Friday, May 11, 2012
6 Ideas for Writing a Successful E-book
Here at the Wealthy Web Writer, we’ve talked a lot lately about the many benefits of writing an e-book:
• It’s a major credibility booster
• It typically means a 100% profit margin
• You don’t have to store inventory
• There’s no hassle over shipping or printing costs
• E-books make an excellent passive income stream, potentially creating thousands of dollars a year in extra cash
But, because there are so many benefits, there are a LOT of e-books out there … and a lot of them are bad.
So, how do you write an e-book that stands above the rest?
Below, I’ve laid out six steps you can take to ensure you create and structure a quality e-book that brings you both value and profits.
#1: Decide why you’re writing an e-book in the first place
If your sole purpose for writing an e-book is to make money, you’re missing out.
After all, the best e-books (and the ones that sell well over time) are the ones that satisfy a genuine need.
Before you write your first word, commit to creating the best product you can. Resolve to help your buyers solve a problem or satisfy a need, and make sure you know your topic well (or at least make sure you can research it well).
A poorly-written e-book will not only fail over time, it could also come back to haunt your reputation indefinitely.
#2: Think hard about your topic
Your e-book topic plays a major role in whether it’ll sell and pretty much decides whether you’ll pull in any revenue.
The first rule of thumb is to write about something you know. After all, your audience is likely to be educated on your topic and will see right through you if you pull all your information from a quick Internet search.
So, think about what you have to offer that provides the biggest benefit to others.
Beyond that, one of the smartest steps you can take is to find out what your readers want to know.
Ask them. Use surveys and ask direct questions. Look for clues in blog comments or on forums frequented by your prospects.
It’s also wise to look for ideas on sites related to your topic. You might even study the social media streams or top blogs in your industry to find out what issues are big and what’s being promoted.
Pay close attention to topics that are hot-buttons for your industry.
Once you have a great topic, there’s just one final thing to remember:
Don’t put yourself in direct competition with someone who already wrote an e-book on the same subject. Come up with a new angle.
#3: Put together a writing plan
Even if you come up with the most marketable, saleable topic ever, it’s no good to you unless you actually write something.
The best advice for this step is to keep things simple. Write a little bit every day, and aim to have it done in a month. (I once tried to write one in a week and found that was a little too compressed … I recommend a month, minimum!)
If you get hit by “writer’s doubt,” tell yourself you’re really just repackaging information. You’re providing a service of convenience for your readers.
As a bonus, there are lots of different e-book creation tools and software packages out there. If you want a leg-up, plug “e-book software” into a search engine. Survey the tools available and see if one suits your needs.
#4: Include affiliate links inside your e-book
As long as your main focus is to provide excellent content to your likely customers, it’s fine to consider including affiliate links.
In fact, thoughtful affiliate links placed inside an e-book can improve the perceived quality — especially if they connect the reader to a service provider or product you genuinely recommend they try.
Your overall goal should be to make things easy on your readers. If you earn some income for your links beyond that, it’s all bonus.
#5: Create a quality PDF
A truly professional-looking e-book needs to be in PDF-format. Ideally, it’ll have bookmarks within the document so the reader can jump between sections (also known as the navigation pane for most PDF readers).
It’s a good idea to include a footer that’s consistent throughout the document, as well as tasteful graphics and enough white space so the content doesn’t feel cluttered.
Peppering your copy with lists, either numeric or bulleted, is also a good way to break up the content.
Along with that, include a short bio about yourself in the back of the book. And, before you convert the entire document to PDF format, check any hyperlinks you included to make sure they connect to the correct websites.
#6: Don’t be boring
This probably seems like an obvious tip, but it’s surprising how many e-books out there offer generic tips in a dull format.
If you’re going to do it, do it right. Construct your e-book with purpose and write about your topic as if you unequivocally know it’ll be a game-changer in your reader’s life.
To show your commitment to your reader, include testimonials within the book and throughout your landing page or blogs that promote the book.
Finally, give yourself plenty of time to edit and cut, revise and edit, then edit and cut again.
A Powerful Tool to Advance Your Web-Writing Career
If you put forth the effort needed to write and market your e-book, you’ll find it has a pretty high ROI.
Even better, e-books can be perennial products in your marketing arsenal: they’re easy to update and good information is always in high demand.
Make the effort to put your e-book together in the next 30 days and watch as it gives your web-writing reputation a big boost. Ideally, your wallet will get a lift also.
Visit the Wealthy Web Writer for additional tips on e-book creation. Check out this article for tips on marketing the final product and this article for guidance on finding a shopping cart and payment system.
This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/web-writing/.