I’m a huge fan of little ebooks. They’re fast and fun to write; you’ve finished them before you’ve got time to get bored or bogged down in research.
Recently I recommended writing little ebooks to several of my writing students who needed a productivity and income boost.
But what are little ebooks? And why write them?
Little ebooks: they sell, and people always need information and entertainment
I class “little ebooks” as any ebook, whether fiction or nonfiction, under 10,000 words. Your mileage may vary. A colleague’s published several dozen of them, all food-related, and all under 5,000 words.
She said: “Everyone eats. There’s a million topics in food and foodie fashions, and healthy food. Sure, people can get a lot of recipes online. But who wants to battle frustrating recipe webpages overrun by flashing, intrusive ads? They can buy a little ebook, and get just the info they want.”
But how does she sell her little ebooks?
In a long email message, with lots of tips (they’re gold, so I’ll be sharing them with you over the next few months), she said: “Although I started self-publishing my ebooks on the Amazon Kindle Store and wide, I’ve branched out. Now I make most of my income from writing white-label little ebooks for food-related businesses. For a recent ghostwriting gig, I wrote about yummy dessert smoothies.”
Does the thought of writing little ebooks interest you? Let’s look at some tips.
1. Consider writing both fiction and nonfiction to fill a hole in your freelance schedule
Freelance writers are familiar with feast or famine syndrome. Either you have too many projects, or too few. You can have a full schedule, then one client vanishes. Another postpones a project… Depressing: not only do you have empty hours, you’ve got a hole in your income as well.
Why not write a short story or a short nonfiction book to fill your empty hours?
When you’re looking for ebook topics, assess your obsessions.
2. Make your obsessions and fashionable trends work for you
Do you get obsessed with things that fascinate you? I do. Something catches my interest, and before I know it, I’ve watched a dozen YouTube videos, read five books, and spent hours researching.
Obsessions tend to annoy your nearest and dearest, who really are not interested in the voyages of Captain Cook, heirloom seeds, or 19th century photography.
Many of your obsessions won’t support little ebooks, but some will, witness my friend and her food topics.
Consider trends, too. Keep an eye on any groups you’ve joined, friends’ gossip, and news websites for topics about which you could write. If you’re the first to leap on a new trend, your little ebooks will sell.
Are you concerned about length?
3. Forget length: inform and/ or entertain your readers
When I discuss little ebooks with my writing students, they concern themselves over length. We’re used to thinking of “books” in terms of hundreds of pages. However, an ebook can be very short.
As I’ve said; I usually aim for 10,000 words—that’s 40 pages, at 250 words per page. My friend’s ebooks are half that length. If you can cover a questions readers want answered in ten pages (2,500 words), go for it.
Pricing stymies some authors.
4. Pricing: avoid pricing too low
I asked my friend about pricing on ebook retailers, such as the Amazon Kindle Store. She prices some of her little ebooks at $4.99 or $5.99, others higher.
Once she’s decided, she forgets the pricing. “I don’t tinker with the prices for at least six months,” she said. “It’s best to spend your time writing additional ebooks; promote in the backmatter. As you publish more, go back to your earlier books and promote your new books in the backmatter.”
5. Create in themes: it makes promotion easier
The more ebooks you write and publish in an area, the more cross-promotional opportunities exist.
Use your backmatter. That saves worrying too much about marketing—but build an email list for each area, so you can contact readers when you publish a new ebook.
Big tip: use pre-orders to make more sales.
If you love writing, writing little ebooks is a (satisfying) breeze
Do you love writing—and hitting the Publish button?
Writing and publishing ebooks is fun, and satisfying. As my friend suggests, set a price for your ebooks, and leave them. Go back to edit for cross-promotion when you’ve published additional ebooks.
Have fun. 🙂
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.