As the Internet has gotten larger and more prolific, it can be difficult to research and find the exact information you need. E books have filled this need with instant, tailored information, delivered for a price. Publishing an ebook is much easier than publishing a paper book, and it can pay even better. Thanks for sharing.
Ten things to screw up when putting out an ebook:
It’s too long. This sucker is 220+ pages! I didn’t know that eBooks were better off at a shorter length. People don’t tend to read for hours on end on a digital screen, and they tend to go for shorter eBooks for that reason.
It’s too expensive. At $36, it offers great value given all the stuff I packed into it, but people are used to paying less for eBooks. Even worse, by blowing out all my info in one book, I had no followup book to up-sell the writers who bought the first book. I wasn’t creating a sales machine, like you want. I just had a one-off product. Again, I probably would have done better publishing a smaller ebook at a lower price.
It should have been split. The book has three sections — how to write for publications, copywriting, and blogging. Duh! I could have created a cool Make a Living Writing ebook series, strengthened my brand, and had more products to sell. It’s always better to have more products because then you can bundle them in different ways or offer them as freebies to incent people to buy other products. Also, splitting it up likely would have gotten the first one done faster and allowed me to start earning sooner.
Not enough specifics. I’ve learned that writers need to be told very specifically, exactly how you do something. For instance, one I got recently: “If I’m contacting a charity about doing a pro bono sample, what exactly should I say to not seem desperate?” You can bet the next version of this material will have a lot more granular detail and answers to these nitty-gritty questions.
No setup for sequels. My title says it covers this entire century. What was I thinking? If I’d called it Make a Living Writing 2010, I could have published a new and slightly updated version of it each year, like What Color is Your Parachute? does, and created a franchise. The release of the new edition would have generated new interest and sales each year.
No related Webinars or classes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about writers, it’s that you love free stuff. You also love live training, where you can get your personal questions answered by experts. I found there is much more interest in my one-on-one coaching and my classes than I ever saw from the ebook, because the ebook wasn’t presented as part of a suite of comprehensive learning help. (Look for me to create eBooks from some of my courses and Den boot-camps in the future to rectify this problem.)
Next to no marketing. I really had no idea how to market an ebook. OK, I built a little interest with a few blog posts about the content. But honestly — I did no contest, no giveaways, I wasn’t on Twitter yet. It was pretty minimal. I didn’t have a bunch of big bloggers contribute to it so that there’d be a team of people ready to help me market it. I look back now and I can think of 20 ways to promote it that I didn’t yet understand. So there was no big explosion of initial sales.
It’s only a PDF. I did not have the vaguest idea how to digitally publish an ebook. Rather than try to figure it out, I wanted to just do a PDF. I knew how to get a designer to make me a PDF, so I did that. The world of digital publishing for the Kindle and Nook and all the other ways completely confused me. So I ignored it. The problem is, the Kindle format is just exploding. I kept getting inquiries from writers about whether I had a Kindle version — and I had to tell them no, I didn’t. Who knows how many sales I lost.
Formatted wrong for digital. After doing the PDF, I learned you need very specific formatting in order for a book to transfer to Kindle and other popular ebook formats. Of course, I didn’t bother to learn those specs and use them in creating my PDF. Given that, I would have needed to get someone to reformat the whole thing and repage it, which sounded like a massive headache. So I just passed on the whole opportunity. Now I realized it was stupid not to make the effort to get it converted.
No sales funnel. Let’s face it — at this point, if your ebook isn’t on Amazon, you are missing a huge automatic sales funnel that could be sending you customers while you sit back and do nothing. Your ability to promote it on your own tiny blog is nothing compared to the exposure it gets on one of the biggest sites on the Internet, just from people doing searches in their “book” tab.
The whole time I’ve been selling my ebook, the Kindle phenomenon has just been growing and growing. Now, it’s too big to ignore.