Yesterday I announced the release of Blogging Tips 2nd ebook ‘Choosing A Web Host : Helping You Choose The Right Host For Your Blog‘. I thought I would share some of my thoughts on writing the book and give you a little inside look at one of the issues which was holding me back from releasing the book earlier.
Writing the book
I really enjoyed writing this latest ebook. The last ebook I released was the first one I had ever published so I had to spend a lot of time researching certain issues and familiarising myself with Word again (I hadn’t used it regularly for years).
Being more experienced with writing an ebook this time around, I was able to write it a little quicker and plan things out better. It also provided a welcome change from writing blog posts; normally I would have to try and condense a lot of information into the one article but with an ebook I can expand on the topic and make sure I cover everything.
I would like to say a huge thank you to regular Blogging Tips author Jonathan Bailey (Plagiarism Today) for proofreading this book. Not only did he pick up a few small errors, he also provided some much needed constructive criticism.
One of the issues that Jonathan brought up was the look and feel of the ebook. To put it simply, the ebook doesn’t live up to the nice clean look we have on the live blog. I wouldn’t say that the book format is lower in quality than many other ebooks available online, though I don’t think the design quality of the ebook does this site justice.
Look & feel of the ebook
I had thought about this a lot over the last few days (the book was actually finished last weekend). I believe that I could probably improve the formatting a little in the book and make it slightly more presentable but here’s the problem; I’m not a designer. It would literally take me hours to do something that a designer would do better in a few minutes.
I do normally outsource all of my design work though it is difficult to find a good ebook designer. Most of the ebook design services I have found focus on the ebook cover and not on the look and feel of the ebook content. I did come across one designer who specialises on ebook design though he charges a few thousand dollars. I could justify this cost to myself for a paid product but I don’t think that it would be worthwhile paying for something I am releasing for free.
I was in a state of limbo for a day or so thinking it over before I came to the conclusion that I need to just release it now and then, if necessary, retrospectively update all books at a later date. Not the ideal solution but considering the alternative, probably the most practical.
Between finishing the book and receiving feedback from Jonathan, I managed to write around 20 pages of my next free ebook (over the course of 2 days). However, when I was contemplating what to do with the design I couldn’t develop it any more. Well, I suppose I could have but I didn’t want to write it and then come back and have to reformat all the styles again.
Another concern was increasing the time it would take to release a book i.e. even if I did manage to find a good designer, it might have taken them up to a week to provide the finished article. Plus, if the design was unique to the book and could not be reused, I’d have to go through the whole process every time I release a book.
Does design matter in an ebook?
Over the last few days, I have been wondering about how much design matters with an ebook. I believe that a professional looking cover will help someone download or purchase an ebook, but what about the content? How much does the look and feel of the ebook content contribute to it’s success?
To get a better understanding of this, I checked the 40+ ebooks which I have saved on my computer (all web development related). A few of the books had top notch professional designs, which had obviously been worked on by a designer; the SitePoint books for example are very impressive.
However, the majority of the ebooks were of a similar standard to mine i.e. they did not have a lot of bells or whistles but the content could still be easily read. Many of these ebooks were released by top bloggers with tens of thousands of subscribers whilst some will set you back a few dollars, which doesn’t imply that a basic ebook design will hinder success too much. Though can I objectively compare my ebook to others?
I’d love to hear your opinion on this. I agree with Jonathan in that the design quality of the books I have released so far could be improved, though I’m interested in hearing how important bloggers think this aspect of the book is (particularly since I will be releasing more very soon). Perhaps we’re just being perfectionists 🙂
Some questions to get your creative juices flowing:
- Is the size and type of font the most important factor in making an ebook readable?
- Does a good ebook need image backgrounds, css style boxes etc?
- Does a paid ebook need to be professional designed? Or would you be happy to purchase an ebook with a basic style if it had the content you desired?
Thanks for reading,