Out of the primordial soup — back in the early 1990s they came.
They weren’t pretty. They weren’t compelling. They’re repulsive to look at today.
But we bought them — lots of them.
They were the first ebooks.
Remember Times Roman? There was page after page of it, like an 8th grade book report.
Remember the yellow highlighter on the sales page? How it made our hearts beat a little faster?
Remember how the sweat beaded on our upper lips when we thought we might miss out on the low, low price, available for only a few more hours? That’s what the red headline said.
We spent good money on those ebooks, and we thought they were first-rate. We thought wrong …
We just didn’t know any better.
We’re older and wiser. Are we smarter?
We’re different now. More discerning.
And if you’re reading Copyblogger, chances are good that you not only buy ebooks, you create them yourself, or you want to.
We’d like to think we’re smarter now than we were back then. But what have we actually learned about how to write, create and sell ebooks successfully?
It’s a jungle out there. Let’s cover the basics so your ebook will survive and flourish.
An ebook is a performance
The cover of your ebook is like the curtain rising at a theater.
It’s the first glimpse of your information. Will the audience like what they see?
That depends on how well you know them.
Because if you know your audience well and understand their challenges and problems, you’ll know what to offer them in an ebook. Here’s how to discover what to write about:
- Pay attention to the questions you’re asked over and over
- Read and respond to the comments on your blog
- Ask new visitors and customers what brought them to you
- Find out demographic information like gender, age, and education level
- Survey your readers to discover what their challenges are
When you know your audience, you can present them with a “show” they’ll want to buy tickets to — an ebook with information they need, that they want, and that they’ll pay for.
Work with the marketplace’s natural selection process
Nature can be cruel.
Your species is humming along, doing its thing, and all of the sudden a species better suited to your environment swoops in. Before you know it, you’ve gone the way of the dodo.
It happens with ebooks, too. This year’s “Ultimate Guide” is replaced by next year’s “Last Guide You’ll Ever Need.”
To avoid this fate, give your readers your best work. Make it useful, original and fresh. Keep it updated and timely.
Natural selection in the marketplace applies to design, too.
The best ebooks are well designed and easy to read. Many people read their ebooks on screen and never print them.
To make your information easy to absorb, break it into short paragraphs. Add plenty of subheads to make your pages simple to skim.
Use a layout with lots of white space. Add subheads, call outs, and images. Go over it carefully and clean up any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Buyers expect clean, crisp pages, and will pay a premium for them.
Your information should be well designed if you want it to thrive.
Leave your cave or perish
None of this advice applies if you don’t actually write the damn thing.
Sounds obvious, I know, but admit it: how many ebook ideas do you have floating around in your head?
It takes discipline and a special kind of tenacity to plow through the unglamorous middle and ending phases of ebook creation.
But your ideas deserve to see the light of day, so do the work and forge ahead. Get them onto the screen and bring them to life.
Your ideas can’t spread if they hide in a cave.
Adapt your methods to survive
Have you heard about super bacterium?
They’re antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are a product of overuse of antibiotic medicines.
In the marketing world, we’ve developed yellow-highlighter-and-red-headline-resistance. Those sales techniques just don’t have the effect on us they used to. What does that mean for you and your ebook?
It means your sales methods need to be as robust as your ebook content in order to survive. Try these techniques:
- Offer solid, information-packed content in the lead up to your launch
- Combine no-opt-in giveaways with sneak peeks of your ebook content
- Leverage your professional network to get the word out about your product
When you write your sales copy, remember your audience’s challenges and write about them. Don’t assume they know what your product is about: spell out the details.
And please, don’t rehash the same old promises: position your ebook so it’s unique and memorable.
Natural selection is your friend
Nature and the market can both be cruel.
But now you know what to do to give your ebook the best chance:
- Write it, don’t hide it
- Polish it up and make it professional and appealing
- Create and share valuable content before you launch it
- Position your ebook so it’s memorable, and use your network to spread it
Only the smart survive, and now you’re one of them.
About the Author: Pamela Wilson is the owner of Big Brand System and co-creator of eBook Evolution — a complete system, including customizable templates anyone can use, for writing, designing, and launching eBooks.
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