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Questions My Dad Would Ask Before You Started that Ebook

This guest post is by Barb Sawyers of Sticky Communication.

The pitches go like this: turn your archived content into an ebook that will rake in bucks while you sleep. Invest a weekend, maybe a few weeks, and you’ll have a book that will establish you as a thought leader and open the flood gates to new revenue streams.

But as my 85-year-old Dad asked when I told him I was writing an ebook: “Why would you write a book, now that everyone with a computer can?”

You’ve got to admit, that’s a good point from my 85-year-old Dad, who still makes money on his investments but sometimes can’t find his slippers.

Because everyone can now publish a book, lots more will. So your book has to be great. Make that spectacular. And don’t forget that you’re not only the source of the expertise and probably the writing. You will also be responsible for editing, page formatting, cover design, sales and much more.

Depending on your skill set and budget, you can pay for help from Createspace and other self-publishers, people you stumble across on the Internet or a marble-lobby public relations firm.

But for more of the work and most of the decisions, you are on your own.

Don’t get me wrong. I am tickled pink that more people can share their wisdom or art through ebooks and on-demand print. I’m simply advising you to go in with your eyes wide open, avoid the sleazier pitches, and think about some of these questions my Dad would ask.

  • Are your goals achievable? If you want a book that makes money, it has to be good enough to compete with traditional publishers and the coming flood of self-published ebooks. If you are only interested in raising your prestige among a smaller group of people, you may set the bar a little, but not much, lower.
  • Are you an expert? Ideally, you’ve been accumulating knowledge for years and updating your wisdom daily. If you’re not already passionate about a specific topic, don’t charge in.
  • Do you have a unique approach? Like a product, your book has to offer something people can’t get anywhere else. In a world of countless niches, that might be relatively easy for you.
  • Are you willing to invest time? If you are smart enough to have the expertise that makes a book worthwhile, likely you are not going to fall for the get-rich-quick charlatans.
  • Can you write well? If you want to sharpen your skills, you can learn from many blogs, courses and books, including mine, Write Like You Talk—Only Better. If you’re a blogger, figure at least 30 to 50 quality posts on your theme that will then need to be edited, packaged, and sold.
  • If your writing doesn’t measure up, are you prepared to spend the money and time on someone whose does? Most successful nonfiction authors who don’t eat, sleep, and breath writing pay big bucks to professional ghost writers, not a stranger whose site trumpets their rock-bottom prices. You get what you pay for, as my Dad would say. Unless you can find a 24/7 psychic ghost writer, you’ll also spend lots of time thinking about the theme and feeding your ghost writer your knowledge and revisions.
  • Can you design the pages, cover and marketing collateral? Again, be prepared to pay for the kind of quality that will compete or at least spend the time to find the right online sources. Yes, templates are available, but much of what I viewed were woodlands or other looks that do not work for my cover. Right again, Dad. People do judge a book by its cover.
  • Do you have a content marketing machine? You’ll need to spend lots more time feeding and building your social networks, courting legacy media and pursuing other strategies for marketing your book. Competition is stiff and getting stiffer. You have to do a lot more than sneeze in an elevator to go viral.

If there’s an ebook in your soul, go for it. I’m thrilled that the doors have opened. Just be prepared to pour in years of learning, months of prep time and days of fretting.

It has to be your best, not something you knocked off over a rainy weekend.

That’s how real money is made. Just ask my Dad.

Barb Sawyers, who blogs at Sticky Communication, is almost ready to publish in print and for ereaders the second edition of Write Like You Talk—Only Better. Preview it here.

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This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.