The world of publishing is changing drastically thanks to the web; just as the world of music and the world of television have been changed by the internet. Today, a ‘book’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical item printed on paper. It can just as easily be an ebook, an online course, an ezine or anything else.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list then, here are some of the most common forms of digital publications:
- Online course
- White paper
Perhaps the most well-known and commonly used is the ebook.
Ebooks are popular among digital marketers right now as a way for them to publish their content online and a form of product they can sell. These are sometimes referred to as informational products in that their value comes from the fact that they provide some form of information.
Experts are able to make money this way by taking advantage of an ‘informational deficit’.
The big advantage of creating digital products like this, is that they have no overheads and require no storage or shipping. Thus, you can write them out and then easily deliver them to your audience with no further overheads or COGS (cost of goods sold).
If you are creating a digital publication with the aim of selling it, then you need to make sure it is something that people will buy. To ensure that, you need to find the ‘value proposition’ and the hook. This generally comes down to asking what your book can do for your readers and how it can help them in a way that is emotionally appealing.
This is why ebooks on fitness, on making money online and on dating are so common: these are things that are universally appealing and that have an emotional appeal.
Now you know what to write and why you’re writing, the next question is how to write.
Good writing has a ‘voice’. This means that it has a consistent tone across all posts that suggests whether the subject matter is serious or not and that conveys personality while also imparting information. A good voice should be one that is not only entertaining and easy to read, but also one that sounds professional and appropriate for the tone of the site. So how do you find yours?
Well first of all there are some universal truths to consider that will help. The first is that your voice should always be grammatically correct and consistent. This is what will make your site seem professional, even if it is casual in nature but it goes double for books that people have paid for. Spend some time honing your writing skills, and set down some hard and fast rules to follow with regards to your editorial guidelines.
These guidelines apply to all writing voices, but there should still also be distinctions from one book to the next. This will be the result partly of your topic and niche, and of the tone that you are aiming for. If you have a book about finance, then you will want to instill confidence and you won’t have much opportunity for comedy – so you’ll want to keep your voice impartial and in the 3rd party. Head over the BB.co.uk and read some news articles – these are examples of impartial and well written pieces that instill trust in the reader.
On the other hand though, if you’re writing a personal account (how I got rich online), or a fitness book aimed at a youthful grow and you want it to feel ‘youthful’ and approachable, then you can throw in more witticisms and be a bit more flexible with your phrasing. Now personal opinions are to be encouraged (it adds color and challenges the reader) and in these scenarios it will be fine to use abbreviations and slang in order to convey personality. Humor can go a long way to making your book more entertaining and ensure that people come away from that read in a good mood. For a perfect example try reading the ‘Atomic Dog’ posts over at bodybuilding site t-nation.com. The write there who calls himself ‘TC’ posts on all manner of lifestyle topics on a regular basis which nicely breaks up all the training and nutrition tips. These posts are so entertaining they were made into a book and helped to make the site much more popular – even with people who had no interest in fitness initially. Another example is Neil Gaiman’s blog – he’s a novelist by trade so it’s no wonder that his blog is so entertaining to read. Writing a book is different from writing for a blog – but these are two good examples that cross over that you can learn from.
The last consideration is how you will format your content. Thankfully, this is very simple in most cases.
Other than that, it comes down to adding touches that will make it look more professional. Do this by using the right font and size (don’t just leave it as default) and by using Headings for chapter titles. You can insert a table of contents automatically in Word and this will autogenerate based on those headings. This is also how a Kindle will understand the layout of your site.
Finally, add high definition images in order to finish the deal and make your book more visually arresting. Of course a good cover is a must for sales too – as that’s what you’ll use in most of your marketing!