7 Tips for Writing an International eBook

by Megan Berry on

It’s widely reported that eBooks are a growing trend. In the United States, 1 of every 4 adults own either an e-reader or a tablet. This goes beyond devices, as readership of eBooks doubled in just six months, according to The Association of American Publishers. While the US may be getting the most industry attention, eBook readership is also on the rise in foreign markets.

With this trend, authors are increasing their efforts to reach a global audience. By making a few simple adjustments, you can write an eBook that will sell not just domestically, but internationally as well. Below are seven tips for writing an eBook that will sell around the world.

1. Avoid colloquialisms

With traditional publishing, it’s a good idea to tailor your wording to the markets that physical copies of your book will be sold in. Since you’re writing digital content, you want to make sure that readers from Argentina to Zimbabwe can understand the claims you are making, or the story you’re telling. Try to not use too many American pop culture references or slang terms. It’s helpful to write in “global English” so that non-native speakers can easily absorb your content.

2. Include international references

On the flip side, go out of your way to include references that foreign readers will understand. If you’re writing non-fiction or a guide of some sort, include case studies from multiple countries. If you’re writing fiction, consider adding a character from a foreign country who occasionally tells anecdotes that locals will enjoy.

3. Translate your eBook into other languages

This one should be a given. Not everyone reading your book will be a native english speaker. Instead of making them read in your language of choice, give them flexibility by providing as many options as possible. Romance author Barbara Freethy has been successful with this strategy:

“It’s a complicated process, but I do believe the global market is going to grow and I would love to make my stories available around the world in as many languages as possible.” (via PaidContent.org)

4. Have native editors review translations

Freethy also recommends having a second pair of eyes review your translations. It may cost extra, but your second translator could serve as an additional editor, possibly catching any mistakes made by the first person.

Japanese Stop Sign

5. Double check meaning of symbols/images

Just like you should review the meaning of your translations, do the same for any images or symbols that you’ve included within your text. As an example, if you include a red octagon as a symbol for your readers to stop doing something, Japanese readers might not make that connection. Stop signs in Japan are actually a red triangle with rounded corners, as seen to the left.

6. Be thoughtful about cover choice

Going along with reviewing your images, spend extra time reviewing the most important image: your cover. If you use a voting system to allow people to rate possible covers (like on 99designs) send the link to as many people you know outside the country to gain a wider variety of feedback.

7. Reach out to international bloggers

After all that extra time, money, and effort you’ve put into creating a product that will resonate with international readers, you’ll want to develop your global audience. Identify influential bloggers in each market you are targeting and reach out to them. Provide them a free copy in their native language, and for extra brownie points, shoot them an email in their native language as well asking if they’d be interested in reviewing it.

What other tips would you add for eBook authors hoping to sell internationally?

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