If the goal of your white paper is to spread a message, then you want to get that message in as many places as possible. Why then limit your white paper’s distribution to your website? Or make it available in only a PDF format?
Regardless of whether or not you want to call a white paper an eBook, the millions of Amazon Kindles, B&N Nooks, Sony Readers and Kobo eReaders—not to mention the literally millions of iPad, iPhone, Android, PC and Mac devices with eReading software—are a “reading friendly” market for your white paper content. (We’ll call devices and software together “eReaders” for this post.).
What makes eReaders so ideal for reading? Here are four important features that benefit white paper authors:
1. Your readers can share passages with Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
2. Your readers can highlight and save passages for repeated reference.
3. You can follow which passages your audience finds most interesting (great market research!).
4. Your readers can annotate passages by adding notes.
(Besides, have you tried reading a PDF on a Smartphone?)
Several non-traditional publishers have already discovered the benefits of publishing internal documents as eReader compatible eBooks.
Hubspot and MarketingSherpa, two B2B marketing services firms, make their thought papers available for purchase in Amazon’s Kindle store. It’s the same content available on their website but by offering it for sale on the world’s largest ecommerce site they are reaching a completely different audience—someone that most likely would not have otherwise found their website.
Not appropriate for sale? You can still create an eReader eBook file so your audience can load it on their eReader. MailChimp does just this for their free email marketing guides by giving prospects and customers three files: PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and ePub (Nook, iBookstore, etc.).
There are six basic steps to prepare your white paper to be read on an eReader:
- Use Word and follow best practices in formatting your document. Use style sheets, avoid extra lines and don’t use spaces for tabs.
- Download a copy of Calibre, a free (donations welcome) eBook library manager. This tool will help you convert your document to Mobi and ePub file formats.
- Save your Word document as a filtered HTML file. If your white paper has images you’ll need to combine the HTML document and image folder into a zip file before importing into Calibre.
- Invest in a book cover that looks professional. It is true what they say about judging books by the cover. Shoppers usually do.
- Spend time compiling your metadata, aka “information about information”. This is your title, description, keywords, categories and other elements that classify and help you sell your eBook. Google’s keyword tool is helpful in this regard.
- If you plan to sell your white paper eBook, now is the time to setup your account. Visit Amazon’s self-publishing portal KDP or Barnes & Noble’s Pubit to do that.
You can also review my comprehensive pre-publishing checklist. Otherwise, your file is done. You can check it by downloading one of the free software eReaders or load it on your eReader to see how it looks.
By the way, still wondering if someone will buy an eBook containing information that is otherwise freely available? Last July Ars Technica sold 3,000 copies of their Kindle eBook Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica Review in 24 hours. That’s net revenue of $10,500 for something they were giving away for free on their website.
There is no question that offering your white paper in three file formats is extra work. But that extra work can make a difference in generating interest and exposure for your message.
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