Why Make An eBook?
My father is a certified Master Gardener. He’s always enjoyed teaching, and the program allows him to share his love of plants and botany while teaching. It’s a win-win situation for him.
It also means that he creates tons of handouts. He creates them at his own expense, and the information probably gets lost in a stack of papers somewhere.
“I don’t like killing trees for handouts that aren’t going to be used,” he says.
A friend of mine is busy replacing her print library of craft books with eBook versions. I ask her why she’s buying books she already owns.
“I have shelves of these books upstairs,” she tells me, “but I can carry the whole library just in a gadget the size of a paperback.”
Since the summer of 2010, I’ve talked to hundreds of people about eBooks. The reasons people like eBooks vary widely. Environmental concerns, decluttering, the ability to have a “large print” book without buying a special edition, and portability are just some of the reasons I’ve heard from readers. But all of the readers I’ve spoken to switched quickly and they switched nearly completely.
This is great for anyone who wants an audience.
Unlike a paper book, an eBook is accessible to anyone, anywhere who can access the Internet. Distribution and storage costs are very low compared to paper – hopefully for obvious reasons. Because you can produce an eBook yourself, you don’t have to have a lot of cash to get started. And digital publishing is still a growing market, especially in niche and specialized areas.
Think about this for a second. Let’s say that there are 1000 people interested in MacGuffins worldwide. You know half of them would be interested in buying and reading your book about the inner philosophical turmoil MacGuffins face. But it’s still a bad deal for a traditional publisher. Without something like print on demand (POD), they’d be shipping your book to various stores hoping that they got it in a store near someone interested, and that the someone happens to see it. In the meantime, it’s taking up space in the bookstore which could be used for a more generically profitable book (Sparkling Vampire Wizards School IV, probably).
But if it sits on your website, it can be found from Google. You can engage the MacGuffin fan forums and let them know about it. Even if there’s only one MacGuffin fan in each city in the US, a book that would have lost money in paper suddenly becomes profitable.
I’m not going to lie to you: eBooks are not instant money. The example above would work best if you were already engaged with the MacGuffin community. They knew and respected you, and were interested in what you had to say. That’s the marketing side of things, and a great place to start is Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Crush It!.
You can look at it the way my dad can. He’s currently spending money to create material that’s in demand. Even if he only makes five bucks a month from making an eBook version… that’s still five bucks a month he didn’t have before.
This post is part of So You Want to Make an eBook?. I’m releasing this book in sections on my blog, but when it’s all finished I will offer the whole thing as a single eBook. Everyone who donates toward its production (use the coffee cups to the right, note that it’s because of this effort) will get a free copy of this eBook. You can find all the posts here.