Using an eBook to Build Your Brand

Karen Leland

Karen Leland

by Karen Leland at www.karenleland.com

By now almost everyone has heard of Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old novelist who was rejected by dozens of New York publishing houses. Not one to give up, Hocking decided to go the entrepreneurial route and self published an eBook instead.

The results? She’s made more than US$1 million dollars to date and just sold the movie rights to one of her popular series. Oh and she also just penned a US$2 million deal for a four book series – with an old fashioned publishing house.

While Hocking’s novels are probably not what the typical start up is looking to publish, the best-practice business point is that eBooks are now a viable way of building your brand and getting word out about your company and expertise.

Here are the basics: An eBook (electronic book) is an electronic document that can contain text, images, audio and video. They can be viewed on a personal computer, smart phone, PDA and eBook reader, such as a Kindle, and are sold through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dozens of other outlets.

Depending on the length and content of the eBook, they sell from between 99 cents and $99. But the current rage is pricing eBooks at the lower end of the spectrum for around $2.99, or even giving them away for free as a promotion.

The five best reasons why you should be writing an eBook, beyond the immediate financial return of book sales, include:

• Increases name recognition for your company and personal brand, as well as drives traffic to your Web site via links from book excerpts, free samples, reviews, newsletter distribution and blog mentions.

• Introduces you to potential customers looking for what you offer via press releases about the book, an Amazon listing and book reviews from bloggers.

• Provides a perfect free, downloadable giveaway on your blog to entice visitors to sign up and give you their contact information.

• Makes a great calling card to send before you meet with a potential client to show your knowledge, expertise and point of view.

• Forces you to develop content you can then repurpose for marketing collateral and turn into podcasts and Webcasts.

Oddly enough, the easiest part of eBook publishing is getting the finished product up and running for distribution. Many can be uploaded with just a click of a few buttons. But where most entrepreneurs face a challenge is in finding the time, or having the writing chops, to craft the eBook in the first place.

Even if that’s the case, it’s no excuse, since there are scads of eBook-savvy small businesses whose sole purpose is to ghost write, edit, design and publish your eBook.

Still not convinced? Consider this: According to the Association of American Publishers, Americans spent US$440 million dollars on eBooks in the first quarter of 2011, and the Book Industry Study Group found that one in four Americans reads eBooks — and that’s a whole lot’a brand to be built.

NOTE:  Karen Leland is a best-selling author and President of Sterling Marketing Group (http://www.karenleland.com), where she helps entrepreneurs promote their businesses through writing, publishing and promoting e-Books, blogs and other social media.

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