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June 29, 2009


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Charlene Kingston

I wrote an ebook, Twitter For Beginners, that has been downloaded more than 400 times. I studied examples of ebooks I thought were great (including yours), and I deduced most of your rules.

My Twitter For Beginners ebook is located at: http://blog.crowinfodesign.com/2009/04/06/ebook-twitter-for-beginners/

Jonathan Kranz

Great points, all! I'd add a few more:

1) Educate ("how to...") or entertain (or both), but as David says, NEVER overtly promote a brand, product or service: doing so torpedoes your credibility.

2) Think about how you can supplement the main body of your text with sidebars/call-outs consisting of relevant statistics, research results, testimonials, real-life examples, etc.

3) Plan your conclusion carefully. It should be structured to lead readers to a next step. In a B2B sales context, this should be one step further along the sales pipeline, perhaps a link to demo or an invitation to a webinar.

Martin Soorjoo

David, thanks for the review and helpful comments. I created this ebook after being inspired by your fantastic ‘World Wide Rave’. I will get my developers to correct the URL and am reviewing the font in the light of your comments. I will be primarily promoting this ebook through the social networks, sending it to gurus like yourself and through an online press release. Thanks again. Martin

Joel Heffner

When you write an ebook, it's a good idea to give the file a name that folks will be able to recognize. 60cf4001-783d-44f9-5e4d298c03d.pdf is not something I would look for on my computer. It is the file name for Mr. Soorjoo's ebook. Make the name find-able. If the ebook was named Black_Book_of_Detection.pdf it would be much easier to find in a computer. Folks who like the ebook may want to refer to it again.


Dear David:

I find the "totally" free aspect of this very interesting as it goes against the grain of the entire "lead capture" (drive them to your site, offer something of value in exchange for their email address, etc.) formula for succcess.

I raise this issue not to refute anything, just to point out that it is at odds with a standard form of imarketing.

The obvious case for "free" is that the gross number of downloads has a much superior upside because no registration is required. That gross number will then translate into a higher number of ultimate conversions. I believe Charlenes point # 3 above (Perhaps a link to demo or an invitation to a webinar.)
maybe critical in a successful outcome.

Wendy Kenney @23Kazoos

Great advice David, very valuable! I have had great success with my e-book as well! It's a definite must do, even if just for the ego boost!

Coretta Jackson, MBA


I can't wait to finish my first ebook! Your passion for ebooks is deeply appreciated.

I believe I have a few books in me...that I must develop and set FREE!!!

What suggestions do you have for inexpensive or free graphics and book covers? I want to marry the images with my message.

Thanks in advance.




Jeff Ernst

David, these are all great points, and thanks for linking to my ebook on The New Rules of Sales Enablement.

Not surprised that your point #13, about making the ebook totally free with no registration, would be noted as going against traditional lead capture practices. Similar to what Jonathan suggests (and he helped me with my ebook), here's something I did that has proven to be extremely effective in capturing leads:

One of the sections of my ebook pertains to the concept of Sales Playbooks, so in that section I link to an offer for my Guide to Creating Killer Sales Playbooks. This guide has a short registration form to capture leads. I estimate that one in five people who read the ebook also requests the guide. And these people have self-qualified their higher level of interest in the topic of Sales Playbooks.


Thanks for that information. I know I still need to do some research, but you've definitely pointed me in the right direction. I think your ideas will work perfectly with my online video marketing. I post online video to a site called http://www.Adwido.com and they help me increase traffic through targeted keyword campaign. Plus the account is free.

Sheryl Schuff, CPA


My ebook is called "How To Get Your Business On-Line For Under $10" and it's available for free here:

I thought I agreed with your reasoning, so I didn't even ask for an email address.

I've had a fair amount of traffic, but not many downloads. I wonder if it's because so many people these days are assuming that free information is worthless.

My book explains how to install and set up WordPress for a business web site and/or blog. I've had several people tell me that it's very well done.

But I'm seriously considering turning it into a paid product.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.



sewa mobil

interesting post
thx 4 tips....
greetings from indonesia

David Meerman Scott

@Roman1 - yes my totally free ideas are quite different than the accepted wisdom.

But remember the lead generation people started from the direct (postal) mail business when you had to have a way to contact to get a free report. With postal direct mail, you always needed a business rely card. That is not required on the web, yet people who are steeped in the traditions of direct mail still ask.

Another point -- many companies are afraid that unless a salesperson follows up, nobody will be interested. But if your ebook solves a problem, people will be EAGER to seek you out.

@Jeff Ernst - thanks for jumping in. Many people have had great success with secondary offers. These are valuable because they are provided after people have read the ebook.



I would be interested in learning what kind of design software is best for creating e-books.


Dear David:

Yes, I understand. Would I be correct to view free information marketing as a sophisticated form of branding? If yes, my only problem with branding has been the trackability of results. And if you cannot track, it is very difficult to duplicate and committ to.

"We"(private book publisher/direct marketer) have utilized free e-book and various "topical" marketing strategies in the past to solid success. However the increase in sales is generally short-lived and then we are scrambling to come up with another "ingenious" idea to reproduce results. (Just to note; we have also had bad results giving away free e-books).

I believe a lot of thoughtful planning has to go into the post book reading phase; such as what you want them to do? how you are going to get them to do it? are you going to try to measure the result? once they buy, how are you going to keep in touch with them and why are you keeping in touch?

My companies lack of thoughtfulness on these issues has created a problem that we are currently trying to work ourselves out of.

We have seen a significant decrease in sales over the last 90 days (in business for 4 years) and believe a large contributing factor is the result of a "one and done" marketing philosophy that we unwittingly trapped ourselves into.

Until I ran into your Vocus webinar and this blog on "free", I was insistent that not only were we wrong on tactics but on strategy as well.

And the right stragtey moving forward needs to be a tactical committment to lead capturing with our eyes on medium to long term growth...not spikes in sales due to clever, short term marketing ploys.

In reality we should have been doing both all along and we will probably need to both moving forward.

All the best!

Wayne Robison

adam hartung

I found that hiring a professional editor and graphic artist were important. My skills were good, but to make a product that people really pass around requires it read and looks excellent - not a hint of amateurishness. So I hired http://www.publicwords.com to help.

I tied my ebook to a very timely topic ("The Fall of GM"). This increased people's interest in the material - beyond a generic discussion of the approach to innovation and strategy. This specific tie made the ebook more popular with Linked-in groups, and increased sharing among people who are fascinated with the latest news about GM. It also made the link more popular when commenting on blogs.

Please read and tell me what you think about The Fall of GM: http://www.thephoenixprinciple.com/ebooks/thefallofgm_adam_hartung.pdf

Nick Morgan

Hi, David --

Lots of great ideas in here. I'm going back to my own ebook again to see how I did! Great post.



David Meerman Scott

@Wayne It really depends on your goals. For example, I had a goal to be at the top of the Google search results for the phrase "viral marketing" - go ahead and search and you'll see I am on the first page with my ebook out of millions of hits. That drives several hundred downloads of the ebook every single day. And some of those people buy my books or pay me to speak.

David Meerman Scott

Sheryl, I am not your buyer persona, so my ideas are only a guess.

The second paragraph of the offer on the landing page talks about getting hosting for a penny. I would never download an ebook with that paragraph because it sounds to me like it is a sales come-on for hosting rather than a guide to getting online.

It is not clear what the ebook is about. There seem to be multiple titles. You should be very, very clear about the offer and do not confuse people.

Your cover could use a re-design to make it clear what it is. If you re-design the cover, make it landscape format like the ebook itself.

You should eliminate the second landing page. People should be able to get the ebook with one click from the first landing page.

Hope this helps. Tell me what you think. David


Thanks for the article. Very helpful. I'm a publisher myself and I always like to read articles like yours.

Christian Maurer

David, thanks for the good advise. I am struggling a bit whether I write e-Books or White Papers. I called my first one on Sales 2.O an Executive Briefing Paper. Going by the format you suggest, I clearly wrote a white paper. I though also promoted it as an e-Book on this site http://www.myebook.com/index.php?option=ebook&id=6253
Wonder what your thoughts are on this.

David Meerman Scott

@Christian, Looks good to me. The topic and content is very good.

But I am not a fan of reader software and I am not a fan of portrait orientation. While the content of the paper is good, in my opinion a better way to deliver the content is as a simple PDF and in landscape orientation (so it fits on a computer screen).

Good luck with it.

Christian Maurer


thank you for taking the time to look at my paper and the very helpful comments

Nick France

David, Great post - lots of great advice. I would add one bit of advice; I would opt for a vertical format as opposed to horizontal. You're right, some may want to print one, several, or all the pages and a vertical format lends itself to a friendlier printed piece. Plus, the line length of a horizontal format promotes reader fatigue.

Great post though, I think I'll write an e-book now. Thanks for the information, and inspiration.

David Meerman Scott

@Nick - I disagree.

When people first see an ebook on a computer, the horizontal orientation fits perfectly onto a computer screen and makes it easy to browse.

How about this for a compromise - offer both orientations for printing?



Great article, I always keep myself looking for new tips and ways on how to improve my writing and one of my favorite mentor on learning how to write a book is Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.


Coming from an ebook publishing company there are some good tips here. If you love to write then this could be the most important opportunity you ever see, click on my name to find out more...


This is actually what always helps me get started on writing books http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.ca/2012/04/tips-on-writing-book.html

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