This is the second post in my series on how to successfully publish and sell an eBook. I recommend reading the first post before continuing on with this article.
Before getting into why you should create an eBook, it is important to emphasize that if you can write, you can create an eBook regardless of your skill-set and online savvy. Even if you don’t want to do everything yourself, there are freelancers that can execute parts of, or the entire process for you cost effectively if that’s the route you want to take. Whatever the case is, understand right now that you too can create an eBook and profit from it.
Each one of us has unique skill-sets, personal and professional, unique life experiences, hobbies and interests. No matter what it is that we know, I can guarantee you that there is a group of individuals out there who would like to know what you know and are willing to pay you for that information.
For example, as a frequent traveler who saw and experienced all kinds of travel issues, I wrote about my experiences and turned it into an eBook. That eBook has sold well over 1,000 copies all from a one-time effort. The eBook barely took me two weeks to compile and subsequently syndicate to several eBook stores online. I did not use eBook writing software either. I will discuss how to replicate that process in the coming posts.
We live in a time where technology has enabled us to share our experiences with the world and profit from it at the same time. eBook publishing is very simple, even for someone who is not technology savvy. In fact, one can outsource the task relatively easily at a very reasonable cost.
Many fear the process of writing because of either lack of confidence or because they immediately compare themselves to published best-sellers. Truth is, the real initial challenge in writing an eBook is not the writing itself, but rather what to write about. In years or doing this, I have found that the indecisiveness or “confusion” is the number one reason precluding those interested in publishing an eBook to procrastinate and eventually not do anything.
So if your main concern is the lack of confidence, or if you cannot seem to visualize yourself as a successful published author, I would request you to throw that misconception out of the window right now. English is my fourth language so if I can do it, you can do it much better than I can. Hundreds of new authors are born every day through eBook publishing. I too was at one point.
And if that is not enough to convince you, consider this fact. Several studies have shown that both online and eBook writing styles are different from polished poetry or novels written by truly talented writers. This is simply not the case for web or eBook content.
The type and style of writing that does best online as well as in eBooks is one that is direct, informal and written from an active, first person perspective as if you are speaking directly to one person, the reader. If you can converse on a day to day basis, there is no reason why you cannot create an eBook. Notice how my writing speaks to you directly as if you and I were having a one on one conversation?
There are countless reasons why you should consider creating an eBook, but I won’t go through all of them. There are a few important points that are worth highlighting however.
The most important point I’d emphasize is that creating and selling an eBook is one of the quickest and most passive methods to generate money online.
But even if money is not your primary motive, consider that an eBook is a tool that you can massively leverage to reach a wide variety and sheer number of readers globally. You will find eBooks written by career professionals, entrepreneurs, activists and aspiring politicians alike.
eBooks are evergreen in that once published, the content will always be there and accessible to anyone. There is no end to how many people can benefit from the information you publish once. It’s a great way to share your knowledge, experience and skills. No matter what your goals are, creating an eBook is a powerful strategy to accomplish multiple objectives.
For many struggling authors who cannot get their work published in hard copy format, an eBook is relatively easier to compile, self publish, get their message out and profit from. Many authors have also used eBook publishing as a stepping stone, leveraging the ease of self publishing to get that ever elusive hard copy publishing contract.
If you create an eBook and it is well accepted in the marketplace, it can develop a strong following that you can also benefit from by branching out to new initiatives such as interviews, big business deals, guest speaking contracts, etc. And the most comforting fact from a financial perspective is that there is not much investment required to publish and sell an eBook other than your time writing it.
Since we have established why create an eBook to begin with, I’d like to discuss why specifically choose an eBook over a traditional hard copy book. I mentioned earlier in this series that eBook sales are trending upward, and have been the reason many print publications and publishing houses have gone out of business. There are some very good reasons and facts that support that evolution. I will discuss a few in the following paragraphs.
Although there are some people that still prefer hard copy books because they feel those are easier to read, the trend is reversing in that more people are gravitating toward the ease and access of purchasing and reading eBooks instead. This is particularly true with the younger generation, who will become the older, income earning and spending generation of tomorrow.
Although there are still some people who feel more comfortable purchasing tangible books in bookstores, this trend is also reversing in that people are becoming more comfortable transacting online, specifically for smaller ticket items such as eBooks. Heck even local city libraries are moving to a digital “borrowing” platform.
Because traditional hard copy books require tangible material to create, they are more expensive, and therefore tend to sell more expensive as well for the publishers to recoup the cost of production. Because traditional books are created in a factory setting, one has to think about the number of books printed and the potential for over or under supply in the marketplace as well, creating back orders or obsolete copies sitting on the shelves for months and years. All that is sunk cost, or money down the toilet.
From a bookstore’s perspective, shelf space is needed to carry hard copy books. Shelf space is certainly not cheap. In addition to the intangibles, the recurring theme with hard copy books continues to be cost factor. Because it takes a good amount of money to produce hard copy books, the profit margins are significantly smaller, resulting in a less optimal case for the author, publisher, distributor and the seller from a financial perspective. Did you notice how many parties are involved in the supply chain? That is where all the money goes.
eBooks on the other hand are cheaper and much quicker to create. One doesn’t need to worry about inventory issues because an eBook can be supplied to 1 or 10,000 readers instantly with no additional effort. You don’t need all the middlemen in the process either thanks to several self publishing platforms we have available today. I will discuss these at length in a future post in this series.
In addition to not having to worry about running out of eBook copies, you do not incurring printing, publishing and distribution fees, therefore pocketing most of the sales proceeds as pure profits from your hard work.
With that said, I certainly don’t want to make it sounds like eBooks have no disadvantages. They do. Because of security and fraud issues online, many are still reluctant to purchase online. In addition, there is a certain perception of credibility and prestige attached to a hard copy book, therefore making it more difficult to persuade people to purchase eBooks online, especially from a new author on a not so well known platform (i.e. your personal website).
From an author’s sentimental perspective, publishing an eBook as opposed to a hard copy tangible book can be less satisfying because it doesn’t come with the fulfillment of seeing their work published in store shelves.
Again, these are just some of the the advantages and disadvantages of eBooks vs. tangible hard copy books. There are some very good arguments on both ends, but personally for me, the benefits involved in creating an eBook are far greater than the benefits of publishing a hard copy book. I like the fact that I don’t have to worry about securing a publisher, printing enough or just enough copies, inventory issues, shipping and fulfillment. Most importantly, I like pocketing a larger percentage of each sale.
Also do not forget that just because you may want to publish a hard copy book, it doesn’t mean that it is a given that you will be able to. Publishing hard copy books require capital investment and expensive marketing. If you don’t have or are not willing to invest the dollars up front, you will have to secure a publishing contract which is not quick or easy. Most authors that attempt to secure publishing contracts never get anywhere.
There is a third option as well, “on demand printing”, one which I call a hybrid publishing method. With on demand printing, you can self publish an eBook and host it with a third party website. Customers can then purchase your book from the website and the third party service prepares and sends the customer a copy of your book each time a sale is made.
This method of fulfillment is what major corporations strive for. It is commonly referred to as Just in Time (JIT) inventory system, which means that you fulfill orders as they come in, limiting the carrying cost of the product (the books). By doing so, you do not have to deal with inventory and all the related issues that come with it.
On demand printing services take the order, collect payment, prepare and ship your hard copy book to the customer and relay the funds back to you in a fairly streamlined manner. These kinds of services are excellent for someone who wants to only sell hard copy books but not have to deal with the disadvantages of the traditional method of publishing and selling hard copy books that are discussed above.
So what’s the catch? There is none, as long as you are ok with how the process works and how it impacts you (the author) financially. My biggest issue with this process is that the third-party on demand printing services takes a nice chunk of your profits from each sale. They don’t kill you like a publishing house or a distributor would, but they take a healthy percentage in exchange for the printing and delivery services they provide. Why should I give up a healthy chunk of my earnings when I can keep all of it?
There are a few other points that I’d like to cover with regard to on demand book printing services. First, the quality of the book is not as good as the ones available in bookstores. I know this because I once ordered an on demand book on Cabinetry and was disappointed in the quality of the book.
Second, in addition to leveraging online eBook platforms, I sell my books on my website. When a customer clicks the purchase link, the link takes them to the third party on demand printing service where the customer orders from. I have a few issues with this.
First, I lose control over the customer as they are no longer on my website, second, the customer has more steps to go through which makes the conversion process more difficult (not to mention many on demand printing services do not allow you to customize the look and feel of your page and therefore the customer knows they are now on a platform different from and outside your website) and third, it impacts my website’s performance on search engines because it impacts variables such as time spent on my site, bounce rate, etc.
To summarize, there is nothing wrong with the alternative methods if you understand and are fine with their implications. For me however, I prefer eBooks for all the reasons mentioned above. If and when someday when I become a famous celebrity, I can always convert from selling eBooks to hard copies fairly quickly and easily
I figure my fans are going to want a hard copy of my book so they can get me to sign it – but then again, there are now electronic tools available that allow customers to obtain author signatures on eBooks. Ooooh the possibilities I tell ya . . .
This article would not be complete without discussing how creating an eBook can help you establish your brand. Till now we have discussed several purposes that an eBook can satisfy. In addition to all that, publishing an eBook is also a powerful way to establish your brand name by standing out from the crowd, particularly in a competitive niche where your competitors are not “published authors”.
Whether or not you are an expert in your field is another discussion, but as a published author in your field, you will create the perception that you are the expert. By doing so, you will separate yourself from the masses and establish yourself as the “go to” and most credible authority in your industry or field.
Personally, publishing a free eBook on earning a $1,000 a month passive and residual income in less than 180 days propelled my blog’s traffic and my subscribership. In just about a year, my blog amassed 5,000+ readers. Consequently, several readers have emailed me for advice on researching and creating profitable niche websites, the underlying premise discussed in my free eBook.
You can get a free copy of my eBook when you sign up for my email updates (see the top left hand section of my blog).
While dissecting this topic was critical, on a high level publishing an eBook is an opportunity you have to get your word and work out there. If your motive is non profit, it is your opportunity to stand out, be heard and get connected with the people you are trying to reach globally.
If your motive is to earn income, publishing an eBook gives you a wonderful opportunity to make money with no limits. You can design your approach so that your eBook brings you some extra money on the side, or replace your full time income and several times over if that’s the route you want to pursue.
The important thing to realize is that no matter what your goals are, you have the means to achieve your objectives, especially today when the Internet has given us abundant access to opportunities one may never have imagined before. I know that I certainly didn’t.
Don’t take it for granted when I say that we are all on the same level field, and if I can do it as someone who is not technically savvy and speaks English as his fourth language, you can certainly do it much better than me.
So start contemplating how you can leverage this information and put it into action to achieve your goals. In my next post on the eBook series, I will discuss how to research profitable eBook topics to ensure your efforts are effective, followed by a series of posts that discuss practical and actionable steps that you can implement and start benefiting from.
Readers: Do you agree or disagree that creating an eBook is one of the most turnkey and passive ways to generate money online? Have you written an eBook or plan to write one? Why or why not? Are there particular struggles or barriers that are keeping you from self publishing your work?Previous: I am Buying a Gun to Protect My Home and Assets