No matter what business you’re in, you probably have some insight from things you’ve learned along the way in your entrepreneurial journey.
That knowledge is valuable — and it can be put to good use when transformed into a valuable asset for your audience — like an e-book.
By teaching others what you know, you can create another product for your online store that not only serves as a valuable resource for your customers but also helps them get to know you a bit better as the person behind the brand.
However, many online retailers struggle to understand how to approach the e-book writing, publishing, and selling process. It can be intimidating, so some opt not to even try.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the e-book process from start to finish, offer some helpful resources that will simplify the process, and get you started down the path toward selling your very first e-book.
Related: 11 Digital Product Ideas That Fit Almost Every Storefront
How to Select a Topic for Your E-book
The first step is to nail down what your e-book will be about.
Most often, e-books teach a reader how to do something — so think back on your unique skill set and personal experiences that would be relevant to your audience. Consider what end result you can help a reader achieve — as well as how it might relate back to your store’s main product offerings.
For example, if you sell paper crafts, a relevant e-book might be something like: Affordable DIY home decor with paper crafts.
If you can tie in personal examples that illustrate what you’re teaching, this is good news, as it will help add a nice human element to the actionable advice you’re sharing.
What does this look like?
Using the paper crafts example again, you could show some ways you’ve used paper products to decorate your own home (or homes of clients and friends.) This adds relevant context to your e-book material and makes for great visuals that will help illustrate your content.
Before you start writing, be sure to also see what your competitors are offering in the e-book department. Do some research around the topics you’re considering writing about, and then see how you can differentiate your e-book with a unique angle that hasn’t yet been covered. If you want your e-book to be highly successful, it needs to offer something new to the niche and marketplace.
How to Write Your E-book
When you’ve found the perfect topic and you sit down to start writing, there are a few key tips you’ll want to keep in mind to help ensure you’re following some of the best practices.
Write in a language that’s simple, clear, and easy to digest
Try not to use any jargon, acronyms, or industry lingo that may be unfamiliar to the reader. If you need a free tool that will help ensure you’re writing in highly simplified language, use the Hemingway App. It will automatically highlight words that are too large, sentences that are too long or complex, passive voice, and adverbs.
Focus on a how-to
People often buy e-books because they want to learn how to do something, so take a step-by-step approach when writing. Walk the reader through processes, show lots of examples, and weave in your relevant personal experiences when it feels appropriate. Spell every step of the process out in great detail, as this helps make the content more valuable for the reader.
Take it slow
Don’t rush yourself through the writing process. Instead, set a daily or weekly goal for the number of pages or chapters you want to accomplish, and then stick to those parameters. Using a tool like the FocusBoosterApp or the Pomodoro Technique, you can help minimize distractions while you write. However, if you find yourself struggling with writer’s block, take a break and come back to the chapter later.
If you’re struggling with how to organize your thoughts, a tool like Airstory can help you break key concepts down into individual digital notecards that you can then organize and arrange before diving in.
Think of a compelling title
The title of your e-book will be a large part of what convinces a buyer to purchase — so make it interesting and appealing to your target audience. Use things like a curiosity gap, a pain point, or a desirable end goal to make your readers feel like your e-book is a must-have.
For example: If you were writing an e-book about canning fruits and vegetables, How to Save $500 A Year on Groceries is a much more compelling title than The Guide to Canning.
If you’re looking for more tips on writing your e-book, check out:
How to Format Your E-book
Next: Formatting. When laying out your e-book, there are a few design elements to keep in mind that will make your content more reader-friendly.
According to AWAI, the best fonts for reading online are sans serif fonts, which are fonts without what typographers call feet. Research notes that the most legible fonts for digital reading are Arial, Courier, and Verdana, and that Times New Roman is the least preferred by readers. They also recommend using font size 12 or larger.
The color scheme for your e-book should be consistent all the way through, so select a palette of 2-3 colors that pair nicely with your company branding. You’ll use these in your cover, font colors, headers and footers, and any graphics you incorporate to make the e-book look consistent. If you’re not sure how to find your palette, use a tool like paletton.com to find colors that work well together.
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.
You can accommodate this reading style by left-aligning your copy and using short, bite-sized blocks of text that make for easy, scannable reading. Don’t write long paragraphs — use bullet point lists and short sentences to make the material more easy to read.
If you have your own high-quality photographs or lookbook photos you can incorporate into your e-book, this can be helpful when illustrating steps in a process or end results. If not, you can still look for high quality stock images that will add some interesting visuals to your content. Sites like Death to Stock Photo, Unsplash, and Gratisography have some great images you can use freely.
Your cover is extremely important, as it’s the first thing your audience will see. It not only helps sell your e-book, but it’s a representation of your brand, too. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, you can use free tools like Canva to design a professional-looking cover in a short amount of time thanks to their templates and design assets.
Other e-book cover design tools include:
Have a friend or colleague take a look at your cover and offer their external perspective before settling on a final version. They may see some areas for improvement that you’ve overlooked.
Tools for formatting your e-book
Most often, e-books are formatted as PDFs, which means they can be easily downloaded and printed. This format is also helpful because it’s extremely user-friendly and opens seamlessly across many different operating systems and displays (and the reader doesn’t need any special software to access it.) All you need to create a PDF is a word processor that lets you save this file type.
However, if you’re looking for other ways to format your e-book, you could consider:
- PressBooks: Includes pre-designed templates and customizable themes. ($10-$200)
- Lulu: Includes ability to publish in ePub format as well as an ISNB with cover design tools. (Takes 10% of sales)
The very last step is to have someone proofread your e-book to catch any spelling or grammar mistakes. Dropping your text into a free tool like Grammarly is a great for a first pass, but you’ll want to be sure to get another set of human eyes on your copy as well. The last thing you want to do is send out a product with embarrassing errors.
How to Sell Your E-Book
Using your Ecwid store, selling e-goods is quite simple. Customers can add digital products to their carts and complete the checkout process in the exact same way they do with physical products. Once the digital product is ordered, Ecwid sends an email to the customer with the download link (but only when the order has been paid for.)
There is no limit on the number of your e-books you can sell or their respective downloads, but keep in mind that this feature is available only on paid plans, and the allowed file size of your e-book will depend on your plan tier, as follows:
Venture — 100MB
Business — 1GB
Unlimited — 10GB
When you’re ready to add your e-book to your online store, simply follow these four steps:
- Log in to your Ecwid Сontrol panel and go to the Catalog page.
- Click any product to edit it or create a new one.
- Open the Files tab.
- Upload the files you want to sell.
Need more info? Go here for complete details and FAQs on selling digital goods through Ecwid.
How to Promote Your E-book
When you’re finally ready to start selling and promoting your e-book, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the word out effectively.
Use social media. Schedule some posts across your social media channels to let your following know your exciting new product is available for purchase.
Guest post. Try to find some relevant, high-traffic blogs you can guest post on and talk about topics that are relevant to your e-book. 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 you can be a guest on a few different podcasts to talk about what your e-book teaches (without giving everything away.) This helps build interest from new audiences and again is a 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 book’s content, see if you can team up to give away some free copies of your e-book and spread the word.
The main thing to remember is to keep finding new, creative ways to get your e-book 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.
Need more e-book promotion ideas? Check out this post from Peg Fitzpatrick.
Teach What You Know
From showing how your products can be put to good use, to sharing your experiences as an entrepreneur, e-books are an opportunity to turn your story into a product you can market and sell.
Does writing an e-book does require some planning and a bit of time? Of course. But when you can teach what you know, your customers will come to see you and your store in a whole new way. Give it a try and create an online store or add one more product to your online offerings.