Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to Write a User-Friendly eBook


Right now, someone, somewhere will be embarking on the writing of an eBook. Why? Some do it to make some money; it's one of the easiest ways to start an online business.

Others do it to share information they may have for those in similar financial, social or medical situations; maybe you want to share how you beat cancer or how you got out of debt.
Whatever your reason, there are some basic rules to consider that will make the final product more professional and. So, let look at some of them.

Anyone that embarks on writing an eBook will undoubtedly have read many as well. You will know from this that you must write in an appealing way that maintains the reader's attention. After all, you want them to read ALL your eBook don't you? Plus, you'll want them to come back for more if you are building an online business.

There are many tricks you can use to keep your readers' attention.

Anecdotes give practical examples of what you are trying to explain. These give readers confidence that what you are saying really does work. They are also a great way of explaining complicated topics.

Images are also a powerful tool. They can make topics clearer and they will stick in a reader's mind longer than 5000 words of text. They also break the eBook up and give the reader "markers" to parts that interest them.

Note-boxes or sidebars are also good for summarizing a point or providing additional information. Like images, they break the text up and make the reading experience more enjoyable.

Write in a conversational style so the reader feels that you are talking just to them. This way they feel that they are the only one benefiting from your information and that makes it more valuable to them.

Don't write long sentences or paragraphs. They become difficult to read and detract from the experience. Your eBook is more likely to be put down and not picked up again.

You should also change the length of your paragraphs and sentences so you don't send your readers to sleep. Blocks of text that are all the same length will lose the reader's attention and you'll be lucky of they are awake by Page 10!

We mentioned earlier the use of images as a way of breaking up text. It may be that you can't use images to any great extent; but there are other tricks.

A very powerful one is the use of numbered and bulleted lists. Even with the most basic of word-processing programs you can include different types of bullets and even use custom pictures as bullet icons. These make your topic easier for the reader to absorb and also to give them a mental break from blocks of text.

Finally, think about the design of your eBook. Select a font that's easy to read, and stick to it. You may be tempted to change fonts as a way of trying to make it more interesting. Don't. All it does is confuse your readers and they will switch-off.

I recommend either one and a half or double line spacing. Spacing the lines too far apart make it difficult for the reader to track where they are. Too close makes it dull.

Also, choose a font size that is in proportion to the line spacing you are using. You can get away with a larger font (say 14 point) with 1.5 line spacing but 8 point will look weird. Experiment with different combinations to find one that suits you but remember - what looks OK on the screen may look dreadful in print. Think about how your readers are probably going to read the final eBook (most print PDF eBooks – the idea of the paperless world is myth!).

Lastly, add page numbers and a header to each page with the title of your eBook. I've lost count of the number of times I have been infuriated by the number of eBooks that don't have page numbers. Also, adding a title in the header is a good way of reminding the reader what they are reading and who wrote it. Don't overcrowd headers and footers but use them wisely to give branding to the eBook (your company name or web address if you sell online).

Most importantly, don't forget to do a proper spelling and grammar check. You can even go to somewhere like elance.com and get someone to proof read it for you (for a fee). It's worth it to end up with a credible eBook.

Like it or not, you and your topic will be judged by the standard of spelling and punctuation. Don't shortcut on quality for fear of some criticism. It's better to find out before it is published.

That's it! By following the simple steps above you have just written your eBook. All that is left for you to do is publish it online and get visitors to your website so they can read it. But those topics are a whole new ball-game and best left for another day.