Why Your Ebook Is Really a Self-Contained Website – And How To Benefit from It

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As authors and information product creators sometimes we can get caught up in the fact that we are publishing an “eBook” or a Kindle, Nook or Apple “book.”

While of course this is true the fact is that in most respects our digital publication has the same unique qualities of a website, albeit a self-contained website.

And I know you may be saying, “So what?”

Here is where I’d like to accomplish a paradigm shift in your mind; one where you are fully able to exploit all of the benefits of the fact that your ebook is both a ‘book’ and a self-contained website.

What follows are a few ideas intended to help you with this shift:

Easily Consumable

Remember that our job as authors, information product creators and independent publishers is to make our books as easily consumable and as helpful to our reader as possible.  One way to make your content more easily consumable is to reference outside web-based information and resources and link to it directly from your book.  As long as your reader is online they can click on the link and go directly to your resource hopefully making it easier for them to consume, use and/or benefit from your information.

Now here’s a twist on this concept that potentially benefits you.  The resources you reference can be through your affiliate links or to your opt-in pages.  And – this is important – you can do this where your readers actually thank you for including these links.

Let me give you some examples…

The Truly Helpful Affiliate Link

First, let’s say that your book teaches something like how to build an ultra-light aircraft or teaches readers how to start a tie-dye t-shirt business.  With publications like this it is a huge benefit to readers if you can link directly to the resources you are recommending and/or referencing. And if you are going to do that anyway you might as well do that through your affiliate link.

By the way, I am recommending that you tell readers somewhere in your introduction that you will be using affiliate links in the book and that if they click on those links and buy as a result that you will be compensated.  Transparency is always the best policy and most people won’t care anyway.

I suppose the easiest way to illustrate this is with one of my Kindle cookbooks…

I published a Kindle book with ice cream recipes. Yummy!

Some of the recipes call for some really rare ingredients like marrons.  Most people don’t know what marrons are so I linked from my cookbook directly to the marrons I have in mind for the recipe on Amazon.  That way no one has to guess at what I mean or where to get the marrons.  And, yes, that is my Amazon affiliate link.  But when done appropriately your link is actually assisting the reader to achieve the desired result.

Here’s yet another twist on the concept of making your content more easily consumable and happily this technique results in more opt-ins on your list.

Value-Added Bonus

I think we can both agree that no matter how good your book is, it is not a be-all-and-end-all on the subject (unless you are writing an encyclopedia).  Thus, another way to serve your readers AND grow your list is by offering a value-added bonus within the book.  That is, the bonus should add value to what is already there.

It should be icing.

For example, let’s say you have a stock market investing book. You could offer a free special report on easy ways to save so you can invest more.  Or if you were doing a book on exercises for 6-pack abs you could offer a free audio course on fat-burning foods.

See?

These bonuses truly add value to the underlying content.

But understand this: Whatever bonus you offer should be good enough to stand on its own merits.  In other words, the bonus should be good enough to sell its own right.

Now you are probably wondering, “how does the bonus actually build my list?”

Answer: By putting it behind a “squeeze page…*

That is, in order for readers to get access to your bonus they must opt-in.

And why shouldn’t they opt-in?

You’re giving them massive value in your book PLUS added-value in your bonus.  Most people won’t think twice about it as long as they are convinced that you are truly serving them.

So because links are clickable in your book you can simply dedicate a page to the free bonus offer.

Nifty, eh?

If you liked those techniques then you’ll probably really love everything you can do with…

Internal Linking

That’s right you can make your content more easily consumable by using internal linking within your ebook.

For example, you can link backward (or forward) within your manuscript to help the reader get more out of your book.  For example, if you have instructions that are basic and common to more advanced teachings later in the book then it is easy enough to link back to those original instructions again making your content that much easier to use.

Here’s an example of what I mean…

Now I realize that internal linking might not be that sexy of a concept to you but here’s something that absolutely has some sparkle.  Fact is you can use internal linking to create…

Dynamic Interaction

Dynamic interaction is when you use internal linking to create a unique interactive ebook environment.   This is a technique I learned from my friend James J. Jones who actually has used internal linking with some of his kindle books to create interactive trivia games.

You read and answer the question by clicking on one of the multiple choice answers.  You’ll then be taken to a page that communicates whether you’ve answered correctly or incorrectly as below:

                    or to this page…

 

Of course, you could use this strategy for more things than just trivia books.  For example, you could present fun review quizzes to readers or link to photos or images to illustrate points.  You could also use this strategy to create in-book scavenger hunts where readers can’t proceed until they have answered correctly and “found” all the word or picture clues you have left for them.   Another cool idea is using internal linking for “alternate endings”.

In other words, with internal linking and some creativity you can create a true dynamic interaction experience.

The last doo-dad I wanted to show you was how you can turn your ebook into a…

Viral Marketing Machine

You’re going to love this…

Again because your ebook is nothing more than a self-contained website you can put a tweet link in the book giving readers the option to tell their followers AND you can even have a pre-written tweet that makes it super easy for them.

Here’s an example from my ice cream recipe book…

This is what “pops”…

Now I adopted this technique from my friend and marketing legend Dan Hollings who says that you can adapt it to work with just about any social media site.   I’ve only tried to make it work with Twitter and if you want the code for that you can grab it here.

See?  You’ve got to admit that’s pretty cool!

Conclusion

My question: Have I achieved a paradigm shift in you?  Are you now looking at your ebooks/Kindle/ Nook/Apple books in a different light?  Remember by regarding your publications as self-contained websites a whole world of new possibility opens up.  And if this article has resulted in some ideas for you could you please share them in the comments below. For that matter, I would love to hear any of your thoughts with regard to this article could you please share them below?

*A squeeze page is a single page “above the fold” website where you re-iterate the offer for your bonus and provide a place for the reader to enter their name and email address and when they click “submit” they are simultaneously taken to another page where they can download the bonus and sent an email with the link to where they can download the bonus.  You will need an autoresponder service to make this happen.

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Comments

  1. Great article, Daniel. There are so many ways to monetize an eBook. I look at the eBook royalty as secondary income. The “other income” is most important to me, as I don’t focus so much on royalty (delayed cash in most cases, where I only receive a cut of the total sale). The forgotten and overlooked revenue streams within the ebook (new subscribers to your site, etc.) can be gems for growing a business. Thanks for all your advice. I learned a lot from you over the past couple of years re publishing and Kindle.

  2. Daniel, thanks for sharing this post. You opened up some new ideas for me in my eBooks. I have used links in my eBooks to sites on the web, links to my other ebooks, links to my websites and other social media sites, and links to helpful articles, but you have given me other ideas and ways of using links in my book to create more value and to benefit myself as well. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman-Author

  3. Daniel I’m sure that I read somewhere that Amazon will not approve a book (or take it down) if it as affiliate links.. You haven’t found that to be true?

    thanks for the information
    Michelle

  4. Great ideas Tony! Those are fact-filled ideas enough for a book:) What I “hate” about e-books now is it isn’t easy to go back to another chapter (“where was that information about that widget I read”-you can’t skim) so internal linking is a great idea.

  5. I’m making an ebook. I have added some useful links for them to click. Hope people will like reading it. Thanks for this nice post. Surely helps.

  6. Great post, Daniel. I have beed revising my Kindle books to have better bonuses inside. It’s been a great list-building tool over the years, but I know that I can do better. I so love having Amazon build my lists for me. 😉

    The thing I had not done was the Tweet button. DOH! Great idea. I had that in my regular pdf ebooks, but I’d lost it somewhere between there and the Kindle versions. I don’t know why I did. So thank you.

    Love your post and am looking forward to the next.

    Warmly,
    N

  7. Lynne Klippel says:

    Daniel- I always learn new things from you! I’ve had great success list building by offering bonus content to book readers with a squeeze page. That strategy makes readers feels special and builds your opt in list so that you can alert people when your next book is released.

    The idea of posting a link to go to Twitter or Facebook is stunningly brilliant! Thank you for this outstanding article.

  8. That is genius. I especially like the ways you made your book interactive. I’ll definitely be looking for ways to incorporate this into future books.

  9. Great information! I’m planning on writing a series of gardening ebooks using information I have learned publishing Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. I never considered linking back to my website, inviting people to subscribe to my magazine (it’s free), or linking within the book. It seems so obvious, now that you say it. What’s really brilliant is inviting people to share about the book on social media sites. Any thoughts on how this might work with Pinterest? If you want to do a whole post on that, I would look forward to reading it. Thanks for the great tips.

  10. Daniel, EXCELLENT article . . . and now I’m off to edit my books. MUST add links!

  11. This article was really helpful, and yes, you offered me a paradigm shift when it comes to looking at my ebook as a mini-website. I can totally see that and will surely be keeping these concepts in mind as I finish up my first digital offering, The Convivial Lifestyle Guide Vol. 1, which will be a series of guides to come out, so I’ll have lots of practice with your ideas shared. Thanks;) Keep up the great work.

  12. Daniel, thank you so much for these tips and examples. i’ve been holding off publishing my second book, waiting for e-readers to go color and more interactive. With this post, I can see that the wait is over. Thanks again!

  13. This is great information for sure and a creative twist on what a book is and more importantly, what it can do for you. One thing it definitely cleared up is that it is ok to put affiliate links in Kindle books. For some reason, I thought there was some kind of issue with that, that Amazon frowned on it. Good to know.

    Question Daniel- you said one of your books is ice cream recipes and I know you write on other topics too. Curious if you use a pen name for the stuff that is outside your main niche?

    • Yes, Cheryl let me post what the Amazon TOS content policy is here with regard to affiliate links. I will then provide my analysis of it.

      Here is the key provision:

      “You may not include in any Digital Book any advertisements or other content that is primarily intended to advertise or promote products or services.”

      On the face of it this language would tend to proscribe use of affiliate links anywhere within your book. However, for me the operative word is “primarily”. In other words, did you include the link (or write the book) just to advertise whatever is on the other end of that link.

      Answer: No.

      You listed it primarily to assist the reader and be as I say in the post truly helpful to the reader. In fact, you are doing an injustice to your reader if you don’t show them exactly what you are talking about or referring to. By the way, this holds true for any link or resource you mention in your book whether paid or free; affiliate or non-affiliate.

      Further, had Amazon intended to exclude all advertisements in the ebooks it could have just as easily included a sentence like this:

      “You may not include in any Digital Book any advertisements or other content that advertises or promotes products or services”

      With all of that said its possible that Amazon does something goofy and slaps you. But if you concentrate on putting out high quality books using these affiliate links only conservatively along with links to other resources you should be fine.

      One last thing: When you look at the language Amazon does use its pretty clear to me that this provision is designed primarily to thwart Spammers who’ll publish junk books just to fill them cover-to-cover with affiliate links.

      This turned into a bit of separate post… but that is my take on it. Hope it helps.

  14. Daniel, your article has me looking at ebooks in a whole new way. My paradigm shift was to realize how valuable internal linking and dynamic interaction could be for an ebook I\’m planning to teach lessons in gardening.

    • Maryann, thanks for much for stopping by The Future of Ink! And yes, I totally agree…when I was getting Daniel’s article ready for publication, I was taking notes to use for my own ebooks!

      Let us know when your gardening ebook is ready and how you are using Daniel’s lessons 🙂

    • Thanks much Maryann (and Ellen)… these are some pretty powerful strategies if you’ll just use them. I appreciate your feedback.

  15. Daniel, you knock it out of the park with this post. While I thought I knew a lot about optimizing an ebook, you have taken it to a whole new level. Thanks for sharing this detailed tutorial with The Future of Ink audiences. I’m thrilled you’re one of our Expert Writers!