Sometimes when I’m chatting with marketers, the topic of e-books comes up and I’ll ask if they’ve published one yet.
“No-o-o-o-o-o-o,” they sigh remorsefully, as if I’d just asked if they’re using that gym membership. “We know we need one, but our team is constantly slammed on other projects.”
Never fear, beleaguered marketing managers: outsourcing is here!
Yes, you can work with an outside partner to write and publish an outstanding e-book, and here’s how.
1. Choose the right partner.
You’ll want to select a partner who not only has a good reputation, but who’s also been-there-done-that when it comes to this e-book thing. Producing a terrific e-book is equal parts art and science, and you’ll want to work with someone who knows that world well.
I also recommend choosing a partner who will manage all aspects of producing your book. If you wind up coordinating separate writers and editors and cover artists and layout designers, you could find yourself losing out on some of the time-saving benefits that inspired you to turn to outsourcing in the first place.
2. Hold a kickoff meeting. A long one.
Once you’ve chosen your partner, make sure they schedule a long kickoff meeting with you, your team, and your stakeholders. At Resonance, we ensure that these meetings include questions such as
- What are you looking to accomplish with this e-book?
- How did you choose the topic? What unique perspective do you want to offer on this topic?
- Who is your target audience for this e-book?
- What do you want your audience to start doing, stop doing, or do differently as the result of reading this e-book?
- What is the logical next step for someone to take after he or she reads your e-book (schedule consultation, sign up for a demo, register for a course, etc.)?
3. Lay out a detailed schedule.
Once the overall plan for your e-book is in place, make sure your partner provides a detailed schedule that includes the following milestones:
- Completion of research and/or interviews.
- First draft and feedback
- Second draft and feedback
- Finalize content
- Complete layout
- Complete cover art
- Final approval
- Promotion via social media, email, your blog, etc.
4. Schedule check-ins.
I recommend scheduling a recurring check-in call with your partner once a week. This will give you both a dedicated forum to check on the status, get questions answered, and compare your progress to the master schedule. We usually schedule our calls for 30 minutes, but some check-ins will take no more than 10.
Once you get these check-in calls scheduled, keep the appointment unless a true emergency comes up. Remember, you’ve committed to making this e-book happen, and both your team and your partner needs these calls to keep the project on track.
5. Be available.
As your e-book proceeds, your outsourcing partner will periodically need your input on direction, additional resources, style points, and other issues. They’ll also let you know if they hit bumps in the road, such as interviewees not responding to their requests. Do your partner the courtesy of making yourself available, returning messages promptly, and intervening with internal contributors as needed.
6. Send feedback promptly.
When your partner sends a draft for your review, you’ll probably be given a deadline for submitting your feedback. These deadlines are not arbitrary; they’re vital for keeping the project on schedule. Make sure to factor in time for collecting and collating feedback from internal stakeholders.
7. Give final approval — really final.
Here at Resonance, we have two final approvals on our production schedule:
- Final approval of the copy (still in Microsoft Word).
- Final approval of the finished product, including the layout and cover design.
There’s a reason why we call it “final approval”: it’s final. No takesy-backseys … at least not if you want your e-book to be published on schedule. So before you send that final OK, make sure that your approval is indeed final: all i’s dotted, all t’s crossed, and thumbs-up from all stakeholders.
8. Promote your new e-book.
“If you build it, they will come …” That advice may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it won’t work for your new e-book.
If no one knows about your wonderful creation, it can’t do you any good.
- Create a landing page where you can capture email addresses in exchange for a download of your e-book.
- Pull out your editorial calendar and advertising schedule, and make sure you’re giving your e-book its due promotion-wise — not just upon publication, but in months and possibly years to come.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully published an e-book through an outsourcing partner. Schedule a casual lunch or happy hour with your outsourcing team to celebrate your accomplishment … or, if you’re in different locations, schedule a “virtual party” via Skype or Google Hangouts.
OK, your turn: Have you created an e-book via outsourcing? What was your experience? Share your insights in the comments — we’d love to hear from you!Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community