When I launched my first eguide on social-media consulting, I explained one of the reasons I called it a guide: Because one of my favorite bloggers, Chris Guillebeau, says “ebook” creates the expectation of a full-length book and low value (and, I say, a paperback price). He suggested calling any digital product a guide or manual or strategy instead.
But there’s a bigger reason why I shied away from calling that work an ebook, and why I won’t call my next product on how to take a career break to travel an ebook, either. Because while I’m proud of these products and poured my heart into them, they simply didn’t require the same effort as it takes to write a book.
A lot of you know this because you’re writing books.
I know this because I’ve written a book, too. It took me more than a year, and I was working on it full time. (And it’s still in the publishing pipeline.) A full-length book takes far more energy and time and commitment than the (freakin’ fabulous) informational products I’m launching online.
Of course, the time it takes to write any book depends on both on the book itself and the author’s skills. But the nonfiction self-help genres that are popular today don’t require the craft of story-telling, character growth or dialogue, the elements that tend to be time-consuming for authors. They’re also typically much shorter than traditional books.
That doesn’t mean these types of books aren’t valuable; they’re about all I read lately (two of those are affiliate links). I’m just saying that the amount of effort it takes to produce this type of digital product is probably less than a book that’s truly a story (think: memoir, narrative nonfiction or fiction).
Which is why it kind of drives me crazy when I see writers blogging about how they published seven books in six months. Though I really like that writer’s work, suggesting it’s possible to crank out that many books in that little time not only makes the rest of us feel like under-producers, it also waters down the public’s perception of what a book really is — or what it should be.
So as I create several more eguides in the coming year — my dad and I had an awesome idea just last night for one we’d like to write together — I will take great care not to call them ebooks. (Though I’ve done so in the past, before recognizing this distinction.) Because as many of you know first-hand, books are simply in a league of their own.