The recent unveiling of Apple’s iPad set the social networks ablaze with commentary. While many oohed and ahhed over the device’s shiny appearance and capability for making life and work run more smoothly, others wondered aloud (and on Twitter) if the gadget would only serve users as an expensive, tricked out Kindle-type monitor. To be certain, if Apple succeeded in anything with its initial push, they added fuel to already animated discussions on the future of publishing in the digital age. For the business using the Internet to strengthen brand visibility and customer reach, this represents progress worth watching, even if you don’t work in publishing.
Experts may debate whether or not print is dead, but it can be agreed upon that digital production of books and documents won’t fade anytime soon. Amazon.com reported a record high for Kindle eBook sales late in 2009, while document sharing sites Wattpad and Scribd boast thousands of available works – everything from novels to dissertations to poetry and plays – for download to laptops and smart phone reader applications.
Amateur writers are not the only ones making use of this exposure, either. Scribd, for one, distributes works by major corporations and publishers, including Ford and Simon and Schuster. Recently, self-publishing platform Smashwords, which allows authors to make content available for sale or free, signed agreements to allow the works of registered users to be distributed to Barnes and Noble’s website. Not to be outdone, Amazon cooperates with authors directly to sell their books via their Kindle store.
Bottom line: if you have written something worth sharing, and wide distribution can benefit your business, it should be seriously considered. All you need to do, once the writing and editing is completed, is plan accordingly. As you ponder this type of marketing strategy, ask yourself these questions:
1) What can I write about my company/products/services that people may want to read?
What is your main line of business? If you work in construction, perhaps you have extensive original material on home repairs and tips that can be collected in a digital booklet and distributed. If you deal in antique, you can lend your expertise to a pricing guide or series of articles on properly buying and selling items. For everything you do, you can provide instructions and insight.
When you do prepare work for distribution, take care to make certain your work is original, with attributions to other sources made where needed, and that your website and business information is provided. Cover art is not necessary, but if you feel it would help readership you can easily find royalty-free artwork online to use.
2) How do I format my book/lets?
Common formats of electronic documents include HTML and PDF, which may be created easily through the proper software or freeware. Other formats, readable on proprietary readers like Kindle or Sony’s reader, can be translated through free publishing services like Smashwords.
3) Where do I offer my book/lets?
For marketing purposes, it is beneficial to make any complimentary digital downloads easily attainable. Offer the files on your site’s server, and take advantage of free distribution channels like Wattpad, Scribd, Smashwords, and similar sites. Advertise links on your blog and social profiles for maximum exposure.
Similar to article marketing, creating digital downloads can work to lend authoritative value to your brand and increase awareness of your business. As people turn more toward sharing free content via social media and smart phones, so you have the opportunity to raise exposure of your work, products and services.