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5 Essential Steps to Sell Your EBook (Before You Write The First Line)

Nov 28, 2007
So you finally decided it's time to write an ebook or maybe create another information product. But sitting down to write seems harder than moving a mountain. What on earth do you write about?

As a copywriter, my toughest challenge comes when clients ask me to write copy for an ebook they have already created. They say, "I will write first and market later." (If you're in this category, don't feel bad. I did the same before I learned the hard way.)

I feel especially sad when I review a well-written ebook with brilliant content that has not been directed to a lucrative target market. With just a few tweaks, the writer's energy could have created a "must-have" book to sell through her website. Or a change of emphasis might attract a different target market - readers who actually pay for information rather than freebie-seekers.

Ready to write? Start with these 7 tips before you write the first line.

(1) Make sure somebody's out there for you.

Online audiences are not the same as bookstore visitors. They search. They do not browse. To reach them, you have two options.

Option 1: Show up when they search for your topic. Option 2: Find places they cluster - such as discussion groups - and get in their faces, er, browser windows.

If they don't seem to be searching, and they're not creating forums to discuss your topic, time for a tweak. Most topics can go from mild to hot with just a few simple ingredients. For example:

(2) Match your idea to popular keywords.

If you're writing about goal-setting - a popular topic among coaches - you will find that few Internet surfers actually sit down and surf on goal-setting. So your book attracts 1 or 2 visitors a day,maybe 50 each month. If you convert 2% (which is not bad, even with a good sales letter) you'll sell one book a month.

But if you write your book as "time management," you will find many potential prospects. True: you will have intense competition. But you know somebody's looking. You can learn techniques to market to hotly contested markets. You can't drag uninterested surfers to their computers.

(3) Find your target's pain.

People do not surf the Internet looking for "nice to have" products. In a live bookstore, they might enjoy books on philosophy. They make books like Blink (by Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorites) best-sellers.

On the Internet, they're desperate. How can I make my dog stop barking all day? Can I find a cure for my headache without seeing a doctor? How can I get my spouse to stop trying to divorce me? How can I market my dying business without spending any more money? How will I toast the bride in next week's wedding?

Topics like these will generate ebooks that sell (and some already have). They all meet an urgent need and promise speedy relief.

I call these books the equivalent of a tire store. Most of us buy tires when we get stranded on the side of the road or when the mechanic says, "You are risking your life if you drive on more day on these tires." Few of us shop around. Few of us browse through tire stores on a slow Sunday. We buy in need. And that's what these buyers do, too.

(4)Create juicy bullets to showcase what you will offer.

Bullets are short phrases and sentences you will use in your sales letter. For example:

Discover the 15-minute secret time management rule (so you gain an extra 2 hours a day without effort).

Why keeping a to-do list will actually cost you more time every day

How beginners can compete with experts and come out ahead (without spending thousands of dollars on gurus and counselors)

Bullets have two components: They convey emotion and they reach directly to your target market's pain. They also contain a hint of mystery, creating an itch that can be scratched only by buying your book.

Your bullets will become chapter headings and section headings. One will become your title.

(5) Create a two-sentence premise for your book.

When I ask clients, "What's your book about?" I often have to listen for a long time. One client said, "Well, let me start out with what happened to me ten years ago." Another said, "Well, it's sort of like ... I mean..."

If you write for a publisher, you will need a premise for your proposal. For my book on moving, my premise was, "People get stressed during a move because their identity gets interrupted. My book helps them maintain their identity during the move and as they settle in as newcomers."

These days, most of us skip the publisher. We have to tell ourselves to write premises.

If you have a clear premise, some bullet points and a real target market, you (or your copywriter) can begin to write your sales letter. Often my clients find their books practically write themselves...right.
About the Author
FREE 7 Best-Kept Secrets of Websites That Really Attract Clients: My Special Report gives you insider tips to convert tire-kickers to buyers and earn money while you sleep. From Cathy Goodwin, The Content Strategist, at Website Marketing Strategies
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