How do you write an eBook? Well, obviously you need a great idea for your book, and you need to sit down and actually write the thing. But aside from the daunting task of writing several thousand words of exciting copy, what are the key things needed to get your book planned, finished, formatted and online for people to buy?
Having just been through the process of writing my own book, How To Write Killer Content For Your StartUp, here are my tips for creating a successful eBook.
Plan your book carefully
As with any creative venture, it’s important to have a clear vision of WHAT you’re aiming to write. With a detailed vision, you have a goal to aim for and a far better route map to work from.
If you’re writing a novel, make sure you know what the story is about, who your main characters are and where the key narrative is going to take these people over the course of your story. If you’re writing a non-fiction book, ensure you know exactly what subject you’re covering, who your key audience will be and exactly what you’re aiming to explain to these potential readers.
With this core vision in place, you can start to plan out the structure of the book.
For my non-fiction book, this consisted of listing the chapters and then writing short bullet points to outline the main concepts that each chapter would cover. This gives you the ‘bare bones’ of the book, and also ensures that you can make decisions about the order of chapters, how long you want the book to be and what the overriding shape of the content will be.
So, for example, my shorthand plan for my first chapter looks this:
|Chapter 1: Define your vision – missions and manifestos
Before you write a single word, you need to have an incredibly clear idea of WHY you’re in business – and by logical progression, why you’re writing content to promote your startup. That core vision drives the business forwards, and gives focus, purpose and relevance to the content you create – so make sure you get these foundations right!
Set time aside to write
As a writer, time is usually your biggest adversary. Finding the time required to write an entire book is not easy, especially if you’re already working a full or part-time job.
I’m a self-employed content writer, so I probably have more freedom around when I work, and how much free writing time I have available, than most. But if you’re working a regular job AND writing a book, it pays to plan your time carefully, and to set defined writing time aside for your book.
Put time in your diary and set up notifications to remind you that today is a writing day. Environment is crucial, so I’d advise writing somewhere that’s (generally) quiet, free from distractions and where you’ve got access to power and WiFi if you need it.
If you can’t find a quiet nook to write, wireless headphones are definitely the writer’s friend. Fire up Spotify and put on music to drown out any background noise. Music without singing and/or lyrics works best, so ambient, classical, electronica and instrumental jazz are all good genres to listen to – anything where there are no words to interrupt your creative train of thought.
Just get on with the writing…
It’s obvious, but the only way to finish your book is to write the damn thing.
Some days you may not feel inspired, or you may find other life commitments calling on your time and energy. But where it’s practical to do so, just get on with writing. It’s better to write 3,000 words of crap, and then edit that down next week to 1,000 words of brilliance, than to sit staring at a blank screen writing nothing.
So, the key is basically ‘Write now. Edit later’. This way, you break the back of the book and have a draft you can start to hone and edit into your meisterwerk.
Allow time for editing, proofing and formatting
Completing a first draft is a milestone, however long your book may be. But that first draft is not the finished product. Now comes the whole process of editing, proofing and formatting your book.
The transition from first draft to final draft can be a long one. It takes time to read, re-read, edit and finalise your whole book, so make sure you’re factoring this time into your book plan. Even my relatively short book took around a week’s work to edit and finalise, so prepare yourself for this and get ready for a certain amount of swearing when it comes to the formatting.
- Editing – with your first draft done, you now need to read your book from start to finish, and begin the process of revising the structure, editing tricky passages and generally honing the overall quality of your writing. This stage can take a while, but the difference in quality between your first and second draft will be huge.
- Proofing – no-one likes a typo, so you’re going to need to proof your book too. Ideally, it’s best to ask a third party to proof your writing. As the author, you tend to miss the mistakes, typos and missing words (mainly because you know what the text is *supposed* to say). So ask a friend with great spelling and grammar skills to read the draft, or hire a freelance proofreader to do the job for you.
- Formatting – an eBook needs to be formatted in a specific way if it’s going to be viewed correctly on an e-reader or tablet. For the Kindle version of my book, Amazon requires you to use H1 and H2 headings for your titles and subtitles, and you’ll need to add in an interactive Table of Content too, so readers can jump between sections of the book. Print versions will also need to be formatted in a particular way, so you have the right margins, typeface, page numbers and spacing to produce a print-ready PDF of the book.
With a final edited, proofed and formatted version of your book ready, you can now upload your finished eBook to your online vendor of choice. I used Amazon to publish my book, and the process of uploading, verifying and publishing the book was surprisingly fast and pain-free.
Have your marketing ready to go
Getting your eBook live on an online book site may sound like the end of the process. But, in fact, publishing the book is only the start of the process…
Sites like Amazon publish thousands of new books every month. So, if any potential buyers are going to find your book then you need to do some serious marketing to raise the eBook’s profile and start getting traffic to your online page.
Having your marketing planned and ready to roll on publishing day is important. And with so many online, digital and real-world marketing channels to choose from, there’s no excuse for not getting your promotion and advertising out there in the world.
A few key marketing channels to consider will include:
- Social media marketing – connecting with potential readers via your social media accounts is a free (and highly effective) way to build up a following and promote your book. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are probably the most important social platforms to focus on, with LinkedIn coming in useful if you’re aiming at a business audience.
- Content marketing and blogging – increasing your profile as an author is important for sales, and blogging can be a great way to share your writing, and engage with your potential audience. Someone who reads and enjoys your short blog posts is more likely to spend their cash on buying your long-form books. So blog regularly, promote these posts through your social channels and increase the chances of someone finding your book online.
- Paid online advertising – Facebook and Amazon both offer simple ways to use paid online advertising to promote your product. By using the right key words and search terms, and targeting people who fit your ideal book-buying customer audience, you can greatly increase the chances of finding and clicking through to your book’s online landing page.
- Posters and flyers – in these digital days, real-world advertising may sound outdated. But there are tactical ways to use posters, flyers and handouts to increase sales. Put flyers in coffee shops or book shops frequented by your target customer, ask to put up a poster in your local library, or offer free talks about your book where you can hand out leaflets etc.
- Word-of-mouth and networking – ultimately, word-of-mouth recommendations are still the best kind of advertising. So, talk to friends, colleagues and other writers and promote the fact that your book is out there and ready to read (and buy). Give free copies to people with influence and ask people to leave comments on your online book page – it all adds up and will help you increase the general buzz and interest around your publication.
Get your book out into the world
I won’t lie; writing and publishing your own eBook will be hard work. But, once you see your book published and available online, you’ll be very proud of the end result and what you’ve achieved.
So, start planning, get writing and begin the process of turning yourself into an author!
How To Write Killer Content For Your Startup
All the tips, advice and hacks you need to start making the most from content marketing are available in my book – How To Write Killer Content For Your StartUp.
If you’re eager to learn the basics of business marketing, my book gives you all the advice you need to get started, broken down across ten easy-to-read chapters: