If you want to make a lot of extra money beyond your regular web-writing income, e-books are the clear answer.
For that matter, any self-published item you write and market on your own can mean a huge cash infusion. It’s also a major credibility booster to your name. There’s nothing like saying, “I authored a book on that” to make others think you’re an expert on a particular topic.
E-books and other self-published items produced electronically have a lot of pros. They tend to have a 100% profit margin. You don’t have to deal with printing or shipping costs. You don’t have inventory to store. Plus, they’re quick and easy to update so you never have to worry about out-of-date material.
Veteran copywriter Bob Bly points out there’s a higher perceived cost for e-books in the minds of most buyers. Consider that e-books are typically less than half the length of regular books, yet they sell for two or three times more! (E-books usually sell for at least $19 and as much as $39 … yet printed books in the store are closer to the $9 – $19 price range.)
All this means e-books can bring you thousands of dollars a year in extra revenue …
… but none of that matters if you don’t know how to market those books. So today, I’m going to walk you through the process of creating an e-book marketing system that brings you steady income for years to come.
Step 1: Do This Before You Write Your First Word
Marketing is the most important part of publishing. According to Gary Scott, author of AWAI’s Self Fulfilled: How to Be a Writer and Publisher program, “Marketing in publishing is understanding the market of information and entertainment buyers. It is understanding who buys what and why.”
He goes on to say, “If you can figure out what will interest a large group of easily-reached people, half of your publishing job is done!”
This means it’s critical to choose a topic that sells.
Most gurus counsel new writers to “write about what you know” … or at least write about something that interests you. But along with that, you must write about an in-demand topic.
Here are three ways to choose the most marketable topic for your book:
- Use SEO research — Search Engine Optimization research — to determine demand. Before you write a single word, first make sure people are using the search engines to find information on your topic.
- Clearly define your market. You need to know who you’re writing to. The more specific you can get, the better.
- Establish your credibility. The most marketable books have an authoritative slant to them. After all, readers want to feel confident that the information they’re getting is reliable and accurate. If you have no background or experience in your topic of choice, either co-write the book with someone who does or interview experts on your topic. Then cite their credentials throughout the book.
Once you’ve done these three things, your chances of writing a highly-marketable (and thus, profitable) book go up tremendously.
Step 2: Design Matters, So Don’t Skimp
The content in your e-book is absolutely the most important element … but you don’t want to skimp on appearance.
Go the extra mile to make sure your book is set up in a professional layout. At a minimum, you need a nice graphic on the front. It would also serve you well to have graphics sprinkled throughout the book — just make sure they’re relevant to the content.
Sites like istockphoto.com or bigstockphoto.com are good places to find graphics at a low cost.
For the internal layout of the book, make sure your text is well-spaced and bolded or italicized as needed. Use white space, headlines, and subheads to improve readability.
For the body copy, a font size between 10 and 12 is ideal. Whatever you do, don’t try to “cheat” your customers by using a size-16 font for your body copy and then claiming your book is an extra 50 pages long. This will only make your customers mad.
In fact, I once bought an e-book with an oversized font. It was marketed as “100+ pages of valuable content!” I felt cheated by the author and have vowed to never again buy her products.
A Table of Contents, headers and footers, and an “About the Author” blurb also go a long way in ramping up the professionalism of your book, making it more likely to be bought.
Once you’ve selected a cover photo or graphic, it’s a good idea to render a three-dimensional image of your book. Doing so often boosts sales. Search the term “3D image-maker for e-book” to find free 3D graphic generating programs.
When it comes to selling your book, you’ll find that images can influence sales. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cover images to see what brings in the most buyers.
Step 3: Officially Market Your E-book
With your e-book written and designed, all that’s left to do is to market it and reap the rewards.
The most effective way to sell your e-book online is to:
1) Write dedicated online sales copy for your book.
2) Put the copy on a landing page designed to sell. Even better than that is to get your book its own domain name so it looks more like a stand-alone product and less like a spinoff of your other services.
3) Drive traffic to your landing page through social media, videos, and PPC ads.
4) Use email software to capture email addresses from the people who visit your landing page — this is how you’ll build your list.
5) Offer a free e-zine with useful content to increase the number of email-address sign-ups.
6) Convert the people on your list to buyers with an autoresponder series.
While writing your site, be sure you revisit the fundamental rules of good copywriting. Things like:
- Tie in core emotions. All purchases are made with the heart first, and then the head. Write your sales copy so it appeals to your prospects’ key feelings.
- Write with specifics. Using facts and figures both intrigues prospects and gives your writing credibility.
- Offer something free. Free reports and bonus reports are proven tools for improving response. You might even offer a “free sample” of the first chapter of your e-book.
- Include endorsements.
- Offer a purchase guarantee — i.e., “Satisfaction guaranteed or you get 100% of your payment back.”
Step 4: Vary the Types of Media You Use to Market Your Book
The Internet should be your first avenue of promotion, because that’s where you’ll find your buyers — online. Put the bulk of your effort into creating a quality website, crafting informative e-letters, writing articles that promote your book, and sending useful emails.
Other sources you can use to promote your book are newspapers, magazines, press releases, snail mail, and even other published books.
Finally, list your e-book in a directory to improve your chances of finding buyers. Some directories simply list all the e-books in publication while others act as affiliate partners — meaning they take a commission if somebody buys your e-book through their link to your site.
Some e-book directories I recommend include:
In addition, you can recruit affiliates to sell your e-book. Look for other Internet marketers or companies in your field and ask if they’d be willing to do a Joint Venture. They’ll get a commission from your sales, but you’ll get access to their entire list of buyers.
Step 5: Write More E-books and Repeat the Process
Finally, once you have a mailing list that includes people who bought your book, you can make additional profits on backend sales — i.e., purchases from repeat buyers. Simply repeat the process of writing an e-book on an in-demand topic and then market it to your list.
The end result will be a steady stream of sales that go straight into your pocket. And, you’ll be building your web-writing reputation and generating project leads while you’re at it.