Writing an eBook?
So, you want to write an ebook …!
Or maybe you want to join the throngs of the traditional publishing route and self-publish instead. But how? Well, in today’s blog post I have outlined some of the basic steps to creating your ebook. So, let’s dive right in …
Do you have an idea in your head (or heart) crying to get out? Perhaps you are already working on it now. Is your book expecting to be birthed on paper, bound with a colorful cover, given pages that can be dog-eared, sentences underlined and highlighted? Or, is the book within you aware that it is easier and faster these days to publish electronically? Would your book be okay with that if it meant you could reach more people?
Take a poll of readers today and you will find a complete mix of those happy to read books on an electronic device and those only willing to read traditional bound books. What does that mean for your book? Truthfully, it depends on your subject matter and your audience. I will explore publication options later, but first, let’s talk about writing the ebook you want – or NEED – to write.
Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food. ~ Douglas Adams, Writer
How to Write Your eBook …
Today I want to focus on ebooks written for marketing purposes. Any entrepreneur specializing in online marketing can benefit from publishing and distributing an ebook. As a marketing tool, the ebook can be sold or used as a giveaway item to grow your mailing list and to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Some people believe writing a book is easy, but most of them have not done it. Others believe it would be so difficult to write a book, nearly impossible, and they would not be able to get it published anyway, so why bother? Well … if you have negativity around the topic, you can leave the book-writing to those of us who believe it can be done. Or maybe this post will encourage you to try it!
I believe in the power of books to find a way to be read. As in, “If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams
The following are my 6 steps to writing your eBook:
#1. Create a clear concept.
Before you invest time and mental energy in writing a book, since those are both precious resources, you would be wise to first clarify – for yourself – what the book is going to be about. Similarly, to when you are job-hunting or building a business and seeking investors, you are told you must have an elevator speech. That holds true for a writing a book as well. You MUST be able to communicate your book concept in 30 seconds or less, clearly and concisely.
Why the urgency? For two reasons:
- You will save yourself a lot of time if you are very clear on what you are writing about.
If you have decided to write a book as a way of exploring your life and finding your path, that is altogether different. That is not a hurried process; it can take a lifetime. In that case, just start writing and see where it leads. It may turn into a book one day, or it may simply help you understand yourself and others, which is no small accomplishment.
However, if you are writing a book because …
… you have ideas or information you want to share with the world as soon as possible, or …
… you want a book you can use as a marketing vehicle for your business, to establish yourself as an expert in your field and to attract customers …
… then time’s a-wasting! The sooner you have a crystal-clear concept, the faster you can write it and the more focused and effective your ebook will be.
- You must be able to concisely answer anyone who asks you about your book.
Who will ask? At first, friends and family. Later, it will be clients, potential clients and peers curious about what you are up to. Finally, potential publishers. So, do not waffle, hem and haw. Have a concise answer ready at all times. Sound like you know what you are talking about–because you do!
#2. Write the outline/draft the content.
For some, this is the hardest part – putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or voice to recorder. Your goals are to get all of your relevant ideas out on the page (or screen). You cannot write a book by thinking about it. You must bridge the gap between what is in your head and what a reader can access!
Most writing instructors will advise you to write an outline for non-fiction. Even if you resist this idea, try it anyway. You might be surprised! It will keep you more focused and your materials organized. This ties in to saving time, too. The sooner you get your ebook “out there,” the sooner you can reap the benefits.
I'm a big fan of outlining. Here's the theory: If I outline, then I can see the mistakes I'm liable to make. They come out more clearly in the outline than they do in the pages. ~ Cynthia Voigt, Writer
Fill in the content based on the structure you set up in your outline. Consider this the “meat” of the book … from beginning to middle to end. If you truly feel stuck, you may want to find a coach who can guide you through the writing process and hold you accountable! Ideally you want to work with someone who has done what you want to do so you can learn from their experience and that of their other clients (anonymously, of course).
#3. Research/choose cover image/insert graphics.
Whether your book will be virtual (ebook) or traditionally printed, do not overlook the significance of graphics. To be clear, they are not optional, they are essential! Not to be dramatic, but the imagery you select can make or break your book! Here are some reasons you need graphics:
- Your ebook cover will be the image that forever identifies your book. You may have heard you cannot judge a book by its cover, and yet, people do so every day.
- Imagery within the book can increase reader engagement regardless of your topic.
- Charts and infographics help to present data clearly.
- Photographs are processed by the brain more quickly than text is.
- You know a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
How do you find appropriate imagery for your book?
- Take your own photographs or enlist the help of friends.
- Draw your own illustrations.
- Create infographics using graphic design software. Canva is a great free online graphic design tool. Easil.ly is a site that can help you turn data into infographics quickly.
- Hire a virtual assistant (VA) to take photos or create illustrations for you. Like me! I have the advantage of being a graphic/web designer and a VA.
- Subscribe to a stock photo service. iStock, Shutterstock and Pexels are just a few of the many that exist. Most offer vector illustrations as well as photos, and some have videos, too. Some images are free to use, some require that you give a photo credit, and some require you to pay a fee for use.
#4. Redraft/edit the content.
After you add images, it is a good idea to go back through the book and assess how well the text and images work together. You may find you need to redraft some of your content if your images create emphasis on something your content did not. It helps to read back through the material again from beginning to end. Each time you do that, you will likely see something you missed before and can continue to improve the book. However, you will reach the point of diminishing returns! At some point you must move on to editing and proofreading.
If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word. ~ Margaret Atwood, Writer
All of your content, every speck of it, needs to be edited and proofread at least once – and ideally more than once. Can you do this yourself? It depends on your skills. If you can step back from the content and read it like you have never seen it before, then yes. Otherwise, hire a freelance editor. If you are not a natural proofreader, you need to hire one.
What is the difference between editing and proofreading? In my blog post Editing and Proofreading Tips Every Blogger Should Know … I provide 9 tips for editing and 11 for proofreading. True, we are talking about an ebook here and not about blogging but editing and proofreading are universal. Editing enhances the effectiveness of your writing by increasing clarity and organization, improving transitions and word choices, and eliminating redundancy. Often an editor can take your ideas and, using almost the same words, make them sound better! Meanwhile, proofreading focuses on spelling, grammar and punctuation. You can see now why you need both.
#5. Add “Table of Contents” and bio.
A table of contents is essential for showing the reader how your book is organized and where they can find specific information within the book. You must accept the fact that some readers will not read the entire book. That is no longer your concern. You must let go and trust that each reader is going to get what they need from your book.
Your author bio and photo are important for a couple of reasons. First, they create a bridge between you and the reader and establish a relationship, however slight. In the pre-social-media days, the bio and photo simply informed the reader. Today, they can also provide a way for readers to find you, which, if you are writing for business, is a good thing!
#6. Add your business brand.
If you have graphic representations for your business, you definitely want to use that on the cover, the title page, the table of contents and with your bio and author photo. The obvious element is your logo, which might appear larger on the cover and smaller on inside pages. Other brand elements include typeface and colours associated with your brand, as well as your particular voice. I am not saying every element of your book must match every aspect of your brand. I am suggesting you keep your brand elements in mind when you write and design your book.
Note: An ebook has a cover just as a printed book does. When a reader “sees” your ebook, they are looking at a digital image that represents your book. That is its cover.
Your brand is a gateway to your true work. You know you are here to do something – to create something or help others in some way. The question is, how can you set up your life and work so that you can do it? The answer lies in your brand. When you create a compelling brand, you attract people who want the promise of your brand – which you deliver.
~ Dave Buck, Master Certified Coach and the CEO of CoachVille
How and Where to Publish Your Ebook …
How wide is the distribution you seek for your ebook? That is mainly driven by your purpose for writing it. Let’s start close to home and then branch out from there …
- Lead magnet or email download
Sometimes the purpose of an ebook is to grow your email list. Because online marketing requires a constantly-growing email list, many digital entrepreneurs use an ebook as an enticement to get potential customers to opt-in with their contact information. If that sounds sleazy to you, it really should not. If you give me your contact information, I will give you a book (or some other resource). It is my expectation that you will benefit from having that book and that you will benefit from receiving additional information from me in the future. These enticements are called lead magnets. You can decide if the reader will be able to download your ebook directly from an email link or if you will send them to your website first. To double the effectiveness of your lead magnet, you can suggest that the reader share your information with a friend or colleague who also might want the download.
- Your website
If you have written your ebook to sell it, your first retail outlet should probably be your own website. Keep in mind that selling your ebook can still be part of your marketing plan. Giving an ebook away as an incentive is not the only way to use it for marketing. When you publish an ebook, you enlarge the circle of people who see it. Not only is it a revenue source but it’s also out there in the world working for you by increasing your visibility and establishing you as an authority in your niche.
- Other websites for publishing/selling your ebooks
- Kindle Direct Publishing, an Amazon company, allows you to sell your ebooks through the Kindle store.
- You can use Shopify to build an online store to sell your ebooks.
- Smashwords will publish and distribute ebooks to major retailers and thousands of libraries.
There are many sites selling ebooks. These are just a few! Also, the same sites may be used for selling paperback books as well (in case you decide to go the other route).
~What's interesting about the shift from an industrial age to a technological age is that we keep inventing new media: movies, records, radio, television, the Internet, and now ebooks -- and one of the things that's most interesting about the invention of a new medium is watching it reinvent itself as it penetrates the culture. ~ David Gerrold, Writer
Keep your eyes peeled for my special announcement in early 2019 about … drum roll, please … the release of my first published book!
If you are a creative individual who likes writing, making lists and/or sketching … you won’t want to miss this!
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