Compile an eBook with Crowdsourced Content


CrowdsourcingIn this week’s money maker article I’m going to introduce you to the concept of crowdsourcing.  Then we’ll talk about how you can use this technique to outsource the idea generation and content creation for your eBooks.  You may have heard the term “crowdsourcing” being thrown around in internet business conversations.  Many people get intimidated by the subject because it sounds like some sophisticated business model known to only the inner-elites of internet marketing.  But it’s not.  Crowdsourcing is a simple idea that has been around for thousands of years.

What is Crowdsourcing?

In 2005, editors of Wired Magazine Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson coined the term “crowdsourcing” after discussions of how businesses could utilize the internet to outsource work.  They defined crowdsourcing in this way:

Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.

They say “simply defined” but for the average Joe, that definition is more complicated than it needs to be.  Here is how I would define crowdsourcing:

Using the internet to outsource work to a group (crowd) of people all across the planet, who have different skills and knowledge, to complete a task or solve a problem.

Essentially you get a bunch of people in a digital room and ask them to solve a problem or complete a task.

  • Solve a Problem –  Ask your crowd of people to provide a solution to a specific problem. A sample question may be, “How would you prevent your 18 year old daughter from getting a tattoo?” or, “What are 3 ways you can reduce spending when grocery shopping?”
  • Complete a Task – You can directly outsource work to your crowd.  This is the method used when creating an eBook with crowdsourcing.  Some sample tasks may be, “Write 300 words about starting a business” or, “Compose a list of 20 email addresses from local businesses in your town.”

Once you receive your the answers/responses/work products from the crowd, you compile everything into a thoughtful solution or final product.

How to Create an eBook with Crowdsourcing

The idea of building an eBook with crowdsourced content is to have your participants (the crowd) create the content for you.  The process of building an eBook with crowdsourcing can be summed up with the following steps:

  1. Decide upon book content, genre, etc.
  2. Compose task information or key question(s).
  3. Utilize online tools to publish your task (MTurk,, etc.).
  4. Compile answers from all participants.
  5. Edit content into organized eBook.
  6. Publish eBook in preferred format.

Crowd Sourcing eBook Ideas

Creating an eBook with CrowdsourcingBelow are some eBook ideas using crowdsourcing.  Imagine you have 50-100 participants who are going to provide a response to your solicitation.  Below are some book ideas and potential questions/tasks you would use to provoke content creation:

Time Tested Recipes – What is your favorite recipe that has been in the family for more than 20 years?

Poetry – Provide one piece of original poetry pertaining to birds, flight, air, wind or similar subjects.

Fiction Book  – Use multiple crowds to build different parts of the story:

  • (Crowd 1) – Two characters are hiking in the mountains.  There is an empty mountain cabin.  How do the two of them meet at the cabin?
  • (Crowd 2) – Character A and Character B are trapped in a burning cabin.  How do they get out and what do they do afterwards?
  • (Crowd 3) – Both Character A and Character B lost all belongings in fire.  How do they survive the next 48 hours?

Overcoming Depression – What causes you to be depressed? Provide two ways you personally cope and overcome depression.

Many Original Pieces vs. Single Composition

Many Contributions.  You could build an eBook that clearly separates the contributions of each participant.  This would work best when each submission stands out on its own, such as with a poetry book or recipes.

Single Composition.  Use the individual contributions to compose a single story.  This requires you to become an editor and organize all the smaller parts into one large composition.

Copyright Issues

It is important that you ask your crowd participants to certify they are providing 100% unique content they developed.  Also, you should require them to acknowledge that they understand they will be relinquishing their rights of the content they provide to you.  The last thing you want is to compose an eBook full of copyright protected material that you don’t own.

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