Hundreds of people today are engaging in a new type of small business; they are selling ebooks they have written themselves, and making a decent profit. If you can write a good ebook, and then keep writing them, you will have a slowly-building regular income from its sales.
Can You Write An Ebook? — Answer the following questions:
— Do I know a lot about a specialized subject that not many books have been written about? (check Amazon for other books.)
— Do I have the ability to write reasonably well?
— Do I have the stick-to-itiveness to complete a book?
— Do I understand how to market my own products, or am I willing to learn?
If you can answer these questions affirmatively, then writing ebooks is something you should try.
Choosing A Topic
Your ebook topic must meet two criteria: it must be something that you, the writer, know well or can find out about; and it must be something that other people are very interested in learning about. For instance, one excellent topic is a book of dieting tips, hunting tips, fashion tips, car-buying tips — you get the drift.
In addition, your topic, while it can be obscure, should be large enough for you to write at least 35,000 words on. This is about a hundred pages if you write your text in Word. It should also be a subject that interests you enough to stick to it for all hundred of those pages.
Sticking To It
Chop your topic into bite-sized pieces. Each piece can be either a chapter or an individual tip/entry/whatever. With chapters, try to make them at least two pages long — but as a general rule of thumb, short chapters will work better because readers will have an easier time digesting them. You’ll also have an easier time writing those short chapters.
For example, if you’re writing a book on how to make doll clothes, you can start by dividing it into measuring dolls, hand stitching, machine sewing, crochet, knitting, and accessories. Further subdivide these topics — for instance, hand stitching can include sections on making doll quilts, small accessories like mittens and socks, using large stitches to decorate coats and hats, using embroidery techniques, etc. While it’s very difficult to write a book all at once on how you can make doll clothes, it’s not so hard to write a few hundred words, or less with pictures, on how to stitch fleurettes on doll clothes so your granddaughter can use them as buttons. Organized well, these short pieces will eventually build into a decent ebook.
There’s one other thing you must do in order to write your book: sit down and write a piece every single day. You don’t have to finish a chapter at a time, but unless you’re adding words in, you aren’t going to finish the book, ever.
Be patient. It can take six months or longer to complete your book. It all depends on how easily the words come to you.
Preparing the Ebook For Sale
Once the book is completed, you’ll need to format it, turn it into a PDF file, and upload the file to your website with some way to purchase it. This is beyond the scope of this article, but I will give you some basic advice.
— Always number your pages with large numbers in the top right corner.
— Always include a complete table of contents.
— Try to include a graphic on every other page, at least. More is better.
— Use a font between 14 and 16 points in size, so your older readers won’t have trouble reading the book.
— Design a pretty cover; pictures are often great for this.
— Use Open Office (a freely downloadable program) to create your PDF, if you don’t have another means. Open Office reads Microsoft Office documents quite well, and there’s a very simple way to create a PDF from any file it can read.
If you don’t have the skills to make your book look attractive, or if you don’t understand the stuff I just said, you may need to hire someone to format the book for you.
Marketing Your Ebook
Once you’ve got your ebook prepared, you’ll need to market it. Register it on every directory you can find online, and use good solid SEO-friendly language to describe it. So for your doll clothing book, you might describe it as: “A beginner’s guide to making doll clothing for your daughter or granddaughter.” Simple, clear, and concise.
Consider using excerpts of your book as short articles, and submitting them to article directories. These are places online where you can send original articles with a link to your website. Others may pick up your articles and add them to their own websites, retaining the link to you. It’s a way to give information to other people that will then send their traffic to you. You can also email owners of websites or ezines that work well with the book you’re selling — for instance, fabric sales or doll sales sites — to see if they would send traffic your way in exchange for articles, or if they might even be interested in selling your book on their site for a share of the profit.
Consider purchasing advertising or participating in link exchanges; these services can drive traffic to your website.
Lastly, if you’ve written a properly-researched book, you’ll know about forums and other places online where people who are interested in your ebook hang out. Go there, talk to the members, let them know you have a book they might like. This will drive traffic to your ebook site.
To make it easy for people to buy your book, get at least a free Paypal account. If you upgrade to a professional account, you’ll have to pay a cut of your income to Paypal, but you’ll be able to accept credit card transactions as well as Paypal transactions. And all this can be done online.
In addition to selling it on your own site, you should try to sell it on eBay. This can often be a very lucrative source of customers.
Remember to be patient. It can take months, even a year or more, for your book to start selling. Look at all that work you’re doing as an investment; you’ve been planting seeds, and ultimately you’ll be able to harvest them.
The unfortunate truth is this: in today’s market, nonfiction books are usually turned down by major publishers because there is little perceived audience for them. Fiction books, on the other hand, are usually turned down because they aren’t very good.
If you have written a novel that you can’t sell to a publisher, you should sit down and take a hard look at the book. If it won’t sell to a publisher, it’s not likely to sell online either. Think about it this way: are you willing to spend $10 on an electronic copy of an informative book that interests you? Are you willing to spend $10 on an electronic novel by an author you’ve never heard of? Most people will jump at the chance to buy a book on the mating habits of the koala if koalas interest them; but hardly anyone will buy a romance from an untried author when they can swing by the used book store and get one cheaper by an author they know.
If you must publish your fiction ebook, go ahead. Just don’t expect to make your fortune from it.
While it’s hard to catch plagiarized material in ebooks, it can be done — and having such a thing proved on you can ruin your business. Just don’t do it. You want repeat customers, not people who are ticked because you stole all your patterns from Crocheters Monthly.
Unfortunately, you may find your material plagiarized by an unscrupulous customer. Do a regular search on Google and in eBay for your book’s title and for a unique phrase on the first content page of your book. Most plagiarists are very lazy, and these items won’t be changed if they rip off your book to sell it for themselves.
Wrapping It Up
In no way does this article teach you everything there is to know about ebooks. It will get you started, help you move toward it, and maybe get you your first sales. But a good ebook entrepreneur will keep learning about online marketing: how to get and keep customers, how to find new people, how to get on the local news or written up in local newspapers.
After you’ve written and marketed your first ebook, learn about how to embed links into your future ebooks, how to set up affiliate sales (where you sell products for another site or company), and how to distribute your book to others to sell for you when you think you’ve exhausted your customer base. With creativity and constant learning, your ebook can turn into a long-term cash cow that will only continue giving.
Most importantly, one ebook will not make your fortune. Once you’ve finished your first ebook, write another, and another. If you’re lucky enough to have a niche with a wide range of topics, your current customers will continue buying each new book you put out. But most importantly, no matter what, keep writing new material.