Category Archives: eBooks

Writing E-Books – 21 Steps to Success

Knowing your content and having a desire to write it down are good first steps to getting an e-book written. Showing you the path from desire to completion is what this article is about.

 

Let’s run through the steps, then I’ll give you some advice about “doing it all” yourself and outsourcing.

 

1. Choose your topic.

Make your topic specific and targeted to a niche market. For example, choose How to Build Balsa Wood Model Airplanes rather than just How to Build Model Airplanes.

 

2. Make sure you have a market using Keywords.

Google offers a free keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal). Look for search results less than 40,000 per month – the ideal is from 4,000 to 12,000 searches per month.

 

3. Create an outline.

This is your roadmap. You’re the author so you get to set the course, and you’re free to alter it as the e-book develops. Three common approaches are alphabetical, process steps (like this article) and Q&A.

 

4. Research your topic.

Even experts do some research to get organized and ready to write. From reading through your own material to visiting the library and surfing the net – research is a vital, indispensable part of writing. It’s also something you can hire someone to help with.

 

5. Write your e-book.

Write the e-book yourself or hire a freelancer to write it for you. Just take your research notes and tell your story.

 

6. Create a few bonus reports to give away to your e-book buyers.

The difference to sales between having and not having premiums as part of the offer is staggering. Customers attach great value to bonuses.

 

7. Edit your e-book.

Whether you find a volunteer or hire a freelance editor, the key is to have the writer and editor be different people. Spotting your own errors is notoriously difficult.

 

8. Create the front cover design and interior page layout.

My preference is to make a couple of notes then hand this over to someone else. Design is more than just specialized knowledge. It includes a visual flair that’s at least as much in-born as it is learned.

 

9. Proofread and lock the PDF file.

Do a final proofread to check for double words and other mistakes. Fortunately, an e-book is easily updated if you find mistakes after the release.

 

Locking the PDF keeps honest people honest. There’s no sure-fire way to keep someone from “stealing” you e-book. Fortunately, most people simply prefer being honest.

 

10. Load your e-book PDF into a shopping cart.

Choose a shopping cart service that gives you one-stop shopping for the shopping cart, merchant account, autoresponder, and affiliate tracking. Ask your webmaster to connect the service to your web site. You can load every e-book you write into the shopping cart easily – it’s as easy as attaching a file to an e-mail.

 

11. Reserve a domain name for your e-book.

Shorter is better. Making it easy to say also works well. For example, choose “BalsaWoodModels.com” over “HowToBuildABalsaWoodModelAirplane.com.” A good resource for domain registration and hosting is www.UseBluehost.com/.

 

12. Write and design a landing page to sell your e-book.

All you need is a single web page connected to your shopping cart and a Thank You e-mail afterward. Simple, but you do want to be sure that one web page is well written. Hiring a copywriter might be a good choice.

 

13. Arrange hosting for your landing page.

You need a reliable hosting service at a low cost-per-site hosting charge. Be sure your hosting service package gives you enough space to hold all your files, that there is sufficient bandwidth to permit a high volume of downloads each month, and that you can add lots of new landing pages without increasing the total monthly hosting fee.

 

14. Capture the e-mail addresses of landing page visitors who do not buy your e-book.

List building is an integral part of selling on the internet. Capturing e-mail addresses allows you to continue marketing to visitors – whether they make a purchase or not.

 

15. Set-up an autoresponder e-mail series to convert non-buyers into buyers.

Use an autoresponder e-mail series to persuade them to come back to the landing page and buy your e-book.

 

16. Drive traffic to your landing page.

Use e-mail marketing, pay-per-click advertising, videos on YouTube and other social networking sites, articles, affiliates, and other traffic-building methods to drive prospects to your sales page.

 

17. Test, measure, and optimize your landing page.

Testing shows you what works and what doesn’t on your landing page. Always work toward making the landing page as effective as possible.

 

18. Create a profitable line of e-books and related info products.

Called a Product Funnel – you want a range of information products and services that move from inexpensive, front-end to the highest priced back-end.

 

19. Recruit affiliates to sell your e-books and other info products.

Give affiliates 50% of the sale price and enjoy the help for increasing sales and building your reputation.

 

20. Publish a free e-zine and drive traffic to the subscription page.

This is a great list building tool. Publishing the e-zine also keeps you in contact with your list. You’ll find your list is receives future offers much more warmly when you stay in contact with them.

 

21. Send regular e-mails to your opt-in subscriber list to drive additional sales.

Your opt-in list always contains people who have not yet purchased one or more of your e-books or other information products. As you provide high-value content to your subscribers, use the attention they are giving you to remind them of purchases they could be making.

 

We can wrap this up with a quick word about “doing it all” yourself – don’t.

 

There’s a simple way to know when it’s a good idea to outsource a particular task. Estimate how much time it will take you to do something and multiply that by how much each hour of your time is worth. (e.g. 20 hrs. to design a cover times $40 an hour is $800.)

 

When you can hire someone to do the task for less money, and they’ll do it faster (often with better results), then it’s time to outsource that task.

 

Another kind of outsourcing is getting advice. Sometimes it helps to talk a thing through with someone who has done it before (it’s what the corporate fat cats like to call “consulting”). Before you spend money on this option, make the effort to visit the blogs of people you would like to speak to. The answers to your questions might already be in print.

Blogs, Articles and e-Books – How they go together

Hi,

Every feel like internet marketing is a “chicken and egg” debate? Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start…

On the bright side, there is almost no wrong place to start.

Start a blog and write posts about your favourite hobby. From the blog posts you build up some articles. From the articles and posts, you can build an e-book.

The process works no matter which one you start with. So let me share how I’m putting the books I’ve written together with these blog posts and articles. And this is something that is happening right now, so I’ll be coming back to this to keep giving you updates.

Last year, I wrote Writing E-Books for Fun and Profit. It has done very well with sales, and it’s a great resource. Everyone who’s read it tells me they like it and it has been very helpful to them.

As you know from reading these blog posts, I’ve also been sharing my knowledge to help you move forward with your own writing and marketing projects. The one flaw in this is that I haven’t been particularly organised about the blog posts. That’s okay, but making this blog successful and making it part of my marketing efforts means I’m going to have to plan content.

You know, think about giving stuff to you in a way that supports marketing my writing.

Blogging about whatever grabs my attention each day is okay. It just isn’t the limit of what I want to do with this tool. I’ll come back to this in a minute…

Another thing I have wanted to do – and have had tremendous success procrastinating on – is taking Writing E-Books for Fun and Profit and serialising it into articles. To be honest, I’ve been pretending I don’t know where to start, or what to do.

Richard Bach was right – argue for your limitations and they become yours.

The thing that changed my mind about doing the articles is listening to Chris Knight and Jeff Herring yesterday on a teleconference call.

Chris Knight is CEO of EzineArticles.com. Jeff Herring is, of course, the article marketing guy. If you don’t know these two gentlemen, may I suggest you visit www.ezinearticles.com and start reading? They have a HUGE volume of everything to help you write articles.

By the way, serialising a book with 21 chapters is simple -honest. Just write a summary of each chapter and make it around 600 words. Use numbered or bulleted lists whenever you can, and give it a title that makes a promise. e.g. 4 Topic Strategies – How to make your next e-book a winner.

Okay – heres’ what I have:

I wrote a book last year. I just finished another, and a third should be finished in mid-March. Good.

I also have a blog. The habit of writing daily is well established, but the content isn’t planned yet.

I know what to do for writing articles. I have a membership with EzineArticles.com.

So let’s put them together.

We all have those everyday things to do. You know, household chores stuff, running the business admin stuff, working with retainer clients, specific projects, and whatever else each of us is fitting into every day. Of course, writing books and e-books fits into this category. (Nice to know I’ll always be creating new content.)

Next, seriously consider how much time you want to put into blogging and writing articles. My choice is to keep blogging daily. Monday to Friday, anyway.

A cool thing is that I can use every article I write as a blog post. Think about it…write an article at, say, 700 words…That’s a good length for a blog post, isnt’ it? (Yea, I know. I talk so much, my blog posts are more like 7,000 words. But they’re interesting, right?)

Okay. So I can write one article each day and re-purpose it as a blog post. That works. I bet it’ll work for you, too.

One last thing – what if you haven’t written an e-book you can serialise? Good question, glad you asked.

Scroll back up to the third paragraph. The part about your favourite hobby…

What are you excited about, passionate about? Write about that! Use the approach I wrote about first. Write some blog posts and put together some articles – then build them into an e-book.

Think about learning to ride a bike. You ride for a few feet and stop (a blog post). You ride a little farther and stop again (an article). After a while, you ride up and down the driveway (blog post one way, article going back). Pretty soon, you’re riding around the block. over to the store, and out with your friends (yep, e-books, more posts and more articles – and more e-books).

Folks, you might receive success overnight, but you’ll achieve it one step at a time.

Here’s to yours.

Conrad

Focus – Your Attention Is Valuable

Hi,

I have to remember – when I write a Friday post – not to say I’ll be writing “tomorrow” when I mean “Monday.” I apologise.

Which brings me to Focus.

Would I have made the same mistake if I were more focussed? Would you have still broken the vase, Neo, if I hadn’t said anything? hmmm…

Anyway, on Friday, I was writing about focussing – or working – on just one project at a time. You get to enjoy the fruits of your labour sooner. I also mentioned I’d tell you how making that change has been going for me.

The simple answer is – slow, steadily and I’m enjoying the results.

Anyone who wants a little more detail – just keep reading.  😉

You know it’s more than just a matter of waking up one day and saying “Okay, I’m only working on one project at a time from now on.”

I have my own e-book tele-workshop series launching in March, clients to write and edit for, plus books to research and write. Following Rich Schefren’s advice about working on one project at a time is something I have to work at deliberately.

As much as any individual project, this is something I have to plan. Let’s start by looking at the kinds of work that are on my plate right now.

1. the e-book tele-workshop series. 21 teleseminars focussed on showing business owners the step by step for how to enter the information marketing arena. A one time sort of project.

2. copywriting clients – writing for them, and editing their material. This is ongoing stuff – they pay a monthy retainer.

3. books – these are a combination of the other two. Writing the book is a one time thing, but it’s ongoing because of the marketing of the book, and planning to write an updated version.

So, how can I work on one project at a time when I”ll always have clients sending me things to edit – or asking for something to be written?

Good question. Here’s how I’m finding the answer.

The most important project is the e-book tele-workshop series. (It also happens to be the biggest – just coincidence.) It involves a lot of joint ventures, creating support tools for affiliates, plus promotional copy, call scripts and e-mails. Remember, it’s also a one-off thing.

So I”m taking five hours out of each day to work on it. Sometimes more, but I am promising myself to spend at least that much time on the project.

Then come the books. In the big picture, these have longer lasting importance than the tele-workshop series. First, I’m working on just one at a time.

The Instant Amazon Best-Seller Formula is done and in the hands of the designer. It’ll probably be out this month. Now I’m working on Marketing Web Sites for Freelance Copywriters – Bob has given me his first set of edtis.

When that’s done, I’ll put my energy into the book on List Building.

Right now, I’m putting four hours each day into books.

Okay – we’re up to a nine hour work day.

Then there’s work for copywriting clients. For the most part, I can get that work done by putting in two hours each day. I don’t take a lot of copywriting clients – I prefer writing books, actually.

So now we have an 11 hour day. Add to that the time I spend writing a blog post each day, writing an article, doing admin stuff, etc. etc. etc.

It’s a good thing I enjoy being up at 4:30 and going to bed at 10. I need all 17 1/2 hours!

This should make it EXTREMELY clear why Rich Schefren’s adivce is worth following. If I were working on just one project – that’s PROJECT – at a time, I’d have a lot more time to myself each day.

Writing copy for clients is something I’ll always do. It’s fun, I like meeting people, and there’s always something new to learn. There will always be admin work, blog posts, and articles to write.

That “part” of every day is a constant.

The problem right now is that I have the tele-workshop series (a project) and two books (two projects) to work on. That’s three projects at one time.

Dividing up the day like I have works for me. It isn’t the burden you might think it is because everything I’m doing is pleasing to me. That said, I don’t want this kind of workload to continue indefinitely.

So, I’ve decided to work six days each week. The extra day gets put into the tele-workshop series.

When the current book is written, I won’t accept another. The book on List Building has a planned release for the end of the year anyway, so there is lots of time to work on it.

What I’ll do in the future is plan one big project every two years – a project like the tele-workshop series. When I’m working on something like that, I won’t take any book projects.

I’ll keep copywriting commitments down to about 4 or 5 hours each day. This will keep part of each day open for working on every current project.

There it is. My way of putting Rich Schefren’s advice to work for me, and enjoying the results.

What do you think? Would you do it differently? How will you put Rich’s advice to use for yourself?

Conrad

Horses & Carts – When to upgrade

Hi,

This is something that has been boucing around in my head all weekend.

On Saturday, I spoke with a stranger and we got talking about internet marketing, information marketing and writing in general. The thing that got me – and it really bothers me – is that this fellow told me about several “programs” he had purchased that were supposed to help him increase his profits.

A couple of the things he mentioned were programs and products by people I am familiar with.

He bought them, but felt he hadn’t gotten his money’s worth. That didn’t jive with what I know of the people involved – especially since I happen to own one of the products he mentioned.

Okay. First, you’re probably wondering why I’m not naming anything here. Especially since I am generally un-reserved about using people’s names. My reason is that I don’t know all the programs and products he mentioned. I’m not going to name something or someone if I don’t know they represent quality.

Second: Here’s what I have to say about this fellow’s complaints.

Until you have some clients, or are selling some products, it makes no sense to purchase anything that will double, triple or otherwise increase your sales and profits. After all, multiply zero by any number you want, and you still get zero.

The fellow I spoke to Saturday didn’t have any clients or products, and he didn’t seem to have any understanding of the materials he owned. I think maybe he bought them expecting the act of making the purchase to generate results.

Folks, if you buy a book and don’t read it, don’t expect to get any smarter.

For everyone who is looking at starting in internet marketing (information marketing, writing books (ebooks) or affiliate marketing), there is one resource I recommend for getting started – and it’s completely free.

Go to www.strategicprofits.com. This site belongs to Rich Schefren. The resource you want are the five free reports he gives away through his site.

Why?

Because Rich will show you that internet marketing is not all that different from how people have been running their hometown businesses for decades. It’s different, sure. But most people think it’s apples and oranges. Rich will show you that it’s more like oranges and grapefruit.

The other thing Rich does with his reports is give you “how-to” information – invaluable stuff for beginner and pro alike.

When you’ve read through Rich’s stuff, visit the sites of other internet marketers. Www.Bly.com will give you over a hundred examples of landing pages for selling information products. Bob also has a library of articles you can read.

Just think of the people you buy from, or who you get newsletters from. Visit their sites and REALLY LOOK at what they do. How often do they send an e-mail? What’s in it?

The plain, simple fact is that writing a book (ebook) or making sales (by internet or in person) means you have to do some work. Yep, there’s that nasty little four letter word.

I know. I just finished another book, I’m working on two more, and I put in a lot of hours every day.

And, folks, I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing for the Site Superintendent’s job on the Shangri-La build happening right now at Richmond & University in downtown Toronto.

For those who don’t know – I have 20 years of construction experience. The Shangri-La is a 67 floor hotel & condo tower with condos starting at $1 Million dollars. It’s a prestigious project.

Ask Brian Johnson (Rich Schefren’s right hand) if he puts in a lot of hours. He does it because he enjoys it.

I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but, folks, if you don’t enjoy writing and marketing enough to put in lots of time and energy – then maybe you should spend a little more time finding your passion.

Okay. Go ahead and rip me a new pooper. Call me insensitive and crass – go ahead.

Conrad

E-books – No Such Thing As Not-For-Profit

Hi,

Steve and I have been having a chat about this recently. Steve is a copywriter and he’s thinking about writing an e-book to use as a premium.

What we’ve been talking about (be e-mail) is that there’s really no such thing as a not-for-profit, or free, premium of any kind.

First, you should put a List Price on every report, e-book, white paper or whatever that you write and make available. Putting a price tag on it, and having it for sale on your site, is what allows you to say that premium is worth XXXX dollars. (Watch for the example I’ll give for when you definitely do not want to attach a price to something.)

If you never put a price on it, then it has no value.

The next thing is that – even when you appear to give the premium away – you are always collecting a price for it. When it comes to the internet, the price you are collecting is often a name and e-mail address.

Why do you collect those names and e-mail addresses? Isn’t it because you expect to make a profit by marketing to them?

An excellent example of this – building relationships and positioning as an expert by giving information away for free – is Rich Schefren. www.StrategicProfits.com

Rich is a wizard when it comes to list-building – collecting those names and e-mail addresses. The thing that’s unique about Rich – well, one of the things – is that he has five reports that he gives away for free. The reports have no List Price, and they are of excellent quality. (I know. All five are printed and sitting on my desk as I dissect each one.)

Rich is also the example of how to use a report or e-book when you absolutely don’t want to attach a price to it.

You can download every one of his reports – in exchange for your name and e-mail address.

Why? Because these reports are the wide rim of his product funnel. They are your first step in developing a relationship with Rich.

Okay. Bob Bly and I are writing a whole book on List Building, so I’m not going to go into great depth on this. At the same time, I want you to understand how to use premiums well and be motivated to produce them for yourself or for clients.

So let’s do this: If you have a question, then post it here as a comment. I’ll make a point of answering it here so everyone can benefit.

That’s it. Have a good day, and a good week.

Conrad

Book Publishing – Lulu is a High Value Service

Hi,

That’s a lulu, isn’t it?

And I’m not talking about a fish tale.

Lulu.com is just about the largest online self-publishing tool today. It’s a free service – until you reach the point of being ready to actually publish your book.

They offer a huge array of free tools and services to get you started. Everything from advice on setting up a Google Book Preview, to cover design and paper choice. There are also five FAQ forums and a Help page with tutorials, caculators and tempaltes.

I suggest you use Lulu for both e-books and hardcopy books.

It gives you a place to work on the layout of your book, and the marketing tools Lulu makes available will help you with both book types. Here’s one example:

Have you ever thought of publishing an e-book in a 6X9 format? Do you realise that is very close to a regular sheet of paper in landscape format?

It’s time for all of us to start thinking about readers who are picking up our e-books and using an electronic device while their reading. You know, something like Amazon.com’s Kindle reader. They’re ideal for a paperback format (6X9).

When you have one, two or several books, you should also think about taking hardcopies of all of them to conferences. Storing your projects with Lulu will allow you to print a few or a hundred copies of each book.

It will be a boost for your reputation, and a stroke for your ego, when people ask about one of your books and you are able to produce a hardcopy for them. It’s amazing how one person buying a copy of a book can stimulate everyone around you to start buying.

It’s a free service so nobody gets any affiliate commissions for recommending Lulu.com. And it isn’t going to do the work for you, or magically make your manuscript into a bestseller.

This is a site for everyone who knows success comes from daily, consistent effort. (Have you read that phrase here before?)

Conrad

Writing – The Horrors of a First Draft

Good Morning,

Yes, submitting your first draft to an editor can be a self-imposed nightmare.

I just submitted a first draft (first for him – third for me) to Bob Bly for an e-book we are working on. There are some good parts in the book and a couple that are just not what I want.

The horror part is that Bob and I wanted the first draft done before Christmas. I have been holding on to it because of the parts I don’t like. Do you see where this is going?

Think of a truck stuck in the mud with its wheels spinning.

If any one of us were driving the truck, we’d have sense enough to use a winch, get some help or put something under the tires for traction. When it comes to writing, you would think I’d know better than to keep wallowing around and just get the draft off to my editor so he can lend me a hand. Right?

Yea. And I never eat two desserts or spit in public.

The most important thing to remember about your first draft is that it is a FIRST draft. You’re supposed to make changes.

Being afraid of the impression your first draft will make is normal. At least it’s normal for me, and I know two other writers who feel the same way. We always think people will believe we’ve lost our “touch” when the read a first draft.

The ironic thing is that our editors have always seen our first drafts. For some irrational, artistic-ego reason, we forget that the biggest part of why editors like our writing is because they know we’ll take their suggestions and end up with something ten times better than the first draft.

I think we might all be the same in this. I hope it helps you to know that. Maybe knowing that we all get at least a little scared every time a first draft is submitted will make it just a little easier to gather our courage and make the submission.

Conrad

Writing an E-Book – How to Track Your Progress

Hi,

Two people sent me similar questions recently. Both wanted to know how I set up a writing project so it can be set down at night and easily picked up the next day.

The best way to answer this is to start with your outline.

Write your outline with a single sentence to name/describe each chapter of the book. This is important because this will become the foundation for everything else you do to get it written.

When you outline is written, go to the bottom of the page and press <Ctrl> and <Enter> at the same time to start a new page – this is called a page break. Then copy and paste your outline to the new page.

Now you’ll have something like this:

Chpt 1

Chpt 2

Chpt 3

Chpt 1 (top of new page)

Chpt 2

Chpt 3

Take the “second” outline and put page breaks between each sentence. This gives you the chapter headings at the top of each page.

Now print the whole thing. My preference is to print on lined 3-ring binder paper. That’s because I like making my notes longhand before I sit down to type.

When it’s printed, put the pages into a binder and use tabbed dividers to separate each chapter. That means each chapter has just one page at the start, and it gives you a spot to put your notes and research whie you’re working.

The first page of your printout is the table of contents. Print a second copy of this, or make a photocopy then put the table of contents into the binder. Here’s a quick list of how I set up my tabbed dividers:

1 – cover page

2 – copyright page

3 – table of contents

4 – quick start guide (if applicable)

5 – first chapter

Then, on top of all the dividers – so it’s the first thing I see when opening the binder – I put the copy of the table of contents. You’ll also want to put some of those peel and stick supports on the holes. It keeps the page from tearing out because it’s going to get used a lot.

Use that first page in the binder to check off each stage of the writing process. When I have the research for a chapter done, I circle the chapter number. When the notes are done and I’m ready to type, I put an X over the circle. The last thing is to put a check mark beside the other marks when the first draft has been typed.

That’s it in a nutshell – a big nutshell. Let me know if you have other questions.

Conrad