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Get thousands of eBook downloads by repurposing successful content

Every now and again you write something that knocks it out of the park. The content is compelling, the title attracts eyeballs and everything falls into place.

You can sit back and pat yourself on the back. Good work team you☝!

But what do you do with that successful content after it’s had its initial run?

We wondered if there was a way to take that awesome content and repackage it. Would people consume it more thoroughly in a book format? As a bonus, we thought it might help build our email list.

Repurposing successful content as a book is much less risky than starting from scratch. You have already proved the content is interesting. Think of the blog post as your MVP.

At Appbot that’s exactly what we tried. First off we took some of my most successful content and packaged it into a book. Posts with content like:

  • App Store descriptions
  • Screenshots
  • Top charts
  • And more

Later we released my 2.3m downloads story and a bunch of Claire’s awesome pricing content.

'Secrets of the App Store' book cover

There are a few steps to go through to make that awesome content into a book. Here are the ones that worked for us.

Making it work as a book

When bringing a bunch of different content together into a book it’s going to take a little bit of rework. Content written at different times won’t automatically flow.

Look for logical book sections to divide it up. Consider writing intros and paragraphs to make the posts flow together.


We took a shortcut and decided to just do PDF.

We started with the best of intentions. We started by following Creating ePub files with Pages, but ended up scrapping the idea when we exported and the formatting exploded.

If you have any good tips on writing eBooks for different book formats I’d love the hear them.

Choosing a title

Choosing a great title for a book is just like choosing a great blog post title. My tips are:

  • Aim at your audience
  • Think, would you click on it?
  • Come up with at least 10 options
  • A/B test – put the landing page up and test which title gets the best click-throughs

Getting feedback

With Secrets of the App Store we decided to send it off to several influencers. We asked if they’d like to get an exclusive first read (what an honor, right?)

Luckily many great people took us up on the offer. Some even sent through some great feedback and quotes to use on the site.

People are busy, if you’re going to do this make sure you do it weeks in advance.

The landing page

Luckily it’s pretty easy to come up with a landing page to collect an email address.
Here’s an example of what we use.
The key parts of an amazing eBook download page are:

  • Sell the benefits
  • Show social proof (number of book downloads, quotes, etc)
  • Call to action (email to send the book to)
  • Biography to prove you know your stuff
  • A photo of yourself to give it a personal feel. If you’re not the best to look at I recommend distracting the audience by including a toy monkey or quokka in your photo.

Collecting the emails and sending the link

Luckily for me, I have an awesome co-founder that understands this email thing.
We used Campaign Monitor which gives you a nice little form to put on your site to collect the emails. You can easily redirect back to your site once the email has been accepted.

Claire set up an automation on Campaign Monitor that sends out the email once they sign up to the list.

Encourage sharing

Once the user enters the email it’s a great time to let them share out to their social networks. Who doesn’t want to share a great bit of free content?

share free content example

Distributing the book

For the CDN we use Amazon Cloudfront as we already use that for other Appbot assets. Then you can easily drop a download link into the email and it will be blazingly fast from wherever they are in the world. Or not, if your CDN sucks.

A nice touch here is to make sure you set the Content-Disposition header so it downloads nicely instead of just opening in the browser.

Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=book.pdf;

I recommend everyone reads rfc2616 pretty thoroughly.
I’m joking, I really hope you didn’t click on that.

Promoting the eBook

So you’ve made this amazing book, you have an amazing NY Times bestseller title and you’re ready to unleash it on the world.
Here’s a list on how we promoted ours.

  • Email your mailing list
  • Share on your social networks
  • Post it to Product Hunt
  • Run some Facebook and/or Twitter ads
  • Add a link to it from the original content you used
  • Add it to your blog to join your mailing list
  • Mail it around to friends and colleagues you know who might be interested
  • Share it with influencers in your target area

Our results

We have been pretty pleased with how the books have gone so far. All the books have reached thousands of downloads.

how-i-got-2-million-downloads graph

The books still get hundreds of downloads every month, generate us leads and we receive nice emails from people who read them.

Why it works

Everyone loves something for free. We’ve all become used to awesome free content online, there’s so much of it thanks to great blogs and services like Medium. But a book is something people still put a value on, even an eBook. So getting a book for free feels like an offer we can’t refuse.

Happy eBooking!
Like this article? We’d love it if you’d grab one of our free books and share them.

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