If you’re a service-based business professional, and you want to increase your revenue through online marketing, you’ve probably considered writing and selling ebooks.
The truth is, when you want to build yourself as a go-to brand, an ebook is a good way to start. These days “having an ebook on Amazon” carries nearly as much credibility as getting published with a big-name publishing house. Either way, you have to do your own marketing. You’ll do a lot of your own planning, as the days of developmental editing are practically gone.
When you publish on Amazon, your book appears — literally — right next to some of the best-known names in your industry. In fact, you might get more reviews and more attention than authors who have more fame but less online marketing know-how.
But this also means that you need to create a mindset that’s more like a publisher than a writer. It’s also more like a comedian than a college professor (and I’ve been both), but we’ll get to that point later.
Here are the 3 critical steps to developing your profitable ebook mindset.
(1) Develop a copywriting mindset.
Start planning how you’ll sell your book before you start writing. As a first step, draft your sales page (which, by the way, is also a good first step for creating online courses and other programs). This step forces you to consider the book’s benefits and features, as well as to answer the question, “What makes this book stand out from the competition? And if there is no competition, how can I be sure there’s anyone who wants to read it?”
Copywriters often spend more time on the headline or title than on the rest of the copy. The title draws readers into your book so consider the keywords you’ll need for your title and subtitle. (Incidentally, publishing houses don’t always do this better than you would yourself. My book on relocation was published as Making The Big Move: a bad title I’m stuck with, because people look for the book. The subtitle at least has keywords: “Relocation As A Creative Life Transition.”)
Craft chapter titles as headlines or bullet points. They will show up in preview materials and often influence the reader’s buying decision. Use this pitch to drive the writing process.
I’ve never been a big fan of outlining, but it’s almost impossible to write a profitable ebooks without a detailed plan. Generally I like to make a list of chapters and a few notes under each chapter. As I get ideas, I can slot them in. I can also incorporate ideas from other people’s books and blog posts as I come across them, along with the references so they can be cited later.
(2) Develop a mindset of “get it done fast.”
Have a plan to create content — and a plan for what to do when you don’t feel like writing. Some people write a certain number of hours each day. I prefer to set targets based on word count. If you’ve got multiple book ideas (and I always do) pick one and see it through to the end.
Once you lose momentum it is very hard to get going again. You have to immerse yourself back in the subject matter. Often you’re no longer interested in the topic, or you’ve developed an angle that’s more exciting and more motivational. You’re back to Page 1.
And each time you lose momentum, you start over. It’s sort of like rolling a boulder up a hill. You never feel like you’re making progress.
Inevitably you’ll have days when you don’t feel like writing, but you’ll have to find a way to get the book done regardless.
Here’s where my copywriting training has come in handy. Copywriters often have secret tricks to get them into writing mode. One copywriter puts on a “copywriting hat” — literally. Another wears a special pair boots. I tend to listen to sloppy country music; sometimes I get fired up by classical, but my creative juices really start flowing with country music…not the new crossovers, but the music that used to be all you could get on the radio when you drove cross-country (and don’t ask the older cars if they have stereos). My current favorite is Kacey Musgraves (especially her duet with Willie Nelson … but I digress).
These actions actually make sense. Your brain begins to associate this activity with writing. When you hear the first chords of your special music, or feel that hat on your head, you’re back in the groove. It’s like getting into your car: once you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re programed to go somewhere.
(3) Be real as well as relatable.
Write what you know (or be prepared to do a ton of research). But at the same time figure out what resonates with your readers. I created a video about being relatable as well as personable — you can watch it here.
I learned this lesson when I was doing standup comedy. Most comedians today draw material from their own lives, real or exaggerated. One of the more experienced comics advised me to tell jokes about the time I spent living in Alaska. I tried … and died. My audience couldn’t relate to my very personal story about flying through the mountains in a tiny Cessna with a very inexperienced pilot. They’d never been to Alaska or flown in a tiny plane. And they had the good sense to know you shouldn’t get into an airplane with a pilot who’s got less than 100 hours in his log book.
I went back to sharing jokes about the cable company or the insurance company or why beautiful women always carry big make-up cases. They got it.
Comedy also taught me that you need to create content with stories. Even one-liners are inspired by stories. So when you’re faced with the blank page, one trick I use is to ask, “How can I tell a story about this topic?” Even in nonfiction you can make up stories to illustrate your point. I call these stories concept stories: they’re explained in detail, with many examples, in my own book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.
Where To Go Next
Today you can find a huge variety of resources, at all price levels, to help you create that elusive stream of passive income.
I’m going to suggest two resources to develop ebooks very quickly and inexpensively (I’m an affiliate of both). And I encourage you to begin here because they’ll give you enough to produce a real ebook fast enough to appreciate the process and even see some results.
First, Dennis Becker’s Ebook Money Machine walks you through the basics of publishing on Amazon kindle. He priced his offer to be a no-brainer, sort of like the candy bars in the supermarket checkout line. But don’t let the price fool you. I bought one and found he doesn’t skimp on information. It’s all about implementation, not theory. Download here.
Second, the Coach Glue team has an excellent package to help you plan your book launch, including promoting your book on podcasts and blogs — the new version of a blog tour. As with all their materials, you can use the information for yourself or use the product as Private Label Rights to create products for your list. Click here to learn more.
For actually writing the ebook, I’d recommend Jim Edwards’s 7 Day Ebook Guide. It’s been around awhile (and the sales letter may seem quaint) and it’s still good — a step-by-step intro to writing an ebook. I’ve used it myself and recommended it to friends and clients. Click Here.
The prices are so low you can choose all of them and still feel you’re getting a deal. I found they complement each other for my own ebook development.
The experience of writing a book will change the way you approach writing other content. Therefore, I’d recommend taking some time to try, even if you decide it’s not for you; you’ll gain some new tools you can use in all areas of marketing and you’ll develop some skills you can use elsewhere.
My latest (and favorite) ebook is Grow Your Business One Story At A Time