Write an Ebook That Sells Itself (and Builds Your Email List) Part #1

Have you ever thought about writing an ebook? Not the free type which could be offered as your opt-in incentive – but the one that you write because you want to sell it. Not the one that you publish on Kindle for $2.99 but what you sell on your own site at $29 $47 or even $99. Possibly your first information product. I am sure you have. Most of us ponder this question at one point or another.

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We think about writing an ebook which will help build credibility and help elevate our expert status. We think about selling hundreds or even thousands of copies and making a  handsome profit.

And yet, we don’t do it.

Why is that? What is stopping us from creating a product that has a potential to achieve so much in our business?

Well … there are a number of reasons for that. And unless we look at those and address them head on, we won’t be able move ahead. We will remain stuck in this stage of uncertainty – forever.

So, not only are we going to have a look at those reasons that mess with your head and stop you from starting your ebook project, we are going to cover all those topics which will take you through the entire ebook creation and sales process. In this 4 part series, I am going to cover the following (so keep an eye out for the remaining posts – trust me, you don’t want to miss this one.)

  • Part 1: Why write an ebook and how to bust beliefs that are holding you back
  • Part 2: Choosing a fail proof idea that will work every time and get your audience thinking about it
  • Part 3: How to write that ebook already and get it ready for the world
  • Part 4: How to sell that ebook and build your email list

Let’s begin:

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Why write an ebook?

There are a number of reasons why you should consider creating an ebook. Some of them you would already be aware of.

  • It makes you an expert in your industry.
  • By going through the whole process, you will gain immense confidence in yourself and see how much value you are providing. This will help you price your other products and services fairly and not short change yourself.
  • You can promote your e-book over social media and connect with new customers!
  • You can form connections with other experts in your industry by asking them to review your ebook.
  • Not everyone can buy your higher priced offerings – this way you can help many more people and make a bigger impact.

However, the most important reason which will make the most difference to your bottom line is this:

An ebook makes a great entry level (first tier) product. Think about how you behave on the interwebs and make your purchasing decisions. It is very unlikely that you Google something, find a seller and decide to purchase one of their coaching packages or a 6 week, self-paced, online program.

writing an ebook

You are more likely to consume their free content and if you really love them at first sight, you may be inclined to look through their store and buy something which isn’t terribly expensive.

Even if you don’t do any impulse buying, you are much more likely to buy their ebooks because there is little risk and it is a great way for you to sample their services or products. You get a feel for what’s it like to work with them.

Now reverse the situation – imagine people finding you on Google – and they are looking, you know that. Think about them finding you through social media and your own blog content and then buying an ebook – because hey – it’s not that hard to try something and spend 29 bucks on something, rather than 299.

Ebooks make fantastic entry level products. They attract clients and customers to your website.

Even if you don’t sell much, you can still use them to your benefit in many ways mentioned above and others like build your email list when you launch (I will explain how to do this in the final part of this series).

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Forget all excuses

Great, you get this. You can see the benefits and you are really tempted. But – you are a busy person. You are a small business owner and you have a million things to do in your business. How on earth are you going to do this?

How will you find the time? What will you even write about? And wait – you think you aren’t that good of a writer anyway. Just when you were getting excited, you are now starting to doubt this.

Not to mention, you don’t even have an idea yet.

I know you have doubts – and you know what? Just like most things in life, the hardest part of getting your ebook done is getting started.

Most people trip here.

‘Just start’ is a useless piece of advice which doesn’t motivate you to do anything, except maybe throw a shoe at your computer screen.

We need to bust all these excuses one by one.

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Excuse#1 There is so much free information out there. Aren’t ebooks dead?

Yes, there is tons of free information out there. However, I challenge you to think about situation in a different way.

First, if you are interested in your topic, and you have spent hours or even years learning about it – formal qualifications as much as tons of research online, don’t forget that your buyers aren’t necessarily that interested in your topic. They are more interested in other things – like solving their problem. So even you it makes sense to you to learn everything about your topic, your buyer simply don’t share your sentiment.

Yes, they want a solution to their problem, but they aren’t likely to spend hours searching online to find the information for three main reasons.

One, they simply don’t have time.

Two, they wouldn’t know which is high quality information and which is not. Start researching a topic and you will be surprised to find out tons of information that conflicts with each other. How would they know what is right? It is not their field of expertise?

Lastly, the more high-level information you require, the chances are it won’t even be available that freely. Even if it is, it will take you hours to dig through all the material and find anything useful. Who wants to do that? Not many people.

When someone sees that available as a paid ebook, they know it is going to be high quality, super useful information (unless it is done wrong, then it won’t sell).

When I launched my ecourse, I bought Premise from Copyblogger. Now this plugin is not user friendly at all and although there are a few blogs and tutorials available to help you set up, I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to do that, I hired a consultant to help me set that up. But, wait a minute, I thought we were talking about ebooks here? Had I found an ebook that promised to have me walk through the process of setting up Premise with step by step tutorials, I would have happily spent 20+ dollars and saved $200 for an hour’s session.

The truth of the matter is, the same logic applies to all the information products. If you create an ebook that solves a specific problem for someone, you bet they are going to buy it. More about that in a minute.

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Excuse #2 Why would anyone buy from me?

Let’s get something straight. People pay for convenience.

People buy structured information that saves them time and money. They continue to look for high quality, how-to information to solve a problem or get closer to a desired outcome.

If this weren’t the case, millions of books would not be sold across the world because you can find them in the libraries. There would be no magazine sales because everything is freely available online. People won’t buy DIY guides because you could find a show like that available on TV.

But what if the book you want is so new that there is huge waiting list for it at the library? How about the fact that you don’t find majority of the entertainment websites to be totally overwhelming and you’d rather sit and relax with an actual physical magazine in your hands? How about the very show you could learn something from airs at a time you are not available and also covers pretty rudimentary information?

These are just some of the reasons why you buy books, magazines and DIY guides. People buy products for all sorts of reasons but they do buy.

And they buy from you because of who you are. They buy because they prefer your teaching style to someone else’s, or they might not even be aware of all the possible rival products available.

Or maybe you got in front of them at the right time. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

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Excuse #3 I know this will take ages. I don’t have time to do this.

Ebooks don’t have to be terribly long – that’s just how most writers think.

If you are solving a specific problem for someone, it can be fairly short – like 50 pages and you can still sell it. It just depends on the topic and the complexity of the problem.

writer at work

Most people also make the mistake of thinking they have to cover every single thing in their ebook. They think the book has to be 300 pages long. Not only does this thinking paralyse them and they are unable to move forward, it doesn’t make good business sense. Here’s why:

You are not selling generic information. You are trying to cover all aspects of a given topic – it would be impossible to do so. That is the number one reason why most ebooks don’t sell. It is far better to solve a specific problem for someone so that they see some results and then think about you if you want to go further.

I will cover that in great detail in the next post.

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Excuse #4 I am not a brilliant writer. How can I possibly write an ebook?

You don’t have to be. You don’t have to use formal language either.

Let’s say you get a call from a prospective client with a very specific question that you can help them solve in about an hour’s time.

Let’s assume for a second that you also get this question again and again.

Now, how would you answer this question for this person? How would you walk him through the whole process of identifying the problem, coming up with options and then picking the right one?

Could you pretend you are talking to him and record your answer? Could you have it transcribed? Could you hire a copyeditor to clean up the draft for you?

People who buy your ebooks are not expecting a work worthy of winning a Booker prize. They are buying your expertise. They expect it to sound like you. You can be relaxed and be yourself and it will still resonate with your ideal audience.

You don’t have to be a world class writer to write an ebook. You are not entering an essay competition here. You don’t have a goal to appear in a literary magazine. You are a business owner and if you are an expert at what you do, if you can help people solve problems, you are qualified.

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Excuse #5 I know this will take tons of editing. I can’t do that.

Same as above. You don’t have to edit and proofread by yourself. You can hire someone to do it for you. Look at sites like Elance and Odesk and you will find plenty of people who don’t charge exorbitant prices.

If you are creating an ebook as your first product or if you feel that you don’t have the funds to hire a professional to do the job, you could barter your services. Tap into your network and find someone who’d be willing to do it for you in exchange for a service you provide.

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Excuse #6 I don’t have the funds to get a cover design or fancy formatting.

Firstly, it is not hard to design a cover for your ebook, especially if you have good aesthetics and an eye for design.

Google and you will find many services that offer you a DIY option of creating a cover for your book. However, only go down this route if you know you care capable of creating a professional cover.

Alternatively, you can also find designers on above mentioned sites, or trade your service if you can.

magic book

Unlike Kindle ebooks, you don’t need a super fancy ebook design to stand out among millions of other competing tiltes. Even if you get a basic one, it probably won’t break you. Remember, this is your entry level product which happens to be an ebook. This is not a reference book, a self-help manual, a memoir or a story. People will buy if it can solve a problem. The cover alone will not force them into making their final decision.

You also don’t need super fancy formatting. It needs to be professional and the content has to be top-notch – but no fancy formatting required.

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Excuse #7 I don’t have an audience. I don’t have a big email list.

You don’t need a huge list or an audience to release your first product. Even if you already offer other products or services, you can still release an ebook without having access to a big audience.

In fact, you can actually use the launch process to BUILD your email list.

In the next post, I will take you through the process of how you can tap into your tiny audience to create an ebook that will sell (or even pre-sell) and also ways of looking at other audiences to find out if you are on the right track. In the final part of his series, we will cover the details of how to launch your email, sell it and grow your list.

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Excuse #8 I don’t have an idea. What can I possibly create a product on?

It might be that you haven’t got a single idea or you have tons. Either way, you are not sure which idea to choose. I will teach you how to do this in great detail in the next post so be sure to read that.

We will start the process of creating an ebook as a first tier product for your business. We will look at keyword research, analysing your market (competitors), polling your audience and coming up with a fail-proof idea.

Okay, you are convinced. You want to write an ebook, or maybe you wanted to write one from the beginning but needed that extra push. Now you are pumped. You can’t wait to begin.

But wait, there is something you need to do first – before you write a single word. And this to begin your research process. You don’t want to be that person who spent hours creating your ebook and then when it was time to sell it – crickets!

It is excruciating, painful and it can be avoided with a little bit of research. Research that will help you choose an idea with confidence. Your idea is the biggest factor in how well your ebook is going to sell. It will make or break your product.

And we are going to talk about how to do the research and come up with the perfect idea for your ebook in the next instalment of this series.

Stay tuned!

  • Emeka Ajufo

    Great post, currently in the process of writing a marketing book detailing my story, definitely looking forward to the next post. Thanks for the teaser going to use this method of approach on my blog posts from now on!

  • Storewars News

    Really informative article.

  • KatarzynaPietka

    Hi Emeka, good to hear that. Good luck with your ebook, let us know when you have it released – I’ll be glad to read it :)

  • Khuram Dhanani

    You’ve covered almost all concerns. I also saw somewhere people talking about how to increase Ebook conversions. A well presented Ebook, when the author knows what information to put where, can make great product demand and increase conversions:- Khuram Dhanani

  • Pamela

    Thanks for the useful article. Enjoyed reading it!

  • KatarzynaPietka

    Great to hear that, Pam! Stay tuned for new parts of the cycle – there are still 3 to be published, one per week.

  • KatarzynaPietka

    That’s also very important, Khuram. Hope you’ll find all the information you need in the next parts of the ebook cycle.

  • http://www.aymayzin.com Steven Lucas

    I’ve written 6 small-ish (6-10k words) but never thought of expanding them into major products. This is totally inspiring.

  • http://tumarcao.com/ Miguel Andres Ceballos Perez

    This is what I like about GetResponse. They care about the people giving useful information.

  • KatarzynaPietka

    Great to hear that, Miguel – thank you for your kind words. Hope you’ll come back for the next parts of our cycle.

  • KatarzynaPietka

    I’m happy to hear that, Seven. Let us know if you publish your first ebook – that would be really exciting news!

  • Jerome Cabaluna

    Do you know how to send an ebook when someone opt in to your contact form? in getresponse?