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How to Harness the Power of e-Books

by Michel Fortin

The underlying drive behind the Internet is certainly the speed at which information can be retrieved -- especially at little or no cost. People can literally find out pretty much anything about anything at the simple click of a mouse. Consequently, they are today more informed, more educated, and certainly more sophisticated than ever before.

Time, however, is becoming a scarcer commodity. People don't have the time to search the Internet in order to find the kinds of information that they really want let alone the time to read it once they have found that for which they are looking. In short, time is money. And this is especially true for those who pay for their Internet connection by the minute.

And in their attempts to retrieve that information, most people will have to swim through an ocean of commercial messages that are now drowning the web. As a result, finding useful information that is not overtly promotional has become a challenging process.

A mentor once told me, "Implication is more powerful than specification." It is more effective to imply one's superiority than it is to outright state it, in other words. Thus, self-serving information often found in fancy brochures, glitzy web sites, blaring banners, and blatantly promotional email messages certainly counter that notion let alone turn people off.

However, there is a solution. A recent trend that is masterfully amalgamating all of the above important points -- i.e., speed, economy, and implication -- is in electronic self-publishing. Why are electronic books (or "e-books," as they are often called) taking the Internet by storm? And why are they also becoming an essential marketing ingredient?

The Benefits of Publishing Your Own E-book
The cost of publishing and delivering an e-book is assumed by no one -- neither the publisher nor the reader. There's no postage, no waiting, no handling, no printing, and no hassles involved. Best of all, people can download it almost instantly, or ask for it through an autoresponder and receive it within a matter of seconds.

While producing one may incur some costs (such as the cost of a software program that compiles your e-book), it is very little compared to its physical version. You only need one copy. There's no need to mass-produce your book and pay for the printing let alone the physical storage space it requires -- you may have to pay once but only once.

Self-publishing is on the rise. And since the Internet is a major player in today's "information revolution," e-books play active roles in helping publishers to profit from it. Even non-publishers jump on the bandwagon and create their own e-books in order to use them as promotional tools, traffic generators, lead generators, or backend products.

If you want an e-book, there's no need to visit a bookstore or to wait for it in the mail. Access is almost instantaneous. And there's no need to read it online as well as bookmark the site on which it appears, with the possibility that it will be forgotten somehow. It remains on the recipient's computer and can be read at his or her own pace.

Self-publishing also helps would-be writers and information marketers to avoid many of the inconvenient hoops through which one must go in order to get published. There's no need to send a manuscript to some publishing house in the hope that it will at least be considered, or to have a literary agent promote your book idea for a commission.

E-Books Are Powerful Promotional Tools
It is also safe to say that people will need to visit your web site in order to retrieve the free, valuable information that you offer. And by the same token they are given the opportunity to surf your site -- especially since they can read your book at a later time. In that case, give a URL that they must visit in order to download the book instead of the book by itself.

If you have a brochure or media kit, it can also be converted into an e-book and thus carry more weight. Since "implication is more powerful than specification," e-books that act as brochures or catalogues will be read more like educational tools instead of self-serving, promotional ads. And consequently, they will communicate your expertise more effectively.

If you use a multi-step marketing process (such as the one that I discuss in my own e-book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," at http://SuccessDoctor.com/offer.htm), e-books can become powerful lead generators for your business. People who ask for it are in fact qualifying themselves beforehand. They are indeed leads of higher quality -- leads that are far more interested than those who you would have otherwise only assumed that are.

If you do use your e-book as a lead generator, don't offer it directly to your visitors. Capture their information beforehand. Use a form on your site in order for these leads to identify themselves to you. Simultaneously, you can ask them if they wish to be added to your mailing list (such as your ezine) or do so in the subsequent "thank you" page.

More important, an e-book is an effective viral marketing tool, either by itself or in concert with others. By giving away the book for free you can also give the recipients the permission to distribute your book freely among their own subscribers, visitors, affiliates, and clients.

Another example is the fact that e-books also make great gifts. If you use referral systems such as the one at http://SuccessDoctor.com/http://www.successdoctor.com/referral.htm, your book could be used as an added incentive for others to use these referral processes on your site. Also, e-books can be used with contests, surveys, subscriptions, special offers, and bonuses.

You can easily conduct a survey with your web site visitors or ezine subscribers -- especially for marketing research -- and offer the book as a gift for their participation. In fact, it could become a bonus item in order to entice visitors to subscribe to your ezine or affiliate program.

E-Books as a Source of Income
If you plan on selling your e-book, delivery can be automated and book sales can be placed literally on auto-pilot. Once your customers buy, they can be redirected to a special URL (or a password-protected web page) where they can download your book.

For an idea of how you can accomplish this, think of the times that you have come across certain online businesses selling e-books as part of their portfolio. You may have even stumbled onto some web sites that are exclusively dedicated to the sale of self-published materials -- including e-book affiliate programs. Great examples include:

     - Rick Beneteau's "Ezine Marketing Machine" at http://interniche.net/emm.htm,
     - Jim Daniel's "Internet Email Marketing" at http://bizweb2000.com/prod02.htm, and
     - Monique Harris' "Sell Your Brain Food" at http://sellyourbrainfood.com.

As a lead generator, selling e-books can become an even greater qualifier. If a person is willing to pay for the lead generator, chances are higher that he or she will pay for subsequent products or services. Furthermore, e-books don't have to be sold directly. You can also sell them at wholesale -- in other words you sell licenses, not books (i.e., reprint rights).

You can generate revenue by selling advertising space in your e-book or even use that space for cross-promotional purposes. You can also generate additional revenues through joint ventures by combining your book with the products or services of strategic alliances.

But more important, you can develop your own affiliate program in order to multiply your book sales. Your affiliates are, like sales representatives, helping you to distribute your materials almost effortlessly -- especially since the commission structure can be higher than the norm due to the low (or no) cost of producing your book. You can use tracking programs such as:

     - http://affiliatetracking.com,
     - http://www.affiliatezone.com,
     - http://www.associatezone.com or
     - http://www.commission-junction.com.

Information Sources for E-books
E-book compiling software is one with which you are able to transform your documents (created with either a word processor or HTML program) into a single, self-executable (*.exe) file. People can simply click on the one file to read your e-book. Sites that offer such compiling programs (at varying prices) include:

     - NeoBook -- http://www.neosoftware.com/
     - InfoCourier -- http://www.smartcode.com/
     - WebCompiler -- http://www.webcompiler.com/
     - Hyper Maker HTML -- http://www.bersoft.com/
     - Acrobat -- http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/main.html
     - E-Dictorial -- http://www.e-ditorial.com/
     - Web-Source -- http://www.web-source.net/
     - BookLocker -- http://www.booklocker.com/

Publicity guru Phil Wiley offers a great synopsis and review of these various programs on his site. For more information, visit http://www.ozemedia.com/ebooks.htm. But if you want to produce your own e-book at no cost at all, you have two options:

     1) Create your e-book in HTML (as you would an ordinary web site)
         and place it all in one downloadable zipped (*.zip) file; or,

     2) Use KeeBoo (it's freeware) at http://www.keeboo.com (they
         offer a user-friendly HTML compiler with a drag-and-drop
         feature, integrated library, highlighter, and notepad).

Once your e-book is ready for distribution or if you plan on conducting a contest where your book is the prize, you can write a news release that announces either your new publication or your contest. You then submit your news release to the media, ezine publishers, book reviewers, list moderators, and webmasters.

Moreover, you should submit your e-book (or news release) to the following web sites -- sites that exist for the express purpose of offering free stuff or making free contest announcements:

     - http://www.download.com
     - http://www.thefreesite.com
     - http://www.free-stuff.com
     - http://www.free2try.com
     - http://www.freehound.com
     - http://www.free-sweepstakes.com
     - http://www.huronline.com
     - And http://www.freecontests.com

You can also take one or two of your e-book's chapters and use them as teasers, or even convert parts of your book into separate, distinct articles that you can submit to other ezines read by your target market. Conversely, you can take a bunch of your articles and compile them into an e-book (or articles of others, with their permission).

As for writing a book from scratch, don't rack your brains over it. Just write. Let it flow. Do some research and gather useful information that you can use or on which you can write -- but don't ignore copyright issues, though. Reference your material. Use footnotes, or add a bibliography or a links page at the end. Start with an outline if you think it's necessary.

Once done, you can then edit your book. However, if you still don't feel comfortable with your command of the written word, you can simply find an editor who would be willing to edit your book in exchange for some free exposure (such as with an acknowledgement and link in the e-book). If the editor understands viral marketing, he or she probably won't mind =)

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.

Tags: E-commerce and Internet



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