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9 Things Your Readers Wish You Knew About E-Books

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As we recently downloaded and read a book on our Kindle about book marketing, it occurred to us that as readers, there are specific things we expect from e-books. When an e-book falls short of these expectations, we’re peeved and in the rare case, might even delete it from our e-readers.


The poor author whose e-book we’ve made disappear doesn’t stay with us, their book doesn’t get recommended, and the entire experience evaporates from memory.


We had lower expectations about e-books a couple years ago, but so many authors and publishers are getting it right that readers are raising the bar. Wise Ink has published one e-book, and in retrospect, there are a few things we would have done differently. Specifically, we’ve learned that formatting your e-book is tricky and some of the rules that apply for laying out a printed book are different for e-books.


Here are a few tips your readers want you to remember as you make your book into an e-book:


1. Graphics are distracting

As much as graphics provide an enhanced reader experience for certain printed books, it rarely works as well in an ebook. Most readers prefer straight text, nothing fancy. Simple is good.


2. There are other e-readers besides the Kindle

Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the easy and free book-to-Kindle platform tool, you might be tempted to go that route and ignore the other e-book retailers. Amazon is the most popular place readers go anyway, right? Sure.


But what about other e-readers besides the Kindle?  There are still readers who own tablets and e-readers AND prefer to buy their e-books from Barnes & Noble, iBooks and others. Sure the Kindle is the number one e-reader, but if you have the budget, why not make your book available across all platforms. A service like BookBaby and Smashwords can help you here.


3. Make the price right

Usually, a e-book price over $5.00 won’t fly, especially if you’re unknown and it’s your first book. Readers expect a bargain when it comes to e-books. A price between $0.99 and $4.99 is the expected norm for most genres.


Making your e-book free might even be a good idea, so it reaches more people and creates buzz. Here’s an excellent article from BubbleCow on e-book pricing that we especially found helpful.

4. E-Book subscription services are the future

Services like Scribd and Oyster are quickly becoming a “Netflix” for readers. For a price of between $8.99 and $9.95 per month, readers can have access to an unlimited e-book library. As an author, consider the numbers of readers you’ll reach having your e-book available through these subscription services.


As an indie author, using a site like Bookbaby makes your book available through several retailers and also through Scribd. Smashwords also submits e-books to Scribd and just struck a deal with Oyster. Your readers will benefit if you’re thinking about how to reach them beyond traditional retail outlets.

5. Poorly edited e-books are annoying

An e-book that hasn’t been edited is obvious to your reader and is annoying. Even if it’s a short e-book, your readers will appreciate it more if you’ve taken the time to have it professionally edited and proofread.


6. Your cover will make or break a buying decision

As readers, we look forward to perusing covers. We want to be captivated and emotionally motivated to buy whatever a book is selling. This doesn’t change with e-books, in fact, covers are arguably more important with an e-book than print copies.


With a physical copy of a book, holding it and flipping through in it’s entirety assists the buyer in making their decision. Not so with an e-book. Also, the thumbnail image of your cover might be all a reader sees. Therefore, invest in a cover that truly sells the content to the fullest.


7. E-reading is on the rise

E-book readers are growing every year. This is not bound to change in the near future unless something even more convenient and affordable comes along. Every author should realistically and strategically approach their decision to offer content in e-book form.


8. Value is golden

The more valuable your e-book (compelling story, original tips/tools, access to something fabulous), the more committed your audience. Your e-book isn’t just a tool to expand your audience and it shouldn’t be a fluff-filled pamphlet to upsell more stuff.


Even if it’s short, it should be helpful, entertaining, or both. Think about ways to over deliver. Resources, website links, sample material, and how-to instructions are a few ways to add additional value.


9. Promotion, endorsements, and reviews matter

There’s an art to writing sequels and subsequent books — it’s called effective promotion of your first book. Promotion, endorsements, and positive reviews are the fuel you’ll need to sell more books. So, ask for endorsement and reviews. Also, choose a network of folks to help you spread the word about your e-book.

If you’re writing an e-book do you have a plan in place? Or are you on the fence about releasing your book as an e-book?

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  1. Excellent points! I am planning to publish a novel in ebook form at some point in the future. My biggest issue is the cover–I’m so bad at cover design so I’ll have to hire someone to do that! :)

    • Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for the comment. Let us know if you need help with your cover. We’ve got fantastic resources!

  2. A useful checklist. I’m not ready yet, but I do read a lot of material on Kindle. It is nice to know beforehand what works and what does not.

  3. Thank you so much for these tips on e-publishing my first book which is a novel. I have completed half of it and am “screening” editors while I write the second half. I definitely intend to only e-publish.

    I want to read my scenes for a local writers club or group. How can I connect with one in my area?

  4. What an informative site! Thank you sooo much! I hope I will be able to publish my novel in about a month. I have friends that plan to buy the book and leave comments, but till then, there won’t be any customer reviews. Is that a bad start for the e-book, or should one wait with the marketing till more customer reviews show up? Thanks :-)

  5. Yes, its a fact that poorly edited e-books are annoying. I have also experienced the thing. For all those who make e-books must unerstand the value of quality.

  6. I just had the discussion about price with another first time Author. She set her price at over 20 Dollars for print, and at 9.99 for ebook. I pointed out to her, as an avid reader I would not pay for a well-known author this much money, she just got mad at me. I’d rather sell 200 books for 2.99 than no book for 9.99.
    Great blog post, thanks!

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