These days, where there are desktops, laptops, tablets and e-readers — which is basically everywhere — there are e-books. And that’s great news for anyone trying to gain credibility in the marketplace, increase traffic to their website or just plain improve their revenue stream. Offering e-books has become one of the hottest new tools to help boost business.
Drive Traffic/Expand Your Mailing List
Publishing an e-book on a topic related to your business is one more way you can market yourself and your offerings. Whether you’re a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, you’ve got valuable knowledge to share. Obviously, selling e-books can provide you with additional income, but there are other benefits of producing an e-book. In fact, an e-book might benefit you most if you give it away for free.
People love free information, and if you can get the word out that they can receive a free e-book if they join your mailing list or visit your website, you can create buzz and possibly new customers. You can build trust with your audience by giving them valuable content, demonstrating that you know your topic, and showing that you work hard to provide a high-quality product or service.
While it helps to have a strong online presence to market your e-book, it’s not necessary. If you do have a website, advertising it there is the first step. Perhaps offer it at a nominal cost to registered members and free to those willing to join your site, providing you with valuable contact information to mine later on!
And don’t underestimate the power of social media. Create a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your book and deliver reviews, notices and interesting tidbits daily if possible.
Writing Your E-book
Do you write a blog? Contribute guest articles to websites? Send out a newsletter? If so, you’ve already got the makings of your first e-book. Many e-books — as well as many traditionally published books — are simply a reprinting of past blogs or articles, kind of a “best of” series. Excerpts from newsletters will work, too.
If you don’t currently have the body of work to draw from, you can work in reverse and start your blog with an eye toward publishing your first e-book in perhaps six months to a year, depending how frequently you post new material.
Another approach is to select a topic related to your business. Say you’re a website designer. You might create an e-book entitled something along the lines of “10 Things You Should Know Before You Build a Website.”
If anyone knows what to be aware of when designing a site, it’s you, right? What if you’re a caterer? Your e-book could offer tips for entertaining or information on how to plan a large party or event. You don’t have to give away the store to entice readers, but you should offer valuable information and insights worthy of an expert in your field.
And if, like so many people, you’d prefer a root canal rather than face a blank page on your computer, no worries. You can hire well-credentialed freelance writers through sites like elance.com and odesk.com, and others. These sites offer you access to a wide variety of creative professionals including writers, graphic designers, illustrators, even proofreaders. (And yes, ask to see past samples before you take the plunge with anyone!)
Of course you will have to give the people you hire information and guidance until the content meets your approval; they may be talented, but that doesn’t make them omniscient.
The Publishing Process
When you think of books these days, most people’s first thoughts are Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And rightfully so. In May 2011, the New York Times reported that online bookseller Amazon was now selling more e-books than hardcover and softcover books. Not surprisingly, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com are publishing most of them as well.
While there are other publishers out there, a quick check of the online publishing arms of either of these giants will give you a good working knowledge of what’s required, how long it will take and how much it will cost. You can also look into having them sell your e-book for you, another bit of business-enhancing credibility: “I’m a published author and my book is available through Amazon.com.”
Important Note: Before you submit your manuscript anywhere, be sure you own all the publication rights. That means carefully reviewing any agreements you made with anyone who may have contributed to your book. If you don’t have full rights and you go ahead and publish, you might end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
The Final Chapter
E-books offer myriad benefits that traditional books don’t. E-books are easy to give or sell to customers. You don’t have to keep boxes of inventory in your garage, and you don’t have to pay shipping costs. Customers can download e-books even while you’re sleeping or on vacation.
You can offer e-books for free. If you try to offer traditionally published books for free, you’ll still be responsible for printing and shipping costs. Depending on how you choose to publish your e-book, you may still pay some up-front costs. But the files themselves cost you nothing to print or ship, and you can share as many as you want.
Anyone can publish an e-book in a short amount of time. Traditionally published books can take years to be ready, but many of today’s self-publishing packages are inexpensive and can be done on your own timetable.
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