White Paper or E-Book: What’s the Difference?

White Paper or E-Book: What's the Difference?

Content marketing is often about selling products or selling services. But certain forms of content marketing are instead about selling solutions, strategies, or techniques.

The two main ways to market a strategy is with a white paper or with an e-book. Which option you use depends entirely on type of strategy or solution you are offering.

E-Book

As the name suggests, an e-book is a significant quantity of writing. The average e-book has multiple chapters and at least one hundred pages.

You write an e-book when you are offering advice, strategies, or solutions that are generally applicable to an industry or specific subsection of an industry.

For example, an e-book designed for lawyers might discuss strategies for maximizing asset splitting in divorce procedures.

White Papers

White papers are more focused than e-books. As a white paper writer, you identify a very specific problem and then offer a single solution to that problem. Your white paper is a focused and efficient piece of writing.

Most white papers are relatively short, usually maxing out at about 10 – 20 pages, and potentially only a page or two.

An example of a white paper designed for lawyers might be the discussion a specific strategy about how to win possession of the family home while minimizing the compensatory assets during a divorce procedure.

Marketing White Papers

Despite the growing prevalence of e-books, white papers are still marketable, and actually offer numerous opportunities. The most effective way for a white paper writer to take advantage of these opportunities is on an industry blog.

An informative blog engages readers and sparks interest. Use a blog entry to introduce the problem and frame the solution, placing the full solution, your white paper, behind a pay wall.

Alternatively, a white paper is actually a rather ingenious way to market an e-book. If you've written an e-book, simply excerpt a single chapter or idea from the e-book to create a white paper.

Offer this white paper for free via social media, an industry blog, or other marketing vehicles. This will interest readers who you then direct to your e-book, hidden behind a pay wall, for additional information on the subject.

Mickey David

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Mickey has degrees in linguistics and logic from a top 25 university. He has been writing online for the approximately five years, specializing in gaming, hobbies, and media. He has never missed a deadline. Quality and speed are equally important to Mickey and he'll never sacrifice one for the other.

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Anthony English
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Anthony English

Hello Mickey, I appreciate the advice given in terms of White Paper being a marketing tool to draw attention to the eBook written. It is also an effective way to market an affiliate program.

Val Tanaka
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Val Tanaka

This is good advice for people who write e-books. Selling white papers on their own is something that I never considered. But it’s a good idea for popular writers. I don’t think I’m popular enough to sell white paper. I don’t write instruction manuals either, so I guess that I might just use white papers to market e-books.

Val Tanaka
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Val Tanaka

Cliff’s Notes are for people who couldn’t get through the book or needed help understanding it. People who actually read books aren’t going to settle for white paper only. I agree that an e-book shouldn’t be a glorified white paper.

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

White papers are generally created by tech writers. I have never heard of anyone writing a white paper outside of a tech writing project. I don’t know that anyone would want to read one outside of that context. Perhaps if it’s highly instructional?

Joanna Morgan
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Joanna Morgan

How do you feel about writing a white paper before being invited to do so? For example, let’s say I write a white paper on a topic pertaining to lawyers. Could I then go to lawyers and share the white paper, enticing them to purchase one from me? Thanks for the tip!

Georgia Potts
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Georgia Potts

I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. Usually a white paper is pretty oriented to the exact needs of the client. I wouldn’t think you could do one on spec.

Cassandra Parsons
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Cassandra Parsons

thank you Mickey for sharing this. It was so good that I had to share it with a friend of mine via FB. thank you again for sharing your knowledge. blessings!

Victor Peters
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Victor Peters

I must admit that Mickey’s posts are always informative.I always look forward to your articles to learn more.For the first time i have heard of a white paper.i only knew of an e-paper.Keep on with the good work.

Earl Dotson
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Earl Dotson

I can attest to the power reading an excerpt can have. There have been times I’ve read an excerpt and immediately felt like I had to read the whole book.

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