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How to Create and Sell an Ebook
Posted Jan 17, 2020 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team

How to Create and Sell an Ebook

If you’ve managed your business for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up a helpful hint or two along your way. And depending on how helpful those hints actually are, your customers might even be willing to pay for them.

Ebooks are a simple way for online merchants to monetize their knowledge and experiences by creating a digital product that can be easily purchased and downloaded from their online stores.

If you’re just starting out with digital products, you might not know exactly how to approach selling ebooks. In this post, we’ll walk you through how to create an ebook, connect you with helpful resources to simplify the process, and get you started down the path to offering your very first ebook product in your online store.

Related: 11 Digital Product Ideas That Fit Almost Every Storefront

Five steps to selling an ebook:

How to Select a Topic for Your Ebook

The first step to creating a successful ebook is to decide what your ebook will be about.

Generally, ebooks teach a reader how to do something. Unless you’re a novelist or a poet, you’ll want to consider how your skills and personal experiences could be used to provide actionable value to your readers and how that value can relate back to your store’s main product offerings.

For example, if you sell paper crafts, a relevant ebook to sell online might be something like: “Affordable DIY home decor with paper crafts.”

examples


www.favecrafts.com

Tie in personal examples from your own life or projects to add a human element to the actionable advice you’re sharing in your ebook. Using our paper crafts example again, you could show some of the ways you’ve personally used paper products to decorate your home. This adds relevant context to your ebook and offers opportunities for interesting visuals to help illustrate your content.

Before you start writing, be sure to review what types of ebooks — if any  your competitors are offering. In order for your ebook to really be successful, it needs to offer something your customers don’t already have from the competition. Do some research around the topics you’re considering writing your ebook about, then consider how you might differentiate your ebook with new content or a unique angle.

Browse top sellers on Amazon to understand readers’ preferences — that will help you to start selling ebooks that will actually get read.

How to Write an Ebook that Sells

Once you’ve found the perfect topic for your ebook, use these tips to guide you through the writing process and create an ebook that sells.

Focus on a how-to

People often buy ebooks because they want to learn something. So a step-by-step approach to your subject is a great way to structure your ebook. Walk the reader through processes, use lots of examples, and weave in your personal experiences whenever it feels appropriate. If you spell out each step of the process in detail, not only will your ebooks content be helpful for your readers, but it’ll practically write itself.

Think of a compelling title

The title will play a large part in whether or not a shopper is interested in purchasing your ebook — so it’s important that you take the time to write a title that’s both interesting and attractive for your target audience. Use concepts like the curiosity gap, a pain point, or a desirable outcome to make your ebook feel like a must-have.

For example: If you’re writing an ebook about canning fruits and vegetables, “How to Save $500 A Year on Groceries” would be a much more compelling title than “The Guide to Canning” because it tempts the reader with a more desirable outcome.

As writers ourselves here at the Ecwid Blog, we’ve learned that titles beginning with “How to” resonate best with our readers.

Other ways to make your ebook title more compelling:

  • Provoke: “You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters”
  • Intrigue: “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”
  • Use repetitive phrases: “Fitter, Happier, Healthier: The Ultimate 4 Week Body Transformation Plan.”

Use simple words

Unless you’re writing your ebook on nuclear physics, your writing should probably be fairly easy to understand.

Ever find yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over again, but you just can’t ever seem to digest what it’s saying? Chances are, that sentence was either too long, too wordy, or both.

One universal rule of writing to educate is: the more simply you can state your points, the better. Unless you’re a poet or acclaimed novelist (and if you are, that’s awesome) it’s unlikely customers will be buying your ebook to find out how many big words you know. More than likely, they’re buying based on the positive outcome promised in your title. And they’ll want to understand and attain that outcome as quickly and efficiently as possible. (for example, the use of “on condition that” instead of “if”.)

To make sure your writing is understandable, avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, and any industry speak that might be unfamiliar to your audience. If you’re still not sure whether your writing is simple enough, check out the Hemingway App. This handy tool will run your writing through a checker and automatically highlight words that are too big, sentences that are too long, passive voice, and unnecessary adverbs.

the Hemingway app helps to write an ebook to sell online faster


www.fastcocreate.com

Use your intro pages wisely

Most ebooks offer the first 10-20 pages as a preview to read online for free. This gives potential customers a taste for the ebook’s content and helps them decide whether it’s something they might be interested in purchasing to learn more.

Because the preview can play a large part in whether or not a shopper chooses to buy your ebook, it’s important to use these pages wisely. In the first 10-20 pages, lay out exactly what you’re going to cover in the following pages and why readers should care to learn more. Hook your readers early with a great value proposition and closing the sale on your first ebook should be an easy win.

Take it slow

It’s easy to want to sprint to the finish line when you’re writing your first ebook. But don’t rush the writing process. Instead, try setting an attainable daily/weekly goal for the number of pages or chapters you’re going to write, then stick to your goal. And using a tool like the FocusBoosterApp or the Pomodoro Technique will help you minimize distractions while you write.

pomodoro technique

www.fractuslearning.com

If you find yourself struggling with writer’s block, don’t linger there. Move on to the next chapter to keep the process moving, and come back to that spot later once you’ve had some time away.

If you’re not sure how to organize your thoughts, a tool like Airstory can help you break down key thoughts into digital notecards that you can visually organize and arrange until you’re satisfied with the structure and ready to dive in.

If you’re looking for more tips on writing your ebook, check out:

How to Format Your Ebook

Up next: formatting. When creating ebooks, there are a few design elements to keep in mind to make your content more reader-friendly.

Select a good ebook file format

Different e-readers support different file formats. If you want to sell ebooks successfully, you’ll need to make sure your final file format works for your customers. To be safe, study the differences between ebook file formats carefully, and offer your ebook in several formats to make sure your customers can find a file that works for them.

compare ebook formats before creating your ebook to sell online

The PDF is by far the most common file format for ebooks. PDFs open seamlessly across a variety of different operating systems, and they allow readers to easily access, download, and print their ebooks from their various devices. And because PDFs don’t require any special software to create, they’re great for ebook authors too. All you need is a word processor that lets you save PDFs, and you’re good to go.

Choose a font that’s easy to read

It’s not just the words you use that make your ebook easier to read. Your font style also plays a critical role in creating an ebook that’s easy for readers to understand. According to AWAI, san serif fonts are the best for reading online (simple fonts that don’t include “feet” or flourishes), with Arial, Courier, and Verdana among the most legible. Surprisingly, while Times New Roman was historically the default font for word processors, it’s actually the least preferred font-style by online readers. AWAI also recommends using a font size of 12 or larger.

You may be tempted to express your creativity through your font choice, but decorating your ebook with non-standard fonts is more likely to result in a complicated reading experience than a valuable differentiator. So it’s best to stick with proven fonts that are optimized for easy reading.

Selling ebooks online


A bad font choice can ruin a reader’s experience

Finally, your ebook should be responsive to fit your reader’s screen size. This means that your reader will always have an optimal reading experience, regardless of what screen size your reader is viewing your ebook on.

Use a consistent color scheme for your ebook

Whatever color scheme you choose, you’ll want to make sure it’s consistent throughout your ebook. Select a palette of 2-3 colors that pair nicely with your company branding, and use these in your cover, font colors, headers and footers, and any graphics you use throughout your ebook. If you need a little help selecting a color palette, tools like paletton.com will help you find colors that work well together.

Format your ebook for easy scanning

Eye-tracking studies show that when people are reading on a computer or mobile device, they typically scan the content in an F-shaped pattern.

eye-tracking study


www.nngroup.com

You can format your ebook to accommodate this behavior by left-aligning your text and using short, bite-sized blocks of text that are easier to scan — like bullet point lists and short sentences. Whenever possible, avoid long paragraphs that require more than a quick glance to read and understand.

Use images in your ebook

It’s always easier to sell something when it looks good. So do your best to add value to your digital product with exciting graphics and illustrations.

If you already have your own high-quality photography, incorporate it into your ebook to illustrate steps in a process or end results. If not, look for high quality stock images to communicate your ideas. Sites like Death to Stock Photo, Unsplash, and Gratisography all offer great stock images that you can use for free.

Design a beautiful cover for your ebook

As the first thing your audience will see, a good cover design is important. Not only will your cover design help sell your ebook, but it’s also a representation of your brand. Free tools like Canva let you easily design professional ebook covers using their pre-made templates and stock design elements.

cover for an ebook


www.canva.com

Other ebook cover design tools include:

Don’t forget to ask a friend or colleague to give your cover a quick look for a fresh perspective before settling on a final version. Fresh eyes can spot mistakes you might have missed and might even offer an insight to turn your good cover design into a great one.

Proofreading

Before you can start selling your ebook, you’ll need to have someone proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes. Dropping your text into a free tool like Grammarly is great for a first pass and can usually catch most major mistakes, but nothing beats a set of human eyes reviewing your work (at least for the time being). Because the last thing you want to do is send out your first ebook with a bunch of misplaced commas and apostrophes.

grammarly


en.wikipedia.org

How to Sell an Ebook Online

Ebooks can be sold on any number of online platforms, including Amazon, iBooks, your own online store, Google Play, Fiverr… the list goes on.

If you’re planning to make a living selling ebooks online, you’ll probably want to list your books anywhere you can. In this article, we’ll focus on two common ways to sell your ebooks: Amazon Kindle and your own online store (using Ecwid E-commerce as an example).

Sell ebooks on Amazon

If you’re a first-time author, earning money from your ebook on Amazon may take some time. Because of the sheer breadth of options on the Kindle marketplace, the average self-published author only makes around $1,000 per year selling on Amazon’s platform. However, thanks to its giant audience, Amazon can still work well as an avenue to promote your brand.

If you plan to sell ebooks to attract shoppers to your other products and services, consider offering your first ebook for free for a period of time. This will help you garner some early attention from readers who might otherwise be hesitant to pay for a book from an unknown author, and can be instrumental in securing those all-important first reviews. Once your ebook has some momentum, you can flip the switch to start getting paid for customer downloads.

Selling ebooks on Amazon can be fairly nuanced, so take some time to study this topic before launching your first ebook. For example, check out this practical guide from Joseph Hogue: How I Made $1,928 Last Month Self-Publishing on Amazon.

Sell ebooks in your online store

If your e-commerce platform supports selling digital products, one of the easiest ways to sell your ebook is from your own online store. For example, Ecwid allows customers to add digital products to their carts and complete the checkout process in the exact same way they do physical products. Once the digital product is ordered and paid for, Ecwid sends an email to the customer with the download link.

With Ecwid, there’s no limit to the number ebooks you can sell or their respective downloads. This feature is available on all paid plans, with file size allowances increasing for each plan tier:

  • Venture — 100MB
  • Business — 1GB
  • Unlimited — 10GB

If you’re ready to start selling ebooks with Ecwid, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to your Ecwid Сontrol panel and go to the “Catalog” page.
  2. Click any product to edit it or create a new one.
  3. Open the “Files” tab.
  4. Upload the files you want to sell.

Need more info? Visit Ecwid Help Center for complete details and FAQs on selling digital goods through Ecwid.

Did you know?
With Ecwid, you can sell digital products like ebooks AND physical products and services from a single storefront. Use your Ecwid account to sell in your online store, a shop on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, Snapchat, Pinterest, and more, all while keeping your sales synced in your Ecwid dashboard.

Ecwid E-commerce Business Blueprint

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How to Promote Your Ebook

When you’re finally ready to start selling your ebook, you’ll need some smart tactics to get the word out. Here’s a couple great ways to begin promoting your first ebook:

Use social media. Schedule several posts across your social media channels to let your followers know that your new ebook is available for purchase. And if you’re offering it free for a limited time, don’t forget to mention that as well!

Guest post. Try to find some relevant, high-traffic blogs you can guest post on to talk about topics that are relevant to your new ebook. Even if you’re not pitching your book in the post itself, you can link out to it in your bio.

Do a podcast tour. See if a few podcasts would be willing to have you on as a guest to share a lesson or two from your new ebook (without giving too much away, of course). This will help build interest with new audiences and offers another chance to share the link in your bio.

Partner with influencers. If you’re connected with bloggers or influencers in a niche that’s relevant to your ebook’s subject matter, ask if you can team up to give away a few free copies.

Selling ebooks is just like selling anything else: it’s all about finding effective ways to get your product in front of your audiences. And once you’ve found them, keep it going. Don’t let your promotional plan fizzle out after the first week — put together a strategy that will keep sales rolling in month after month through new channels and opportunities.

The main thing to remember is to keep finding new, creative ways to get your ebook in front of new audiences. Don’t let your promotion plan fizzle out the week after release — put together a strategy that will keep sales rolling in month after month through continuous new opportunities.

Selling Ebooks: Teach What You Know

From teaching others about your industry and products, to sharing your experiences as an entrepreneur, writing ebooks is an opportunity to turn your story into a product you can sell.

Does it require time and planning? Of course. What good e-commerce venture doesn’t? But when it’s done right, ebooks can help customers see your brand and your products in a whole new light — and put a few extra dollars in your pocket for good measure. So what are you waiting for? Get started today by creating your very own online store.

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for accuracy.

About the author
Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.
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