Others are … well, they’re terrible!
Today we’re going to talk about some basic concepts you should keep in mind if you’re going to create a PDF-style ebook yourself.
Following the advice here means you’ll create an ebook that your audience will enjoy reading — and that will reflect well on your brand and business.
1. Be generous, make money, or both
Because production cost is minimal, you can choose whether to sell your ebook in exchange for money, or “sell it” in exchange for an email address.
Content marketing is the idea that you can lead prospects down the path toward becoming customers by offering valuable free information that helps them solve their sticky problems. Ebooks are a perfect vehicle for content marketing. You create them once, and can offer them on an ongoing basis on your website.
And there’s no easier way to package up your information for sale than in an ebook. You don’t have to create print-ready artwork, or look for a book publishing company. You have everything you need to create your ebook right on the computer you’re using now. (Don’t believe me? See item 4.)
2. Environmentally friendly marketing
Many ebooks never make it to paper: they’re read on screen. This makes them a “green” alternative to brochures or presentation folders that use a lot of trees and end up clogging landfills.
Ebooks that are delivered electronically eliminate wasteful boxes and delivery trucks to get them to your reader’s hands, and that’s good for the environment, too.
3. Remember screen readers
Because many ebooks never make it to paper, it’s important to make them readable on screen. If you’d like to encourage your readers to read your information on screen, keep these tips in mind:
- Use a horizontal format which allows the entire page to be viewed at the largest size possible on screen
- Remember to keep your line lengths between two-three alphabet lengths in characters for comfortable readability. This means no more than 52-78 characters total.
4. Control the final product
I’m going to make some graphic designers angry with this next suggestion.
I believe it’s crucial that the author of an ebook hold the original file and have total control over it. When your ebook document “lives” on your own computer, you can make edits, additions and updates whenever you want. No need to contact a designer, wait for them to put it on their schedule, check to see if the changes are correct, and get a new PDF.
The way to do this is to create it using software you already have on your computer. This gives you total control over the final product and puts any revisions in your hands. Open source software like OpenOffice creates polished, professional-looking ebooks. Download the gift below and I’ll prove it to you! 🙂
5. Ready, Aim, Write
Think about your readers before you type the first word!
- Does your target market complain of the same challenges over and over? Write an ebook that shares solutions.
- Is your product complex and difficult to understand? Write a buyer’s guide to help move your prospects along the path to becoming customers.
- Is there certain basic information your prospects need to master before they can do business with you? Create a special report that spells out the basics.
Sit down to write with the end in mind. Know what you want to accomplish and target your writing toward that goal.
6. Ceci n’est pas une ebook
For some people, the term “ebook” may sound like a foreign language. If that’s the case with the market you’re targeting, don’t call your ebook an ebook. Make it a guide, checklist, white paper, case study, tip sheet, reference manual, or blueprint.
It doesn’t matter if all those labels lead to a downloadable PDF. Names matter, and if ebook is a turn off, use something else.
7. Design for pleasant readability
To make your pages easy to read, remember all the basics of good design.
- Use lots of white space to give your reader a place to rest their eyes
- Set your text in a highly-readable typeface. Learn how to choose and combine typefaces here.
- Pull an important sentence or quote from your text and emphasize it with a call out
- Break up long blocks of text into shorter paragraphs and use compelling subheads to guide the reader through your main points
- Don’t be afraid to use color to highlight your subheads and call outs
8. Edit mercilessly
Because many people will read your ebook on screen, it’s important to keep the total length manageable.
A one-topic-ebook like I’ve described here shouldn’t be more than 40-50 pages. Your mileage may vary, but beyond that length is hard to read on screen, and will make the reader think twice about printing it.
If it runs longer, consider breaking your ebook into two or more documents to make your information easier to manage. You can call them bonuses or companion books, or use one of the alternate names suggested in idea #6 above.
9. Encourage free sharing
If you’re using your ebook for marketing purposes and you want your information to spread freely, put a Creative Commons license on it. There’s a license flavor for every taste. The free gift I’m sharing (written by Kelly Kingman and designed by moi) has a Creative Commons Attribution license, for example.
There are licenses that allow others to “re-mix” your content; that restrict sharing to non-commercial use; that allow sharing of the complete work, but don’t allow you to break it into parts. Pick your Creative Commons license of choice here.
10. First impressions count
My momma tried to teach me not to judge a book by its cover, but it didn’t work for me, and it doesn’t work for most people. The cover of your ebook is like a curtain rising on your content. You have a split second to make a great impression and entice the reader to dive it. Make it count.
In addition, your ebook cover often ends up serving as your product “hero,” that dramatic 3D image that serves to present your ebook to the world. All the more reason to have a cover that draws people in and makes them commit to reading your ebook.
11. Find out more
The best idea of all? Keep learning! Read all the ebook posts on Big Brand System.