I recently wrote four compelling reasons to write your first eBook. If you need a refresher (or are simply pressed for time), the key reasons detailed in this post were revenue, lead generation, reputation growth and SEO. I maintain that only one of the aforementioned reasons should be selected as the primary motivator for writing an eBook, however the truth is, after countless late nights spent writing the digital publishing world’s answer to War & Peace, you may find yourself second guessing your original decision, “To pay, or not to pay?”
Deciding whether to request a payment from your audience for the privilege of downloading your eBook is tough.
Option 1: Giving away your eBook for Free
[Insert table of Advantages vs Disadvantages]
- Maximise downloads
- Encourages backlinks
- Legitimate sharing
- Sharing of your eBook much more likely to be through the legitimate channel (rather than pirated)
The advantages of giving away your eBook for free all revolve around maximising volumes. More specifically the volume of downloads, the volume of times it is shared, and the volumes of backlinks pointing back to the eBook’s home (i.e. your website).
Being a free eBook, you will naturally expect a greater number of downloads than its paid equivalent, since there are no financial barriers or credit cards impeding access. Assuming the standard of publication is reasonable, the number of backlinks and shares is directly proportional to the number of downloads, meaning it’s a numbers games that can really help to build your online reputation and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts.
- Your eBook may be perceived as lower quality
- Sets the expectation that future eBooks will also be free
- Missed revenue opportunity
The disadvantages of publishing free ebooks mainly relate to consumer perceptions. Firstly, as xxx has quoted in the past, “offering your products at the princely sum of $0 devalues not only your product, but also your personal brand”. In other words, your be perceived as lower quality simply because it is free. While this is a very hard notion to quantify, it is well worth considering (as is my ‘solution’ to this challenge, which I have added to the end of this article!). Secondly, offering free ebooks can very easily exacerbate an issue that already runs rife online, whereby consumers have been spoilt by a multitude of high-quality information at no cost (mainly due to the poor transitional planning of traditional print publishers trying to readapt to the online world). For this reason, consumer continue to expect high quality information for free. This sets the expectation that all of your future ebooks will be free, even if that is not your plan. I’ve seen it first-hand, customers are thrilled to bits by a free ebook, but when presented with a ‘pay-wall’ for the sequel, they turn away never to be seen again. Finally, it’s worth considering the opportunity cost, in real dollars, of giving away an ebook to appease soft metrics such as brand awareness. You could be forgoing significant chunks of online revenue.
Option 2: Selling your eBook
[Insert table of Advantages vs Disadvantages]
- You’ll make money, duh!
- Selling eBooks is a passive income stream
- You build credibility
The advantages of selling your ebook as opposed to giving it away for nada, are clear. Loud and clear is the potential to make an ongoing income, and with relatively little ongoing upkeep, provided that your tech infrastructure and marketing methodology is right.
I repeat, the potential to a make decent recurring revenue is there if you nail the infrastructure and marketing methodology!
You may have written the best guide to playing blues harmonica straight from the streets of New Orleans that the world has ever seen, but if you haven’t considered how to get it in front of the right audience, at the right times, on the right platform, you ain’t gunna smell a breathe of success brother (and then you’ll definitely have the blues). Read my guide on marketing your ebook for a few tricks of the trade.
Of course, the offshoot of launching a successful publication of any sort is the credibility it adds to your personal brand, and a successful ebook is no exception.
Assuming that you choose to write in the guise of yourself and produce something of value to your audience (and not an alias, which is something that should be only considered when your fulltime job or identity cannot be divulged under any circumstances) you will further your authority within your respective niche.
Play you harmonica in a beautiful melody, and people will flock to have a listen.
- Incorrect pricing will be detrimental to your sales & revenue
- The ebook doesn’t meet buyer expectations
- Sales targets (SMART goals) aren’t achieved
As every musician will tell you, a bad album will hurt your entire career. Your name is on the cover and it is the only impression you will get the chance to leave on hundreds, if not thousands, of people across the globe. Before you officially launch your ebook, make sure you giving the people what they want, whether its price-wise or content-wise. Offer a couple of advance copies to people whom you respect, and get their honest feedback before you launch. Otherwise you will definitely fall trap to incorrect pricing and content in some capacity, and this will hinder your success.
Jst like you wouldn’t perform a song that is only half-written, you should never publish a book with your name on the cover that is still in draft format. Your mistakes may cost you your profile online and will almost certainly hold you back from hitting your long-term ebook sales targets.
Are you still unsure about whether to opt for free vs paid?
If you are still um-ing and ah-ing about whether to give your eBook away, a potential solution to your quandary is to give away only the first chapter.
This will also allow you to avoid xxx’s trap whereby, “offering your products at the sum of $0 devalues not only your product, but also your personal brand”, because your free chapter becomes a teaser to a paid version.