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Data Streams Of Income

Writing e-books For ClickBank

by Silvia Hartmann


There are two worlds of e-books.

One is the world of super cheap text files, sold as some kind of half hearted nod to the billion or so English speakers on the Internet as a side line by publishers who really don't want to know and fear what this might do to their "real" business involving big, heavy square boxes full of big, heavy, square books.

But there is another world altogether.

There is a world where an electronic document in Adobe PDF format sells from 20 dollars upward, some go as high as 250 dollars per copy.

There is a world where non-fiction authors can expect to receive cheques for thousands of dollars for their work EVERY MONTH, some make hundreds of thousands of dollars that way.

There is a world where a global network of affiliate marketers take care of promoting the title and the author into all sorts of otherwise unachievable corners.

This is the unique and fascinating world of ClickBank.


Data Streams Of Income

ClickBank was established in the US in the 1990s as a specialist "go between" who could take money from prospective purchasers on behalf of individuals or organisations who were selling instead of hard objects, simply a stream of data - downloadable files, in other words. These could be computer programmes, or documents for particular purposes and at that time, these "invisible products" were frightening the old fashioned high street bankers the world over who didn't understand what it was, how it worked and simply presumed that anyone who was in the business of selling data must be a Russian mobster in disguise.

Unlike other Internet Bankers, ClickBank does not deal with hard objects at all; indeed, should a merchant be found to sell anything that makes a noise when you drop it from your coffee table, they will be instantly barred and their accounts deleted.

The other truly unique and quite brilliant feature which ClickBank offers is that there is no difference between a merchant account, and an affiliate account - both are on the same level and this makes it incredibly easy to become a re-seller of any product listed on ClickBank. All an affiliate has to do is to make a link that combines their ClickBank reference with that of a merchant, and if someone buys through that link, the affiliate gets a percentage of the sale.

These percentages are not type pathetic pennies; instead, affiliates can expect to earn between 25% and 50% of the ticket price of the product.

There are no requirements or qualifications needed other than to have an approved ClickBank account and this allows just anyone at all to become a retailer instantly, recommend the product on a website, a public forum or even in an email; each sale earns them a nice lump sum of hard cash which is collected and a cheque is sent once a month.

Each affiliate thereby becomes like a "one man bookshop" in their corner of the net - and once this got going, it led to creating the first real e-book millionaires.


Information Is The Gold Rush Of The New Millennium

Knowledge is power.

The right knowledge saves time, money, trouble and can help get you what you want.

Information is the new gold of the age - and in a big way.

ClickBank e-books are not poetry, they are not lengthy fantasy novels nor are they ornaments for a bored housewife's coffee table.

They are strictly and absolutely time saving information transmission devices.

Someone knows something that is practically valuable - how to make money from affiliate sales, how to cure impotence with tantric yoga practices, how to manage life with a child who has asthma, how to successfully colour concrete, how to overcome panic attacks.

There are many people indeed who are in real need of this knowledge, and they are very willing to pay for it.

What these customers don't need or want is to have to wait "28 Days" for delivery; to have the information diluted with a great deal of page fillers so the "book has a decent spine presence" and frankly, they are not particularly bothered about pretty images or gold bound splendour to add to their bookshelves.

They are interested in information which can practically help them, packaged and presented in such a way that this information is easy to extract and can be used IMMEDIATELY.


Different Horses For Different Courses

For authors who are interested in writing non-fiction and have information that others will find valuable, writing an e-book specifically for this market is an interesting challenge and a very different endeavour compared with preparing a manuscript for a traditional hard publisher or agent.

Although some customers print out their e-books to read off line, this is quite rare; most e-book customers read the book immediately upon purchase on screen.

On screen reading is a different medium to reading something that is printed on paper. It is more strenuous to the eyes and demands more concentration; successful e-book authors know this and adjust by building in white space and reducing the length of paragraphs, for example; using bullet points instead of trying to tie a number of statements together with prose; and to repeat important aspects of a section in quote format more than once to make sure it is taken in by the reader.

To traditionalists, e-books are often amazingly short on pages.

I have seen e-books with as little as 30 pages A4 size that sold for as much as 79 dollars; I have personally purchased some and felt I had received good value for money, because I got the information I wanted, without any further ado.

My latest e-book, MindMillion, comes in at around 70 pages A4. For a standard print book, this would seem woefully little; but as it was written from the start to be a perfect ClickBank e-book, it is concise, precise, very ordered and structured and frankly, any more would be less on the topics I am covering.

For an author, this is both a challenge as well as a great opportunity.

The challenge is to reduce the words to the minimum required to transmit the information, clearly and precisely.

To write a book of 30,000 words is of course accomplished much faster and with much more ease than a 200,000 word effort. It is much easier to structure the content, to keep right on track and produce a clear and logical path through the information presented. All other aspects, from layouts to editing and spell checking are faster and easier too and so an e-book can be written, edited, set up and sold from start to finish within a month with consummate ease.


Immediate Payments, Immediate Results

Here's something else that will astonish authors who haven't experienced this for themselves yet.

As soon as the book is put up for sale, and some sales accrue, the cheques start coming in. As I mentioned above, ClickBank pays bi-monthly, so it is possible that the first cheque arrives on your very own doormat just two months after you first put the title of your new book onto a blank document.

Such a thing is completely unheard of in hard publishing, and personally, I like it even better than an advance. Instant sales notifications, immediate sales feedback on publicity efforts, regular payments for such few words, in such a short time?

I personally think it's an authors dream come true.


Transitions Across The Realms

With e-books and handling those yourself, there are other benefits. One of the most treasured aspect of this is to be up close and personal with the buyers, users and readers of the e-book. You get to see feedback, sometimes there are further questions, reviews and comments which can help shape the next edition.

This is probably my personal favourite aspect of e-book authorship, namely that I am not stuck with mountains of outmoded and unsold books when I change my mind or wish to add something.

An e-book can be upgraded near enough instantaneously; rather than "editions", we use the programmers idea of calling the e-books "versions". Version 1.0 is the starting e-book for the first public release; when small upgrades or additions are made and the new version replaces the previous one, it is renamed to "Version 1.1", "Version 1.2" and so forth.

When a significant change is made or whole new sections added, the version number changes to "2.0".

This allows e-books to EVOLVE in a way that hard copy never could; as electronic transmission of data is so easy and cheap, it is also not just possible but good custom to offer existing customers "free upgrades" as they come along, thus creating a much stronger relationship and of course, they'll read the e-book AGAIN - every time a new version is released, just to find out what the latest additions might be!

My first ever e-book, "Adventures In EFT", grew over a period of four years in direct response to readers feedback and questions to Version 6.2 - at which point we made the transition and offered the book as hard copy as well. With an established fan club of e-book owners ready to order those as well, it had a superb start right away. Further, as this was a book which had evolved so significantly and over such a long period, it is a mature and stable book that will now, quite happily stand the test of time.

This book was also picked up by a German publisher, when it was still in e-book only format, Version 3.2, to translate and hard publish in the German language. The royalties I receive from this are quite good but compared to the ClickBank cheques, nothing but amusing. I get more for that book in a month of e-book sales than a whole year's worth of thousands upon thousands of books sold the hard way and with the usual breadcrumb royalties. Still, it's nice to know that German readers can find a copy in a bookshop - even if that copy is stuck on Version 3.2, whereas the English readers of hard copy have a much better book in Version 6.2.


World Wide Benefits

In a way, every e-book sold is of course an advertisement for all my other books, hard or electronic. A good solid fan base on the Internet that spans the globe is a wonderful thing and has many, many benefits. I also consider the e-books as a form of "messenger doves" which are doing their own thing, all around the world, in all sorts of places where a hard copy would never have landed.

Having these e-books out there opens the door for all manner of surprises and surprise opportunities, from being offered publishing contracts for foreign language translations to a radio station from Brazil ringing up for an on air instant interview, a note of gratitude from a Catholic nunnery in Zimbabwe and much more besides.

Networking with other e-book authors and cross-recommending e-books to each others fan clubs is fun as well as immensely profitable, and one gets to meet all kinds of interesting people that way. As a direct result of having the e-books out there, I have been invited on TV shows, asked to give lectures in all sorts of countries and that's just the tip of the iceberg of fun and possibility inherent in the e-book game.

I thoroughly enjoy getting immediate and spontaneous feedback from the readers and users of my books. I really enjoy the freedom of being able to create an e-book on any topic that excites me and to have a platform to present it to the readers directly, without risk, without problems and without publishers telling me that "no-one wants to know".

Lastly, it has allowed me to dust off some of my earliest work which has long been out of print and that too is now available and being purchased again. This really delights me as well because I love each one of my books and this has given them a whole new lease of life, and a whole new truly international readership.


In Conclusion ...

Writing non-fiction information e-books for the international community has been the best thing that's happened to me as an author. It gave me the funds and the time I needed to be able to concentrate on my own special projects, such as writing a full length fantasy trilogy, which I could not have accomplished otherwise. E-books, specifically ClickBank style information e-books, are a very different proposition to "normal book writing" and I don't want to make it sound as though you could just go and make millions overnight, you probably won't on your first attempt.

Yet, for any non-fiction author, or even any author who has some important and valuable information and would like to try their hand at this 3rd Millennium Game, and who has a modicum of web skills, ClickBank e-books are a fantastic opportunity to try something new, learn something new, make some extra money and perhaps even open the doors to whole new realms of opportunities in the process.


Silvia Hartmann

Author, MindMillion Wealth Creator

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