Selling Business Ebooks: Aaron Wall reveals his secrets
February 14, 2008 | 4:39 pm
By Robert Nagle
Ebooks, by and large, are perceived to be of low quality because most are of low quality. If that wasn’t bad enough, Google made a blog post essentially voting against ebooks, grouping ebook sites amongst sites that may merit a low quality score. While the strength of my blog and brand means that Google is not likely to ban my business model, their indictment of the ebook field as a whole, and their power over the web, indicate that there is great risk is staying branded as an ebook author/ publisher.
(By quality, I think Wall is referring not to content quality but SEO value according to google’s algorithm).
He noticed that more video has increased ebook sales:
When I first started publishing how to videos to this site my sales doubled. And I thought it was maybe an anomaly. So I tested it again and again. Almost every time I published video content to this site my sales doubled, which is my customers and prospective customers telling me they prefer that content format more than what I was traditionally publishing.
In his article he mentions that 12,000 people bought his $79 PDF ebook off his site (you can do the math). I’ve paid and downloaded the no-DRM ebook; It’s well-organized and well-written and current, but the information is hardly earth-shattering or something you couldn’t find in the blogosphere. But I appreciate the fact that Wall updates the information on a semi-regular basis (old SEO information is useless). Also, Aaron Wall offers a 90 day guarantee which is reassuring to someone on the fence about buying.
(I read the ebook by converting the PDF into mobipocket and reading it on the Cybook. There are minor layout and graphic problems, but for the most part it is perfectly readable).
Business ebooks belong in a totally different category (they are mainly extensions of an established consulting service), but his first-person account is instructive. For example, Wall is pleasantly indifferent to pirated copies available on torrents or outdated editions available for sale in China; he says, “it is hard to put all that transferable knowledge in one book. And I would rather have one great product than many watered down ones.”
Wall has shown that it’s possible for a single individual to handle all the backend stuff of writing something, converting it into an ebook, updating it, creating a promotional site and continuing to deliver value through SEO tools, tutorials and blogposts. For the time being, at least, he’s doing perfectly fine without having to partner with Random House or O’Reilly.
Wall’s book on SEO and Internet marketing seems to undermine Marie Campbell’s contention that ebooks require a lower price point to take off.
Now here’s the $64,000 question: which of his “lessons learned” apply to “plain Jane” nonbusiness ebooks?