Write E-books for Publicity and Even Profit: Part 1 — Why E-books?
An e-book is a book, article, or other self-contained written material that is circulated electronically, usually over the web. Although they’ve been slow to catch on — few people relish the thought of reading a novel-length book on their computer screen — e-books have started to gain a lot of popularity with the release of high-quality e-book reading devices like Amazon’s Kindle.
Lots of writers have written and distributed e-books, for various reasons:
- To make money: Since an e-book (unlike a website) is a discrete unit, it can be sold.
- To offer samples: Many writers give away a few chapters of their work to get people “hooked” and convince them to buy their book.
- To build awareness: Authors have given away e-books to win fans — hopefully they’ll buy your next book.
- To spread information: Sometimes you have a topic that you want to write about that isn’t worthwhile to publish — it’s either too short to make a full book worthwhile or the audience is too small. E-book costs are lower (often zero) so publishing via e-book often makes better sense.
- To show reader appreciation: Some writers publish e-books as freebies to thank their readers for their patronage.
- To promote other products: E-books can be filled with links to your website, to your other books on Amazon, or anywhere else on the Web.
- To get numbers: An unestablished writer looks good if s/he can go to a publisher showing that they’ve sold 10,000 copies of their e-book.
- To have control: An e-book allows a writer to control the presentation of their work in a way that posting it on the web doesn’t.
- To self-publish cheaply: With their low investment, e-books are an attractive alternative to traditional self-publishing.
- To supplement paper publication: Many authors offer the choice f an e-book alongside their traditional paper copies, for readers who use e-book devices, prefer to read on their computer, or just want the instant gratification of downloading a book instead of waiting for it to be mailed.
I’m sure there are other reasons I haven’t even thought of, too. The main point is that producing and distributing e-books is fairly cheap, and can make you some money either directly (through sales) or indirectly (through promoting your “brand”).
Just as there are a lot of reasons to write e-books, there are a lot of things to write e-books about. Of course, you could just transform any unsold book-length manuscript into an e-book (I say “unsold” because you probably don’t want to compete with the publisher of your paper books — and may no have the legal right to according to your publishing contract). But the e-book format is ideal for shorter works, too — a 30-page “how to” book, a sampler of short stories, a short personal narrative, or a collection of travel photos.
An e-book is an opportunity for you to establish your expertise in your field or niche without replacing your “bread and butter” writing. Think about the things that you do well and offer up a representative sample. Just like writing a traditional book, the choice of topics is limited only by your knowledge and taste and the demand you are trying to fill. If there’s a topic you’ve always thought about writing on but couldn’t imagine filling 250 pages with it, consider writing an e-book instead.