Last month, I wrote an article about the benefits of thinking big and going beyond the free downloadable e-book. I explained the benefits of having your book available at all the major online retailers like Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, and how the more widely available your e-book is, the better shot you have at reaching people who don’t already know about your company.
With all of that being true, not every business owner is in a position to commit to a full-length book project. While publishing companies like Maven Publishing can help you out and do most of the heavy lifting for you, writing and publishing a book is still an undertaking. This is where the free downloadable e-book comes into play.
Shorter e-books have their place in the business world, and they can be effective tools for connecting with customers on a deeper level. They allow you to dive deeper into various topics like a full-length book does, but without such a large time commitment from you or the reader.
At Maven, we’ve started helping businesses create and publish shorter e-books, and we have some tips for how to make them a valuable asset that truly works for your business.
Make it Professional, Engaging, and Visually Striking
First of all, like everything else on your website, your e-book represents your brand. In order for customers to download it in the first place, it needs to have a professional-looking cover and a clear description that lets customers know why they should read it. These may seem obvious, but details like cover design are often ignored with free downloadable e-books.
Once customers get past the cover, they’ll be expecting engaging content. People who download e-books from businesses are typically looking for something more in-depth than what they can find on the website. Think of an e-book as an opportunity to have a quick one-on-one conversation with a customer—what new knowledge or ideas do you want them to walk away with?
For example, Businessing Magazine recently created an e-book about hiring for small businesses, which they know is a popular topic among the small business owners who read the magazine. If you search through the entire magazine, you’ll find dozens of articles about hiring, but until now, they’ve never been compiled in one helpful guide. Plus, the e-book authors added new data, facts, and summaries that aren’t in the original articles. Business owners who download the e-book are getting something of real value that they wouldn’t be able to find just by running a search for “hiring” on Businessing Magazine’s website.
Finally, your e-book should be more than big blocks of text. In a full-length book, customers expect a lot of text; however, when you’re working with a much shorter medium, a stunning visual layout helps keep readers’ attention. Graphics and color blocking break up the text and enable you to call out specific points you want to emphasize.
We’ve seen lots of free downloadable e-books on businesses’ websites; you probably have, too. Many of the ones that are out there have formatting issues, and customers experience problems when trying to download them. Even the most beautifully constructed e-books are useless if the customer’s experience is disrupted by technical problems.
I recently had a conversation with a business owner who was talking about creating a short e-book for her interior design business. Her goal was for customers to learn about her company’s sustainable practices and their emphasis on upcycling and using refurbished materials. It sounded like something that would be useful for her customers…
… Until she told me that her plan was to write all of her thoughts in Microsoft Word, save it as a PDF, and upload it to her website. While that might work in theory, a customer who downloads that document is likely to run into some problems. Microsoft Word was never meant to handle complicated page layout and design, and trying to use it as such almost always results in formatting issues.
Formatting may seem like a small technicality, but it’s important. There are also other things involved in the e-book creation process that the average business owner may not be aware of, but professional publishers are. To reduce your own stress and to ensure you’re going to end up with an effective e-book, it helps to work with a company like Maven, that can help you from beginning to end—content creation, editing, page layout, cover design, and formatting. We will even provide your e-book with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and make your e-book available on the Maven website, giving it another level of professionalism.
Moreover, when you work with a publisher, even for a small project, you begin a relationship that can help you in myriad ways in the future. Should you ever need any of a publisher’s services—whether it’s something small, such as a professional copyedit of website content or something bigger like a full-length book—you have someone to call.
Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Well
Free downloadable e-books can be extremely valuable if they are created for the right reasons and if they are executed well. The biggest thing to remember is that anything you create represents your brand. A beautifully crafted e-book, even if it’s only 5-10 pages long, will engage customers and allow them to get to know your business on a deeper level.
If you have general publishing questions or want to discuss how an e-book could help your business connect more deeply with customers, contact Maven today. We’d love to help you get started!