How the C. diff book is doing, 18 months after launch

C diff guideIn mid-2013, my publishing company released its first medical-related title, C. Diff In 30 Minutes: A Guide to Clostridium Difficile for Patients and Families. Publishing a C. diff book for patients and their caregivers was a risky proposition. At the time, there was only one other similar title available on Amazon, which didn’t appear to be selling very well, judging by the the publicly available sales data that Amazon displays.

But we had a few things going for us: A well-respected international C. diff expert, Dr. J. Thomas Lamont, was the author of the book. We used an easy-to-understand structure that featured practical information as well as case studies based on the author’s extensive experience with patients. I created a solid website with lots of resources for browsers, including a simple guide to what is C. diff, a list of C. diff symptoms and a resource describing basic C. diff disinfectants and procedures for healthcare workers and patients.

I also priced C. Diff In 30 Minutes competitively. It was hard to justify the same cover price as the competing title, which was much longer and had several reader reviews in mid-2013. On the other hand, C. Diff In 30 Minutes wasn’t some Kindle freebie. It contained expert information that can help patients understand and cope with a little-known but devastating gastrointestinal infection. I priced the ebook at less than $10, and the paperback under $15 (which was often discounted).

The result? The guide has been a steady seller almost since launch. With almost no promotion beyond a few hundred dollars in Adwords, the book has sold nearly 1,000 copies, generates a nice revenue stream for the author and my publishing company, and has gotten consistently high reviews from real customers (to date, almost all reviews have been 5-star reviews). Here are some samples:

KS:

“When I learned in 2013 that I had c.diff, I found this little book to be a lifesaver!!! Many doctors don’t know what to tell patients regarding the best ways to treat c.diff, but from guidance in this book, it was a slow process, but I was able to fully recover in roughly 6 months. The book is WELL WORTH its nominal cost!”

Linda:

“This has been the best information yet. I am a former c diff patient. My mother is currently hospitalized with it. We now know what to do for her and how to protect others over the next few months.”

Publishing other types of health books?

The second reviewer also noted that she was glad we had published books “other than computer books.” This naturally made me wonder: What other health/medical titles could we publish? These require a certain degree of expertise and/or deep experience. Unfortunately, doctors are hard to recruit for these projects, mainly because they are so busy (as you may have guessed, C. Diff In 30 Minutes is written by a relative, and he’s too busy to do another one). I had another potential writer with expertise in Alzheimer’s, but he backed out later when he made a cross-country move.

As for C. Diff In 30 Minutes, I hope to expand distribution to hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare workers. We may also have to release an update in the next few years to cover fecal transplants, which have really taken off since 2013.

Repurposing ebook content on blogs

One underutilized tactic for marketing how-to guides involves repurposing ebook content on blogs. This is not the same as giving away free chapters, which is common in the fiction world, or republishing excerpts of biographies, which sometimes appear in magazines or the Wall Street Journal. While both of those approaches are valuable marketing tools, they are mainly intended to introduce the title or author to a wider audience. By contrast, the main purpose of repurposing ebook content on blogs is to help people solve specific problems — which may help them see value in the rest of the how-to guide.

Let me give you an example. My second In 30 Minutes title about Google Drive is about 15,000 words long. It’s aimed at beginners just getting started with Google’s free online office suite. It contains everything from basic setup to sections on using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, storage, collaboration, and other functions and features within the suite.

I realized that some of the ebook subsections could stand on their own as blog posts. For instance, “What Is Google Drive” became its own page on the official product website. It’s a common question among new users searching the Web for information, and may lead to some of them considering the ebook or paperback versions of the guide. Similarly, I took a few other 200-400 word bits (example: “How to revert to an old version of a Google Drive file”) and used them for a book promotion taking place on ITworld.com.

Why repurposing ebook content online is a good marketing tactic

This type of ebook content repurposed as blogs posts should not be viewed as “giving away the farm”. It’s only a small percentage of the total ebook content. Further, as I noted earlier, it can help new users solve a problem while seeing value in buying the rest of the ebook.

Example of repurposing ebook content: What is Google Drive?

(This tactic, incidentally, aligns well with the online content marketing advice given by author Derek Slater in his recent In 30 Minutes guide).