You’ll find a lot of marketing scam, junk programs and gimmicks out there promising quick riches from the creation of e-Books. Can you really make money from them? Can you write them yourself? How do you price them?  Here are the specific questions I received from a reader:

I have been thinking about writing an e-Book. Is it a good idea?

I have no idea.  It depends on your content. There is no “magic” about e-Books anymore. They are mainstream and exist by the gagillions.  Great content doesn’t even guarantee your e-Book will be a “good idea” in the sense of sales.  For an e-Book to be a good idea you have to have these elements: great content, a receptive audience, a price that your audience instantly recognizes as worth the investment, and a marketing effort appropriate to your sales/income vision.

A note on price: if you hit on the right idea and the right audience, the right price can allow you to make a killing. I have friend who has made almost a half million dollars in the last 5 years on a 24 page e-Book that deals with a personal health issue. He hit the right topic, at the right time, to the right audience.  Yes, no kidding, a half mil. That’s about five digits more than I’ve ever made from an e-Book, even with my size audience.  I’ve had some success with e-Books but not even  remotely close to that “grand slam” my buddy knocked out of the park, over the parking lot, across the street and into someone’s back yard.

More on price… there is one price now that is going to be the choice for most given where the market has evolved in the last decade: FREE.  Thank you Google. In a nutshell, the new price model of choice is “free”, using it to: grow an audience, instill loyalty with continued high quality content and then move to a phase of tasteful monetization (which can come in several forms; that’s a topic for another blog post).

Should “free” discourage one from writing e-Books? Only if you are after “get rich quick” or afraid of hard work and time. Otherwise, e-Books are fantastic way to market your knowledge, reach a large audience and build your brand.  Like any business, done right, those things can end up over time converting to real income.

There are benefits of e-Books over printed books or blogs: they can grow “virally” via email, distributing exponentially to any one with an inbox; they can be taken offline by saving the file on a local computer; they can be printed for hardcopy reading.  e-Books provide real flexibility to your potential readers. Those are features to be seriously considered in any writer’s online business efforts.

Who do you suggest using for writing an e-Book?

That depends on the level of your own writing skills. If you have a great idea and some valuable knowledge but you stink at writing, then you should hire a ghost writer. Provide them the your outline, notes, ideas and as much detail as you can; then get out of the way and let them do their thing.

If you are good writer, you should still employ the services of a proofreader and/or editor if you want the highest quality final product.  As a designer and writer myself, I can tell you from experience, you cannot PERFECTLY proof and edit your own work. It’s just impossible. Your mind sees what it wants to see, filling in missing gaps or errors subconsciously and your eyes are fooled.  

If you are insecure or unproven in your writing skills, you should find a friend or professional and let them give you an honest evaluation. You might be a lot better than you think, or you may have an over-inflated opinion of your skills. Either way, a good review by a professional writer/editor will give you a realistic idea of how much (or how little) help you’ll need getting your content to a publishing quality level.

Would you pay a flat rate or percentage of sales for editing and design help?

You’ll rarely find writing or design help who will work on a hoped-for future commission especially given how unlikely it is that any given e-Book will do considerable sales.  You should be prepared to pay a flat rate or an hourly rate for the work.

As a writer and designer I prefer charging people a flat rate so that you remove the “are you working hard for that hourly rate?” tension that naturally occurs.  The contractor feels like they aren’t making enough per hour, and the client wonders if you are dragging it out.  By agreeing on a flat price for the work, it doesn’t matter if it takes 10 minutes or 10 days to actually get the job done. The client gets what they expect, and the contractor gets paid the agreed amount.

Can you actually make money from e-Books?

Sure. It’s like anything… good product, good marketing, hard work and time are the keys. The days of “Internet magic” are  LONG since over.  Like any traditional business, electronic business success takes longevity, perseverance and vision.  I would consider e-Books more of a great marketing tool while you are in the growth phase, building an audience. Once you have an established and loyal readership who trust and value your content then e-Books can definitely become a source of income.

The amount of income varies depending on the topic; the scarcity of the knowledge in your content (scarcity creates value); the amount of benefit to be derived from the content, and the demographics of your readership.

Again, one must quit thinking of e-Books or any online product as DIFFERENT from traditional business and products. Those days are over. You need the time-tested mix of business ingredients: quality, time, hard work, vision and some good fortune (or God’s blessing for those of you who have that mindset).

How many e-Books would I have to create and publish to make a $100 a week?

One, if someone would pay you a $100 bucks for it.  Or ten thousand if you can only get a penny.  “Ha ha funny guy… you know what I’m asking. From your experience, what would it reasonably to take to make a goal of $100 a week?”  Depends.

Good answer huh? Straight from the politicians playbook.  Here’s a principle I constantly teach people: there are two approaches to selling products. 1) You can go after 10 clients that buy a single one million dollar product from you or 2) you can find 10 million clients who will pay you a buck for something.

With the Internet, the latter becomes much more realistic than it was decade or more ago. From a closet in the back of your house, you can run a “multi-national giant corporation” from one laptop… or it least it can appear that way.  My office is actually an abandoned Porta-Potty I got from a construction site and put out in the corner of my backyard. It stinks, but I don’t have to go inside to use the bathroom. It’s got built-in seating and a roll of notepads that hang right on the wall next to me.

The Internet opens the door to a GLOBAL market in a way not even conceived of 20 years ago. Of course, the Internet also brings with it exponentially more competition because that same accessibility to a market is available to anyone with an Internet connection. It’s harder than ever to be successful online but for those who are, the potential is unprecedented.

“Time” is the killer of the uncommitted and the rewarder of those who persevere…

Should the competition and small success rate discourage you? Not hardly. 98% of your competition will not possess the discipline, vision, perseverance or work ethic to rise above the crowd. While the competition looks endless and insurmountable, the cream quickly rises to the top over time… time is the killer of the uncommitted and lazy, and the blessing of the devoted and diligent.

If you have a reasonably good product (e-Books in this scenario), constantly improve and learn, listen to your market, and wake up each day determined to take action that supports and moves you towards your goal, eventually you’ll see success.

It’s always been that way, regardless of the product or technology.

WHAT ARE YOU QUESTIONS ABOUT BLOGGING OR ONLINE BUSINESS? If you submit a question that I choose to answer online, I’ll make sure I give you credit, and a link back to your site so my audience can come visit you… 

PS: WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS FOR ME? Ask here. Want to book me for training, speaking or business consulting? Go here. If you benefitted from this post, would you be so kind to share this post with others by clicking one of the SHARE buttons?

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