Have you always wanted to write a book but put it off thinking it’s too much work?
If the writing process was not daunting enough, the whole hunt for the right publisher, marketing it and in some cases, losing control over your book owing to the number of people that get involved makes it worse. We agree, it truly is a rollercoaster ride – especially if you are a newbie.
No, wait. What if we told you could write, publish and monetize your book without any hassles?
Internet penetration has changed the way we consume content. This has made inroads into the publishing world too, opening new avenues for electronic publishing and giving rise to eBooks.
So, guess what – you no longer have to crush your writing dream because there has never been a better time to write and make money out of selling eBooks.
What is an eBook?
eBooks, short for electronic books are digital versions of books that are distributed over the internet and can be read on digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, or computers.
“Even word documents can be read on digital devices – are they categorized as eBooks too?” No. It’s important to note that eBooks are not editable, which means once saved, the content cannot be changed.
They are portable and with a click of a button, can be conveniently downloaded on any device that supports eBooks.
Why Create an eBook?
Before we jump to how to create an eBook, let’s look at why you should consider it in the first place –
• In 2018, eBook sales doubled in the US, promising a bright future
• Gives you control over your content
• Reach a wider audience without being bound by geographical constraints
• Incur low production costs
• Build a strong personal brand and establish yourself as an expert or thought leader
• Generate revenue
We’re sure the last point caught your attention. Yes, you can make money from selling an eBook. However, it’s not as easy as writing something, uploading it and expect it to get buyers magically.
You need to ensure you create an eBook that attracts readers and sells. Here’s how you can not let that effort go waste:
Step 1: Choosing the Right Topic
From sharing personal stories to informational content – there might be enough and more ideas in your head. However, the key lies in identifying a profitable eBook topic that has the potential to be a commercial success. The first step to sell an eBook is to know what your target audience wants to read.
• Brainstorm ideas
Begin the process by brainstorming and listing down all the potential ideas that come to your mind. Think about niches that interest you or the ones you have the ability and knowledge to write about.
You can write to solve a problem, share an inspiring story, answer a burning question, share a guide/informational article, or even write fiction.
Now, comes the hard part of shortlisting the ideas. Think of them from the ‘commercial’ point of view. Even if a topic or purpose seems like it has been done to death, think of an exciting and unique angle you can take.
By the end of this stage, you should be left with 2-3 shortlisted topics.
• Do keyword research
What better place to assess and analyze the demand for a specific topic than on Google?
Use Google’s free keyword research tool – Keyword Planner to understand the number of monthly searches or queries related to the topic. This will help you analyze gaps and see what’s trending.
As you can see in the example below, I typed “how to be more productive” and “time management” as broad ideas and Keyword Planner presented over 458 keyword ideas for inspiration.
Another place to look at is in the lowest section of the search results page – this will give you insights on the kinds of questions users ask, giving you a more specific indication of the existing demand.
• Scan eBook stores
Your eBook will be sold on platforms such as Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and more. Hence, it makes sense to understand and assess the existing books available in the given topic and learn how to analyze readership trends.
For instance, if a book of your topic is selling well, you know there is demand. To ensure your book sells, you must strive for a unique perspective.
It’s also a good idea to read book reviews to understand what worked for those authors. Find out if there are any gaps you can fill. For instance, look at the negative review in the example below – you can take it as a learning and fill that gap in your eBook.
• Check forums and bulletin boards
Other avenues that serve to be a goldmine of information are forums and bulletin boards such as Quora and Reddit. Type the broad topic and scan questions and conversations surrounding it. It is also a useful platform to stumble upon sub-topics that you can include in your eBook.
Step 2: Writing the eBook
You have a winner – you have narrowed down onto that one topic that you feel will attract readers. Now, comes the actual writing phase. Don’t get intimidated by it – start with working on a rough outline for the book so you can structure your writing around it. Here are the five key elements of a commercially successful eBook –
• Design a great cover
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly does not hold in the eBook world because your cover is the first selling point of your book.
To grab the attention of potential readers, your eBook title needs to be clear and easy to read. Ensure it does not get merged with the background. Use visuals or art that are a reflection of your title. Most importantly, you need to have permission to use them to avoid copyright issues.
Don’t make the mistake of using too much text and visuals as it overcrowds the cover.
• Craft an attention-grabbing title
“What’s in a name?” – apparently, a lot.
The title of your eBook cover has a massive impact on how your book is perceived. Does it manage to resonate? Does it excite users to buy? Does it make them curious? Does it grab their attention?
An excellent eBook title is all of that and more. So, how do you write a title that is anything but generic?
There are three ways you can do this –
• Strike a connect by playing on emotions
• Offer a solution to a problem or answer their question
• Make a hard-hitting statement or promise
So, choosing a title might seem easy. However, it is crucial to spend some time and craft the bestselling title for your eBook. Work on a few options and share it with people around you to get a sense of the most preferred one.
• Write a killer description
Cover – check
Title – check
Now, the only thing left to consider before buying the book is the description, posted on the purchasing page. Equivalent to a book blurb, this short description is the teaser of your eBook. It needs to hook the reader in and communicate what’s in it for them in the crispest manner.
Don’t waste this space by summarizing your book. Instead, focus on luring the reader such that they are compelled to click ‘buy’.
• Find the best format
Selecting the right format makes reading a breeze. Considering that eBooks will be read across multiple devices, they need to be fluid. You cannot have a reader zooming in and out to get through your book. This is why eBook formatting is crucial.
The two standard formats eBooks are PDF and EPUB. While both can be read on various devices, the primary difference between the two is that EPUB files are reflowable, which means it adjusts according to the device.
Step 3: Pricing the eBook
eBook pricing is crucial – you don’t want to be over-charging and get no takers and nor do you want to undersell an eBook that may deserve much more.
If you have noticed, most eBooks are priced pretty low because their production costs are incredibly cheap or close to nothing. So, how do you set the price for your eBook to maximize sales?
• Consider costs incurred
How much have you spent to create this eBook? Look into everything from designing, writing, proofreading – did you do everything yourself or did you outsource it to specialists? If yes, calculate how much you spent for creation, from start to end. Also, take into account how much you will incur while selling it – this includes taxes and most importantly, the service charge you have to pay the eBook platform.
• Ongoing prices in the same genre
Do a quick check on the ongoing rates of books in the same genre and of the same length. This will give you a benchmark figure you can plan around.
• Length and uniqueness matter
If other eBook authors are selling 20-30 page eBooks for $2, you cannot be selling the same length book for $20. Length matters while pricing eBooks. So, ensure it is in line with the market rate to not lose out to competitors.
However, the length should not be the only guiding factor. It is also essential to assess how unique your content is – are you talking about something that hasn’t been said before? Is your content valuable enough?
If you have answered yes, you can ask for a high price because there aren’t many similar books on the market.
• Experiment with pricing
The cool part about pricing eBooks is that they are not set in stone. You have the scope and flexibility to experiment with the pricing. You can start with a special launch offer and sell the book at a promotional price for a week or two.
You can also assess sales and accordingly make changes to the price. If it’s doing incredibly well, you can increase the pricing a little. On the other hand, if it isn’t getting traction, you can try lowering the price to see if it affects sales.
Step 4: Selling the eBook
Your eBook is ready! Now, it’s time for the final step – choosing which platform to sell it on. If you have an established website, you can choose to sell it from your website or blog, but in order to maximize sales, we recommend distributing it on small and large eBook retailers too.
Amazon also has a self-publishing platform called Kindle Direct Publishing that lets you have control over your book and enables you to start selling quickly. Considering Amazon makes up for 80% of the eBook market, using KDP to sell your eBook is highly recommended.
Then there are eBook aggregators like Bookbaby, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital among others that distribute your book to a large number of online bookstores. They either charge you a service fee upfront or take a cut from your sales.
Distribute your eBook to a mix of large and small retailers to make the best of both worlds and not rely on any retailer.
Phew! Yes, selling eBooks takes hard work, time, and the right technique. With this step-by-step guide, we are sure you are in a much better place to pave the path to becoming an eBook author and who knows, yours might just become the next bestseller!
eBooks, when done right are a great source of passive income. So, stop wondering and get started today.
Want to learn more about becoming a self-published eBook author? You can also enroll in the eBook Bestseller Bootcamp and take the video course to learn how to write, launch, and SELL your first eBook.
All the best! See you in the bookstores soon.