Before I got too far along in the process, I thought I'd document the process of creating my first eBook.
The idea is that all will benefit.
Me: I'll get feedback from you which I can use along the way.
You: You'll get some new ideas about from someone who loves to try new things.
Others: And new people who join will have a newbie guide to publishing.
Okay, so I'll spare you the details of how many months I thought about writing an ebook. I started several different ones but never finished any of them. Finally I decided to write a mini ebook just to get it out there.
I thought of a topic, in my case, parenting mistakes. I jotted down ideas in a 3x5 notebook that I kept with me at all times. My goal was to create a top 10 list and make that into a book.
Actually, I was out raking leaves with my children. And I came up with 6 mistakes that I had made with my children. Later I shared the list with my wife and show gave me another 4 ideas.
Then I researched online and came up with several more ideas. Plus I got several subpoints for each point.
After that I created an outline of the subpoints. Literally I just rearranged the lines in a text editor into a logical order.
Finally I put it into Word and wrote a paragraph about each subpoint. Then I went to bed.
I gave the draft to my wife and she marked it all up. Then, with fresh eyes, I edited the draft. I added quotes and personal illustrations.
I found some royalty-free attribution-free images on sxc.hu
It was kinda short so I added an introduction and an About the Author section. This brought it up to 7 pages. I compressed the images (builtin feature of Word) to make the file smaller. Then I saved it as PDF (also a feature of Word).
I uploaded both files to my website.
Next I created an optin form in AWeber. I won't go into the details of creating the form on this thread. Suffice it to say it was a simple form except I added a hidden field to track where the subscribers were coming from.
I'll say here that the goal of my free ebook is to get people on my Parent Pointers newsletter. I needed to know which marketing efforts were working so I created a separate code for each social network I posted the link to.
The ref is the referrer to tell me where I posted the link.
etc. etc. etc.
Optional but helpful.
For my convenience and to make sure that I could track every link, I used a link shortener.
So instead of posting the link above, I actually used
http://B-L.co/parentpitfall - In fact, you can download the ebook for free at this link to follow along better.
I sent the links out several days ago and I've had about 20 downloads so far. Many of them were personal friends, so I would get an email or Facebook message telling me how much they enjoyed the book.
Then I realized I was missing an opportunity to capture their comments. So I quickly add Disqus to the book's download page. Then I sent out an email to everyone who had confirmed the optin asking them to comment if they liked the book or had constructive criticism. I just did that about an hour ago. So far only 1 person has starred the page but no one has commented yet.
Perhaps you'll be the first?
Just go to http://B-L.co/parentpitfall download the book and then go back to the same page and leave me a constructive comment.
Tomorrow, I'll share with you my promotion idea to make this free download go viral. Plus I'll answer any questions you have at that point about the process.
You'll want to follow this discussion or leave a comment so you can keep up with my progress. Did I mention I quit my job? Yeah, that's why this idea has to work. But I'll share that tomorrow.
I've gotten some really good feedback on the content of the book. I think I'll the content stand as is for a while and continue promoting it.
I also got told by various people in the know (i.e. graphic designers), that I needed a better cover for the ebook.
I get it. I'm a better writing than a graphic designer.
I had some leftover credit from a failed Fiverr job so I decided to try again. This time I picked a level 2 person (last time it was a level 1 and they never delivered anything). I'll post the before and after here and let you decide.
I just got the initial cover back from the designer. This is my second attempt and second miss using Fiverr.
The cover looks okay--even better than mine. But I had specifically asked for a softcover look which was one of his designs. Somehow I got the hard cover look. When I asked for this to be changed and a few other edits like moving a graphic from one side to another, he said I'd have to pay extra. I had no problem paying extra, it's just the extra delay involved.
He blamed me for my lack of communication of detail. Well, so I had paid $5 extra for the editable .PSD file and I told him I will make the edits myself. Hopefully I will get the .PSD file soon.
I think I'll try Elance or 99designs next time. So far I haven't any good success with Fiverr.
I got the .PSD from my designer. All in all not bad for $15. However, I just spent 2 hours getting it how I wanted it to be. So in the end, I didn't save any time which was my purpose.
I added the current image to the discussion head. Because I have the raw version of the file, I can make it into any 2D or 3D image I need.
I also created a 3D graphic for my newsletter. You can see both images in context at the following link.
Okay, I just scheduled my auto responder to go out Monday morning. This should help things go viral. I've attached the exact text of the email I'll be sending out.
Basically it gives everyone on my list a unique download email for my free eBook. Then I offer the following incentives based on how many downloads they get. Again, see the attachment for the entire email I'll be sending out.
1 download I'll write a nice email thanking you personally.
10 downloads I'll send you an audio version of book
with my personal commentary and the email.
25 downloads I'll put a link to your site in the credits
of the book and upload it for all
future readers to see. And you get the above.
100 downloads I'll autograph a copy of the book and
mail it to your home, plus all of the above.
1,000 downloads I'll personally fly out to your house
to deliver your book and everything else above.
The email went out this morning, but I had turned off click tracking. I did this because aWeber convert the links into this super long link that looks like a Chinese malware website. Anyway, I didn't want anyone not to use the link because it looked suspicious so I let that one slide. I could also use my link shortener to track links but it is a .co and since my initial list is non-twitter users, they are suspicious of even those links.
What I'm really tracking from this effort, however are signups. While I had 2 more signups today none of them were from the email I sent this morning. Doesn't everyone get right to my emails and respond? I'll report back once I start getting responses on the rate of return I get.
Congrats on jumping into the writing world. I know you were doing some amazing things with audio and video.
You provided a lot of info so far. It's interesting to see how you're tracking your hits and signups. I'd never thought of doing it that way before. Also, it's an interesting idea to capture "testimonials" through the Disqus plugin on the download page. That can become a never ending endorsement page.
Looking forward to seeing more of your experience and how it changes your views on writing.
Thanks for following the discussion. I've definitely come a long way on writing since we last talked.
You should follow the auto-responder series I setup. It and the ebook are the best writing I've done to date. Maybe that's not saying much for the experienced authors out there. But I'm applying some Headline Hacks I learned from CopyBlogger and some messaging sequencing I learned from Brendon Burchard, Frank Kern and Dan Kennedy. So while I still want to have sprinkles of originality to keep it authentic me, I'm using some outlines and structure from other successful marketers.
I'm using a double optin on my aWeber for the following reasons.
Still, I know that of the initial people I send the link out to, more of them should want to optin just because we are real-life friends.
The current sequence goes like this.
The problem is that only 50% of them have confirmed the email after 48 hours. Right now I have a graphic depicting what the email looks like and where they should click. However, I think it gets lost down the page.
I'm was thinking of putting it above the download links so they see it first but then I had a better idea.
I'm going to make a very short video 20-30 seconds with my children giving the instructions to please check their email right away. My fear is that it goes to spam and then never see it later when they get around to checking email and forget about it.
I'll report back on the confirmed rates after I get the changes made. I was also thinking of making it more clear on the landing page (http://b-l.co/parentpitfall) that they are getting 2 things (the download and the weekly subscription). Then I could make it more of a 1-2-3 page like this.
1 Enter your Email Below
2 Download your Free Gift
3 Confirm your Subscription
I want it to be obvious there is another step. I did this with my affiliate funnel for this program which I haven't even told you about yet. I'll do that in another post.
When I was in junior high school, I excelled at Grammar. This has hurt my writing more than anything.
I learned sentence structure and diagramming, and while I loved complex and compound sentences, I didn't love them nearly as much as compound-complex sentences. (The last sentence is an example.)
Fortunately, I went to marketing training. I learned that effective sales copy is simple sentences.
I also learned to make one sentence paragraphs.
Yep, the white space helps.
So do shorter columns.
Just read the newspaper
So now I write my copy. Then I go back and remove the complex or compound sentences. I use abbreviations and more familiar words. I break up the paragraphs with plenty of white space. I wrap the text early and often. But I also choose which word should start the line. This help the dual readership path. So does adding heading.
I know some people say write the headline first. But I write it last. I think they are concerned that you'll send it when the text is done with all a half-done headline.
That's why I try to sleep on my headlines. And I re-read the email before I queue it to send.
No wonder I hated writing so much. It took too long to write everything so formal. Worse, I was turning people off from my content.