I caught up with a friend yesterday during a rather long car ride. Naturally, the topic of ebooks was broached. My friend (who’ll go unnamed for now) is an accomplished author, acclaimed blogger and one of the leading experts in his (or her) field. And even though this person is deeply digital, she (or perhaps he) was having a tough time breaking free from some carry over baggage from the pre-ebook publishing world.
When we boiled it down, the issues at hand were space and time. Time, in that the author had big ideas and a lot of work ahead to shape those ideas into a book. Would the author go ebook? Absolutely, but the total time investment was the same. The answer, it turns out, was space. And by space, I mean distance. And by distance, I mean:
eBooks can be shorter.
To illustrate my point, we’ll pretend I talked my friend out of writing a mythical book titled 100 Things You Can Do In Greece. Instead, the new plan is to take all that content and split it up over ten ebooks, each featuring just ten things. 10 X 10 = 100! Here’s why this strategy works better in the ebook world.
Shorter ebooks are better targeted.
This happens almost by definition. People traveling to Greece cannot possibly cover the entire country. Yes, some may be scuba diving in Mykonos one day and then are off to meditate in the monasteries of Meteora the next. But most won’t be. Focus your attention and the book has greater value to a specific audience.
Shorter ebooks have a longer shelf life.
The more broad your ebook, the greater the chance of one thing changing to render it obsolete. Yes, this can happen to short ebooks too, but it’s much simpler to update and republish a short ebook than to go back to the well on a long one.
Shorter ebooks are more consumable.
With e-readers, people are discovering their desire for snack-sized content. And unlike sneaking food between meals, consuming written content doesn’t make you fat. If anything, it makes you smarter! Keeping the content concise increases the value, as your readers won’t have to skip sections that don’t appeal to them.
Lots of short ebooks build and reinforce your brand.
Who do you think is the greater expert: someone who’s penned a single travel book on Greece, or an author who’s written ten? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Short ebooks keep readers happy.
Today’s ebook readers sneak in reads at odd points during the day. Maybe it’s standing in line at the DMV. Maybe it’s a 3-hour plane ride. And while e-readers make it easy to bookmark a book of any length, there’s something special about the feeling of accomplishment when a book is finished.
Short ebooks keep readers coming back for more.
If you’ve done it right, your readers will finish the last page, return to the marketplace and order your next short ebook. Don’t leave them hanging (unless that was your intention.) Make sure your short ebook is complete, even if there is more to the story. And then give them that more!
In a world where people almost always have instant access to the internet, it’s less important for your ebooks to be the total compendium of knowledge. In a world where ebooks sell for less than $5, attentions wander and new loyalties are discovered with little personal economic impact. This is the world we live in. Adapt.
And here’s the best news: you probably already have enough content to create a short ebook! In a few days (maybe weeks?), we’ll be announcing a six-week online training course you might be interested in. Keep watching the blog or sign up for the newsletter in the upper right-hand corner of this page. We’ll announce it there as soon as we’re ready.