Three Questions to Tell You if an Ebook, Printed Book, or Interactive IBook Is Right For Your Authorship Goals

Whatever you write, whether it’s a blog or a series of books, any writing project needs to match your goals and accomplish what you want readers to do after reading. Three people have asked me this month whether they need an E-Book or a printed book. The way to learn this answer is to work backward from your end goal and then see which path will get you there.

The last thing I want is for a client to order 1000 books and not be able to sell them when all they needed was a Kindle PDF download to give away. On the other hand, I don’t want a client to only do a short E-Book because it’s cheaper, and then find that it does nothing to advance their ability to book speaking gigs.

If you want to write a book and need to decide whether it should be an E-Book or a printed book, here are some questions to lead you to the best decision to achieve your goals:

1. Do you want the book to be a free download?

If yes, you need an E-Book. In fact, you may benefit from creating a small 20-30 page free download with some of your ideas, and then use the other ideas to create paid content in the form of another, more content-rich book or lesson series. I don’t suggest a free E-Book that’s longer than 50 pages because people expect them to be digested in one sitting and not a resource they will return to for reference.

On the other hand, you can embed videos and hyperlinks in an Ebook, and you can give it an ISBN number and sell it, so it doesn't have to be free. They don't yet have all the functionality of an iBook, but they're making progress.

A free E-Book is ideal for someone who is trying to build credibility and a following. It gives you more space than a blog so you can flesh out content-rich ideas and gives you more words to build a relationship with the readers.

2. Do you want to sell the book at events?

If you are already speaking and want to sell your book at your speaking events, then you will want to have physical copies available for purchase right there. In fact, if you want the book to promote your speaking engagements, you will also want physical copies to include with your speaking gig solicitations. You might be an “author” with an E-Book, but you won’t garner the same level of respect that you will get from having a printed copy.

The level of difference between self-published copies and publishing house copies does matter to some extent. For instance, some bookstores might not carry your self-published book, but on the other hand, if your book is well-written and you market it well, you might do as well or better with self-publishing than you would with a traditional publisher, which these days does little to promote its writers.

A physical book is ideal for someone who is public speaking and trying to convert listeners into paying clients for your services or product. This is a good way to be seen as a credible expert in your field.

3. Do you want to include links and embed videos or use color images with no limitations?

If you said “yes” to these questions, then you may want to create an interactive iBook, which is quite different from a PDF download. These interactive books are respected and highly stylized with cutting edge digital technology. They allow you to share more media in one place and appeal to a variety of learners, whether visual, audio, or kinesthetic. Because this is a brand new hybrid approach to books, the standards are being created with each new book, so you’ll have a lot of flexibility to dream big. The downside is that it can be hard to find someone who’s an expert in this kind of book design. Fortunately, you readers can give Bee Kapitan a buzz and see how she can transform your iBook dreams into reality. Her iBook, How to Say Cheese, has won multiple awards. iBooks can currently only be read on an IPad or Mac devices, but if that's your audience, showing up on their platform can be an amazing way to find your tribe.

What questions do you have about whether your goals for authorship lead you toward an Ebook or printed book? Have you tried one or the other and met your goals? I want to hear all about it! If you have any other questions about the differences between these different kinds of media, just ask!