How To Write An Ebook To Market With
By Amanda Gagnon October 30, 2012
Click around on the Net, and you’ll see businesses giving away ebooks left, right and center.
You might see a hair salon with an ebook on matching your makeup to your hair color. Or a yoga studio with an ebook on ergonomic postures for the workplace.
It’s not that these businesses are passionate about sharing their messages with the world. Rather, the ebooks are a marketing utensil.
Why An Ebook?
A well-written ebook demonstrates that the company it’s from is run by experts in their field. They know all the nitty-gritty details, so customers can trust that they’re dealing with a reputable, knowledgeable business.
Generally, these ebooks are given away for free. This sparks appreciation from recipients, who may feel compelled to make a purchase in return (due to the rule of reciprocity).
Finally, the content of the ebook usually suggests ways readers can use the company’s products or services. If a soapmaking supplies vendor writes about how to tint soap red with sandalwood powder, it stands to reason they’ll include a link to their powdered sandalwood.
What Should I Write About?
Notice that none of the reasons are “the companies happen to employ budding authors.” That’s because the point isn’t to write beautifully; it’s to share helpful information you’re an expert on.
So that is exactly what you’ll write about. If you’re a fitness trainer who’s worked with a lot of older clients with back problems, you could write about safe exercises for injured backs or sleeping tips for back relief. You could even include sketched diagrams.
If you’re a baker with an online shop that specializes in gluten-free pastries, write up your top 3 gluten-free recipes, complete with tips for storing, freezing and serving.
And so on. Determine your expertise, then ask yourself what questions people may have on the topic. Write out your answers in your ebook.
How Do I Create The Ebook?
An ebook can be written in any word processing program (such as Microsoft Word or Open Office) as long as you can export your finished work as a PDF. This preserves your file so recipients can’t edit it.
In any of these programs, you can add pictures throughout to illustrate your points, display charts or graphs or provide points of visual interest.
If you want to incorporate special effects, such as flipping pages or an embedded video, you can choose the right ebook software for your needs from this list.
And How Do I Publish It?
Once it’s a PDF, the easiest way to get your ebook onto the Internet is to host it on your site. Then, share the ebook by sharing the link to where it lives on your site.
If you’re using WordPress, add the ebook as a new piece of media. This works for files up to 10 MB.
If your ebook is larger than 10 MB, the easiest solution is to upload it to Dropbox and share the link provided.
Now, How Do I Market With It?
Once the ebook is finished, you can use it to drum up sales. In an upcoming post, we’ll walk you through the steps you’ll want to take.
To see it, make sure you’re signed up to get emails from our blog – the form’s below!
Randall Magwood10/30/2012 8:17 pm
I’m very involved with ebook marketing and I think the “free ebook” method of list building is incredibly effective. Creating the ebook is really easy.
Howie Nguyen10/31/2012 12:50 pm
Please, whatever you do, don’t use PLR reports to create your ebook. If you can’t sit down for a few days to come up with your own content then maybe you’re not the expert you think you are.
Rodney11/1/2012 1:39 pm
Please make sure that the methods referred to in your ebook are current. I have read quite a lot of ebooks describing methods for updating WordPress, Facebook, you name it, using directions and procedures that are no longer valid or allowed. Very frustrating!
Steinar Knutsen11/1/2012 1:42 pm
I have created several ebooks and it’s a great marketing channel. Most recently I’ve published a couple ebooks on iTunes using iBooks Author and embedded an Aweber newsletter sign-up form. It’s a great way to grow your audience.
Josie Shepard11/1/2012 1:44 pm
You missed the best software package for ebooks: iBook Author. If you can learn to use word processor software, you can learn to use iBook Author. It allows you to EASILY insert text, graphics, images, video, audio, even 3-D models – all things which none of the other software package you mention do well or easily. And iBook Author is free to download from Apple.
Robert Klinga11/1/2012 1:54 pm
Thank you Amanda for your great post, I liked it because was short and straight to the point.
This idea to give away valuable info, for example an ebook is my only lead/client generating tool to build a global home based business.
Carol Cralson11/1/2012 2:19 pm
Love this post! I’ve been thinking about an ebook for awhile. I just never know how to get started. Expertise in my field? Yes. Expert author? No. It seems starting is the hardest part. Thanks for a great article that is to the point.
Jim Paine11/1/2012 2:23 pm
How long should these free ebooks be in terms of how many words or pages? Can these ebooks be used to generate traffic for an ecommerce web site?
Andrew Molobetsi11/1/2012 2:38 pm
This is very helpful. I am going to start right away. Thanks.
Amanda Gagnon11/1/2012 2:51 pm
Howie – Good point. If you have experience worth sharing, an ebook is a great way to share it. If you want to write an ebook just to write an ebook, you most likely won’t have the kind of quality that would attract business.
Josie – Good tip! Thanks for sharing that!
Steinar – Embedding the form definitely helps with automatic conversions.
Rodney – Exactly. Many “how to” ebooks will become outdated over time. Providing free, regular updates to purchasers is a good way to go. And of course, pull the old version off the “shelf!”
Carol – I’m so glad it helped! Feel free to post any questions you have along the way.
Robert – Remember, the ebook is a good tool, like a commercial, for marketing your business once it’s already solidly built. Best of luck!
Jim – If you’re writing an in-depth guide to a big topic, it’ll be long, whereas 5 quick tips might be a page or two. See note to Robert above. 🙂
Andrew – Good luck!
Mary W.11/1/2012 3:04 pm
Great post Amanda! I’ve written two eBooks recently. I think marketing is very important. I am looking forward to your marketing tips.
Dave Crabill11/1/2012 3:43 pm
Excellent advice. You can take it up a knotch by publishing a “real” book and offering that to qualified prospects.
Both Create Space by Amazon and LuLu offer very affordable publishing. I have a 62 page book that I give prospects for my service. It costs me less than $5 for a book in small quanities.
You can add pages in the back of your book with a regular order form for services.
A combination of offline and online marketing is what I recommend.
AWeber is certainly my choice for onlne!
Haze11/1/2012 4:52 pm
Hi Amanda, thanks for this great article! I’ve been wondering how to create and distribute an ebook for a while but never found such clear and concise information before.
I do have one question, many sites I’ve visited offer free ebooks or audios as signup incentives, and these (or a link to them) are delivered to the recepient when they double opt-in to the mailing list. Sometimes this happens with paid products as well, with sections of a course (or links to these) being sent automatically at intervals. Could you explain how this works using AWeber, what other tools are needed, + where these products should be hosted? (I have a wordpress site with bluehost hosting, and not much technical know-how!)
Greg11/1/2012 5:32 pm
eBooks definitely set the semi-pros apart from the newbs and Aweber makes it all really easy. I think the free, highly-specific eBook works best for getting new subscribers. Everyone can write an eBook on “How to Grow a Blog” but an eBook on “Rapid Blog Growth via Twitter” for example might work a bit better!
Paul D Guyon11/1/2012 6:38 pm
I like how you don’t have to be a budding author to write an ebook!
Jen Eick11/1/2012 9:18 pm
Great info, thanks! I’ve been looking to provide valuable, free content to my visitors, and this is how I’d like to start doing so.
Susan K. Stewart11/2/2012 5:23 am
Funny this subject should come up now … I’m writing an e-book on writing e-books.
A couple of notes:
iBook Author is a Mac specific program and the resulting product can only be sold on iBooks. It’s great if that’s the direction you want to go.
Simply converting a file to PDF does not prevent changing the file. A little knowledge using Adobe Acrobat allows the user to change any PDF file that doesn’t have security protection on it.
I prefer to use a Creative Commons rights scheme (creativecommons.org). This allows various levels of licensing to the user, while maintaining your copyright. The level I use allows the user to share my e-book with others. This way it gets in more hands.
Vincent barbone11/2/2012 9:47 pm
E book looks really cool but i don’t get what i’m allowed to do and write about.
I wish i knew how to do it it would be so great
liesbeth11/4/2012 11:28 am
I am using fastpencil.com to write my e-books. It works beautifully, and also allows people to comment on your text as editors.
Del Celis11/6/2012 9:32 am
I completely agree that there is a lot to gain from writing your own ebook. It’s not just the info contained but everything that surrounds it, trust built with customers or future customers, credibility and a USP in itself. Thanks for the post Amanda.
Will McAllister2/5/2013 11:55 pm
Very informative. I am looking for something like IBook Author that lets me have control with the finished product. Is there any software like this available?
I have published one book with iUniverse and it is produced in both softcover and eBook style, but once again they have control.
Amanda Gagnon2/6/2013 11:30 am
Dave – A tangible book; I like that even better!
Paul – Exactly. It helps to write it well, certainly, or you may want to hire a freelance writer to write it for you, but you don’t have to be a creative-writer-rockstar, certainly – especially not to come up with the content & concepts.
Susan – Thanks for sharing the licensing information!
Vincent – If you have a business focused on a certain topic, you’d write helpful information about that. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer, you could create a book of yoga poses for office workers, complete with diagrams, or maybe on the top 10 foods to eat to build muscle.
Liesbeth – Fastpencil. Got it. Great tip. 🙂
Del – Welcome!
Will – Yes. Smashwords. http://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords
Jeff G6/21/2013 11:08 pm
What a great post! iBooks Author would definitely be the easiest to use in terms of creation. I’ll be reading up on the “rule of reciprocity” soon. Thanks!
Betita10/17/2013 8:59 am
I’m just in the market for really good freelance writers to help write ebook pages in the weight loss field. What’s the best place to hire? I’ve tried free lance sites but the picked providers turned out to be unreliable.
Paul Guyon10/21/2013 10:26 am
Betita, try textbroker.com, they have a good pool of writers. I also suggest you seek out weight loss experts in the niche you are focusing on, choose several of them to speak about the various sub-topics, like mindset, exercise, fads etc. and interview them.
Record the interviews and have them transcribed. This will become the basis for your new book.
I strongly recommend you define a very narrow niche that solves a problem people have with weight loss like eating natural foods or how to implement a certain kind of diet, like the Fast Metabolism Diet.
Jermaine Pleas6/19/2014 6:34 pm
I’ve been dealing with e-books for a little while and see these tips are top notch, especially the dropbox technique. Hosting on your blog can be costly depending on how many download you accumulate in a day’s time. Awesome techniques, thanks!