If you’ve spent anytime here at One Spoon you’ll have undoubtedly read posts about how to create eBooks. The method I use – which I called The Outline And Bundle Method – is a great way for bloggers to write an eBook.
Now back in the day – and back in the day in Internet terms is only 18 months or 2 years ago – you could create an eBook, and get it up for sale on your website for anything from $27 to $97.
At the higher end of that price range just a few sales per day makes a significant boost to your bottom line.
However, that was then and it’s a much, much harder to sell eBooks above the $30 mark.
Why Is It Harder To Sell eBooks At $30 And Above?
One word answer – Kindle.
See, back in the day it was possible to sell eBooks above $30 because most eBooks answered specific problems that people were having. Plus you were paying for the instant answer to that problem – you paid your money via Paypal or credit card and get directed to a download page, and could literally go from purchase to reading in less than 5 minutes.
And that was a big part of the reason you could price an eBook substantially higher than a print book put out by a publisher whose pricing structures aren’t based on the value of the books they publish.
But now Kindle is firmly in the mainstream most people’s eBook buying experience has totally changed – they pay with one click on Amazon and their Kindle book gets automatically loaded to their Kindle device.
And Kindle prices are always cheaper than print book prices. And often a lot cheaper.
So the Kindle experience is setting the expectations of the eBook buying market in terms of price. And as I just said, that price is often a lot cheaper than eBooks used to be sold at.
So where does the eBook fit into the Selling Strategy of product creators in the Kindle Age. Well, there are three strategies that I think Product Creators can use to build leverage with their eBooks.
1. If You Can’t Beat Them – Join Them!
Kindle isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact it’s only going to gain bigger market share over the next couple of years. And a Kindle book is simply an eBook that is formatted specifically for Kindle.
As the process to publish your own eBooks on Kindle is relatively straightforward then you can take your eBook and upload it to Kindle.
The main advantage is that your book is now listed on the world’s biggest marketing platform for books and eBooks. The main disadvantage is price – although I’ve seen Kindle books priced over $50, they’re the exception and not the norm.
To succeed on Kindle I think you’ve got to follow their pricing structure – and that means pricing relatively low (under $10, and probably under $5).
One of the beauties of publishing eBooks back in the day as that the profit margin was high – if you sold a $97 via Paypal then assuming that wasn’t an affiliate sale you’d get to keep around $93.
By selling on Kindle your per sale royalty is literally just a few dollars per sale. So you’ve either got to make high volume sales OR you have to build some form of Product Sequence into your Kindle Book. That way you are using Kindle as a way to build a highly targeted list of buyers in your niche.
For more on Product Sequences, see my subscriber only article:
However it is still possible to sell eBooks directly and charge higher prices. But you have to work harder.
2. Justifying Higher Prices With Additional Value
I wrote an article that touches on this back in June. You can read it here:
To sell an eBook directly from your website now and charge greater than $50 you really have to do two things:
- (i) Really sell potential clients on the value and uniqueness of the information contained in that eBook. If they can get similar information on Kindle for a 10th of the price, most of them will.
- (ii) Add additional elements that increase the perceived value.
Again, read the post on pricing in the Kindle age that I linked above – but the kind of material that you can add to your eBook package could include audio of the book itself, audio interviews with experts (and get it transcribed and put in PDF format too), workbooks, checklists case studies, critiques and the like.
So if you are going to go this route – and it can still work – you really need to create additional materials that expand on the topics covered in the basic eBook.
(And if you read the subscriber only post on Sequential Selling – you could merge steps 1 and 2 and have a shorter and more basic version of the book selling on Kindle – and have an upsell within the book pointing to the version with audio, checklists, workbooks, etc.)
There is another way to leverage your eBook – and that’s to use it as a building block for something more involved (and therefore, more valuable).
3. Turn Your eBook Into An Online Course
The third way to truly leverage your eBook is to turn it into an online course. This route is something that I’ve been seeing more and more on the old Interwebz in the last few months.
In a nutshell here’s how it works: you sign up for the course (prices typically range from $97 to $247). You get directed to a Members area. The course is laid out in modules. And the course is taught via predominantly screencast style (powerpoint or keynote) videos backed up with audio versions and transcriptions.
Again you could combine this with Step 1 and have a stripped down version of your eBook selling on the Kindle Store with a built in upsell to the modular, ‘course’ version.
(Paul’s Note – as well as creating these courses from eBooks, I’ve also seen a few courses recently that back in the day would have been eBooks, but now are just created immediately as courses.)
There’s more work in this step – but it’s potentially more lucrative. It’s the online version of ‘distance learning’ – and as a result you don’t have to justify the higher prices.
Early in 2012 I’m converting one of my existing Bass Guitar courses to this format – when I do, I’ll create a detailed tutorial out of it and post it as a Subscriber Only post, so that you folks can follow along and see exactly how I did it.
As we head into 2012, eBooks are becoming mainstream mainly due to the influence of Kindle.
Whilst Kindle is a great platform for authors – what it has done is eroded the price that Product Creators can charge for eBooks. Back in the day the standard price was $37 or $47 – now it’s more like $7.
But eBooks are still viable. In this article we’ve looked at three ways you can use them to build leverage for your business:
- Sell on Kindle and use those sales to build a targeted list of buyers.
- Sell on your own website – but create a high value package by bundling extras like audio, checklists, worksheets, critiques, case studies, interviews and the like.
- Turn into an online course for higher perceived value.
And as we saw you can use a stripped down version of an eBook on the Kindle Platform as a way to attract buyers to higher priced versions of that eBook – either the bundled version or the online course version.
What do YOU think? Is selling eBooks for $50 a thing of the past? Do we have to bow to Kindle and charge $5 for our eBooks? Do you know any other ways to leverage eBooks for online (or offline) businesses? Take aim and fire away in the comments….