Enhancing career options through eBooks

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He hit the publish button for his eBook after eight weeks of editing. But he did not anticipate the effect it would have and how it would change his life.

BYU student Becca Jenkins writes in her "eBook."
BYU student Becca Jenkins writes in her “eBook.”

Adam Buchanan’s published eBook, “The Never Ending Cocktail Party,” has a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and has opened the door for him to be considered an expert in his profession. Now, three years after his eBook was published in 2011, Buchanan is working on Cabela’s digital marketing team in Colorado. When asked what advice he would give to students on writing their own eBooks, Buchanan summed it up with a powerful message.

“You. Yeah you, reading this article. You have something amazing to share with the world,” Buchanan wrote in an email. “You have expertise that we all need to know. Stop keeping it to yourself; open up a Word doc, upload to Kindle, rinse and repeat. Hit publish or perish.”

Writing an eBook while still in college can seem daunting when students consider classes, homework, group projects, social and church responsibilities. However, Heather Pack, a BYU professor in organizational leadership and strategy, is an advocate for eBooks and requires all students in her MCOM 320 class to write one.

Pack’s description of an appropriate eBook for students is 1,000 words or less — about four pages. Being succinct in an eBook is key, as more people will read it the shorter it is. Students looking to publish their eBook should make it free to the public with a design to gain credibility.

Pack and Buchanan both agree that students should write about something in which they are knowledgable. Students can be creative with their eBook topics, making them range from solutions to problems in their chosen industry to a featured hobby or craft.

“If students think they don’t have any expertise they are wrong,” Buchanan said. “Beekeeping, trail running, stamp collecting, conflict management; just own and get it out there. Now.”

Becca Petersen, a music dance theatre major from Carmel, Ind., was one of Pack’s students who wrote an eBook. She shared how the experience has helped her future career.

“As a music dance theatre major I was hesitant to the idea of writing an eBook because I wasn’t sure how it would directly relate to my career,” Petersen said. “Once I began working, I realized that writing eBooks is very beneficial to all career paths. I chose a topic that I was interested in and one that related to the business side of musical theatre. I was able to research and learn more about my craft in ways that I hadn’t before.”

Once students have chosen and written an eBook, they can begin marketing it to potential employers and taking it to interviews. Pack recommends that students mention their eBook in their résumés and then take a hard copy of their eBook to interviews.

“This younger generation needs to realize that what their bosses or people who are interviewing them don’t have is a fresh, unique perspective of looking at the world and we, as the older generation, need that perspective,” Pack said. “You can walk into any interview with confidence because you have something to offer them and that is fresh ideas, new energy, solutions to problems that we may not even know we have.”

Students looking to write an eBook can find guidelines on formatting and publishing through Amazon at kdp.amazon.com.

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