3 Steps To Avoiding the eBook Yawn
How to create an eBook that works better by design
Content creation seems to suffer from low expectations, especially when it comes to answering the question “How to design an eBook.” I have seen even major content marketing firms put out slap-dash collections of barely edited content that lack either a compelling, unifying concept, well-written and edited copy or an appealing design that ties in with and enhances the overall brand personality. The content may be great, but the poor delivery diminishes its impact, and the willingness of others to share it.
Content Creation Is A Conceptual Dilemma for a Tactically Oriented Field
For all the talk of the need for quality content, social media and content marketers often seem more comfortable focusing on the mechanisms of delivery than on the message delivered. That may be simply because strategic and tactical planning employs a different, more methodical kind of creativity that does content creation, which needs to be approached not as a bucket to fill but an “aha!” to discover and launch.
What is the “Aha!” in Your Content?
When Mark Schaefer asked if I would design an eBook based on a successful post, I was obviously starting at an advantage: Mark is a skilled communicator and content creator who had called on 35 professional friends to contribute to the original piece. His “Aha!” moment in editing the original post was to observe, organize and highlight the common threads in his contributors’ commentaries. My “Aha!” was simply observing that he organized them into an imperative structure, starting always with “Be.” Hence, the opportunity to create “The Be Attitudes of Facebook Influence,” not simply mounting a clever play on that most famous sermon but using it to emphasize this eBooks’ not-dissimilar exhortations to genuine helpfulness.
With an overarching concept in mind, I was then able to apply my three steps on how to design an effective eBook:
- Be simple and clear. Simplicity = clarity = understandability = likeability = share ability. White space is your friend. Busy design for design’s sake is your enemy.
- Reflect, and enhance, the brand’s personality. Mark employs good, consistent brand colors and has a distinctive graphic element for the sub-brand of his [grow} blog: those slightly funky brackets. The colors are used throughout to highlight information, as well as to “make things pretty” (never a sufficient objective in and of itself). The brackets highlight the key points, the “Be” this and that. And it all rests in as much white space as the fairly substantial content would allow.
- Be visual but relevant. Truth to tell, eBooks that compile comments from multiple luminaries are not uncommon. Even more commonplace is the default use of the contributors’ profile photos in lieu of visuals that might actual enhance their messages. What, are we all realtors or car dealers or personal injury lawyers, with no more imagination than to plaster our own mugs all over our communications, as if our personal appearance was a consumer benefit? To avoid that trap I gave considerable thought about, and invested a reasonable amount of time searching for, photos that would speak both to the point being made on a page and do so in a way consistent with Mark’s own brand image (accessible, likeable, straightforward… my partial summation, not his).
I would, of course, be delighted to create something similar for you – but regardless of who designs your next piece of content, I encourage you to observe these three keys, too.
Please leave a comment with your tips on how to create an eBook