Which first: fame or fortune?
When I first talk with a new client about the eBook they want to write, we discuss their desired outcomes — would they like more clients, revenue stream, increased visibility, expert status? I find that most outcomes can be loosely grouped under either fame or fortune. I define fame as traffic, pageviews, downloads, buzz, press or mentions. It’s about an intention to get in front of as many people as possible. Fortune includes clients, sales, building your email list for future sales, basically anything directly related to revenue generation.
You can have both — eventually. Certainly fame often leads to fortune. But each requires a different strategy and different eBook pathways, and knowing which you want first will help you pick the right one for you.
Fame Pathways: Viral, Mainstream
Fortune Pathways: Opt-In and Product
Pathway #1: Viral
You know the way that dandelion seeds spread on the breeze when you blow on them? Viral eBooks are like those seeds — when you set your content free, it spreads. A widely-read, smart viral ebook can connect you not only to your target audience and future fans, but give you traction with your industry peers and get you on the radar of some larger players in your niche.
The game of the viral ebook is visibility. David Meerman Scott, who built his first print book deal on the success of his viral eBook, estimates that 50 times more people will consume your content if you don’t ask for contact information.
Seth Godin is famous for his viral eBooks, but it works for “the little guys,” too. Pamela and I have seen close to 800 downloads of our eBook Evolution Manifesto in the two weeks since we released it. I interviewed Mark McGuiness on this blog about how his eBook has been downloaded 80,000 times over the past three years. Chris Guillebeau’s meteoric rise to fame with 278 Days to World Domination is now stuff of Internet legend.
- Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin
- World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott
- 10 Tips for writing a Sticky Manifesto, my post
- ChangeThis.com, a showcase of great manifestos
Pathway #2: Mainstream
I use “mainstream” to describe eBooks that are distributed via major retail channels like Amazon.com and BN.com. These eBooks are not PDF files, but are formatted specifically to be read on devices like the Kindle or iPad. Whether you are self published, a mainstream eBook is on the digital equivalent of the bookstore shelves. Mainstream eBooks rarely sell for more than $12.99 and you receive no buyer contact information.
The appeal of this pathway is that it feels more like traditional publishing and lends credibility and reach to your material. For the self-publisher, whether it’s a print book or an eBook, access to online retail outlets is almost immediate compared to the often headache-ridden process of getting into brick and mortar stores.
From a marketing stand point, this pathway can be more similar to marketing a traditionally published eBook. You’re competing against all the other books, published and self-published, in the online bookstore. These eBooks tend to be full-length, in the neighborhood of 50,000 words and up. You will want to take pains to present your eBook professionally, both in format and in content.
- Publishing Reset Program by Janet Goldstein
- How to get your ebook on Amazon and iBookstore, my post
- Instant Bestseller Formula from Out:Think Group
- TribalAuthor.com from Jonathan Fields
- eBook Ninjas podcast by Joshua Tallent
Pathway #3: Opt-In
This is a familiar one to most of us. That free report or guide or workbook that we trade our email address for? That’s the opt-in eBook. It could be a one-page checklist or a 50-page manual, but the idea is to incentivize someone to give up their contact info in exchange for it. One fun trend I’m seeing is the rise of the PDF magazine instead of the HTML email newsletter. Andrew Hayes’ SHERPA magazine is a fun read and visually rich. It’s a novel way to pack a bunch of useful, interesting content into a readable format. I know I’ll get a high quality product once a month, instead of being overwhelmed with email.
The opt-in is where you can be creative and have some fun. Bundle a worksheet with an audio download, or make it a printable collection of puzzles and games that also convey useful content.
- Free Fans Kit from InTreehouses
- Sonia Simone’s Copyblogger post on creating “cookie content.”
- Give away the tip of your content iceberg, my post on the line between free and paid
Pathway #4: Product
The product eBook’s success hinges on the answer to one question: what’s in it for me? What results will you reader get from purchasing, consuming and acting on the information you provide? Maybe it’s as ephemeral as entertainment and inspiration or as concrete as muscle mass or cold, hard cash. Whatever your topic, think benefits, benefits, benefits. People don’t give money away without a clear sense of how their life will be better as a result. I advise people who are just starting out to choose one specific problem to solve. If you struggle with that, one simple way to find product eBook ideas is to look at your FAQ’s — which questions to people ask you again and again about your area of expertise?
- eBook Evolution
- How to Start Making Real Money with Products in 3 Days from the launch coach, Dave Navarro.
- Marketing a Successful eBook, post by Paul Cunningham, BloggingTeacher.com
- Epic eBook Creation from Jonathan Wondrusch at ByBloggers.net
There are ways to have your fame cake and eat your fortune cake, too. Create a viral, sticky manifesto and at the end mention your opt-in eBook offer. While your viral eBook could detail your philosophical framework for solving a problem, the opt-in offer will supply actionable steps. The opt-in eBook can be followed a few weeks later with an email about your product offering. Even the mainstream eBook can include a blurb about your newsletter at the end, with instructions on how to sign up. Make sure that you provide a clear, strong call to action within your viral or mainstream eBook and the links you use don’t change.
#1, #3, #4 = eBook Evolution
If you want to create an eBook to give away, offer as an opt-in goodie or sell, eBook Evolution is your all-in-one toolkit. We’ve been hearing people are thrilled to be able to have a complete DIY solution for great looking eBooks. One buyer even took an idea and turned it into an 18-page eBook in 5 hours! The launch sale price ends tomorrow, so grab your copy today!