Marketing Bootcamp

3 Steps to Writing and Promoting an eBook

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The following excerpt is from Wendy Keller’s book Ultimate Guide to Platform Building. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

An ebook is an excellent choice for a freemium or a premium. It allows you to give valuable knowledge to people, which anchors your expertise in their minds. It also entitles you to tactfully pitch them while they’re reading. Best of all, an ebook is the easi­est way to attract the benefits from the principle of “Givers Gain.”

Before you think, “I can’t write!” or “I don’t want to write a whole book just to give it away!” let me assure you that an ebook is a great giveaway, worth the effort and doesn’t have to be anywhere near as long as a “regular” book.

Here’s the easiest, fastest way to get an ebook done in three steps:

Step 1: Decide on your content

It will be a lot easier when you know what you want to write about!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do my customers tell me they find most daunting when they want to pur­chase a product or service like mine?
  • What’s the most common complaint I hear from customers about my competi­tors?
  • What do customers like most about having purchased the product? Are they hap­pier, richer, thinner or healthier?
  • What’s the number-one most unusual or surprising thing about the way your industry or business works -- something people who just start working in it are always surprised to see?
  • Are there systems or processes in your business, either ones you built because you wanted to do it better or industry standards that could be the differentiation your company needs to attract more customers?

Now that you have your first concept in mind, take an hour to sketch out the basic sub-themes. What points will prove your ebook’s promised result? Three to five should be plenty. Remember, by educating the consumer, you’re helping them like and trust you -- and buy from you.

As an example, let’s say you sell candle-making equipment to amateurs. Your ebook could be all about how to choose the right kind of wax based on scent throw and melt time, and how to choose the right size wick based on candle diameter. While this information is all over the internet for free, the fact that you’ve taken the time to assemble it in an ebook format, heavily branded with your name, logo, website and maybe a 10 percent off discount to your online store, will move you to the head of the class.

Step 2: The easiest ways to write

Once you know what you want to talk about and have roughed out an outline, you’re ready to fill the ebook with valuable, organized content. Here are two methods that work equally well:

Dictation Method

If you’re a better speaker than typist, and you’d like to make this process easy on yourself, all you have to do is sketch out your outline, then, using your smartphone or your computer’s sound recorder, record yourself talking about the topic. The average person speaks 110 to 150 words per minute. There are between 4,125 and 5,500 words on average in a 15- to 20-page book. So can you spare 37 to 49 minutes? That seems like very little time to create an ebook, doesn’t it? Don’t stress over trying to organize it perfectly, just talk naturally. Edit it later or have someone else do that part.

When the audio file is complete, look up www.Rev.com. Sign up, send them your file and let them transcribe it for you. You can edit it when it gets back.

Typing Method

If you think while you type, like I do, I recommend setting aside just two to three hours on a day when you’re relaxed and can focus on this task. Take your outline and write to match it, so you’re sure you cover every topic you intended. Now don’t look at the document for three days, so the words fade from your short-term memory. Go back over it just once with a red pen. Ta-daa! Make the changes and you’ve finished your ebook!

Either way, make sure you include several success stories from people who worked with you or consumed your product or service. Talk about your client’s relief, joy, success or health after he encountered your phenomenal work. If you don’t have a signed release from the person you wish to use as an example, create a montage of a typical customer and the result they get when they work with you. Without a release, always make sure you change identifying details like age, name, gender, location, etc. so the original person won’t recognize themselves in the story.  

Subtly pitch throughout the document and dedicate the whole last page to pitching. Put your contact information boldly on the back page. Invite readers to go to a hyperlink where you’re giving something else away, or where they can watch a short video of you talking more about the topic. Offer them a discount code because they read the ebook. Offer another surprise bonus, anything special or something that invites them to take one more baby step closer to your cash register.

You may want to get your ebook professionally edited. The cost of editing an ebook up to 20 pages can range from $40 to $100. You want to assign your editor three tasks:

  • Does the content make sense to someone with no knowledge of the subject? If not, where does it not make sense?
  • Is the English in proper form? Review grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Does it read well? Often, we’re so excited about some facet it’s easy to go off on a tangent. It may fascinate us, but someone else may fall asleep during the first page. Ask for truth.

Once the contents are completed, it’s time to go on to the physical structure of your ebook, and then how to start benefitting from your creation.

Step 3: Structure, format and delivery methods

If you think people will print out your ebook in order to read it, use a serif font, like Times New Roman, to increase readability. I recommend 12- or 14-point type for the body, 16 point for the subheadings, 22 point bold for the chapter headings, if any.  

If your ebook is short (10 or fewer pages) and people are likely to read it online or on an ereader, I suggest you use Verdana or any other easily read sans serif font you prefer. I recommend 10- or 12-point type, 16 point for the subheadings and 22 point bold for the chapter headings, if any.

Give every page a one-inch margin, and double space the entire document so it reads more easily. Make sure to put a page number on every page, except the first one. Put your contact information (URL, address and phone number), and if you choose, the © copyright information. You may want to add a table of contents if it is more than 10 pages long.

Decide if you’ll add images. You should purchase the license for any images you use. Go to Getty Images, ShutterStock or DreamsTime to acquire them.

Next, create a terrific cover page. It can be elaborate, an image or professionally designed. You can go to Fiverr and get a decent cover designed for just $5. Or you can just type the title of the ebook in a big, bold font. Include your name and contact information. Paste the cover art to the top of the document.

Now turn the whole thing into an ebook by saving the finished Word document as a pdf. (This only works if you have a version of Adobe installed. It’s free as of this writing.)  

To ensure your copyright is protected, you may want to register your ebook with the U.S. copyright office. Find out more at www.copyright.gov/forms/formtx.pdf.

All that remains is setting up a way for your PDF ebook to be automatically delivered to your customer in return for -- at the very least -- their first name and email address. If you have a web expert on your team, ask for their suggestions. Otherwise, take a look at these auto-responder providers:

An “auto-responder” is a piece of software that will automatically send a pre-determined email on your behalf to anyone who takes a certain action, such as filling out a form on your website to request your ebook.

Now all you have to do is start offering your ebook at the bottom of your blogs, on Facebook, on your business cards, on your website, on a sign in your store, at parties, with complementary business owners who may have mailing lists that might like your ebook as a bonus to their own people, and so on. You may want to promote it by running Google or Facebook ads (recommended reading: Perry Marshall’s Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords and Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising). Your entire platform strategy could be focused just on inducing people to take your high-quality, good-looking, immediately delivered free ebooks.

Done right, your ebook will make such a positive first impression that it will encourage customers to like and trust you enough to do business with you.