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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Can You Earn An Honest Living on the Internet Pt II - Writing E-Books

Note: I know I'm only glossing over the topics in this mini-series. Any new topics that I gloss over initially, in any of my posts, are likely to be covered in more detail in future posts.

Blogging isn't the only way to make money writing on/for the Internet. If you can write intelligently and clearly about popular topics, you may be able to make more money offering an e-book on that topic than if you tried to get a deal with a traditional print publisher, especially if you're writing about a niche topic. Print publishers have a specific agenda: sell at least X copies of book Y. My experience and discussions with publishers and editors is that a lot of good books never get published because of the commercial agenda.

Fortunately, ebooks don't have the same overhead as a print book. You may only make a few thousand dollars on an ebook, but if you can sustain writing for longer pieces, you might consider writing a series of inexpensive e-books on related topics. (People will be paying for your e-book. Do them a favour and research your topic before you write about it; even if you are already an expert. In fact, if you are already an expert, get up-to-date with your field, and make sure you write at the level of your target audience, not your peers.)

Let's do some quick math on potential ebook revenue. If you can put together a decent e-book in a month - possibly based on your blogging topics - and know exactly who the target audience is, you might charge anywhere from US$47-147 for the book/package, depending on the value of the information. [Obviously, the more popular the topic, the more you might charge for it.] If you sell 100 copies at US$47, that's US$4700 dollars that is all yours.

When I designed and co-wrote a PHP book on back-end web programming, I received a total of US$5000 in royalties. But as the company went under and the new owners of the imprint aren't republishing, I'll never make any more money on my content. Now the only reason I received that much was that we estimated a certain number of copies would sell. I was receiving a fraction of a dollar per book sold. If the book sold only 100 copies, do you think the publisher would have bothered? Of course not.

Another approach, if your book is very long, is to split it up into a series of ebooklets and charge only US$17-37 per volume. This way, readers can buy just the volumes they are interested in. This is the approach that Rok Hrastnik (http://www.marketingstudies.net) suggested we take for a set of 100 case studies we're working for RSS/Atom/web content syndication marketing and development. Why? Because no matter how much value is being offered, very few people want to buy an ebook at more than $147, which you might be inclined to charge for 600-900 pages of content.

Now while I am working on several ebooks and ebooklets myself, I am not an expert on pricing. This is simply what I've noticed the market charging for ebooks, with US$47 and US$97 being the most common. Trial and error may have to be part of your marketing plan. Many ebook authors sell initial copies, then later (1-3 yrs afterwards) give away an ebook as an incentive to sell a newer ebook.

How you announce the existence of your e-book is the subject of a series I'll be writing for one of my other blogs. (I plan to write each and every entry before posting a single one, so it'll be a while.) Watch this blog for an announcement. Hint #1: announce it in your blog. Hint #2: Write an ezine article, then announce your ebook in your byline. Just make sure you've already written and edited it before announcing it.

(c) Copyright 2005-present, Raj Kumar Dash, http://blogspinner.blogspot.com

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BlogSpinner-X serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it houses the original version of my Blogspinner blog, and contains the full-text of my older entries. Secondly, the more recent entries are excerpts of the full-text entries posted over on Blogspinner V2.0. In other words, the "X" stands for "eXcerpt".

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I'm a geek/ philosopher/ composer/ artist/ cook/ web programmer/ consultant/ photographer/ blah-blah-blah who is also a published writer and author. This is one of several blogs that I write.

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