Bloggers can do amazing things with an eBook. Whether it’s 10 or 200 pages, an eBook can be used as a subscriber or newsletter sign-up incentive, a viral promotional tool or sold for 100% profit through your blog.
This post will describe what you need and the approach you should take to finally start and finish the eBook you’ve always wanted to publish.
What kind of eBook should I write?
When answering this question, form follows function. The amount of work you need to put in will depend on what you want your eBook to do.
Encourage subscribers — a report of anywhere between 5 – 30 pages should be sufficient to motivate potential subscribers to action. Offer the eBook download via your feed footer only, which makes it essential that visitors subscribe before they can download it.
Instead of trying to write a miniature book, I’d suggest expanding on one of your most popular articles or exploring one of your blog’s key concept in more detail. If you’ve coined a term, for example, hinge the eBook around that term. Chris Garrett’s Killer Flagship Content eBook is a prime example of this strategy. You can use BlogClout’s Feed Footer Plug-in to add the link to your feed.
Create a souvenir — you can repackage your archives in eBook form in less than a few hours. The result will be a fantastic little item for your readers to keep or print out, and something they can share with others.
Aim to go viral — eBooks make it very easy to share ideas. If you create an eBook designed specifically to be shared, you can expect other bloggers to offer it for download and copies to be sent around through email.
If you don’t want to put a lot of work into it, a short eBook exploring a new, useful idea will suit you. If you want to put more effort into it, you could create something as long and value-packed as Seth Godin’s Ideavirus.
Sell it to your readers — bloggers have sold all kinds of eBooks to their readers, from 10 page reports, 80 page manifestos to 200 page guidebooks. You can charge more for a longer eBook, but you might sell less copies.
Your sales will hinge on the quality of your blog content and whether or not your eBook is attractive to your blog’s audience. You can also market an eBook as being, say, 100 pages, even if there are only about 200 words per page (as opposed to the usual 500). This also makes your eBook easier to read.
What tools do I need?
eBooks are almost always .pdf files and there are plenty of free programs you can use to create them, even if you don’t own Adobe Acrobat. PrimoPDF allows you to use MS Word’s ‘Print’ function to save documents as PDFs. Adobe’s CreatePDF service allows you to convert documents to PDFs online or use their free desktop printing software.
Most eBook writers will type out their rough draft in a word processing program, then either transfer it into Adobe Acrobat or use the same word processor to format the eBook as they’d like it to appear as a finished product. If your design skills are lackluster, you can search for a freelancer who’ll do this for you.
How do I start?
Your eBook will be easier to write if you work from a solid plan. Work out roughly how many pages you’re aiming for, what kind of topics, sections or chapters you’ll cover, and approximately how many pages you want devoted to each.
Instead of writing from start to finish, it might be a better idea to tackle each section individually and then string them together. If you try to start right at the beginning the task can seem insurmountable, particularly if you’re aiming to write something quite long.
My next suggestion would be to develop a writing schedule. When writing my eBook (which I’m currently editing), I dedicated one day a week to the eBook alone, with an aim to get it done as quickly as possible. You might choose to set aside one hour a day, or one hour a week instead.
Your time allocation will depend on how quickly you want to get the eBook done. I’d also suggest working on it in times when you usually write blog posts anyway, because your brain is used to being in writing mode at that time. Trying to schedule an eBook writing session when you’re usually asleep will probably be met with some biological resistance!
If you find yourself routinely putting off your writing sessions, a blitzkrieg approach might be better for you. Set aside one weekend or several nights in a row where you’ll write non-stop and try to get the eBook’s first draft finished. The result might not be pretty, but everything gets easier after that first draft is done. Don’t write and edit as you go along.
Trying to write a final draft from the outset will make you feel unsatisfied with the work you’ve done, which will almost always lead to procrastination. If your eBook is to be a quality product, you must feel good about the writing process.
When you’re done
The most common way to distribute an eBook via a blog is eJunkie. In addition to handling sales it also allows you to set up an affiliate program where readers make a certain percentage of the profit on every sale that they refer you.
An affiliate program does two things: reaches out to more buyers and creates more buzz around the book. It also encourages positive reviews. Let’s face it — nobody is going to trash a book they’re trying to sell!
Here are a few other marketing ideas you can use to sell your eBook:
Money back guarantee — the security of the money back guarantee makes people more likely to buy. This will outweigh the amount of people who claim a money back guarantee while still claiming the eBook. Most people are honest and will only ask for their money back if they’re genuinely disappointed with the product.
Give subscribers a discount coupon— include a special code in your feed footer and allow individuals who provide the code to purchase the eBook at 20% off (or some other percentage).
Offer pre-orders at a discount rate — you can create hype around your eBook by offering discounted pre-orders before you publicly release it. Just make sure it’s finished, first.
Create a special mailing list for eBook owners — provide a password or URL in your eBook that allows owners to sign up for an exclusive newsletter. Make the newsletter worthwhile by providing exclusive offers and articles to those who’ve signed up. I’d suggest not sending out a newsletter more frequently than once every two weeks to avoid being seen as intrusive.
If you need any more advice on writing an eBook, I’ll be answering questions in the comments section of this post.