I’m right in the middle of writing my eBook series (first book is done! Yeah!) and while this has been a great adventure, I have learned a lot of things since the very beginning. While the launch of my free eBook on Dividend Investing was a true success (more than 8,600 copies in 2 months!), I’m about to reach a new milestone with my second eBook:
Rat Race: 1 Year From Now, Will You Still Be A Rat?
The book is set to be launched later on in
August September (I’m on vacation in August!) as it is currently being reviewed/edited/formatted, etc. In the meantime, I want to share my experience with you along with 10 secrets about writing an eBook:
Oh man… writing an eBook is a lot of work and I don’t have any great ideas to start with… on top of that, I don’t have the time! All right, now that I’ve heard you whining like a baby; let’s be honest for a second. What are your real sources of income?
– Adsense? Then, you must depend greatly on the good grace of Google to place your articles on its first page. If you have suffered from the Panda update, you know what I mean!
– Private Advertisers? Running banners and links on your website is risky, we all know that. To add insult to injury, you could experience a Page Rank drop (again, thx to Google’s good grace or powerful wrath).
– Affiliates? What happens if the product maker cuts its commission program? Or aborts its affiliate program? It happened to me recently. The result? Losing a steady $200 of monthly income!
As you can see, the 3 common types of blogging income are not under your control and you become extremely dependent on others!
So what are your options? Manufacture and market your own product. By selling your own eBook, you can’t go wrong; this is the ultimate example of passive income. One fellow blogger was confessing to me that he has been making around $2,000 per month for the past 9 months without even touching his sales page!
Having your own product enables you to make money the way you want and modify any parameters that can help you to make even more!
I have used my newsletter subscribers a lot in order to build my eBooks. I ask them questions, offer them options and test them with a few of my ideas (they will be rewarded as they will have a huge pre-sale discount on my eBooks!… you can sign up on the right column by the way if you want to get more info on how I run my blog and what is coming up on TFB!). One thing that came back a lot was that many readers hated most eBooks they read because their author was filling them with copy/paste old stuff from their blogs! If you are about to sell your eBook, people are expecting to get original content and not some rehearsed BS that you took 15 minutes per post to write.
Since Dividend Investing was offered for free, I am not shy to say that I have used part of what has been written on The Dividend Guy Blog or What is a Dividend. However, I started from scratch when I started my new eBook series. Why? Mostly because I want to provide exclusive and useful content to my clients. Remember these 2 words:
These are the 2 reasons why people will buy your eBook:
#1 Because they can’t get it anywhere else
#2 Because it will transform their lives forever
This is what I intend to do with my books, anyways!
Rat Race is over 29,000 words. TWENTY NINE THOUSAND! It has required tons of time to write, research, edit and format. I’m planning to write 4 books like this in 2011. So I’m talking about writing over 116,000 WORDS in a few months. If I look at the project this way, I will surely quit right now.
Writing a single eBook is a huge project. If you don’t have great planning, you will soon be discouraged by the amount of work and time required to achieve this “crazy” task. The first thing you need to do is an eBook outline. You need to attack this beast one bite at a time. Create a mind map and start your outline from it. If you put down on paper each chapter with subtitles, your whole 100 page eBook will become only 100 articles to write, one at a time.
How much does it cost to produce an eBook? Well, I’ll tell you upfront; your biggest cost is your time. So if you put aside your “free hours of work”, producing a eBook is not too expensive. This is how much it cost to do my second eBook:
This includes the cover page, headers and footers, a smaller icon of my main characters (a rat) and a 3D effect book cover. I ran a contest over 99designs and it took 7 days to find the designer I was looking for.
As you probably know, English is my second tongue; therefore, I’m definitely not the right guy to edit my own stuff. I hired someone to go over the entire book and make the corrections. I asked him to add the correction by using word so I can see his work. It took him 3-4 days to complete this task.
I am paying a VA to do all the formatting. This includes taking my stuff from word to create a PDF file, adding images and image sources, verifying all links included in the book and format the whole document into a specific layout (columns, fonts, titles, sub-titles, etc). This usually takes a week to do as there is a lot of back and forth.
Total cost for this eBook: $745 if I exclude the number of hours spent on it.
Since I’m a super fast writer (I can average 80 words/minute or 400-420 characters), I was able to write the book in about 40 hours. However, if you haven’t followed any typing classes or practice on typing software (I have used Typing Instructor Platinum to get that fast), it can easily take you 80 hours. So depending on how much you want to pay yourself, your eBook cost can climb easily by $2,000. Even then, at an average sale of $20, you need less than 150 sales to breakeven.
Considering the previous point on the cost of producing an eBook, you can deduce that I have received some help from different third parties. I’m good at writing but I’m not good at designing, editing or formatting. This is why I have built a team to produce my eBook. I actually chose almost the same team as I did when writing my first eBook:
I wanted to have a professional designer that will be able to draw a character (a rat) and have it evolve throughout the series of books. This is why I ran a contest over 99designs. It’s a pretty cool website where you post a “contest” for designers. You can describe what you are looking for (a logo, website design, eBook cover, etc) and give an exact description of the metrics (color, theme, type of drawing, what it will be used for, general feeling, etc.). The more specific you are, the better your design will be. What is cool is that you can open the contest for a week and receive design propositions as they come. I had received over 20 cover page propositions in a single week. To be honest, it was almost too much. Making the decision was pretty hard since we received several high quality propositions. The fact that we confirmed that we will pick a winner helped a lot (which means that at least, one designer will be picked and paid!). The price for the contest was $295. We paid extra after the fact to get more versions of the rat and requested additional modifications.
We used Chris Thomas from FreelancePF. I have known Chris for a few months from his former blog; Broke Professionals (he has since sold it). As he has a major in English and was ready to do it pretty fast, I picked him to edit both eBooks. I will definitely work with him next time! If you are looking for someone to edit your stuff, he might be your guy (if he still has time! Lol!). If not, you can also post a job on Odesk as they have tons of chap editors there too.
If I didn’t have a VA working for me already, I would have used Odesk to find one. We have been using this resource to hire other VAs for similar jobs and it has worked pretty well. The key point in selecting someone to edit or format your stuff is to find someone that you can easily communicate with. He has to understand your ways and this is quite a challenge. Often times, communication is the problem! During the formatting period, I am in constant communication with my VA (about 2-3 times per day) to make sure I am happy with the end product. The devil is in the details, so make sure to review everything!
This is actually very important: have people read your books before you publish it, especially those that are able to give a real critical review. At first, this was quite a challenge as my partner was quite complacent about it. He just liked it! But that’s not what you are looking for. You need to find people that are willing and able to tell you what sucks about your book. Of course there are good parts… but you already know that! What you don’t know is what is wrong with your book!
Fortunately, I can count on my VAs to bring me some guidelines. This is why I forward my books to a few friends, VAs and my partner and will listen to their comments. I made several modifications according to what they said. It is also important to select people that will be interested in your topic too.
From my first eBook experience, I can tell you that the benefits are huge:
– Free backlinks to your website (several people will link to your site referring to your eBook)
– Increase in affiliate commissions (even if my book was free, I included affiliate links in it. I’ve earned over $800 in 2 months with the book in affiliate commissions).
– More visitors to my network (as I cross promoted my eBook through my different blogs).
– More experience (my whole team has learned a lot from launching the first eBook. We will be more than ready to launch the second one with less mistakes and will definitely be more efficient!).
There are not many disadvantages to writing an eBook. You gain readership and chances of making more money so what can go wrong with this plan? However, I have actually found one huge disadvantage of writing an eBook and I think it’s important you know about it before jumping on this project.
If you want to write an eBook; you will need a lot of time. Not only to write the darn thing but also to outsource what you don’t want to do and to manage your collaborators. You will also have to spend some time preparing the marketing plan and how you will launch an eBook. This will require a lot of emails to your connections, participation in social media and forums and you might also think of offering some guest articles… Then again, I’m repeating myself; all of this requires a lot of time!
But the problem doesn’t really rely on the time required. I was able to produce Rat Race in 2 months, so it is still pretty quick. The problem is what you are not doing while you are writing this eBook. As you can see from my June Income Report and probably what will show up in my July income report a few days from now, is that you lose focus on everything else! It’s hard to keep up with the daily tasks while adding such a huge project to your schedule. This is why you will have to sacrifice a part of your blogging routine or business development to create an eBook.
On the other hand, since it is the most lucrative and most effective passive income you can ever get, it’s worth the effort! When I look at other bloggers who published their first eBook, most of them are making money with it and I’m sure that none of them regret their adventure!
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