Guest post by John Corcoran.
Writing and publishing an eBook can be a great tool to market your practice, differentiate yourself from your competition, and build your practice. After all, everyone has a website or a blog these days, but how many lawyers have published a book on their area of practice?
Publishing an ebook is also a great way to find new clients. Some clients may hire you without even looking at your book, assuming you must be an expert. Others may buy or download a copy of your book, read it, and share it with a friend, who then comes back to you for further services.
I recently wrote and published an eBook called “The Foreclosure Legal Guide” which built off my experience advising homeowners whose homes were in danger of being lost to foreclosure. I found there is an easy way and a hard way to publish an eBook. I want to share with you the easy way.
There are plenty of third parties that will charge you hundreds of dollars to handle all the publishing details from soup to nuts. However, you can also publish your book for just a few dollars if you follow these steps.
Here are the basic steps to publish an eBook the easy way:
Decide on a topic for your eBook
Think about your ideal client and what information would be valuable to them. If the topic is very large, you may want to work with another attorney to co-author the book. If you are interested in expanding into a new area of practice, creating an ebook in that practice area can be a great way of moving into that area.
Gather your existing material and build more through your blog
You probably are too busy to write a book from scratch, but you don’t need to. Gather your existing material from your website, your blog, past articles, past speeches, etc. Chances are you already have substantial material, and an ebook does not need to be as long as a traditional book.
Figure out what additional areas you would need for the book and plot out a plan to do new blog postings on these topics over the course of a few weeks or months. Publishing the material on your blog and again in your book gives you more bang for your buck.
Collect and organize all the material into a book
Organize a table of contents which lists each topic. The table of contents does not need to be in a perfect outline. Save everything in MS Word and then convert it to a PDF using a free PDF converter. You can design a basic cover by looking at the covers of similar types of books for sale at Amazon.com.
You can also create a cool 3-D book cover using free or inexpensive software. I used Online 3D Package to create a free three dimensional version of my book.
I suggest you get creative and include a lot of break-out boxes, subsections, and diagrams. It may be helpful to look at a few other books in similar areas to get ideas.
Pick an ePublisher
Three leaders in the e-publishing field are clickbank.com, lulu.com, and e-junkie.com. Clickbank charges a one-time $49.95 fee and after that it’s free. E-junkie.com gives you a 7-day free trial and after that their pricing plans start at $5/month. You can also just upload a PDF to your website if you don’t want to charge for your eBook.
Publicize your eBook
Here comes the hard part. First, you should create one page of your blog, or a standalone website, to publicize your eBook.
Next, tell everyone about your book. Add a link to your email signature. Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to publicize the book. You can also break out chapters from the book and use them as guest blog posts on other blogs, as articles in local newspapers or your bar newsletter.
If you’re going to charge for your eBook, don’t be afraid to set a high price. You can also vary the price one month (either higher or lower) to see what works best.
What if you don’t sell any copies?
A well-written eBook can help you professionally, even if you sell only few copies. And even if you don’t sell a single copy, you can always use the book as a free download which will draw more visitors to your website and lead to more clients.
An alternative to selling the book is to use it as a free download. You can use it to gather email addresses of prospective clients when they download the book. You can add these new prospects to a monthly newsletter.
John Corcoran is an attorney, publisher of the California Law Report blog, and author of the Foreclosure Legal Guide: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Real Estate Through Foreclosure, Short Sale, Loan Modification, Deed in Lieu, and Other Legal Strategies. Follow him at @johncorcoran.