Sales of ebooks are predicted to overtake paperback books by 2014. For authors especially, simply to bury your head in the sand by saying you prefer a printed book is not an option. Aside from any other consideration, increased royalties make writing with the ‘ereader’ in mind a prudent strategy.
An ebook can, of course, be an electronic copy of a pre-existing printed book. If, however, you are writing a book from scratch, there are some benefits for both you and the ‘ereader’ to adopting a slightly different approach. Note that this article mainly relates to writing of non-fiction.
The new breed of reader
The term ‘ereader’ can now refer to both the device itself and the person holding the device. Personally, I am favouring reading non-fiction on my iPad but still reading fiction in print. The reason for this is to do with reading patterns.
For me fiction is something I read curled up on the sofa at weekends or relaxing on holiday – both in long reading sessions when I can get lost in the book. Non-fiction is something I absorb perhaps a chapter at a time while commuting, in between meetings or in bed at either end of the day. I may dip back into a book for research later and often I may even read a book out of sequence; just diving into specific chapters that take my fancy.
eBooks can, of course, be read on a desktop or laptop computer. The Amazon Kindle device with its e-ink display that can be read in bright sunlight is becoming the ‘Hoover’ of the eReader world. The fact it currently has a monochrome display should be born in mind when it comes to both cover design and embedded images.
iPads have the advantage of a larger, colour display and the ability to have audio and video embedded in the ‘book’. Don’t try and read one outside on a sunny day though.
Smartphones, typically iPhones, are also potential target devices but of course have a smaller display to consider. Making your books readable on a phone gives you access to a huge market of commuters and those with short attention spans.
For all devices, as text can be resized by the reader, the concept of page numbers flies outside the window.
A different approach
So bearing all of this in mind, content needs to be delivered in a slightly different way. Here’s my top seven tips which you will note are used in this article:
- Include a hyperlinked table of content.
- Summarise each chapter in bullets at the start or the end for the speed, skimming reader.
- Make sure you use structured headings – Heading 1, Heading 2 etc – and no fancy formatting (unless you know what you are doing).
- Restrict chapter lengths to around 1500 words – i.e. 6 or so pages in a standard book – and keep chapter lengths balanced and around the same time.
- Less is more – be brief, be concise – don’t use more words than necessary.
- Ensure images work in both monochrome and colour.
- Read your book out loud before ‘publishing’ it. If you find yourself pausing for breath, you need punctuation. Record it too and generate an audio book at the same time.
Using all of these tips also works in favour of the writer. You could, for example, write a book a bit at a time as a blog or set of articles. For example, I am leaving this series open so it can morph into a book if it merits it and generates interest. This is a great way of testing the market. Book writing then becomes less of a marathon and more of an enjoyable daily routine.
- Be mindful of the person reading an ebook
- Be aware of the different types of ereader devices
- Make your job as a writer much easier
I’ve written two books recently in small chunks, a day at a time specifically with ‘ereaders’ in mind – they are currently being merged and republished as one bigger book in print …
- Flavours of Thought: Recipes for Fresh Thinking
- The Little Book of Floughts
For more information on both, see www.flavoursofthought.com
Originally written for and posted in www.iaccw.com