From Idea to Creation to Sale: How to Write an eBook and Sell it on Your Website

/ marketing
Stephen Altrogge

If you’ve ever wanted to create an eBook now's the time. Here's what you need to know to create your own and sell it on your website.

Ever feel like you got some vital information that you absolutely must share with the rest of the world?

Insight from experiences you’ve had, knowledge you possess or just a personal story that is both helpful and entertaining that others would want to read.

And of course, if you could present it in just the right way, it might even earn you additional income.

How great would that be?

If this describes you, we might know just the outlet to give your idea life.

An eBook (also known as a whitepaper)

Why an eBook?

The popularity of the whitepaper or ebook format is an excellent way to get out your message and build your brand.

Considering the number of ways to read an eBook - smartphone, tablet, dedicated e-reader, desktop - it’s also a great way to generate revenue and widen exposure.

eBooks are especially helpful if your online marketing efforts are in their infancy or stuck in neutral and need a boost.

So where to begin? It all starts with the idea.

What to Write?

What you write about is the ultimate factor in the success of your eBook. You need an idea that matters to you and provides something of value to the reader.

One way to gauge what might work (and what won’t) is to look at your own website.

Your blog is a built-in barometer telling you what's interesting to your audience.

See what’s popular or generates the most enthusiasm or discussion.

Is there a topic that people are clamoring to know more about? Are you amazing at customer success strategies?

A specific process or particular skill an audience wants to learn? Are you a master at pricing fitness programs? Teach people the art of fitness based revenue and retention.


Or do you have a solution to a common problem that others struggle with?

If you’re crafting an eBook for a company, apply similar thinking. Do the organization’s customers want a deep dive related to one of their products or services?

Is the company in a unique spot to give insight into a situation that competitors cannot?

Whatever your subject matter is, there probably is a market for it. Just be sure to do your homework about how marketable your eBook might be.

Check if there's already plenty of content available in the space you want to write.

Even with a unique angle, a saturated market might not be the best time to share it.

Don’t shy away from small or niche subjects either. These areas tend to be undervalued and may have a have core market base hungry for content.

A good rule to follow is the greater the demand for a subject and the less quality content available about it, the higher the chance for your eBook to succeed, and, of course, to be profitable.

Writing Your eBook

You’ve got your idea, and now it's time to write it.

A good first step to getting started is to draw out a simple plan - areas you want to cover, chapter headings, and any other high-level items that will help get you going.

This is not an outline, but instead a 30,000-foot overview of the subject.
From there you can go one of two ways - an actual outline and then write, or just start writing.

Some people like to outline their initial thoughts into something more detailed and then complete a draft. Others prefer to jump in and start writing.

Do whatever works best for you, just stick with it, and don’t worry about anything else other than writing your eBook. Don’t stop until you complete the first draft.

Formatting Your eBook

One of the principal factors that make eBooks so popular is their readability. Keep it simple, to the point, and easy for a reader to grasp.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Keep your words moving. Short paragraphs and lists where appropriate keep the reader engaged.
  • Don’t get fancy with your fonts. Common fonts like Arial, Georgia, or Verdana will do the trick, and keep the size at 12 or 14.
  • With headers, two to three types are all you need.
  • The color scheme should be simple too. Nothing overbearing, just appealing to the eye and complementary to your content.
  • Use imagery where possible. Not only does this give your eBook depth, but it makes it far more appealing. You can use one of three ways - purchase from a stock library, pull from a royalty-free image site or take your own.

When formatting your eBook, don’t overthink it. Simplicity should always be your priority. Take SnapApp’s whitepaper, An Introduction to Interactive Content - simple, clean paragraphs with engaging visuals that clearly demonstrate their point.

Editing Your eBook

Once you've completed the initial draft of your eBook, we suggest taking a step back for a few days and letting it rest, especially if you have a rather large whitepaper.

LinkedIn’s whitepaper The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing (Vol 1, 2016) is a an amazing 108 read, and we can only imagine the number of times it was reviewed and edited by the team.

If you allow yourself some time between finishing the first draft and beginning the editing process, you’ll come at it with a clear mind and fresh perspective.

Read through your draft at least once or twice yourself, with one of those being out loud. You’ll be amazed at the number of errors you’ll catch with that method.

After you’ve done your tweaking, give it to someone else to read, and not someone who is fond of you, like a spouse, parent, or sibling.

In all seriousness, you do want someone who is willing to provide honest feedback and won’t pull any punches when it comes to voice, flow, execution of ideas, and any minor errors you may have missed.

Don’t be offended by critiques of your work by proofreaders. Instead, take it as an opportunity to improve your work and to craft an eBook that people will love.

Covering Your eBook

The last step in creating your eBook is finding it some nice clothes to wear, i.e., a great cover, like Rentberry’s whitepaper...

Even though an eBook is just a digital file, an excellent cover helps to sell it more than you may realize. It's critical to take some time and think it through.

You may design it yourself, use an online design tool (or eBook templates) or employ the services of a third party graphic designer.

We do suggest the graphic designer as you don’t want to leave your book’s first impression to chance. Whichever route you choose, follow these guidelines to ensure the best possible cover:

  • Make sure your title is easy to read.
  • Offset the title from your background, and ensure specific elements are easy to recognize.

When using visuals keep these things in mind:

  • Avoid copyrighted material (even taking a piece of it is considered a violation)
  • Only use high-quality images. Cheap or basic stock shots will render your cover the same.
  • Images and other visuals should be 300 dpi.

Consumers will judge your book based on you know what. Don’t give them a reason to judge it harshly.

Converting Your eBook

Once everything is together, then comes the conversion process. The main factor is to offer your eBook in multiple formats, to satisfy the needs of all of your readers, especially when selling it on your website.

There are three formats you should focus on:

  • PDF: Most readers prefer PDF downloads. It’s simple, works on every smart device, and is easy to make available.
  • Mobi: This the exclusive format that Amazon Kindle uses.
  • Epub: This is a universal format that is accepted by Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Selling Your eBook

You are now at the point where all of your hard work will finally pay off - the marketing and selling of your eBook.

However, for your eBook to find its audience, you will need to do some legwork.

Marketing Your eBook

Below, we’ve listed some basic strategies across multiple channels to get out the word your eBook is available.

Blog

The blog approach consists of guest blogging across a number of sites that appeal to your target audience. You’re not looking for links, but exposure.

Your blog topic may be about one or two points from the eBook, but you don’t need to directly sell it within the blog (some sites may even frown upon it).

Your goal is to generate enough interest from your post to bring traffic to your site and have them purchase your book. We suggest targeting at least ten different sites to guest on initially, and make your appeal specifically to that readership.

Remember, you need to give them value and a reason to follow you to your website.

Social Media / Landing Page

If this is your first eBook and you don't have a heavily trafficked website or large social footprint, it might be worth it to invest in advertising on Facebook.

Utilizing Facebook ads can help you zero in on your ideal audience, sending them targeted ads that specifically tout your eBook.

From your ad, you direct those who are interested to a landing page (or your website) where you can further extol the benefits of your eBook and get a commitment from them to buy (or at the very least a name and email to follow up with).

Even if you don’t generate a large number of initial sales, this is a valuable method for getting your name and product out into public view.

Mailing List

If you already have a mailing list, now is the perfect opportunity to use it. Similar to the Facebook ads, your marketing email can be designed to steer interested parties to a landing page or website to continue making the pitch for your eBook.

Influencer

Finally, you can take the influencer route, by identifying bloggers, reporters, or other high profile individuals related to your eBook topic and who have large followings.

Offer up your eBook to the influencer at no cost, and if they like what they see, they’ll promote it to their audience, driving traffic and sales back to you.

If you use influencer marketing, research those that provide the best fit for your content.  Don't overlook smaller influencer groups either.

It's better to market to 5,000 enthusiastic individuals who have an immediate need versus wasting your efforts on 10,000 who only carry passive curiosity.

Pricing or Leveraging Your eBook

Then there is the all-important pricing and leveraging. The aim of most whitepapers is to raise awareness of your product or services, and also to capture that all-important lead information. If you aren’t looking to simply generate leads, then ensure you have a gateway landing page that captures lead info before releasing the book to them.

If you’re selling your eBook, determining what to charge may be one of the trickiest aspects of selling your eBook, especially if you’ve never had to price one before.

Here are a few tips to follow, based on how you classify your reach and your eBook.

First eBook and a Small Following

As an unknown, people will be unsure of the quality of your content or skills, so a lower price point may be necessary to capture early sales and interest. Anything priced under $5.00 is a great place to start.

Established Website or Healthy Following

If you’ve been at it for a while, especially with considerable experience in a particular industry, you have more flexibility with pricing. Anywhere from $10.00 to $20.00 is reasonable, and if your content is high-value or in demand, you could push the price to $25.00.

Understand the Market

In either case, research your market and check out the pricing for similar eBooks. You never want to over or underprice your efforts as both can lead to disinterest and lackluster sales.

Discounts and Specials

Last, don’t be afraid to generate a little buzz offering special pricing. Discount codes are popular as everyone loves a deal (and to feel special). These will prove very helpful should you market through social media or by offering specials to the supporters of an influencer.

How To Use Paperform To Sell Your Book On Your Website

The listing of your book is the last piece of the puzzle, including where and at what price.

When it comes to where to sell or give access to your eBook you have two basic options - do it on your own directly to your customer base or a list it on a third party site.

Of course, with a third party website like Amazon, your potential reach is enormous. However, these services can take a considerable cut of your profits, and in the end, you and your eBook are at their mercy.

Listing your book on your online store or website, however, comes with it some distinct advantages:

  • Set your own price.
  • Keep a much higher portion of the profits.
  • Control the marketing.
  • Other titles are not directly competing with yours.
  • You have a clearer picture of your customer and more direct engagement with them.
  • Customers don’t have to create an account to buy your book.

Paperform makes it incredibly easy to create a sales or access page for your whitepaper. In just a few steps, we can create a landing page where we can describe the eBook, show off the cover, accept payment and capture lead info, and then make the whitepaper available to your audience.

In less than five minutes, I can add the title, the cover, and the description of the book.

Because using Paperform is just like using a document editor, I can easily add in endorsements, other photos, even promotional videos. For now, we’ll keep it simple and stick with the cover, a description, and a purchase option.

After our purchase form is created, we can configure our payment gateway (PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and Square) so that we can accept payments, as well as accept coupons and create any custom pricing rules.

Finally, we’ll set up the form to redirect them to the download page after they purchase the book.

That’s it! It literally took me 10 minutes to set up a purchase page for the book. Obviously, we could have spent more time on the design, but even still, we have a fully functioning sales page.

That’s how easy it is to sell whitepapers using Paperform.

Final Thoughts

As you can see it takes commitment and a genuine determination to create and sell an eBook. But it is an endeavor that is deeply satisfying, and potentially lucrative.

So don’t let that idea of yours sit static too long. There are those out there who want, and can indeed benefit from your insight and unique voice. Besides, you’ve got something to say, and what better way to say it than through an eBook.

Try Paperform Now!

14 Day Free Trial, No CC Required

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