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EBook Update

EBook - Get the facts

Last week I mentioned I would have an EBook entitled How to Generate Traffic to Your Website: How to let people know you exist and get them to come to your website! ready for Monday this week. Well Monday has come and gone. I’ve decided to postpone it’s release until Monday next week (March 10, 2008). As I’ve always said in the past I’d rather release something of higher quality and value than to push it out to meet a date, even if I publicly stated it.

A preconception I’d also like to discount here is that EBooks are pure profit machines. Far from it. The work that involved in creating a good EBook is substantial. For my upcoming book Interview the Pros: What does it take to create a Successful Blog? which will be published in the traditional sense (both as a softcover and hardcover through bookstores like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc.) I calculate I easily put in over 500 hours. For this EBook I calculate the total will be about 350+ hours. Assuming a 40 hour work-week, that’s about 2 months of full-time effort!

As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of the work was already done before I decided to finish and polish it a week or so ago. But 2 months worth of full-time work is not cost free. Just looking at the opportunity cost I’ve already invested a significant amount of money. As well each transaction is not free, there is a processing fee. It might be small, but let’s not forget it (There are other costs such as support, but we’ll ignore these as they’re harder to pre-calculate).

What I’m trying to get at is that the author of an EBook has the same risks as a software company. All the risk is front-loaded. That is all the time and money upfront has to be invested before any revenue is generated. That’s a lot of risk. Assuming a round rate of $100/hour, at 350 hours that’s $35,000 invested in the book ($100/hour is not my rate, it’s just a simple number to work with). Adding another 5% for transaction fees, that’s another $1750. That means that to balance out with a consulting gig I would need to generate $36,750! Only once I’ve achieved this revenue do I start to make any profit in comparison to straight consulting. If I don’t achieve it, I’ve lost money!

In other words:

  • At $20/EBook I need to sell 1835 books
  • At $25/EBook I need to sell 1470 books
  • At $30/EBook I need to sell 1217 books

That’s a lot of Ebooks. If I want to break even selling 1000 EBooks I need to price it $36.50. If I sell less than $36,750 worth of the EBook than I’ve lost money!

EBooks are sold differently than traditional books, so the numbers are different. As an author of a traditionally published book you need to sell more copies to break even with your time, but I believe it’s easier. Firstly you’re not the only one selling your book, other reputable bookstores are listing your book (people search Amazon for example). Another disadvantage of EBooks is that have a shorter lifespan. For example the materials in this book may not be as relevant in a couple of years, so I need to make my revenues sooner than later.

Another large benefit with traditionally printed books is that they can easily be used to increase your reputation, credibility, etc. People generally put more worth into traditional books than they do EBooks, even though there are some very amazing EBooks!

Therefore the idea that EBooks are profit machines is simply not true. At least for high quality EBooks. Sure I could have just slapped together some text taken from here and there and made an EBook in a few days. Added some pictures and pretty graphs. But that’s not a high quality EBook. Such an EBooks revenues will be limited purely by my selling abilities. Instead I’d rather my EBook sell itself. There’s nothing as powerful as word of mouth marketing!

In any case, all this is to say my upcoming EBook How to Generate Traffic to Your Website: How to let people know you exist and get them to come to your website! release date has been postponed from this week to next week (March 10, 2008).

If you’re interested, come back on Monday to see if the book is available. And you can also subscribe to my RSS feed so that you don’t have to remember to come back, that or you can also subscribe to my email newsletter which will send updates to your email box directly.

See you next week!

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