Don’t Write an e-Book

No matter what I told you, or you heard from John Saddington at Savvy, or you read online somewhere. . . take “write an e-book” for your email optin off your list of things to do.

The truth is no one has e-book on their Christmas List. No one.

Are you sure?

But don’t think that means you shouldn’t be list building. Driving traffic to a list you own is very important. Imagine the few months before Facebook became big. . . there were people who had amassed quite a following on MySpace. Thousands of friends who commented on their posts and followed their advice. And then –poof– they were all gone.

When MySpace effectively died, a lot of people learned a lesson. If you don’t move your fans to your list, they’ll one day disappear.

Now Facebook’s value is starting to falter and fewer are using Twitter as a resource. With the advent of and CraftGawker, even Pinterest is facing competition. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are great except they’re not yours. That community belongs to someone else.

So you need to move them to a property you own, and the most effective way yet it so move them to an email list.

Then how do you get them on your email list?

That was your next question I bet. People don’t just randomly sign up for an email lists They need a reason and it’s not a reason to just get on the list. No one has “email subscription” on their Christmas Wishlist either.

People like getting something of value. They’re willing to opt-in to an email list if it has value to them. And most of the time people want immediate value. That’s why people say “write an e-book”. But that’s just wrong.

The e-book is not the answer

If you march into this task trying to write an e-book, you start with “you” in mind and not your customer. And that’s just bass ackwards.

Instead, think through what your audience wants and needs. If they want and need a coupon calculator, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t try to turn a coupon calculator into an e-book. If you think your audience would love some inspirational quotes to hang on their wall, make a printable .pdf poster and have them opt-in to get that. Don’t force them to read the quotes in an e-book.

If your audience wants a saving money checklist, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t make it a 13 chapter read if they just want the checklist.

BUT if you think they could use 7 concrete reasons why they shouldn’t do x, y or z . . . then by all means create an e-book. But don’t make the e-book the goal, just be happy if that’s the solution.

Just to get you thinking, here’s a bunch of things you could create for your customers (other than an e-book):

  • create an ecourse. . .
  • use Kunaki to send an audio cd. . .
  • host a teleseminar. . .
  • write a manual. . .
  • offer a downloadable mp3. . .
  • design a nice pdf. . .
  • create a printable. . .
  • do a giveaway. . .
  • jot down some eNotes. . .
  • offer 1 on 1 consulting. . .
  • provide a homestudy course. . .
  • proctor a membership site. . .
  • invite personal mentoring. . .
  • pack and send a thumbdrive. . .
  • design a poster . . .
  • mail them a dvd. . .
  • show them it’s easy with a mini guide. . .
  • compile technical information in a special report . . .
  • update them with a bulletin. . .
  • tease with an informational pamphlet . . .
  • help them organize with a checklist or comparison chart. . .
  • wow them with a handy excel calculator. . . .

That’s not your job

It’s not your job to cram a square peg into a round hole. It’s your job to find the shape of your customers’ void and fill that with the perfect solution.

Dan R Morris is the founder of, a website dedicated to improving your revenue stream from online efforts. Dan is an infomercial producer, niche website owner, product developer, author and Mastermind leader. Dan actively encourages marketers to take that extra step so that “Hope” doesn’t become the marketing plan.

Author Description

14 Responses to “Don’t Write an e-Book”

  1. […] my recent article Don’t Write an E-book, there were some questions about the purpose of building a list. I believe a couple people actually […]

  2. December 14, 2012

    Ashley - Embracing Beauty

    Oh, Rachel, I am right there with you! I don’t feel that a newsletter would really be interesting to my readers because I have nothing new to say. Maybe just a fancy new intro with the same links that they could already be subscribed to.

  3. December 12, 2012

    Julie Naumer

    Thanks for a great post. I am at the beginning of developing my blog/brand and have been doing a lot of research on how to go about it. Over and over again the message is first define your target market. Your post takes that idea to the next level. Once I have a clear idea of my target market and am truly listening to them, then whatever problem(s) they are having will become apparent. I simply need to come up with a solution and make that my opt-in or product. Thanks for detailing the different ways I could go about it.

  4. December 7, 2012

    Rachel Ramey

    Good point.

    What I wonder about, though, is why anyone would subscribe to my list. I write a blog. It has new content all the time. If people want to subscribe, they’re already subscribed to my feed. Why would they want a newsletter, TOO, and what the heck would I put in it?

    I hate subscribing to bloggers’ newsletters, because if they have stuff I want to read, I’m already reading it. And all a bloggers’ newsletter usually is, is a duplication of links to stuff I’ve already read (or decided I didn’t want to read).

    I don’t mean to sound like a naysayer – I really do understand the purpose behind a list. But I can’t get my head around how it would truly be useful to my readers.

  5. November 28, 2012


    I’d wait until you had 10 to 12 Stories, just seems/feels like a better nmuebr.As far as the .99 or Free thing, it kind of depends what you’re trying to use the Book for If you want to use it as what I call a Shoehorn , a term I created a while ago, which basically means it’s designed to get people in the door so to speak, and then see if perhaps they Buy one of your Novels Etc.I wouldn’t worry about weather you Charge for it or not, meaning if your Main Focus as a Writer is Novels/Children’s Books Etc., than using your Short Stories as a Shoe Horn to expose people to your Writing in General, isn’t such a bad thing At least in my mind.In a certain way, that’s what Blogs could often be considered, when Writers, Photographers Etc. Post their actual work on a Blog Mass Exposure, but we’re not Charging People to Look or Read it And if at some point I decide, like I’m now considering with my Poetry Book, to actually Publish it, then at that point some Revenue might be Created Or I may just Write something Completely Different than anything I’ve Written thus far, and simply let my Fan Base know that I have Or, in my case, I may develop a Fan Base, but simply Self Publish and get my Books into a Local Book Store that has recently Reopened, and sell them there.Weather anyone who ever visits my Blog actually ever purchases anything I ever Publish isn’t all that important, as I may generate my Revenue from people that go to this Book Store, or others should I get it into more Book Stores.But in my opinion, the more that Read your Work, the Better Not only does it give you Exposure, but in my Opinion it potentially instills Confidence within yourself, which is an inherently viable thing, in the pursuit of any given career.Good LuckDarkJade-

  6. November 15, 2012

    Dan R. Morris

    That’s exactly the point. What would benefit your readers the most? And in the end. . . it’s really about what’s going to get them excited about opting in?

  7. November 15, 2012

    Dan R. Morris


  8. November 15, 2012

    Dan R. Morris

    I look forward to seeing it.

  9. November 15, 2012

    Dan R. Morris

    Agreed. Ebooks can be a great sales tool. But so can DVD’s, calendars and personalized pens. A lot of people have “write an ebook” on their to do list. I’m suggesting you change that to “create valuable sales tool”.

  10. November 14, 2012

    I’ve actually been thinking about writing an ebook. I started it but haven’t made any progress. I keep thinking that my readers (homemakers) are too busy to bother with an ebook. I’m lucky they read my blog because I know firsthand how much homemakers have to do. But it seemed like the thing to do. So I may still end up doing it but I’m going to think about it first, like you said, and decide if that’s really what would benefit them most.

    Thanks for the article.

  11. November 14, 2012

    Carol J. Alexander

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have given me the best ideas! I have ebooks that I sell. But I did not want to write one just to give away. I’m so excited that you changed my entire outlook.

  12. November 14, 2012

    Beth Hewitt

    Hi Dan,

    interesting post. Not sure I agree entirely. I do agree that no-one should do anything without identifying the pains and challenges of their ideal prospects and customers.

    And agree you shouldn’t try make something into an ebook if it’s not the right medium to get the information out there, but I don’t believe ebooks are dead in the water.

    The problem is, there are so many badly crafted e-books written by people who don’t really know what they are talking about that e-books have got the wrong reputation.

    thanks for sharing, something a lot of people will have an opinion on I’m sure.

    thanks for sharing,
    Beth Hewitt

  13. November 14, 2012

    Julie @ The Family CEO

    I love this post. I am writing an ebook, but not in order to build a list. I like these simpler ideas for list building if and when I get around to it.

  14. November 14, 2012

    Angela R

    Oh man I cannot agree with this more. I had a friend with a lot of know-how help me put together an ebook last year and about a few days after launch I knew it was more than I wanted to manage…. affiliate payments, marketing, and don’t even start me on taxes. Before you write an ebook, make sure you are willing to divert resources from your blogging and other activities to develop, promote and manage it. It really takes a lot more time and effort than you’d imagine!

    In the end, I would only do it again with the dedicated support of someone who could manage the entire thing for me. Otherwise, the time cost and effort to manage it is just not a good idea for me at this point.

    Very sound advice, Dan. Thanks for being willing to go against the grain on this one. I get tired of when “blogging experts” insist there are things that successful bloggers “must” do. Advice such as this should always be taken with a grain of salt. I believe there are new methods of reaching and engaging readers that haven’t been fully explored.

You must be logged in to post a comment.