Is It Too Late for YOU to Make Money Selling eBooks?
By Dennis Rymarz
First, a true story…followed by some valuable information. Not long ago, my brother called me in a state of absolute excitement. He felt he stumbled upon a breakthrough moneymaking vehicle that promised unlimited wealth, but required very little effort. He had purchased a CD with thousands of eBooks–covering many different topics–with full resale rights. Many of the eBooks contained programs outlining various ways to set up an Internet business, and even how to give away the information included in the eBooks to promote other products.
I have to admit, as a print publisher, I was intrigued. If I have permission to take the fruits of someone else’s creative efforts and, with a bit of savvy marketing, help other people while turning a reasonable profit, well everybody wins, right? I thought my brother might be on to something…until I began reading his newfound treasures.
Now, let me state immediately that I am not one to make another person’s line shorter. I mean, if someone is doing something, I don’t have the right to take anything away from that someone’s efforts or creativity–even if I feel it can be done better. If there is a market for a specific product or service and no one is getting hurt, who am I to judge?
That said…the problem is people are getting hurt. To call most of the content of my brother’s collection of eBooks garbage would be an insult to garbage. I mean, as much as I love Cajun cooking, I am certain I can find several excellent recipes without paying for the information. Want to learn hypnosis? Again, I can send you a few dozen links to FREE websites for that, too. Other than the one detailing the best way to break into a career in porn, I was less than impressed.
The bottom line is that, at some point, some “genius” grabbed topics that were hot at the time, compiled free information found on the web, saved it in a PDF format, and marketed it to the masses–usually through eBay due to the high volume of daily traffic. You know the saying…throw enough crap against the wall, and some of it is bound to stick. Oh, and offering free resale rights is an added bit of brilliance because even if the author makes no money from the original eBook (which is difficult considering the lack of overhead), contact info and promotional content for other products are strewn liberally throughout the material. This is what the kids are calling “viral marketing” these days.
I’m being only a little bit sarcastic. Much like multi-level marketing, this game does create wealth…if you are the one at or near the top of the food chain. Basically, the individual creating the information–and those few who jumped on board initially–saturates the market with the knowledge that he/she will be considered an expert, and by giving information first, people are more likely to give money back.
While this is solid in theory, 9.9 times out of 10 the information isn’t worth anything, and by the time the eBook trickles down, those at the top have made all the money there is to make, and have already moved on to the next hot topic. After a little homework, my brother and I quickly realized that the very information he was attempting to resell is being resold everywhere, and guess what…few people (actually, um, no one) was buying from him.
You haven’t answered the question: Is it too late for me to make money selling eBooks?
I almost forgot. No, it’s not too late, but like anything else, the paradigm has shifted. The good news is that unique, original content will always sell. Go to Google and check it out yourself. After you wade through the plethora of redundant material, canned sales pitches, and outright scams, the people who know what they are talking about quickly stand out. The ones who consistently make money selling eBooks utilize only original material, presented in an entertaining manner, and promote it to a very specific, niche audience.
Take me, for example. Am I an expert? I’m not sure really, but I do know that I’ve followed this procedure with relative success. Being a publisher, though, I have a leg up on most. I took my widely read print publication (100% original material) structured in a satire format (entertaining delivery), compiled it into an eBook, and marketed it to waiters, waitresses, and bartenders (specific audience).
Want to know the best part? Even those in the Detroit area who’ve read the print version want the eBook because it’s that original and that unique, and the fact that a truckload of non-restaurant people buy it and love it is a pleasant bonus. Also, while I do allow people to resell my eBooks, I swear I’m not a hypocrite. I offer new, 100% original content each and every month so it’s like a never-ending stream of income for the reseller. They simply return to their growing list of existing customers with an offer for the latest edition. It’s important that everybody win.
So, if you wish to make money selling eBooks, I congratulate you on your decision, and urge you to find a subject about which you are passionate and know backward & forward, or find a topic geared toward a specific market and someone to contribute original material for you. Following this approach, it’s definitely not too late. Okay…before I finish, I want to cover a couple of things I’ve learned along the way that may prove valuable to you.
First, while there is nothing wrong with eBay, it’s not always as simple as posting your product and watching buyers swarm to your listing. There are many other places for you to promote your eBook with far less competition. Yahoo has an auction on their site and, though it’s relatively new, it’s totally free. PayLoadz.com–also free–is another excellent outlet, and the site even has an affiliate section for you to allow others to help you market your stuff. In addition, Amazon.com accepts eBooks from anyone with a barcode or ISBN, though new authors tend to be a small fish in a big pond there. I’d actively search out the multitude of small, more eBook-related sites, and work my way up as sales grow.
Second, it’s best to have your own website, but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. Your marketing efforts should be such that you can direct people to where your eBook is sold, regardless. To promote my eBook I become an active contributor to related online communities, message boards, and forums, and post sincere comments to relevant blogs and sites. Myspace.com is an awesome way to gain exposure. If my eBook has a legitimate audience, it doesn’t take long to become apparent, and I’ve already established credibility. That’s kind of important. You don’t even want to be perceived as someone who would rip someone else off. Remember, it only works if everyone wins.
Real quickly…in the beginning, I was unnecessarily worried about how my eBook cover would look. You may be at first, too, so I recommend coverartguide.com for a free tutorial and shareware. I get nothing in return from them, they just do a great job there. Also, while autoresponders are great, there is nothing wrong with a personal aprroach. You can offer a link on a website for downloading, or simply let people know they will receive their new product within “x” amount of time.
If you offer resale rights, be sure to make yourself available to your resellers. I’ve been fortunate to work with a growing network of phenomenal people, and the one thing they appreciate most is someone to walk them through the process, especially in the beginning.
God, there’s so much more…but if you take nothing else from this, please utilize the one element that I never, ever see anyone else doing. This is a way for you to create income immediately; I mean before your eBook is even written.
Sell advertising space. I’m serious. Before I convert my print publication to a digital format, I offer every one of my advertisers a chance to be in the eBook. It doesn’t cost me a thing–in fact, it’s more work if they don’t–and they rarely decline. I create extra space in the resale version so those reselling can take advantage of this, too.
It’s borderline brilliant, if you think about it. I deal primarily with bars and restaurants, but let’s say your eBook is about gardening. Why wouldn’t a company with an online presence that sells flowers want the kind of exposure your unique, original eBook can offer? And after you sell a couple hundred copies, you can go back to the very same companies with your statistics, and justifiably ask for more money per ad. Again, everybody wins.
If I can help you in any way or answer specific questions, feel free to e-mail me. I truly enjoy doing this, and wish you the highest form of success.
Dennis Rymarz is the publisher of the acclaimed restaurant industry satire publication, Don’t Tip the Waiter, and was a waiter and bartender for over 12 years. Prior to his career in this industry, he worked for a short time at a Northern Michigan orange juice factory, but was fired because he couldn’t concentrate. In addition to creating the content, layout/design, and distribution process for his publication, and maintaining his website [http://donttipthewaiter.com], he markets several eBooks based on the publication, which he now offers to others—along with a step-by-step proven strategy—to help them successfully reach their goals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis is a Cancer, likes tacos and ’71 Cabernet, and his favorite color is magenta. He is also a proud member of the 100/100 Club (drinking 100 shots of beer in 100 minutes is harder than it sounds), and has never been convicted of a felony.
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