One of our specialties is working with businesses and schools to help them develop an eBook publishing strategy. For the past two months I've been helping a local newspaper develop and launch an eBook publishing operation to leverage their considerable content assets. I'll be announcing their venture this coming month but in the meantime I thought it would be helpful to share three observations about repurposing previously published content.
More than “conversion” and a book cover
The immediate temptation for owners of previously published content is to simply assemble the information into a Word document, convert it, add a book cover and distribute to the Kindle (and other) stores. But before you ever get to the production process consider the differences between your current publishing operation and the realities of modern eBook publishing:
- You no longer control your content's presentation. Your content is now on a shelf with similar and often competitive content.
- Your content is subject to public peer review in the form of customer reviews.
- Your eBook, if it is done right, is most likely a totally different product than its previous incarnation.
For all these reasons your business, university or association needs to plan its entry into the world of eBook publishing. This is where the role of publisher comes into play. Someone needs to be in charge of defining and managing the publishing strategy before the team begins production and marketing.
I begin by asking clients these 3 questions:
1. Are you selling what you have, or what readers want? What worked as an article, post or white paper did so because it addressed a specific interest or need. Instead of combing the archives your publisher should be asking questions about the intended audience for these new eBooks. What are their interests and how can you shape past content to meet them? For example, my client has an extensive collection of reviews written by a well respected columnist that used a star rating system. Initially they sought to publish these according to ratings. But would you buy a collection of 2 star reviews? Instead we are organizing them by subject and the subject focus is based on search engine keyword research.
2. Do you have enough of the right content? Expect to do some re-writing, editing, and new writing. You may also have to add or change images. I find it helpful to visit the Amazon.com Kindle store and search for similar titles. Buy or sample a number of these to evaluate your competition.
You should also take advantage of the medium. For example, previously published content may not have had hyperlinks to supplemental material. Look for opportunities to add these. What about fill-in-the-blank content? This doesn't work in eBook form so drop it or re-create it in PDF form and refer readers to your website.
3. Who is the author and how will they help market the eBook? Every book has an author, whether that's an individual or a team. In business self-publishing the organization is often the author and as such marketing becomes an institutional commitment. This may sound easy but there are usually other stakeholders who need to be brought into the marketing strategy or the initiative will suffer. For example, a clothing retailer launching a publishing program had to solicit support of the company's retail stores to provide in-store marketing support. A newspaper or magazine has to devote print and website inventory to promote the new titles. The publisher is in the best position to ensure these internal marketing opportunities are fully leveraged.
Having content is not enough, you need a publisher
Organizations that want to make their content available to a wider audience—for profit or promotional reasons—need to identify their publisher early in the publishing effort. It's the job of this individual to define the strategy and vision for the publishing effort, and then lead that effort through production and marketing.
Who is that in your organization? We specialize in helping businesses and content owners through each step of the eBook publishing process. Contact me for a free consultation to discuss your specific needs and objectives.
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