Course Builder's Bootcamp iMac

FREE Course Builder's Bootcamp

Learn to create and sell your own popular online course, and get set for success in less than a week

How to Write an eBook that Will Grow Your Audience Through the Roof!

book pileTo become a thought leader in an online space, you need people to listen and share your message.

An ebook, in addition to its potential as a passive income stream, can be the strongest tool in your audience-building toolbox.

An ebook that shares your Big Idea can become the centerpiece for your entire brand.

Before I launched my ebook A Writer’s Bucket List, I was the author of a fledgling blog with an attempt at getting subscribers and engaging my community. In the first year of building my email list, experimenting with a variety of freebies, I gained about 200 subscribers. In the two months following the launch of A Writer’s Bucket List as a freebie, I reached over 1,200, with a related Facebook group that currently has a waiting list of 100 since I closed the doors a month ago.

I had also launched the book earlier as a paid product. On Amazon, it became a bestseller, and through my own site, I sold about 150 copies. These results, while respectable, pale in comparison to the community that grew around the book when I stopped focusing on sales and started focusing on the message.

Why an Ebook?

So why publish an ebook and not focus your efforts on a meatier membership site, online course, or blog? Those are all great offers, too, but an ebook uniquely allows you to present your message in a tangible and digestible product that your audience can (virtually) hang onto.

When you make that ebook a freebie, it becomes a delectable carrot for enticing subscribers. If you do it right, it’s good for way more than just big numbers. Follow these tips for turning that tasty treat into the main course that defines your brand, drives your business, and gets your audience talking about your Big Ideas.

1. Do Something Different

Don’t write the book everyone else is writing. It seems like a no-brainer, but how many bloggers fall into a copycat trap following best practices and generic how-to’s?

Step away from your focus on keywords and trendy topics. Dig into the soul of your brand and pull out the core of your message. Look for what only you offer that no one else in your field can. Make that your ebook — no one else will write that one.

2. Create Something You’d Be Proud to Sell

The best thing I did for the success of A Writer’s Bucket List was launch it first as a paid product. I needed that price point in my mind as I created and promoted the book, because that was (at the time) my best frame of reference for the book’s “value”.

Even if you intend to launch your ebook as a free download, set a price in your mind as a form of quality control. As you write, format, publish, and promote, ask yourself: Would I ask readers to pay that price for this?

3. Promote it Like It’s Making You Money

The second part to giving your ebook a theoretical price tag is to promote the thing like your life depends on it. Don’t let it languish on a hidden landing page or quietly in your sidebar because you’re too busy with client services or freelancing.

This ebook is the centerpiece of your brand, remember?

Building your audience and sharing your message through this signature product will help you launch your business to the next level. Promote free downloads as if they’re paying your rent – indirectly, they will!

4. Get Testimonials and Reviews

You’re probably aware that reviews are Amazon gold. What too many authors forget is they’re just as valuable to a book you give away on your own site (even without the search algorithms). Reader testimonials show potential subscribers the incredible value of your book – they’ll be astounded by your generosity when they discover they get it for free!

5. Keep the Conversation Going After the Book Ends

This is where you’re going to elevate your book from “bestseller” or “money-maker” to Game-Changer for your business.

Make it more than a book.

Develop an ebook that allows your audience to engage with your message. Offer them direct action steps throughout the book that keep them in your community and keep them talking about your Big Idea.

To create a dialogue around the ideas and action steps in A Writer’s Bucket List, I started a Facebook group, hosted a Twitter chat, and welcome every email subscriber with the simple but focused question: “What will you cross off your bucket list this year?” Writers were hungry for a space to talk about these ideas – all I did was provide it, and they practically keep the conversation going without me!

7. Make Your Ebook Comprehensive

One of the most frequent battles I face with coaching clients is steering them away from a shallow how-to freebie for their subscribers. Your first instinct is to tap into one acute pain your audience faces and create a guide to address that – I know; that’s where I started. And, remember: it garnered me 200 subscribers.

When you zoom in on one task, however, you’re going to gain a bunch of “one-and-done” subscribers. They’ll sign up, grab your guide, and never engage with you again. They don’t know or care about your brand’s overall message.

Create a freebie that lets readers know exactly what you stand for. Explain your Big Idea, and let your personality shine. Readers who pick that up and love it will get to know you and stick around to learn more about how you can address those acute pains.

8. Focus on an Evergreen Message, Not a Hot Topic

Because this ebook exists to set the tone for your brand, ensure that it will be able to do that for years to come. Hot topics are fun for a quick burst of conversation or search traffic, but are you going to want to be known for your novelty “Blog Like Miley Cyrus” guide five years from now?

Save the trending topics and keywords for your blog, and make sure your ebook stays true to your brand and oozes your message.

9. Keep it Short and Simple

Make it easy for readers to digest the message in your book. If it’s dense, they’re simply less likely to get through it (this is especially true of freebies).

Don’t associate word count with value! Know what value you want to provide the reader, and share it in the clearest, most concise way possible. A new reader will appreciate the chance to get to know you without a huge commitment – and she’ll be around to learn more.

10. Make it Easy to Find, Easy to Share, and Easy to Get

This is a huge key for creating a product you want your community to talk about: create a dedicated landing page for the ebook.

My biggest pet peeve is when the only place to opt-in to get a blogger’s free ebook is in the sidebar on their homepage. How am I supposed to share that clearly with my friends? Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and make it as easy as possible for them to support you and share your message.

11. Remind People Who You Are

Your ebook is a way for people to get to know you, so don’t let them forget who you are while they read. You can do this simply by putting your name, Twitter handle, blog URL, etc. in the footer of each page.

Take it a step further by making yourself more directly available. Add your contact information at the back of the book. Follow up personally with subscribers via email. Stay active in your Facebook group or other space dedicated to the Big Idea in the book. Make sure that when they think about your message, they know exactly where it’s coming from.

12. Involve Your Existing Audience at Every Step

The most important — yet amazingly-simple — audience-building move I made with A Writer’s Bucket List was to ask my community for help creating and launching the book. They were my editors, beta readers, and my mighty Launch Team.

Input from your community not only lets you inside your readers’ heads to know exactly what they want from you, but also allows them to become invested in the book’s success. They’ll be excited early on about your message and eager to share it with others when the book is finished.

Create an Amazing Product

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of how to write and ebook, as well as how to publish it too. A signature ebook can be much more than passive income or infoproduct creation to grow your business. When you create an amazing product, you can use it to grow your community and spread your Big Idea — which will be far more valuable to your brand than a little passive income in the end.

About Dana Sitar

Dana Sitar is an author, blogger, and person living in Wisconsin. She writes about writing, life, and love for blogs, books, and sometimes things people care about, like Huffington Post and that time she had an article published in the Onion. Dana shares resources, tips, and tools for budding writers at Connect with her on Google+ and @danasitar on Twitter.


  1. Don Karp says:

    Hi Dana–
    I enjoyed this blog, and also what you are doing on your website.
    My memoir project of 18 years, from journal entries and blog posts, finally got published as a paperback last March, and as an ebook after that. Upcoming will be the audiobook version.

    Getting it published and then surviving public speaking at book presentations made me realize that my retirement was over. I’ve been studying online marketing since then, and began organizing an affiliate site to promote a program on guess what–self-confidence.

    It turned out that this topic has a lot to do with my life story. So Now I am promoting my book on this site to go along with the affiliate program. They work together so well!

    The published book gives me the leverage of an “expert” in this area.
    I am composing another ebook as a gift to get subscribers for my ezine.

    You can check out the book by looking at

    I may apply for your co-authorship program, and happy to say that I found you via Firepole!


    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Gaye, happy to hear that! I hope this helps you through your project 🙂 Stay in touch (@danasitar), and let me know as your ebook progresses.

  2. Done That says:

    Have 2 thoughtful e-books in the Amazon Kindle space (CRM & the importance of building tribes), both references for online marketers.

    No one cares. 3rd e-book is still in My Docs folder on my computer. It doesn’t always work out for everyone and I wish that would be emphasized. A great # of people have been lulled by the false sense of “if I write the e-book, they will come.”

    Not always true and this is from a passionate and thorough writer who has supported small business initiatives for the past 4 years.

    So glad it worked out for you. Seriously. Just don’t help the false message along that e-books automatically means new audience and sales. It doesn’t.


  3. Wow that’s really a comprehensive post, Ebook is definitely an awesome way to promote the blog and it eventually helps to grow the list of audience.

    The tips you’ve mentioned are really helpful.


  4. Hi Dana,

    What a wonderfully-timed piece with lots of good info :-). Thank you!

    I am in the editing trenches of my first free ebook. Having agonized for a long time over word count I decided to let things flow (the muse has it right, she really does) and write what I feel it would make the message relevant if I were to read it and hence spend some of my time on it.

    I think what helped me the most in getting close to wrapping things up with the book has been writing without any expectations other than delivering my own message in the clearest way possible.

    A good learning experience if nothing else.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      This is fantastic advice, Daniela! There are plenty of formulas and prescriptions you could follow to write a cookie-cutter book, but I always encourage clients to do exactly what you’ve done — write what’s in your heart, and create the book that best shares your message.

  5. Michael Agene says:

    My my…This. Is. So. Timely!

    I’m at the middle of my first ebook and this really met me well.

    Thanks, Dana.

  6. Amandah says:

    Hi Dana,

    Great post on writing an eBook!

    What do you recommend as the number of pages for an eBook? I’ve downloaded eBooks that were 30 pages, while others were over 100 pages.

    I like what you said here, “Look for what only you offer that no one else in your field can. Make that your ebook — no one else will write that one.” I want to write an eBook, but I don’t want to write the same eBook that has been written a 100 times. 🙂 I’m kind of thinking of stepping away from reading blog posts and articles (I know) so I don’t become influenced by others.

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I don’t have a clear answer for how many pages is *just right*. To determine that (and other particular questions) for *your* ebook, always look at these two questions: 1) Who is your audience? and 2) What is your purpose? When structuring and planning your book, consider how your target audience will receive it, and whether or not you’re providing clear value to them; plus whether this book will achieve the goals you’ve set for it for your business.

  7. Otis says:

    Dana. Great post. Very inspiring. I downloaded your freebie about how to convert your tagline into a manifesto. I was Google searching that other night for just such a thing, and came up… empty! Thing, BING, today Danny’s email to me comes through, and connects me to you. Awesome! I can’t wait to get writing now. Best, Otis

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Yay for serendipity! I hope the guide gives you the kick you need — don’t hesitate to reach out for more guidance if there’s anything I can do to help.

  8. Michael Kampff says:

    Great article! Do you have more specific advise on the ‘Keep it Short and Simple’ topic? Any general guidelines regarding word or page count? Or is it one of those ‘every ebook will be different’ things?

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      One of those “every ebook will be different” things — you probably hate to hear that! It’s the beauty of ebook publishing, though; we have the freedom to manipulate this medium to create something unique to every author.

      To determine any of the specifics about your ebook — word/page count, cover design, format and layout, etc. — always return to these questions: 1. Who is your audience? and 2. What is your purpose? More specifically, how will your audience react to this book, and does the book offer them value and achieve your personal goals? (Hint: If you don’t know how long, etc. your audience wants the book, ask them! Share with beta readers, start a focus group, whatever, and get their feedback.)

  9. Thanks for the great post, Dana! It was perfect timing since I’ve been working on my own ebook freebie to launch early in 2014. As I outline, I’m still working to hone my “big idea,” but I have a very basic foundation laid. This article helped clarify my plan of action quite a bit. Thanks again!

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I’m so happy to hear that, Ashley! I checked out your site, and look forward to reading more 🙂 Ping me when your ebook is out; I’d love to check it out.

  10. I think I have some important ideas for a better future online in Italian and Portuguese but I would like to have the collaboration from somebody good in English for a collective eBook in the most international language. Somebody would like to collaborate?
    The priority of use our time is the first manifestation of intelligence. We cannot develop at the same time with the same intensity all different abilities: intelligence, creativity, memory, etc. Each super-developed capacity may correspond to other less developed or atrophied with consequences that we can scarcely imagine.
    I believe my contribution is only a little part and beguine of an important pedagogy, psychology and philosophy of the time.
    Time is Life, much more than “Time is Money”… time can lead to happiness, health, intelligence, creativity, memory, intellectual and physical capacities… Time and ethical for advertising, publicity and marketing…

  11. Flo says:

    OK, lazy way out. I found out about you from an email from FirePole. Downloaded a couple ebooks I can’t wait to read after work. Saw a link, but unable to find it again–ended up with half a dozen windows open, about personal coaching. How does that work? My undergrad was in journalism, so I think I can actually do the writing. Getting focus, something else altogether. I went through two healthcare appeals last year and on my list is to write about that subject for Amazon. However, I also want to start a site selling cat products–new cooler ones that are out now. I want to curate information and make it a real value add. (I am in the stage of figuring out what all the pieces are that I need to put the big picture together.) I know I need a giveaway and that email is still the best way to sell. However, with this new concept of writing more with fewer pages, I am not sure what my freebie for the cat site should look like. Thanks.

    1. Dana Sitar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Flo – Thanks for connecting! I hope you enjoy what you read 🙂 You’re not alone in having trouble getting started writing — so common! Happy to talk more and clarify some of these questions; don’t hesitate to reach out:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

[gravityform id="84" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="80" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="82" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="81" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="78" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="24" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="72" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="71" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="66" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="64" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]