I’m in the process of writing my first e-book, and I’d use this space to talk about it instead of writing another movie or book review. Perhaps once I’m finished, you can read it and review it for me on your own sites. But only if you’re going to say nice things.
This e-book is a ghostwriting project for another company, so I won’t profit from it long-term, but it has definitely been a good learning experience. I’ve got a few insider tips that I can share here, but before I do, I’ll just briefly outline the benefits of e-books over the paper ones.
1. They save trees. Trees are important. I’m realizing their value now more than ever as I’m helping my sister sell her house. She’s had to do some extra landscaping to get her property in show-ready shape, and recently hired a tree service company to make it look presentable. All that aside, we need trees. They keep the oxygen count in our environment high, which helps kill harmful microorganisms and prevent disease. Also, they’re nice to look at. E-books help conserve trees by cutting down on paper use and printing costs. You already knew that, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.
2. They’re easily mobile. We can take an e-book with us wherever we go—on our smartphone, tablet or laptop. Paper books are easily mobile too, but they take up more space inside of a purse or bag. An e-book is just a click away; it takes up a negligible amount of digital storage space and doesn’t take up any extra physical space.
3. They can be written quickly using re-purposed content. I’ve seen several clever companies take posts from their blogs, organize the content into a single PDF, and publish the PDF as an e-book. This way, your content soaks up SEO value while you offer a piece of free content in the form of an e-book to help you build your e-mail list. Once you’ve built your list, you can market to all of the people on it and upsell them content for a price. It’s a genius marketing tactic.
4. They are easily digestible. Many readers can finish an e-book in one sitting, because they’re typically rather short.
Clearly, an e-book is a valuable piece of media, the benefits of which you can reap for a long time after it’s written. So, how do you go about writing an e-book? Where do you start? That’s what I’ll cover next.
Step 1: Start with a set of goals. What do you want your readers to learn from your e-book? What do you hope to accomplish by writing it? Write down your goals and keep them in front of you at all times to help you stay motivated and on-task.
Step 2: Create an outline. Writing an e-book really isn’t much different from writing an essay. It’s just a bit longer. It helps to create an outline that will keep your content organized. Think about the focus of each chapter and try to go ahead and write the titles for them ahead of time. (You can always edit them later.) The titles will keep you on-topic as you begin to write the content in the body of each chapter.
Step 3: Write the chapters. I recommend going slow and taking each chapter one day at a time. Write chapter 1, and stop. Read over it the next day and make edits. Then write chapter 2. Read over chapters 1 and 2 the day after that and make additional edits. Repeat this process until the entire e-book is finished.
Step 4: Edit. You’ve already begun to make edits chapter by chapter. Now that the book is finished, it’s a good idea to read the whole thing without making any changes. Then read the whole thing again and begin to make changes as you go. Following this process helps you keep the entire content in focus and see the overall, big picture while you edit. As a writer, I can tell you that it will make a world of difference.
Step 5: Get another pair of eyes on it. If you can, get several more pairs of eyes on it. Two heads are better than one, and three heads are better than two. Find yourself a few friends who would be willing to read it and give you feedback. Take their feedback and use it to make the final edits before publishing.
Step 6: Add graphics and/or illustrations. If you’re not a graphic artist or an illustrator, there are plenty of services out there who can do this step for you. I like to search fiverr.com for e-book creators. It’s a budget-friendly way to get your e-book ready for publishing. They’ll create a cover and insert colorful images into the content that will help to make it more engaging for readers.
Step 7: Publish. You can publish it on Amazon or on your own website. I recommend offering it on your own site a free resource and a “thank you” to anyone who signs up for your e-mail list.
Step 8 (optional): Re-purpose. If you didn’t use existing website content to write your e-book, now’s a good time to re-purpose the book for additional site content. “But what if my readers figure this out?” you ask. It’s very unlikely that they will. If you publish each chapter of the e-book as a separate blog post over time (posting additional, related content in between each one), your readers will most likely not catch on, especially since they will come to your website through various funnels.
Bonus Tip: Make a pot of coffee before you start. You’re gonna need it.
Now, it’s your turn. Have you ever written an e-book? Share your process and tips in the comments below this post.