Getting Started With Ebooks

Ebooks provide a great way to share information with your customers.

Ebooks provide a great way to share information with your current and potential customers.

Have you ever considered using an ebook to promote your business but didn’t know where to start?

For some time, I have been using a collection of wonderful ebooks to help me figure out some solutions for my business challenges. Inspired by these great examples, I decided that I needed to publish a library of ebooks from my company to share the information I’ve gleaned from my research, analysis, and the practical business solutions I’ve crafted for my clients over the years.

So where to start? I had a list of questions about what to write, how to write it, how to design it, and who would read it. Over the last month, I’ve worked through these issues, and later this week, I’ll publish the first ebook based on my Ignite Phoenix presentation last month. By repurposing existing content, I could focus exclusively on the ebook layout and distribution. Now that I’ve worked through those issues, I’m starting to write the library of ebooks I envision for my company.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the process I went through to create and publish my ebook. I’ve created a list of questions and issues that I addressed at each stage. Use this as a checklist to start your ebook publishing journey.

Why Ebooks?

Your company has a message, and ebooks can be a great publishing tool to reach your audience for these reasons.

  • There is no printing or publishing cost if you have a way to create a PDF.
  • There is no distribution cost if you already have a website or email services.
  • You don’t need to court and win the affection of a publisher to go to market.
  • The information becomes available to your audience quickly, while it is still timely.

Design Before You Write

Before you start writing your ebook, there are many design decisions that impact how you write your ebook. These questions will help to guide you through the content design issues.

  • What business goal will your ebook support?
  • What information will give you the most focused benefit?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What does your audience need to know about this subject, and what do they already know?
  • Will you design the layout yourself, or will you hire someone to design for you?
  • Will you write the content yourself? Who will provide proofreading and editing services?
  • What action do you want your audience members to take after they read your ebook?

In addition, you need to think about the presentation design for your ebook. These decisions impact how your finished ebook looks to your readers.

  • Will your readers mostly print your ebook or read it on a computer monitor?
  • What features or controls do you need to build in to help readers navigate your ebook.
  • If your content includes pictures and images, how will you incorporate them on the page?
  • How often will you use headings to break up your paragraphs?
  • How will you include supporting and additional information not in your ebook?

Develop The Content

Once you have decided these issues, you are ready to start the writing process. While writing, stay focused on these issues to keep your writing clear and effective.

  • We live in text-messaging, Twitter world. Brevity is the key to engaging your audience.
  • Write in chunks so people can skim easily.
  • Stay focused on your business goals.
  • Keep your audience in mind with every sentence you write.
  • Use pictures and images to convey as much content as possible.

Publishing & Distribution

You can use almost any word processing or layout software to create your ebook. You should use a tool you know to make the writing, layout, and publishing process easy for you. You don’t need special software, you can use Microsoft Word for your ebook tool.

The copyright decision you make determines how your ebook can be distributed by others. While I’m not qualified to give intellectual property advice, you might want to check out the options available if you grant a Creative Commons license.

Your business goal for your ebook determines your distribution options.

  • Make your ebook available only if people give you their contact information (or they sign up for a distribution of your newsletter, blog updates, or RSS feed).
  • Make you ebook available free and easy with a website download.
  • Sell your ebook.

The last step is announcing your creation to the world.

  • Use your existing tools and publication device (blog, mailing list, website, etc.) to announce your ebook to the world.
  • Send notices to people who can share your ebook with their audience (bloggers, authors, PR agencies, customers, etc.)
  • Post notices on forums and social media tools.
  • Include ebook information in your email signature.

Do Your Research

I’ve given you the information you need to get started creating your first ebook. But before you travel too far down this road, take some time to really research the options out there.

  • Read as many ebooks as possible.
  • Make a list of smart things other people do in their ebooks.
  • Read David Meerman Scott’s book, ebooks, and blog.
  • Read Seth Godin’s books, ebooks, and blog.
  • Get educated about copyrights, intellectual property, and Creative Commons licenses.

Your turn: Is this post helpful? Did I bring up issues that surprised you? If you have already published an ebook, do you think I left something out? Let me know in your comments. Also, feel free to share great ebooks that you use with your business.

And look for the Cinema Therapy ebook later this week on this site!

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

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