3 Secrets For A Successful E-Book

My recently released e-book, Writing Holiday Donation Emails, has gotten some traction and I wanted to pass along a few secrets for success when writing an e-book. This was my second e-book (the first being about writing in a web 2.0 world) and I learned a lot.

I assume that you are already knowledgeable about your topic and have decent writing skills. However, there are several things you can do to increase the readership of your e-book outside of this expertise. Here are three secrets for writing your successful e-book.

1. Use e-books as collections of your best work

Last year, I worked on three posts about holiday solicitation emails, focusing on design, content, and strategy. The content was largely still relevant, so I packaged it into an e-book. It allowed me to add some material and correct other ideas.

Because I had already done the hard part (idea generation, writing) and received comments and suggestions from other marketers, it was comparatively easy to put together the new e-book. Plus, it gives me another post in the search engines and reaches readers who subscribed to my blog since those original posts went up last year.

2. Think SEO

There are millions of e-books, but only a few are read by more than 100 people. Why? 

One common reason is due to a writer's inability to think about key words as they effect search engine optimization (SEO). If your e-book doesn't get good search engine results rankings, it might as well not exist.

For instance, last year I used the term "solicitation." This year, however, I compared "solicitation" and "donation." You can see in the image to the right that "donation" had a much higher frequency in Google. Therefore, though "solicitation" is a more accurate description, I opted for the more popular term.

Likewise, I debated between "holiday" and "Christmas." As you can see in the second image on the right, Christmas ranked higher during the fourth quarter of recent years. However, I also realized that people searching for the word "Christmas" are less likely to be searching for information about solicitation emails, and I risked limiting my audience if I confined the e-book to "Christmas." Since the e-book was about year-end donations, rather than any particular holiday, I used the word "holiday."

3. Recycle and Reuse

Now that the e-book is written, I can slice up the chapters into short posts are reuse them. This gives yet another chance at a good Google ranking and the ability to add to your e-book.

I asked my buddy Andrew, a development expert in Washington, DC, for synonyms of my topic. He gave me plenty: "year end appeal," "appeal letter," "support letter," "fund proposal," "end of year giving," and "holiday appeal." You can bet I will be using these terms in future posts taken from the larger e-book.

Plus, this interaction allowed Andrew to pass on additional insight. He recommends thanking the donor in the first sentence (or at least the first paragraph). This has the effect of making the potential donor feel appreciated and invested in your cause. Andrew, thanks for this great tip!

Recycle your content and reuse it liberally after you've posted your e-book. Readers do not approach your blog as they would a book, reading from the first post to the last. You are allowed encouraged to reuse themes and parts of content, as long as it's relevant and not a mere duplication.

The Gist

An e-book can be a useful way to package your content and illustrate your expertise in a given subject. But don't waste your time. Use these three tips to get the most value out of every word.


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(Image courtesy of cogdogblog via Flickr)