By David Meerman Scott published June 16, 2010

Want to Write an Ebook? Get Inspired with These Tips and Samples

One of the most powerful forms of content marketing is the ebook.

Never before has a medium allowed an idea (or a product) to spread instantly to millions of consumers the way that the Web does. Ebooks are true examples of content marketing at work, and they hold the potential to influence many thousands of people in ways that traditional marketing cannot.

Wondering how to create an ebook of your own and get it shared? One of the best ways is to study other eBooks to learn how to put one together. Here are four keys for executing a successful ebook with an example of each.

Write with your reader in mind

You want someone to want to read your ebook, so make the text as engaging and relevant as possible.

  • Think like a publisher by understanding your audience. Consider what market problems your audience has, and develop a topic that appeals to your readers.
  • Consider writing in a lighter, more conversational style than you would in a white paper, marketing brochure, or Web page. Keep things fun and interesting.
  • Open with a story. Use examples and stories throughout.
  • Find a great title that grabs the reader’s attention. Use a subtitle to describe what the ebook will deliver.
  • Hire a professional editor to help you through multiple drafts and a proofreader to finalize the copy.

Example: CareerBuilder wrote a fantastic ebook for recruiters called Better Recruitment Starts with Search. As the title suggests, the piece is filled with insider tips and tricks to help recruiters find the best resumes; it’s all about the reader.

Invest in a good design

While content is important, the design of your ebook is equally critical. Your readers want to be entertained while being educated, so make the design inviting.

  • Present your ebook in a landscape format, rather than the white paper’s typical portrait format. This design choice signals to your readers that the content inside is interesting, unlike a boring old white paper.
  • Include interesting graphics and images with the text.
  • Have the ebook professionally designed.

Example: There are a lot of ebooks that have a good design, but check out The 6 Essential Elements to an Exceptional Shave. A very clean, easy-to-read design with good graphics.  As another example, here’s an oldie but goodie: Marketing Apple: 5 Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine.

Make it easy for people to read and share your ebook

The great thing about eBooks is that they are a great tool to spread ideas. Here are some ways to expand the reach of your eBook.

  • Ebooks (as viral marketing tools) should always be free and should never have a registration requirement.
  • Put a Creative Commons license on the content so people know they can freely share your copyrighted material.

Example: My ebook The New Rules of Viral Marketing has been downloaded more than a million times is ranked #4 on Google for the phrase “viral marketing,” has driven my dead tree book into bestseller list, and has led to hundreds of thousands in speaking gig revenue. If I had required registration, I would have not come close to achieving that result.

Have a promotional strategy

In addition to making your ebook easy to share, you also need to proactively get the word out. Here are some ideas.

  • Create a landing page from which people can download your ebook. For an example, check out the download page for Fed Square Cookbook.
  • Promote the ebook like crazy:
    • Offer it on your Web site with easy-to-find links.
    • Write about it on your blog if you have one.
    • Add a link to your employees’ email signatures.
    • Get partners to offer links.
  • To drive viral marketing, alert bloggers, analysts, and members of the mainstream media that the ebook is available, and send them a download link. Don’t send the actual PDF document directly unless asked.

Example: Seth Godin created an ebook called What Matters Now and got hundreds of people to talk it up resulting in tons of downloads.

What other great ebooks have you seen? Or do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Author: David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott's 2007 book The New Rules of Marketing & PR opened people's eyes to the new realities of content marketing. Six months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list and published in more than twenty languages, New Rules, now in its second edition, is now a modern business classic. Scott's popular blog and hundreds of speaking engagements around the world give him a singular perspective on how businesses are implementing new strategies to reach buyers. You can follow him on Twitter @dmscott.

Other posts by David Meerman Scott

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