How to Cash In on eBooks

by Jamie Simmerman · 4 comments

It seems our society is hooked on information. We’re information junkies, and the Internet feeds our cravings night and day with the click of a few keys. We no longer have to plan trips to the local library or community bookstore to gather information, learn a new skill, or entertain our brains with a well-crafted novel. Digital eBooks from Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble mean we can place a new book in front of our eyes in seconds, even if it’s 2 A.M. Besides the wealth of information available online from websites, wikis, and research portals, eBook services offer one of the best ways to obtain information quickly and easily, leading many to speculate that we may someday find ourselves living in a paperless society with all books converted to the digital format.

While I enjoy the look, feel, and smell of a traditional paper-printed book, my need to consume vast amounts of information in an economical manner has led to a whole-hearted embrace of eBooks. I can hop on Amazon or iTunes, enter my search terms, and have a new book in seconds, for far less than I would pay for the same material in a printed format. eBooks aren’t going away any time soon, and this rapidly growing industry provides an opportunity for additional income for those who embrace it.

You ARE an Expert!

Almost everyone has some area of knowledge that exceeds the knowledge base of the general public. Perhaps you’ve lived through a difficult circumstance, traveled abroad, or spend your time building gas-powered model airplanes. Do you know how to get a colicky baby to sleep or a strong-willed toddler to pee in the potty? Do you know how to replace spider gears in the transmission of 1985 Chevy truck? If so, you’re an expert. No matter the topic, you most likely have an in-depth knowledge of some area, and someone is looking for that knowledge. You can make money by sharing your “expertise” in the form of an eBook.

But I Can’t Write!

“But I can’t write!” you may be saying. Guess what? Many of today’s popular authors can’t write well either – that’s where editors come in. Even quite a few poorly written books make it in the market without proper editing all because the author is passionate about a topic, or the book has redeeming qualities such as memorable characters, a gripping plot, or inside knowledge you can’t get anywhere else. These authors may take a few knocks from traditional book critics and fans, but in the end, they still bring in money. So if your area of expertise is in demand, don’t let bad grammar skills stand in your way. No one’s going to care if you used “who” when you should have used “whom” if your information or story is captivating.

If you’ve identified your area of expertise and want to make sure your eBook is up to par, you can hire a professional to help in the process. Editors, ghostwriters, and graphic artists all work for individuals who want to publish books in the digital industry for a profit. Where you lack skills, there is someone who can bridge those gaps to help you create a well-rounded product.

How to Write Your eBook

The easiest way to get started writing your eBook is to identify your chosen topic (area of expertise) and get your thoughts out of your head as soon as possible. Block off a weekend, hole up someplace quiet, and gather all the information you know about your chosen topic. Write it all down, talk to a voice recorder, or hire a ghostwriter to interview you about your topic. You can read related materials to get your brain started on the right track if you feel like you don’t know where to start. At this stage, it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something.

Next, focus on arranging your information (or story) into a logical order. Your eBook should flow smoothly from one topic to the next and be appealing to the reader. Spend some extra time crafting a catchy headline and opening sentence. Clean up your writing by eliminating redundant information and by ordering the information according to an outline.

After you’ve written your eBook, you’ll need to focus on editing and formatting. Keep in mind that your text will most likely be viewed on a computer screen, mobile phone, or tablet. This means that your readers will experience eye fatigue faster than when reading a paper-printed text. Be sure to use a web-friendly font, white space, and perhaps a few images to break up the text. (There are many excellent resources on writing for Web readers for more tips and in-depth information.)

Editing and Formatting

You can choose to edit your text yourself or hire a professional editor to clean up your work. Your text will have to be formatted for individual platforms – like Kindle, iBooks, or Nook, as well. For example, Kindle eBooks are published in a mobipocket format, while iBook uses the EPub format. You can find free format conversion tools on the Net, or you can hire a service to handle the formatting for you.

One tool that I personally fell in love with for creating eBook is a program called Scrivener. It’s quite useful for compiling larger writing projects (like eBooks and research papers), and it has various formatting options to make your eBook ready for various platforms. If you’re serious about authoring eBooks for cash, or if you plan to write more than one eBook, a writing program will serve you well during the process. There is also a fairly new app available on iTunes that allows you to create eBooks on the iBooks platform easily, called iBooks Author (it’s free, but only works on the iBooks platform).

After you have your formatted eBook, you’ll need to choose which platforms you want to sell your eBook on, and fill out the necessary information to create author accounts with each service. The process is a little tedious, but the steps are fairly simple and easy to follow. You can research information from other popular eBook authors, like John Locke, and learn from their experience as well.

What are you waiting for? What’s your area of expertise?

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  • Jamie Simmerman says:

    Thanks for the info chchreader. They are tons of affiliate programs out there for the person who knows how to find them, and it makes sense to sign up to promote your own work, eh? 🙂

    I too, love the feel of a print novel, but I purchased a Clam Case for my iPad and it now sits at the perfect angle on my lap or on the mattress for reading. And after I get into the book, I forget whether it’s digital or print. Digitals are cheaper and I tend to consume a scary number of volumes a month, so it’s easier on my budget. Small sacrifices to get more books! LOL

  • Jamie Simmerman says:

    Hi Dave! Congrats on the book! Be sure to drop us a link back here so we can check it out when you’re all set.

    1) Apple pays out 70% in royalties (they keep 30%). You can find details here:

    You may also find the following resources helpful:

    iBooks Author: Publishing and distribution FAQ

    Book Publishers: Frequently Asked Questions

    2) While most of my clients don’t seem too enthusiastic about the Nook, they still often request a formatted edition for B&N as well. Personally, I think the iPad and Kindle Fire are dominators in the market, but die-hard print-book fans may feel more comfortable supporting the bookstore chain so it may stick around for awhile. It doesn’t hurt to spend a few extra dollars for formatting and submission to include that potential consumer base.

    3) I think the Google eBook info you’re looking for may be here:

    and here:

    Everything you need to know to get started.

    Best of luck to you!

  • chchreader says:

    Good post Jamie. Ebooks certainly are creating a world where getting published is more accessible to every person. And as you mentioned, that can mean more books from passionate people, rather than just from good/well-connected writers.

    In addition to Amazon and Itunes, there are some great networks like Clickbank – – where authors can put their work online and have other people promote their ebook. Then the promoter earns a commission if they make a sale. It’s a great place for people who don’t have the promotional clout of a major publisher behind them but have something interesting to share. And you choose your commission rate, so you can either keep all your profits by setting a low commission, or get more promoters to sell your book by setting a high commission.

    I personally still prefer a paperback for leisure reading. It doesn’t feel right falling asleep with my laptop humming away in the bed.

  • Dave Bernard says:

    Great information Jamie – I just ordered the book and bookmarked the recommended links. I have a book well under way and am looking at ebook vs standard publishing options – it sure sounds like the ebook is easier if I can figure out how to best publicize to get interested readers. I could not find on the iBook site anything about royalties paid – do you know what these might be? Do you think the Nook is going to remain a player in this market? And would you happen to have a link to the Google eBooks for prospective publishers? Thanks for your insight!

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