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Salesforce Commerce Solution Guide

Wading Into the E-Book Publishing Waters

By Vivian Wagner
Feb 4, 2019 11:21 AM PT
the three key ingredients for e-book success are content presentation and marketing

Writing and publishing an e-book can be a great way to develop your brand, reach a broad audience, and potentially increase sales of your products or services.

"Publishing an e-book is part of building and promoting your brand as an authority and thought leader," said Liz Mays, director of sales and marketing for Pressbooks.

"It can make you more visible in your industry, raise your profile in search, increase your value as a speaker, and help to grow your audience and business," she told the E-Commerce Times.

Getting an e-book out there can be a daunting task, however, particularly for someone who's never done it before. It's important to know what you want to say, how best to say it, and who might want to hear it. It's also vital to understand the ins and outs of publishing, so that your e-book isn't lost in the fray.

Develop Good Content

Content is king for e-books, as for all kinds of publishing. Readers have limited time, and the books they read must give them information that's well-presented, engaging and actionable. You don't want to write an e-book just for the sake of having something with your name on it, in other words. You want it to give your audience something they want or need to know.

"You should have an idea for where the book is going to fit into your overall funnel," said Adam Cain, content strategy manager for Publi.sh.

"It's not enough to just publish or throw it on your website -- you need to drum up awareness, drive traffic to your e-book, and make sure it gets the results you want," he told the E-Commerce Times. "The more you think about these things before you start, the less headaches you'll face along the way."

E-book content can be advice-based, or it can provide background information and knowledge. Ideally, it will grow organically out of your own experiences and business, and it will appeal to a niche audience that's interested in what you have to say.

To determine the subject of your e-book, consider both what you have to say and what others want to hear. Ultimately, narrow and focus that content so that it fits within the confines of one particular e-book.

You might know already everything you want to include in your e-book, but most likely you're going to have to do some research, if only to verify facts and details. You'll want to make sure to do as much research as necessary to flesh out the book and make it both accurate and engaging.

It's also important that you have a clear understanding of your particular angle, and what sets your e-book apart from all the others out there.

"As with any other piece of content, start with the research, and don't write a word until you're satisfied you have something original to say," advised Cain.

"Search and read other e-books in your space," he continued, "and think deeply about what your angle is: What are you bringing to the conversation? This will also help you benchmark the existing content, so you know exactly what you need to do to create the best e-book on a given topic. Don't just write an e-book for the sake of it."

Focus on Editing and Design

Professional editing and design are key to ensuring that your e-book is taken seriously, so it's a good idea to have help in this area.

Even the best writers rely on others to edit their work, both at the developmental and idea stage, and at the later copy editing stage. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you can edit your own work, because most likely, you can't.

At the very least, it never hurts to have another set of eyes on your writing, no matter how good a self-editor you might be. Others will catch things you will not.

Cover and internal design are also important to ensuring that your book looks professional. As with editing, hiring an expert is worth it.

"It's a mistake not to hire publishing professionals for the cover design and editing," warned publishing consultant Jane Friedman.

"If you skimp on freelance help, you'll likely produce an amateur-looking product that can't compete," she told the E-Commerce Times. "You can find qualified professionals using a marketplace like Reedsy, which consists of book publishing professionals, or you can hire a publishing service to assist you with the design, editing and production."

Polishing the content and design of the book might seem extra, but experts say it's at the heart of successful e-book publishing.

"Spend the bulk of your time and book-publishing budget making sure the content itself is high-quality," advised Pressbooks' Mays.

"Getting your book edited is a must," she said, "but you can use a tool like Pressbooks to DIY the book production, while still getting a book that looks like it came from a professional book designer."

Get the Word Out There

It's one thing to publish an e-book, but it's another to get it into the hands of readers. It's vital that you remain actively engaged in marketing your e-book -- posting it on your website, offering it as a download or a subscriber extra, and using other strategies to makes sure that it's available and accessible to potential readers.

An e-book is nothing, after all, if it's not read.

One benefit of e-books is that once they're created, it's relatively easy to get them into the hands of readers.

"E-books are fairly cheap to produce and distribute," noted Stephan Beauchesne, founder of WPA Consulting.

"They can be sold on any of the online bookstores, or you can make your e-books available on your website," he told the E-Commerce Times. "If you are not trying to make money with your book, use it as a reward for signing up to your newsletter, or provide it as a bonus with a customer order."

Many authors decide to give away their e-books for free, or in return for people signing up to their email lists, and this strategy can be effective.

It can help new authors get established in the marketplace, said Steven Spatz, president of BookBaby.

"BookBaby has worked with many authors who worked this strategy successfully to build up a big base of readers," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Once you have the readers hooked by your writing, stories and content, you can be assured that they'll pay for e-book No.2, No. 3 and so on."


Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Email Vivian.


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