This is going to be a hard article for me, as I finished writing an eBook on a subject which I know (my bread and butter) and I have launched it less than one month ago. All that I can say is that after investing a decent amount of time (250 pages) and re-using information allowed via copy write from the core documentation for my niche, plus spending 250 EUR on ads as mentioned in my quarterly earnings reports as a loss/cost, I Have only sold 1 eBook so far.
The good part is that at least 1 person wanted what I have created. This means it is not for nothing. Plus, the experience of writing it was good, especially as I did a lot of mistakes from which I have learned.
How to write an eBook
I may not be the best person to tell you about how to write an eBook, but I can at least share my story and my thought process. When I started, my approach was to:
- Select a niche that I know and where is enough documentation material available
- Write something that caters to my niche and personalize it as per my experience and with my examples
- Focus on what I can write (certification preparation support documentation in my case, as I am not a fiction, nor a story writer. I can even say that I am not even a writer at all)
- Create a sales page or sales funnel
After I did all of the above and consolidated my knowledge and the already existing material on my niche to help my readers increase their change to get certified within my area of expertise.
Note: At this point in time, I am still not comfortable to share what my main business is and because I am selling my eBook via my company, I will not disclose my niche, nor the eBook at this time. My sincere apology for this, but this does not make my experience any different and I hope that my lessons can help you on writing an eBook that fits your niche and audience needs.
Now, going back to the main topic, How to write an eBook… I think it is best for me to say what I think I did wrong so that you avoid my mistakes. Especially as I only sold 1 copy (I checked and that did not go to someone I am related to or someone I know).
My mistakes for writing an eBook
I did not enough research before writing an eBook on this topic
If I would have spent more time in market research before writing the eBook, I could at least set better expectations for potential customers on a global scale, have a better idea on pricing and ad budget required to launch the eBook.
The main challenges that I learned after the eBook was near its end are the below:
- The market is small as my focus is for a niche part within a niche that is looking for a specific certification exam
- Enough free material to support the certification even without my eBook
- Approximate market of 100,000 of potential customers worldwide (based on my ads audience criteria on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google)
As this is my bread and butter, there is no other domain where I could be better at writing something than this (at least not one where based on my experience and knowledge I can add as much value). Even if I would have researched the above points better, I think I would have still wrote the eBook on this niche.
I used the wrong tools for creating the content
This is something where I just lost focus. I started with a cover in Canva and then moved forward to continue with the 1st chapter of the eBook. Once the first chapter was done, I moved forward with the rest, on the same platform and until it was all done.
I like Canva and it is a great tool that I use as a shortcut for my design needs, but it is not an eBook writing tool. I would have been in a better shape with any decent text editing software like Word or any similar open source products. Why? Simple, write text via a text writing tool, not via a design one. Then you can enhance the text and integrate it within the required design.
By not using the proper tool for the job, I have increased the complexity of editing and transitioning my eBook to Kindle format and I have added some limits for myself which require further work and time to overcome.
I did not try at first via a minimum viable product
My story went like this: I write the eBook as a preparation material for the online course I want to make, then I start selling the eBook until the online course is done. This can help me better understand the market, the audience and how to actually sell a product prior to the release of my online course. Because I estimated the online course to need 4 time more time than the eBook, then I said that prioritizing the eBook will help me to better understand the market and help me decide if it is worth it or not to launch the course.
SI this is what I actually did. I wrote the eBook, all 250 pages of it and only then I started marketing it via Google, LinkedIn and Facebook ads while selling it via Teachable as my online platform. Sounds OK, right…well Let me tell you how it look from a timing perspective as this was my part time activity when I was off work. I started in April with the online course, finished the 1st chapter in 2 months of work and then switched to the eBook. This took me another 5 months until I launched it on Teachable.
This meant that only when I was 7 months invested with a full eBook created I experimented with my ads and my market. Only then I noticed that there is not so much interest in the market. Even the number of people out of the ~500 who visited my site via ads have enrolled for the free first chapter.
What I should have done is a minimum viable product like that first free chapter which I did in a month. With that in hand, I should have tried to market it and offer it for FREE In order to build an audience toward which I can further market the eBook and later on the course.
I will not quit on the eBook, at least not for now. I like the structure, design and content of the eBook and I am confident that my audience would also like it. It is now time for me to change my focus and adapt my strategy on marketing it and selling it for a few more months and revise the decision at that point if I continue with an online course on this niche or if I keep the Book as is and scrap the course completely.
After writing and eBook I moved to the next steps: marketing and selling it by doing the following:
- Teachable platform for selling it (1st chapter offered for Free, whole eBook for sale with the option of a payment plan for less developed countries)
- Google, LinkedIn and Facebook targeted ads to a specific audience as paid advertising
- Continuous publishing of articles on my company blog with bits and pieces of the eBook that I share in Facebook and LinkedIn niche related discussion groups
- Work on SEO optimizations for the articles in order to start driving organic traffic towards the blog
I am comfortable to take a loss in the current paid advertising, but my aim is to find a way that I can sell 8 eBooks per month while keeping my costs at 28 for Teachable + 50 on Ads. With my selling price of 16 per eBook and after removing the overhead, this will make it even for me (after taxes). Any additional eBook sold on top of the 8 would be actual profit.
During the next 3-4 months I will continue to adjust the sales page, the ads and continue to publish and share related articles with extracts from the eBook online. If it does not work, then I stop the work put into this and re-evaluate if the online course makes sense or not.