How to Write for E-Book Readers

Are you considering writing an e-book?  You should give it some thought.  You’ll want to think about topic, title, length, graphics.  You’ll also want to think about how to write for e-book readers.
writing for e-book readers
Chances are, somewhere along the way, you learned how to write.  Those book reports in fourth grade.  Five-paragraph essays in eighth grade.  Freshman Comp in college.  An employer who expected a certain style.

Write For E-Book Readers Informally

Maybe you like it and think you’re a good writer.  Maybe you hate it and feel insecure with your writing skills.  Either way, there’s good news. You don’t have to be a “writer” to write a good e-book.
There’s a difference between the formal rules of writing you learned in school and the kind of writing you find on a website or in an e-book.   Web content and e-books are less formal and more conversational than the writing you did in school.
You’ll probably use the first and second persons a lot.  You weren’t supposed to do that in school, right?  You were supposed to write those five-paragraph essays in the third person, I bet.
There are other rules that you’ll break when you write  your e-book or do other online writing.  You’ll use contractions.  You’ll use sentence fragments.  You might use slang.
In e-books and web content, you’ll want to avoid long words, long sentences, and long paragraphs.  You might be used to reading a book with lots of print on a page.  On the web, though, people are used to seeing a lot of white space.
In addition, web content is formatted for easy reading. It’s okay to use bullet points, numbers, and headings and subheadings to break up your content into bite-sized pieces.  And it’s okay to use expressions like “it’s okay.”
What’s the same?  You still want to write clearly.  You want to write logically.  You want to give helpful, accurate information.  You want to write to convey well-considered ideas.

New Rules for Writing

So when you get ready to write your e-book, forget the rules you learned in school and keep these in mind:
  • Write what you know and what your audience will benefit from
  • Write conversationally
  • Write so it’s easy to read online
One way to write an e-book or other online content is to start with an outline using headings and subheadings. Go back to fill in the paragraphs.
To write for e-book readers, simply write like you talk.  Don’t be careless about spelling and grammar but don’t be too picky, either.  Just get your content on paper (or on the screen) first.  Then polish it.
Once they have just about finished their e-book, some people like to read it aloud to themselves to make sure the meaning is clear and it’s easy to read.  Then they make their final edits.
Being able to ignore some of the old rules of writing should make it easier for you to write your e-book.  Don’t worry about whether you think you can write.  Just write what you know and write it as though you were speaking.

2 thoughts on “How to Write for E-Book Readers”

  1. Hi Hollie,

    So many good points here! One of the hardest things for me was learning to write casually and conversationally. After so many years of writing formally for school, I had to learn to write all over again!

    I think I’ve finally found my voice, though it did take a while. 🙂

    Thanks for the great advice,

    Norma

    1. Thanks, Norma. I was once in a professional writing seminar for work in which the instructor stated a new rule about starting sentences with the word “but.” You should never start a sentence with the word “but,” he said, unless the next word is “alas.” I break that rule all the time.

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