The next logical step, after planning, writing, and promoting your personal branding book, as described during the past 29 weeks, is to create a series of information products based on your book.
Information products are often referred to as “back end” profits, since the profit goes directly to the author, and the profit is generated after a reader’s initial purchase of a book.
The purpose of these information products is to build profitable, long-term relationships with prospects who have read your book and now know, like, and trust you. The key words in the previous sentence are profitable and long-term:
- Profitable. The relatively low selling price of most books, coupled with the costs of production, printing, marketing, and distribution, severely limit an author’s profit options. However, there is no limit to the profits that authors can earn from selling information products based on their books.
- Relationships. An author’s ultimate profitability is determined not by a reader’s first, or, even, second, follow-up sale, but by the author’s ability to create an on-going relationship that generates multiple sales from readers of their book.
Today, with the Internet, it’s easier than ever for branded, nonfiction authors to create and market information products to their tightly-defined markets. However, authors must prepare the groundwork well in advance of their book’s publication.
What are information products?
The best definition of information products comes from The Official Guide to Information Marketing on the Internet, by Robert Skrob & Bob Regnerus, with a Foreword by Dan Kennedy. (An Entrepreneur Press book.)
In the Foreword, Dan Kennedy wrote:
Information marketing, then, is about identifying a responsive market with a high interest in a particular group of topics and expertise, packaging information products and services, matching that interest (written/assembled by you or by others, or both) and devising ways to sell and deliver it.
Dan concludes: If you can name it, somebody is packaging and profitably information about it.
Information product decisions
As we have seen throughout my Author’s Journey, success is ultimately based on an author’s decision making ability. At every step along the way, authors are making decisions, choosing one title over another, deciding how much information to include in each chapter, and deciding whom to approach for pre-publication marketing quotes.
With regard to information products and back-end profits, authors must make 3 types of decisions:
- Copyright. Who owns the rights to the book’s title and contents? When authors choose a trade publisher, copyright ownership is usually split between author and publisher. Although, on the surface, this sounds innocuous, it can lead to future problems in terms of using the book title and key ideas to generate information product profits that are not shared with the publisher. One of the reasons many authors choose to self-publish is freedom from potential copyright hassles.
- Format. What are the best formatting choices for information products? How should information be packaged and distributed? Authors often approach formatting decisions, i.e., printed paper pages electronic files, CDs and DVDs versus streaming audio or video. However, a better way to approach formatting decisions is from the perspective of: Which format does my market desire?
- Topics. After making the correct copyright and format decisions, the last topic involves choosing the specific topics, or titles, for information products. Should an author focus information products on providing the latest information, implementation assistance (i.e., tips and worksheets), or should the focus be on creating customized versions of the book for specific vertical markets?
There is no universal right or wrong way to answer the above questions. In most cases, information product decisions, like planning, writing, and book marketing decisions, ultimately involve serious tradeoffs.
An author’s decision to accept a trade publisher’s, hypothetically, $20,000 advance for a hardcover book that will be sold in Barnes & Noble and Borders, plus airport bookstores, must be weighed against their 100% ownership of the brand created by the book and freedom to control audio and video rights, and create a profitable “train the trainer” program that can be sold around the country.
Sometimes, of course, it’s possible to do both! But, this won’t happen by accident!
If an author’s goal is to create a personally branded franchise that can be leveraged around the country, rights have to be negotiated with the publisher. Or, the author should plan on max’ing out the credit cards, or taking out a second mortgage on the house, in order to self-publish their book.
For too long, authors have approached writing books from an ideas, or purely “writing,” point of view. A few authors, with a more enlightened point of view, have viewed books as the result of a partnership between writing and marketing.
But, now, as competition for traditional retail shelf space has intensified while the Internet has opened new avenues for self-publishing and self-marketing have opened up, it’s become increasingly obvious that it is difficult to separate books from information products. Today’s most successful authors view their books as tools for subsequent sales of information products; authors are now publishers; but can only succeed as publishers when they plan, from the start, to make the transitionRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles