At some point, you’ve probably developed documentation to attract clients, educate customers, or provide instruction on the products or services you offer. Considering the effort put into creating the material, as well as the pool of expertise behind it, you might think about re-working some of your content to produce a general release eBook.
As technical writers, we review client material (when available), pare it down, and organize it to provide specific information to a specific audience—let’s say, for example, a user manual for software that generates K-12 websites. The purpose of this manual is to show users how to use the software effectively. If, however, we take a step back and look at the material with a different slant, we might write an eBook called Ten Ways to Generate Parent Participation Using Your Teacher Web Page. While this manual might have limited appeal to current customers who need help using the software, our eBook has the potential to spark creativity and true interest in these same users and attract any teacher who is responsible for maintaining a school web page.
Re-working content may seem like additional work that you don’t want or need, but putting a new face on information, and distributing it as an eBook, has its benefits. Professionals, corporations, and organizations are using eBooks to build credibility, serve as prospect giveaways, provide perks to current customers, and/or generate revenue. Hmmm—is the picture becoming a little clearer?
The beauty of this format is that anyone can create, publish, and distribute an eBook. Authoring software makes formatting an eBook easy: select a “look” or theme for your book; divide your content into sections or chapters; and enter your content. Voila! You have a fully formatted, printable document. Once you’ve completed your eBook, you can distribute it by email from your personal or company website, or through various marketing sites.
An eBook can cover any topic and be any length; eBooks with less than 20 pages are not uncommon. In fact, smart authors often break content into many smaller topics and create multiple eBooks. Rest assured, you are not facing an overwhelming task; you can always add content to or revise content in an eBook.
Best of all, there is virtually no cost to publishing an eBook because there are no printing costs. Readers typically view eBooks on screen, although they can print them on their printers at their own expense.
Sounds great! So what’s the downside? Quality control. The ability to publish eBooks quickly, easily, and without cost enables amateur authors to release shoddy work with weak content, poor structure, awkward layout, grammatical errors, and typos. This is problematic because just as a well-prepared eBook boosts your credibility, so too a poorly written eBook speaks negatively about you. If you want to write an eBook to represent you well, collaborate with an expert who can help focus your ideas, write or edit your material, format the eBook itself, and distribute your material. Enlisting a professional to keep an eye on the details allows you to focus on your message, and ultimately deliver a quality eBook to your audience.