E-books – After the Writing

Today I'd like to follow-up on the topic of e-books; not on writing them, but on what comes after. More specifically, I'm going to share my new favorite PDF conversion tool, and we'll chat about bonuses (for e-books you plan to sell). I hope you'll share some of your own thoughts and experiences with e-book writing, publishing, and marketing!

PDF Conversion

We've talked about "types" of e-books before (from the benefits of .pdf e-books to software to help with .pdf conversions). I heavily favor the .pdf format due to its simplicity and versatility (unlike .exe e-books, you don't have to worry about thing like whether or not Mac users can access it). In one of those previous posts, I suggested two free tools to convert a .doc file to a .pdf e-book: OpenOffice (you can do a conversion through Writer - especially easy if that's your primary word processor where you created the original file) and the free online version of PrimoPDF (the only free online conversion tool I've found that keeps live links for you).

My new e-book had just been proofread, and I needed to do the conversion. I went to my trusted tools (the two above, as well as Acrobat). Not a single one worked for me. It was the first time I ever had a problem. It seems my odd margins in parts of the document were causing issues, and it was extending the e-book by around seven pages each time (not to mention screwing with my page breaks).

After mildly panicking and trying just about every .pdf conversion tool on the planet to see if one would keep my formatting and links (they seemed to want to do one or the other), I finally found one.

Tied to PrimoPDF is a more comprehensive paid package called NitroPDF. As a last ditch effort I decided to give their trial a whirl (since Acrobat itself couldn't handle it, I really wasn't expecting much). It worked perfectly - well nearly. My margins were maintained. My links were active. The only minor issue was that one image re-used at the end of each section seems to have been affected with a lower resolution. Given that the image is just a marker of sorts (to let the reader know where there's an action step) I've decided that's a very small price to pay for a workable copy.

So I have a new favorite PDF conversion tool - NitroPDF. I was considering upgrading my Acrobat, but it's far more likely now that I'll just invest in Nitro as a replacement (at $99 it's pretty affordable compared to Acrobat as well, for anyone looking for a new solution).

That said, I strongly suggest trying the free tools I mentioned first. In the vast majority of cases, they have perfect output (or at least they have for me), so you certainly don't need to invest in something more comprehensive if they get the job done for you.


So you finally have your e-book written. You've gathered feedback. You've edited it. You've converted it to .pdf format. That must mean it's ready to price it and sell it, right? Not quite.

There are several factors in e-book pricing. For example, if it's time-sensitive material, you can often charge more given the short shelf life and the higher demand for timely material - this is a part of the instant gratification desire in buyers on the Web. Another factor is that, if you're already an authority source, people are more likely to pay a higher price to see what you have to say. On top of that you have to consider the length and whether the e-book teaches the reader how to earn money or not (for example, you may be able to charge around $50 for an e-book that teaches the reader to start a new career or earn back their money in a short period of time, whereas an e-book on a non-money-making topic may not be able to command the same prices).

Those things aren't all - something else you need to consider are what bonuses you're including. With e-books, there are two approaches to bonuses:

  1. They should be freebies (in many cases this involves getting free e-books, PLR e-books, or e-books with resell rights, and including them with your e-book - you don't directly consider them in the pricing).
  2. They should add value (this may mean a product you created yourself that carries its own value to be included in the price, or it could be a product created by someone else, with a known value attached to it).

Personally, I'm of the mind that you should create your own bonuses. When I buy an e-book, I actually get rather pissed off when I see it lumped with cheap content like e-books I could have gotten somewhere else for free or at minimal cost. You're not really adding any value for me. Instead, put together you own unique bonuses - if they're exclusive to your site or this e-book sale, it gives the buyer an extra motivating factor to purchase the e-book (which essentially becomes a whole "package" of products).

For example, my new e-book is about teaching new Web writers how to launch their career without making mistakes like underpricing themselves early on. It covers everything from choosing a specialty to some basic marketing tips to get them started. I'm creating my own bonuses, all related to that specific audience and the topic at hand - a 30-day get-started guide, a 12-month marketing calendar, and a Web writer's "cheat sheet" which will include things like tips on writing for the Web and some of the most common HTML elements a Web writer may need to know when working on a client project. The idea is to keep it relevant to the actual content of the e-book itself. That's something you need to keep in mind whether or not you're creating your own e-book bonuses - don't just throw in any old thing you find.

Do you have any favorite tools to share? Any thoughts on adding value through bonuses? What's worked in your experience?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

7 thoughts on “E-books – After the Writing”

  1. Now I hate to admit it, but I’d never really considered adding bonuses to an ebook for sale. Like you I’ve gotten some completely useless bonuses with ebook purchases, and some really valuable bonuses from others.

    I am working on a free report to give away to clients right now, but I am also brainstorming to develop an ebook for sale. I really want to make it useful and not generic. There’s a lot more to think about than I’d originally thought.

  2. Great job on FWJ Radio yesterday, Jenn. I never thought of bonuses either, and now I know exactly what I will add to my e-book package to enhance the content for readers. Thanks!

  3. I look at the bonuses this way – if you’re offering something attractive, it might be what pushes someone off of the fence between buying and not buying. Any incentive can help. 🙂

    And thanks Leigh. I’m glad you have some bonus ideas in mind. 🙂

  4. I have Office 2007 which has an option to save documents to PDF. That’s what I use to covert ebooks. (I’ve ghostwritten a few and sold a few number a pen name.)

    As a buyer, freebies won’t convince me to buy an ebook I’m on the fence about, but they can make me disinterested in an ebook I’m already skeptical about. You can tell with some freebies that they’re just free products the seller found somewhere and threw in as a selling point. Those kinds of freebies make me doubt the product. I also believe that freebies written by someone else hurt your credibility and your chances of repeat buyers.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jenn about creating your own freebies that are specific to that ebook. The freebies she listed are right on point with creating extra value for readers. Those types of freebies further solidify her credibility as someone who knows about making money from writing and encourages customers to buy her next ebook.

    I’ve also read that you should have a backend product to sell to readers who read your ebook then email you asking what else you have for sale.

  5. I did hear that about Office 2007, so thanks for confirming Latoya. 🙂 I still use 2003 – I’m notoriously slow about upgrading anything coming from Microsoft.

    And you’re right about the backend products. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to have through releasing a series as opposed to a single e-book this time – if they like one, they’ll be able to buy others. With my previous one, if they liked the e-book, they often ended up hiring me to write their press releases – so services can actually serve a similar role. 🙂

  6. pdf is not a format meant for the screen. ebooks will always have a limited reach as long as they are exclusively on a screen. We need a format that allows the user to print a real book that they can hold in their hands and take with them.

    I’m close to having such a thing. Email me if you want to know more.

  7. Erik, PDFs actually do quite well on the screen due to their adaptability, which is one of the reasons it’s such a popular e-book format. It’s also a format that allows for easy printing, and I know several people who do that with e-books with no problem. On top of it, PDFs are also commonly used with POD publishers, meaning the format is certainly adaptable to what you’re talking about – the issue with these kinds of services, however, would be rights-related. While there’s no issue with someone simply printing a document they’ve purchased, there could be issues if they’re uploading that file to any kind of site or service without permission to convert it into other formats (like a print book) not authorized by the copyright holder.


Leave a Comment