How EBooks Can Complement Your Traditional Writing

Most authors (or soon-to-be authors) think of themselves purely as creators of old-school books. But as the publishing landscape changes, we have an increasing number of opportunities to use our story-telling skills – including via ebooks.

When I say “ebook,” I don’t mean a digital version of your traditionally published book, nor a digital version of your self-published book. I’m talking about the kind of informational ebooks that live only online.

These ebooks are typically shorter than traditional books, and they’re often nonfiction, the self-help variety. You can sell them through Amazon, but many creators (like me) choose to sell them through their own website instead.

Before you pooh-pooh this avenue for your writing, recognize that creating ebooks can boost your writing career in ways traditional books can’t. That means if you delve into ebooks at the same time as traditional publishing, the two pursuits can play off each other.

Here are three ways creating ebooks can boost your traditional writing career:

1. Make money to support your writing habit

We all know publishers aren’t handing out huge advances lately. Creating digital products can help you bridge the financial gap between books. Here’s why: When you self-publish digitally, you keep all the profits. And overhead is low because there’s no physical product. Here’s what I paid to create my newest digital guide:

  • $450 for edits
  • $100 for postcards to bring to speaking gigs (optional)
  • $5/month for ejunkie, the e-commerce system I use to sell the guide
  • PayPal fees (because buyers pay me through PayPal)

Not so shabby, huh? And perhaps the best part is that every time you want to offer your digital product to a blog for review, it costs you nothing. Rather than eating the cost of a physical book, you simply email them the digital file.

EBooks also have a higher price point than traditional books. For example, my guide How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business sells for $24. Since neither a publisher nor a distributor (I’m my own distributor) take a cut, that means $24 in my pocket every time I sell a guide. I’ve sold more than 125 since launching the guide two months ago.

2. Attract people who might want to read your traditionally published book

If your digital products are related to your overall writing pursuits, they can help you build an audience for your traditional books.

Here’s what I mean: My newest guide, How to Take a Career Break to Travel, is directly related to my travel memoir about backpacking solo through Africa (which Rachelle is preparing to pitch to publishers). Essentially, my guide is a complement to my memoir.

Yet because I’m publishing the guide myself, I’m able to get it out there before my (hopefully) traditional book. And guess what? The people who read my guide will likely be the same target market for my book. Not only will this help people find out about me (and hopefully subscribe to my newsletter or blog) before my book comes out, I’ve gone so far as to include a note about my upcoming travel memoir inside the guide.

In other words, this guide is oh-so-subtle marketing for my memoir.

3. Drive more traffic to your blog

Since I launched my first eguide, traffic to my site has increased dramatically. I’m now at 15,000+ hits/month mark Rachelle mentioned in her recent post about building platform.

Selling an eguide boosts traffic for several reasons:

  • People are visiting my blog to check out my guide (and maybe buy it!)
  • Some of those new visitors realized they like my blog, so they bookmarked it or subscribed and visited again later, maybe even daily
  • Guest posts I’ve written for sites with big audiences (like Mashable) with the goal of promoting my guide have brought lots of new visitors my way

All of those eyes on my website will help me sell my book to a publisher and sell my traditionally published book to readers.

Have you considered wading into ebook territory? If you have questions, I’m happy to answer based on my experience.

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