During the nineties I worked for an Australian Government organisation as staff development and training manager for the Northern Territory (Australia) with responsibilities for training staff in six geographically dispersed offices. Each State and Territory had a separate SD&T Manager, so there were eight of us with small teams spread across Australia.
On one occasion we were all called to Head Office in Canberra to undergo "train-the-trainer" activities in relation to a new program that the organisation was introducing. Someone at Head Office had hired a consulting firm to produce the training media which consisted of 75 PowerPoint slides with text taken straight from the new program manual. Not only was the so-called training boring, but the projected slides were impossible to read and the session was a disaster. I couldn't believe that anyone pretending to know anything about training could produce such poor media, especially for the high price that had been paid to the consultant. When I inquired as to who had organised the training and how it had been contracted, I found that an administrative officer with no training background had been responsible and had issued a request for proposal which was well below a satisfactory standard.
As a result I undertook to write guidelines for others contemplating designing training programs. In my off-duty hours I wrote guidelines I called, "How to Write a Winning Training Proposal" and distributed it freely within the organisation. Soon, I had training staff from other Australian Government agencies calling me and asking for a copy.
In 1998 I decided to convert the text into an Adobe PDF file and try to sell it online. I set up a small sales page and did a little advertising and sat back and waited for the millions to roll in because I had read about the huge incomes some of the Internet gurus claimed to have made selling e-books and other digital products. I remember waiting and waiting and nothing happened. Every day I would come home from work and immediately log into my Internet to see whether I had sold any copies. Nothing. And then, one day I logged in not expecting anything and there it was, an order for a copy.
After the first sale, others began to follow and since then I have published a couple of other titles, all of which have sold reasonably well over the years. Interestingly, I still sell copies of "How to Write a Winning Training Proposal", but as I have been lax with advertising, I'm not selling as many as I once did.
What appeals to me most about e-book publication is that you put in the work once and you can sell with very small overheads forever. Also, you can place your advertisements and let everything run automatically 24/7/365.
If you'd care to see my sales site for this e-book, please go here. If you'd like a free copy of this e-publication, please email me at the email address given on my site referring to this post.
Robin is a semi-retired human resources and adult education specialist who runs a business communication consultancy from Central Australia. He also sells a range of e-books from his digital store. Also be sure to check out his blog, Working Smarter.