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Mon Feb 20 2012 16:43:25

Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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We couldn't fit the whole interview with Internet Marketing Expert Jim Cockrum in the recent EcommerceBytes Update article. So you get the benefit of the rest of Jim's tips..these about selling ebooks and other info products, here in this "outtake" blog post.

Can you profit from an ebook? Does everyone have an ebook -- or other info product -- inside of them? Internet Marketing expert and author Jim Cockrum thinks they do; they just have to have a strategy to put it together. You may be surprised how simple the concept is. Read on to hear how Jim got started with the first ebook sale that led to tens of thousands of sales, and how you can create a quality info product too. Hint: you don't even have to write a word!

Q: Can you tell us a little about how and why you got started with selling ebooks -- you started out selling event tickets on eBay, when you decided to write your first ebook?

A: I noticed that among those of us who were selling tickets that the numbers kept growing as far as the number of people in the game. A lot more people were figuring out how to do what we did. And rather than get bitter or upset or angry or try to keep those people out, I thought, I'll just lead them, as to how to do this business right; how to profit. And I'll put it all into a little 20-page book and sell it for a few bucks and see what happens. That first ebook that I wrote, literally from start to finish took me just a few hours. I was on a business trip sitting in a hotel.

First I gave it away to people who were asking me how I did what I did. And then I started selling it. It sold at first dozens a week, and then hundreds a week, and then the next question became, if you're selling that many ebooks how are you doing it? What did you do to position yourself to sell so many ebooks?  

The "Silent Sales Machine" ( book grew from that. So basically my career path from then --  it's been ten years now -- is giving customers the tools and advice and information they need to succeed online. And then waiting for them to ask questions and answering them. The path has kind of unfolded in front of me very naturally as I pay attention to what my audience wants. I don’t guess; I do my best not to guess.
Q: One of the things you are known for is selling thousands of ebooks. What got you to decide to do your first "traditional" published book, Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business Online & Off?
A: That’s a great question. I never had a chance to answer yet, because no one quite understands the nuances of it. So hopefully it's something that’s helpful to people. I still just see traditional off–the-shelf books as too big of a risk for me to be willing to take in terms of just making money. It's just really difficult, and this is just a fact. I really didn’t make a whole lot of money off the book, in spite of the fact I donate to my buddy's charity.

I can sum it up like this: having a book on the shelf is the ultimate business card. The odds of you actually making any money and feeding your family off the proceeds of any physical book is so incredibly slim. You're better off learning to play guitar, and moving to Nashville…I'm going to be famous. You hear those stories…Taylor Swift is the one out of a billion who makes it, but you've got the literally millions of other people who from a very young age who are encouraged to get into music, and "you can be a rock star." How many people does it work out for? I like to use that analogy, because I think it's the same with authors and writers, just like with actors.

And I had all kinds of advantages going into this. I had a large mailing list. The publisher gave me a nice advance….good publicity…great endorsements. But at the end of the day I look at the time that I spent and how many copies I'm selling, and it's further evidence of something you're hearing from all quarters now and that's that traditional publishing is broken.

With my ebook, even today I'm planning on going in and making some little changes and adjustments, so the book is now completely relevant up to date as of today. I can't do that with the book I'm flipping through that I wrote a year and a half ago.

It's 98% relevant, but I can't go back and change it… I can't give the customer experience of "here's the latest and greatest." The publisher owns all the rights. So the advantage I had using a traditional publisher was all the extra exposure, the name recognition, and even if I didn’t sell one copy, it would be an awesome business card, because I'm getting calls from the Chamber of Commerce, they want me to come speak; speaking gigs, VIP's all good exposure. You want to check off that box: published author.

Q: Do you think everyone has an ebook inside of them? Do they need a free ebook to give away to get their mailing list going?

A: I don’t want to intimidate people into thinking they need an ebook. It can be an audio interview with an expert. And that's actually a great way to create a valuable product. Get like a totem pole of the experts in your industry. In the Internet marketing industry, rank them out…in social clout. You can even go to

Start at the bottom of the totem pole, and you interview that guy. Climb your way up and get the harder guy. Each time you go up, you say, hey, I've interviewed these people in this niche.

You send an email to this guy who's impossible to get, and you say, "All eight of these guys, they're all going to agree to share these interviews…the 5 tips you must know before you, blank, or whatever…and I want to get your five tips as well." If you just come in cold, you're not going to get the big dogs.

But if you come in with a plan, and here are the other people that I've interviewed, and here's the plan for the product, and I'm going to make you look like a hero to your audience, agreed to let me interview. What you're doing without writing a word is creating a nice, powerful information product to give away for free to everyone who joins your mailing list.

The book is full of good examples. Those stories are gold and they're very motivating to me; I find myself going back and reading over some of the stories. It's so encouraging and motivating to me, to see people have taken things they’ve learned from me, and things they've learned from other places and brought them together and create this whole new life for their family.

You can find Jim's resource page for his Free Marketing book at

Other places you can find Jim, among others:  (blog), (example of a "squeeze page").

Comments (4) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?   Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Feb 20 22:28:17 2012

What about self-publishing? Companies like Amazon and Lulu have made it easy to publish ebooks, so is there any "best practice" approach that would work best with self publishing? Or is it better to roll your own and not use vendors like those?

Perminate Link for Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?   Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?

by: jimcockrum This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Feb 21 11:13:29 2012

I love third party services like Lulu and Amazon's ''Createspace''!  It's the traditional model of ''big New York'' publishers that is struggling. Self published is the way to go 95% of the time.

I agreed to a traditional ''big publisher'' book b/c I had several advantages (an established audience, big endorsements easily secured etc.) but without those I would have been far smarter to self-publish.

Also remember: Books are a lead generator and should be treated as such by the author.

Finally:  A book is the BEST business card you could ever have! Even if you only sell a handful, it's worth doing if it gets your foot in the right doors. I love self-publishing for that strategy because of the print-on-demand possibilities.

Thanks for the great question!

Perminate Link for Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?   Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Tue Feb 21 12:40:30 2012

The original article was interesting.  The idea of always offering a refund is something we've discussed many times.  I do it because my reputation is worth more than a single sale - yet it is a sore subject amongst most ebay sellers who seem to regard most buyers as scammers.

Jim, what do you think about ebay and paypal's return and refund policies?  Isn't ebay basically doing what you are recommending we all do?

Perminate Link for Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?   Jim Cockrum: Can Anyone Profit from eBooks?

by: jimcockrum This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Feb 21 16:17:38 2012


I'm not worried about any one transaction being refunded.  I want lifelong relationships with my customers. If someone takes advantage of us it's easy enough to block them from ever doing business with us again, but for the most part people are honorable.

If you start looking at buyers as ''scammers'' you've already shot yourself in the foot.

I can't speak for eBay and Paypal, but I can't hold it against them for defaulting in favor of buying customers over sellers in most cases. eBay sees buying customers as the life blood of their business...sellers can come and go from their vantage point. As sellers we get to walk the tight rope...not everyone will make it. That's the challenge if you are up for it.

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