As an author, you can produce information products that complement the subject matter of your books, and then sell those products to readers for passive income. You can also use them for marketing purposes to attract new readers for your books or distribute as bonus items for new newsletter subscribers, event attendees, or in conjunction with a new book launch.
Information products can be offered in a variety of formats:
Ebooks – Thanks to the influx of digital readers, ebooks are hotter than ever. You can make an ebook available through your website as a PDF document (which I highly recommend as people will still purchase PDFs), plus have it formatted for Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. One distribution option is http://Smashwords.com, which is a cost-effective way to convert and distribute ebooks to all the major retailers except Amazon. For our clients at Authority Publishing, we recommend a combination of formatting for Amazon (http://kdp.amazon.com) and Smashwords to cover all bases.
Many writers are also earning funds by distributing niche ebooks, which are often times shorter than a standard ebook. For example, if you’re a divorce attorney in Texas, you could produce an ebook called “How to Get a Divorce in Texas: A Woman’s Guide to Getting What You Deserve.” If this topic isn’t already covered, you could easily find an audience for this niche topic.
Workbooks – I often wonder why more authors don’t create workbooks as companion products for their books. If your book teaches how to do something, why not create a workbook to help readers put the lessons into action? Workbooks give the reader something more to do and can add value to a reader’s experience. They are relatively easy to create and can give a nice boost to your revenues. Here are some more reasons to consider adding a workbook to your product list.
- Workbooks are a natural up-sell to a nonfiction book.
- Readers will appreciate having an interactive experience with your content.
- Workbooks have a higher perceived value. Typical prices range from $20 to $35.
- You can bundle a workbook with your book to increase back-of-the-room sales.
- Workbooks are easier to write than books because there is less content and more white space.
- In addition to a printed version, you can sell your workbook as a PDF download, cutting costs and increasing profits.
- The PDF version of your workbook can be given away as a bonus with other purchases.
- Workbooks can be great tools for working with consulting clients.
- For workshops, workbooks add tremendous value for participants while also making your job as workshop leader easier.
- A workbook doesn’t have to be spiral bound; it can be perfect bound and put into distribution like any other book on Amazon and other retail outlets.
What to include in your workbook:
- Simple, supporting text to explain exercises
- Fill in the blanks
- Essay questions
- Thoughtful questions that the reader can answer
- Plenty of white space for writing
Special Reports – Shorter than an ebook, a special report can be two to fifty pages on a specific topic that would be hard to find elsewhere, delivered in PDF format. (Note that if you create a report that is greater than 50 pages, you can probably just call it an ebook and then format and sell it accordingly.)
Your reports can cover all kinds of topics. Years ago when my son was diagnosed with food allergies, I was up late one night searching for a list of dairy-free foods. I stumbled across a list that was sold by a nutritionist and I paid around $20 to download it in an Excel spreadsheet format. It was a quick and easy decision to make that purchase.
Reports can also teach specific industry-related strategies. Joan Stewart, known as the Publicity Hound (http://PublicityHound.com), has been selling short reports from her website for many years. Stewart’s reports cover PR-related topics, like how to pitch yourself to the media and how to create a media kit on a budget. While much of this information can be found online or in books, Stewart has built a strong and loyal following of people who are willing to spend a small amount for her advice. She also masterfully pitches her reports in her weekly newsletter by writing brief articles and then ending with, “If you liked this article, you’ll love XYZ report where I share how to…”
Audio Recordings – As discussed earlier in this chapter, audio recordings should be delivered in MP3 format. These can be generated by hosting online classes, conferences, or even just with you sitting down at your desk and creating instructional materials.
Everything Else – An information product is basically any kind of information that you can package and deliver to buyers. You could develop white papers (which are like technical reports), transcripts of recordings, booklets, databases, formatted spreadsheets, worksheets, templates, audio or video recordings on a disk, or card decks.
Product Bundles – Keep the content train rolling by bundling together many of the items listed here. You could create packages that include your book, workbook, a ticket to your workshop, and an hour of consulting time. Get creative! Product bundles can be quite attractive, either as a one-time promotion or something that you also make available on an ongoing basis in your online store.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Profits Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here.