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How to Create a Best-Selling E-Book

Cover Your Ass: Foolproof Excuses for Any Occasion is a hit humor book available on Amazon, the Apple Bookstore, Google Play, Barnes and Noble and other online bookstores.

In this article we interview the author, Manly M. Mann, as to how he came up with the idea, how he got the e-book produced, and his insights on how would-be authors can best create and market their own e-book.

AllBusiness: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Manly M. Mann: Well, as I say in the book, I am a New York Times best-selling author, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and have sold over 100 million copies of my book in 125 countries (including Zimbabwe).

AB: Wow, that’s amazing!

Manly M. Mann: Yes. And, of course, none of that is remotely true. But since my book is about humorous excuses, I have a good excuse as to why I made that up. You will have to buy the e-book to get the answer.

cover your ass book coverAB: How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Manly M. Mann: I actually had the idea for a print book many years ago and prepared a comprehensive book proposal. I called it “The 999 Greatest Excuses Ever Invented.” I sent it to 15 publishers and got 16 rejection letters back. I then shelved the idea for a while, and then decided to resurrect it as an e-book because of the ease in creating and distributing e-books.

AB: Why did you decide to do the book as an e-book instead of going to a traditional print publisher?

Manly M. Mann: Traditional print publishers are slow and impose onerous terms on authors. And they do very little, if any, marketing of your book unless you already are an established best-selling author. I decided to publish as an e-book first, and then as a print book after a while.

AB: So what publishing platform did you use and why?

Manly M. Mann: I looked into various options and decided on Pronoun, which is now part of the huge publisher MacMillan. The Pronoun platform allowed me great flexibility, super attractive terms, and the ability to immediately get on Amazon, the Apple Bookstore, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other places. They also have a number of marketing tools and an online dashboard that allows me to get daily reports on my e-book sales. And I was able to keep the copyright to my work, which most traditional publishers will resist.

AB: Tell us a little more about the contents of the book.

Michael M. Mann: The concept is that we all get in trouble. We are late. We get caught speeding. We don’t get our homework in on time. So this book gives you humorous, foolproof excuses for any situation to “cover your ass” (hence the title).

The e-book includes pop art illustrations and scenarios. Examples of chapters include:

Why I Won’t Have Sex With You
Why I Can’t Come to Work
Why I Can’t Go to the Gym
Why I Sent You a Drunk Text
Why I Went Off My Diet

AB: What helpful tips would you give to aspiring authors?

Manly M. Mann: Here are some key writing and publishing tips:

Don’t take forever to write the book. Trying to be perfect is the enemy of getting something good done.
Develop a great book cover as that will be important for your Amazon listing and book promotion.
You don’t need to make your e-book 350 pages. As an e-book, you can make it however long you think appropriate, and many e-books are only 50-100 pages long.
Start your project as an e-book, then later move to a print book. You can get published very quickly as an e-book, and if you get traction in sales, you will be able to get much better terms for a print book from traditional publishers. For example, the 50 Shades of Grey series of books started as e-books.
Use a flexible, easy-to-use publishing platform like Pronoun.
Have a catchy title for the e-book. Come up with five alternate titles and run them by friends and family to see which one resonates the most.

AB: Most books don’t sell unless there is significant marketing for the book. What marketing/promotional techniques would you recommend?

Manly M. Mann: Just because you write a book and get it onto Amazon doesn’t mean you will generate lots of sales. There are millions of books and e-books out there, and you have to do things to make your work stand out. Here are some marketing/promotional tactics to consider:

Get favorable reviews on Amazon.
Get favorable reviews on the book review sites.
Offer the book free on Amazon for a week to move up on the Amazon rankings.
Do as much continuous social media marketing as you can—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
Create a great and comprehensive description of the e-book for your Amazon listing and other books sites, using the critical keywords describing your work.
Prepare a short video of the e-book for YouTube—this is fairly inexpensive and most freelance videographers can produce this for you.
Consider buying keyword ads on Facebook, Amazon, or Google, but make sure this is cost effective and results in profitable sales.
Do content marketing—see if you can get articles published on the web about your book and consider driving traffic to those articles through Outbrain or Taboola.

AB: What resources did you find helpful in creating your e-book?

Manly M. Mann: There are tons of resources online to help authors in all aspects—writing, editing, creating the e-book, and marketing. Here are a few that I found particularly helpful:

Book Cover and Illustrations—Charlie Pabst of Charfish Design (he did a fantastic job in designing the cover and providing illustrations for my e-book)
Advice and Consulting on E-books—Jane Friedman
Platforms for Creating and Distributing the E-Book—Pronoun and Createspace
Images, Photos, and Illustrations—Freepik, Getty Images, and Shutterstock
Author Support—Authors Guild
Freelancers—Reedsy, Bibliocrunch, and Fiverr
Marketing—BookBub, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads

real men don't eat kale book coverAB: So what’s your next book?

Manly M. Mann: I have just published another humor e-book called Real Men Don’t Eat Kale. It’s a guide on how to man up. And the premise is that kale is awful and will lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it. The chapters give guidance on what real men do and don’t do.

AB: How can readers find your e-book and other works?

Manly M. Mann: Here are some links to check out:

Barnes & Noble
Apple Bookstore
Google Play

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