In the last few weeks, I’ve run into an issue three times. Now writing isn’t a big subject, so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. You see writing also isn’t a subject that evokes passion in people — especially professionals. Or maybe I should say excessive emotions rather than passion. You see writers tend to put their emotions onto the paper, not into their real lives. Maybe that’s one reason writers are such a laid back bunch — we expend the noisy emotions on paper and keep the quiet ones for real life.
In any case, two of these cases involved people claiming that eBooks weren’t real books. And that only printed books were worthy of serious consideration. I must be honest; one of them admitted that digital books — meaning real printed books copied to a digital format — were still valid.
At the same time, I was predicting the effect of the arrival of traditional publishers on the eBook scene.
This got me to thinking since I write both types of books. What is the difference between writing an eBook and writing a traditional book?
It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to determine what I meant by a book and an eBook. You see eBooks have developed a bad reputation. One that’s deserved. That of being poor quality and being typically a tempest in a teapot. A very tiny teapot.
So I had to put some limits around the terms.
Far too often eBooks are actually just reports with an over-inflated sense of self-importance. They’re really just white papers and extended report length pieces. They’re far too short to be honestly considered as a book or eBook. At most they might fit the definition of monograph. An essay or thesis to be more precise.
And second they are often poorly written and poorly edited. But that’s not a factor of the medium. That’s a factor of the expense and recognition of quality.
But both of these are a vanishing breed. They may last for a short time but the market is going to kill them soon.
On the other hand I also looked at books. And realized that books ran from novelty and executive length all the way up to tomes. So comparing writing different length books was going to be a problem.
The only way to be fair was to compare the same fruit of the writing tree… equal length books of the same type.
So what’s the difference between writing a very long eBook of a hundred pages and an executive length book of a hundred pages?
Does an eBook take less time? Nope.
Does an eBook take less effort? Nope.
Does an eBook take fewer steps? Nope.
Does an eBook take different steps? Not for the writing parts.
So what is the difference?
The publishing step. When writing an eBook you need to format the book in the form it will be sold in. When publishing using a traditional process the publisher does that.
But arguably that’s a publisher’s problem not the writer. And it’s really a function of the use of traditional publishers versus self publishing.
So the answer is… there is no difference. Writing an eBook is exactly the same as writing a traditional book.
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Glen Ford is an accomplished consultant, trainer and writer. He has far too many years experience as a trainer and facilitator to willingly admit.