style ebook that leads prospects toward a member community he developed.
In typical Johnny style, he claims to have put it all together quickly without a lot of planning.
‘Honestly, the release wasn’t thought out at all.”
But then he goes on, and you can see he’s set up a system …
“A lot of prep went into making sure that the backend was set up — I needed the ability to have people join my list and get a good series of emails afterward; the membership community that people who “want the next step” can join had to be built — but the release was pretty much “here it is.”
However, I guess I’d also built some anticipation beforehand, but that was just me writing posts while I was getting it ready about what was on my mind… and those posts did then mention the manifesto that was coming soon. So I guess I built buzz automatically. But when it was ready, I simply made it ready and told people. That was it.” –Johnny B. Truant
“Yes, I use ebooks for marketing. I have a free ebook giveaway as my email subscription bonus. It’s a 53 page Author 2.0 Blueprint containing the key aspects of writing fiction and non-fiction, self-publishing and book marketing. People actually review it on Goodreads but I have never sold it, although it is publishable quality.” – Joanna Penn
For Johnny and Joanna, going the extra mile to create impressive opt-in style ebooks helps establish their brand as one that offers high quality products and services. It sets the stage for a long-term relationship with their prospects.
Grow Your Bottom Line with a Paid Ebook Product
Paid ebooks are the most ambitious of all.
Non-fiction ebooks typically offer solutions to painful problems, share information, or provide training and resources that help people make a change. Fiction ebooks deliver powerful entertainment that readers are willing to pay for.
Paid ebooks can be either PDF or ereader format — or both. In future posts I’ll cover when you might want to create a PDF ebook, and when ereader formats work best.
- Paid ebooks can bring in significant amounts of profit. The trick is to create ebooks that truly meet a need your audience feels (read on for more about this).
- Paid ebooks are — for the most part — once-and-done projects. You work hard to write and create them, and you put together marketing to sell them. Once these items are created, though, you don’t have to continue to put effort into them, and you can reap the benefits of your work for many years.
- Paid ebooks can be a gamble for you as a businessperson. In order to charge money for your ebook, it must be top-quality. That means investing time, effort, and sometimes money into creating them. There’s always a chance you won’t sell enough to cover your investment.
Johnny and Joanna sell paid ebook products, and so do the authors below.
For Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics, ebooks are a “very secure source of income” for his business. He compares ebooks to print books, and says:
“Financially too, ebooks are superior. We’ve sold our ebooks from as little as $19 to $300 and they’ve all sold well. Once a book is put in a binding, the price automatically reverts to $15 (as on Amazon).”
And there’s something else. Besides providing income, ebooks help establish his brand (are you seeing a pattern here?). Sean says:
“… they also are a very good way of separating you from the junk that’s on the internet. Once a reader reads your ebook, it’s like entering your house. They know you’re a messy person, or not. They know you’re diligent or not. And they’ve had a one way assessment of you. They read your book and they decide: Where have you been all my life? or It was nice knowing you.”
He and his team have developed a system for planning, creating and marketing ebooks that works like a well-oiled machine. His most important tip?
Consider the needs of your market first.
“I think one of the keys in producing an eBook that will sell is to consider the reader’s needs from the very beginning. Our most successful eBooks solve a problem that our readers have so we look to identify a very tangible and felt need and then select an author and begin writing with the sole intent of producing something useful that solves that problem.
Doing this makes the writing process a lot easier but it has the bonus impact of making marketing the eBook a lot easier because people are more likely to buy something that is on a felt need than on something that you think they might find interesting.
There are many other areas that we spend considerable time including:
- Titles: in fact we probably spend more time on choosing a title and front cover image than we do many other aspects of the eBook.
- Design: we hire a designer to create a professional layout and cover. Our photography eBooks are very visual (as you’d expect them to be on that topic).
- Editing: we hire an editor to work with our authors to produce eBooks that not only flow and are grammatically correct but eBooks that are set out in a logical way and that go deeper than many of our authors would write on a first draft (having that outside influence challenges our authors to produce higher quality content).
- Marketing: our launches generally take 3-4 weeks and include a sequence of emails to our list, blog posts, guest posts on other sites as well as social media.
There is obviously a lot more to it than that — but that’s probably a topic for an eBook itself!”
How About You?
Have you created an ebook for your business yet? Which of the three types above have you used in the past?
Are you thinking about creating an ebook, but have some questions?
Pay a visit to the comment section below, and let’s talk about it.
Finally, many thanks to the “ebook masters” quoted above. And thanks to you for reading today’s extra-long post. It was several weeks in the making, and I appreciate your attention! Stay tuned for even more on this topic next week.