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From Ebook To Print Book: Five Pitfalls

Nov 2, 2007
Has anyone else noticed a trend of books, both self-published and from commercial publishers, that were originally ebooks and have not completely shaken the unfortunate signs of their origin?

1.Since ebooks can be sold easily at 80-100 pages, but print books cannot, the book version gains length through appendices that take up one-third of the page count. Sometimes the appendices are quite tangential to the main topic, and other times they contain golden information that should have been better integrated with the main content. There's also padding evident within the book, especially a lot of large illustrations, cartoons or Powerpoint slides that add little to the reader's learning experience.

2.Because ebooks are often sold with a lot of time-limited bonuses, these books also contain bonuses printed in them - bonuses that have already expired when the book was purchased! This just happened to me with a hardcover 2007 book from John Wiley purchased through Amazon.com - not from some aftermarket source. What were they thinking?!

3.Ebooks, both free and for-fee, often function as a first step in a marketing funnel, with a disproportionate emphasis on moving the reader into the next, higher-priced offering, such as a boot camp or seminar. I've read two hardcover books recently that have too prominent and too pushy a pitch for the author's very expensive seminar. A book should be a self-contained information unit, with other offerings mentioned but not with a hard sell. All promos should be placed after the main text, not within the chapters.

4.It's common to create and sell or distribute an ebook anthology by asking contributors to send something in on a loosely defined theme and accepting all the contributions, with wildly uneven quality and relevance to one another. If it's got a salable title, people will buy this sort of thing as a print book also, but reviews will be so-so at best, and the book is destined for a quick death.

5.Above all, laziness abounds. Since most ebooks have a short shelf life, there's little thought given to making the contents substantive enough to withstand the evolution of the marketplace for a year or two. People who buy books for their personal library don't want something that will make little sense when they pull a volume down from their shelf in three years' time.

People can be fooled once, but book lovers won't buy that author's "books" again when it's really an ebook in the trappings of a book - without a book's soul. Additionally, one of the big benefits for an author of publishing in print is getting books into libraries. Librarians don't normally purchase books with the above weaknesses.

Want to turn an ebook into a print book that fully works in its new format? Give it depth, organize it well, use quality control if coordinating multiple contributions, make it useful and relevant for years to come, and keep self-promotion low-key. Then you'll have readers eagerly awaiting your next book - and the next and the next - to add to their personal libraries.
About the Author
Marcia Yudkin is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and other books from mainstream publishers like HarperCollins and Penguin USA. Learn more about her home-study course on becoming an information marketer: http://www.yudkin.com/informationempire.htm
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