Ebook Myths #2 – “It’s okay if my ebook looks lousy. It’s free.”

Question: When it comes to putting out your own ebook, is a standard Word template good enough?

Answer: Hahahahahahaha!

We are continuing today with the series on ebook design. This time we’re going to discuss the bare-minimum quality that ANY ebook should have. By bare-minimum we mean an ebook that at first appearance won’t make your audience laugh or feel they’ve been ripped off.

This post is based in part on an email I received and which got me thinking. Basically, the email said:

“Look, I really just need a cover. The inside doesn’t need to be anything special because it’s going to be a freebie anyway. People won’t be expecting much.”


First off, if your friend gave you a bunch of hand-me-down clothes that didn’t fit you and looked like something from the early ’70s, complete with sequins, would you wear them because they were free?

And second, who cares what people ARE expecting? That’s Averageville, Mediocrityland and a boring roller coaster ride to Plain Jane’s house.

Don’t JUST give people what they’re expecting! That just makes them…well…another customer

Give them MORE than they expect and you’ll make a die-hard fan who will go out and sing your praises to his friends.

So…bad idea #1:

Only ebooks that cost money need to look good. If I’m putting out a free one, it’s okay if it looks like a bomb went off at a chili cook-off.

Why a lousy, ugly or average ebook is worse for business than you think.

  • They create far less word-of-mouth attention, reducing overall sales.
  • Customers may trust you less and/or think you’re shady.
  • A book that looks lousy also creates the apparency that its content is lousy.
  • They get more refunds from unhappy customers.
  • Unhappy customers now leads to fewer repeat sales in the future.
  • Ugly ebooks are promoted by fewer affiliates who themselves fear returns and damage to their reputation.
  • Your affiliates who don’t jump ship will also be getting more refunds.
  • Unhappy affiliates now means fewer affiliates in the future.

On the other hand, here’s what a professional ebook design means for your business:

  • Far greater word-of-mouth attention = more web traffic = more advertising dollars = far more sales.
  • Far fewer, if any, refunds.
  • Affiliates who are happy to support your product.
  • Affiliates who will also happily back your future projects.
  • Huge word-of-mouth between affiliates and their networks.
  • Repeat customers in the future.
  • Trust.
  • People will know you’re a professional and care.
  • Blooming friendships, networks and relationships, bringing more sales opportunities.

You must remember that the internet is one giant snowball effect. News, good or bad, spreads quickly through Internetville via multimedia channels too numerous to count. And it is permanent.

This means if you create something poor enough in quality that people want to bash you, the word is going to spread fast via blogs, videos, YouTube, etc. and your little enterprise is going to see troubled times.

On the other hand, if you create something really nice, it can similarly spread like wildfire. Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days to Overnight Success is a case in point. Aside from being very interesting and well-written, it’s also visually stunning. That kind of combination is unstoppable, as Chris found out while his ebook was being downloaded 25,000+ times over a couple days. Did the design of Chris’s book help? Absolutely. Would it have been as highly downloaded if it had been ugly but just as well written? No chance.

And in summation

Make it look good and people will trust you and think you’re a pro. Make it look amateur and people will think you don’t care and will look elsewhere. Can you blame them?

And, lastly, if you’ve got some writing you’re about to launch and need some help with your ebook design, contact us. We’d be happy to help you out.


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Charlie Pabst is a guitar-wielding designer, a sharp-shooting writer, and a tell-it-like-it-is ever-kid. He is also not afraid of hyphens.

He is the founder of Charfish Design and Ignite Living.

You can read more about him here. And you should definitely follow him on Twitter.

2 Responses to “Ebook Myths #2 – “It’s okay if my ebook looks lousy. It’s free.””

  1. Funny! Love the dog and fake ebooks. This is all very true. I don’t hang out long on sites that don’t look good.

    • Abby!

      Thanks, dudesse! I’m glad you stopped by to comment. You will be rewarded with large amounts of cash and/or this reply comment.


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