Great Reminders for Writing Your First eBook

Since I’m getting ready to launch my own eBook in the not to distant future, I thought this was a very timely article that had a few good reminders that I’ll have to apply to my own writing.

This is a guest post by Kevin Harris, a freelance writer for Adobe.

Do you have information that other people need? How to plan a wedding, how to do home repairs and renovations yourself, or how to sell your house yourself from beginning to end? An ebook is a great way to cash in on your expert status and start earning money. With a little bit of marketing, your ebook can put money in your pocket on an ongoing basis.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First you need to write the ebook! Here are a few tips to get you started.

Research First, Write Second

If you are writing your ebook based on work experience or education you already have, you may not need to do much research. Whatever research you need to do, however, you should do first. Not only is it disorienting to stop writing in order to look up some fact or fill in a hole in your research, it can also make your writing disjointed and difficult to organize. And as we will see in a moment, organization is important.

If you are writing an ebook on a subject you know fairly well but don’t consider yourself an expert in, always make sure you back up everything you have to say with research. Take thorough notes as you do your research, carefully noting your sources. You may need to provide a list of your sources or a list of books for further reading at the end of your ebook. Remember, quality ebooks provide quality information, so don’t skimp in this area!

Outline and Organize

Whether or not you need to do any research, before you start writing you should always outline the ebook. People who read ebooks are typically looking for information and want to get it right away, which is why they buy a digital book: It can usually be downloaded immediately. Your ebook therefore has to be logically organized, with chapters and subheadings, in order to make the information easier to find. Slapping together a collection of disorganized ramblings is not only unprofessional, it’s frustrating for your readers.

The best way to ensure that your ebook is well organized is to outline it beforehand, making sure your research and all of the information you want to include fits in in a logical manner. The ebook should flow from topic to topic naturally. As you write, you should also consider using shorter paragraphs and bulleted lists, as you would on a Web page. People who buy ebooks typically read them a lot like they read your website: primarily by scanning.

Revise, Revise, Revise

This cannot be stressed enough. A lot of ebook authors are so impatient to publish their ebook and start raking in the dough that they fail to pay enough attention to the importance of revising the work first. Don’t rush this step in order to get your ebook out there! A poorly written and edited ebook is unlikely to garner many word-of-mouth recommendations, and your sales may actually take a hit as a result.

Between the writing and revising stages, it is best to set aside your ebook for a little while, so that you can look at it with a fresh eye when you come back. Put some distance between yourself and the book: Work on another project, or take a break for a couple of weeks. The goal is for the work to stop looking so familiar to you, so that you can spot errors or sentences that don’t sound quite right.

As a final step in the revision process, it is always best to have someone else who is good at spelling and grammar, and who knows the subject if possible, read through your ebook. Have your reader mark errors that they find, and once you have made the appropriate corrections, read through the manuscript one more time yourself. Only once you have revised the ebook, and had someone else look it over for problems, is it ready to be published and sold.

Publishing Options

Once you have finished writing and revising your ebook, it is time to go about publishing it. You have many more publishing options available to you for an ebook than for a regular book. Barnes & Noble and many other electronic publishers will list your ebook for you on their sites in exchange for a cut of each sale. Each publisher may have different formatting requirements, so be sure your ebook is formatted correctly before submitting it.

Another option, of course, is to “self-publish” your ebook, which is actually very easy to do electronically. Publishing your own book can be a cheap solution to new books. Many sellers simply set up a website with a PayPal button; once their customers finish paying, they can download the ebook, usually a PDF file.

Don’t Cut Corners

As you can see, creating an ebook and getting it ready to sell isn’t easy, but don’t let yourself be tempted to cut corners. Well-written, professional content will sell better and longer, performing better in the long run than if you cut corners in order to get it out on the market a few days sooner.

Your eBook Tips

Have you written and published an eBook? Please share your suggestions and tips in the comments below.

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  1. says

    Hi and thank you for this post!
    It is really great idea to write an ebook especially if you feel passionate about some topic. But on the other hand it can be time consuming and frustrating also. So I recommend to purchase ebook with master resell rights. Then you can do some changes and put personality in your work in order to look more interesting and unique.
    And of course don’t forget your research work.
    Branko’s Extra Money Ideas just posted ExtraMoneyIdeas- RT @chrisbrogan Improve Your Social Media Efforts http-bitly-hmMoTC

  2. says

    I published an ebook back in October and boy has it been a wild ride! I’ve learned a ton along the way. Here are 5 of my tips for getting started:

    1. Find a hole and fill it! Write about a topic that solves a problem, addresses a fear or satisfies a curiosity.
    2. Establish a writing habit. In order to combat feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, designate a set time each day to work on your ebook. Eliminate distractions, set a timer if you need to, and just write. Before you know it, it’ll be done. :)
    3. Create a mind map and then create an outline from there. I found the mind map helps in brainstorming and makes organizing a lot easier.
    4. Set a “ship date” (a la Seth Godin) to keep yourself on target. Be strategic about your ship date too. For example, my ebook is on time management so I “shipped” at the end of October and then capitalized on the “Have a stress-free holiday and get organized for the New Year” during sales through the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011.
    5. Choose a title with an available domain name!
    Amy Lynn Andrews just posted How to Write an Ebook- Distribution

  3. says

    Really good advice. I’ve written two e-books so far, and even though I’ve been a professional writer for 17 years, I still had another pro do a thorough copyedit. It was definitely useful!

    I also made an audio version of my second e-book. It doesn’t sell anywhere near as much as the PDF version, but I caught another dozen errors just by reading my book out loud.
    John Soares just posted 2010 Book and E-Book Sales Data for the United States

  4. says

    Hi Kevin & Krists

    I have just begun writing my first e-book so this post is so on topic for me. Thanks for all the helpful hints that I will definitely take on board.

    A friend who has published before is going to do some of the more technical aspects for me and I will be getting at least 3 of my marketing friends who are wonderful wordsmiths to edit for me.

    Even thought I am writing on a topic I am familiar with, I will still continue to research thoroughly before writing all my posts. Thanks for sharing with us Kevin. Appreciated.

    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia just posted Collaboration- the new buzz word

  5. says

    These are great reminders you’ve shared and it’s also good to know your purpose in writing an ebook, is it just to earn money or to provide helpful information. I think concentrating on the second reason would be far more fruitful than thinking of profit alone.

  6. says

    Once the e-book is created, a good idea for promotion is to submit the ebook to all PAD submission sites. There is semi-automatic software available that helps with this task.

  7. says

    I have an ebook I’ve been sitting on for about 1.5 years now…it’s a collection of a series of posts I’ve written, put together in chapters. I’ve added a “little” bit more to it, but not a lot.

    My hesitation with using it stems from the fact that I can only give it away, and perhaps I should. Part of me feels that I should do something more with it, but I’m not sure exactly how that might be received…given that all the information can be found within my blog already.

    Wayne John just posted Dreamhost invitation codes – a limited time offer

  8. says

    I think you missed a fairly important point about e-publishing. While PDFs are generally supported by most e-readers (the only exception being the first generation Kindles and the Azbook WISEreader) some e-reader users actually prefer formats like mobi-pocket and epub due to the fact that they support wrap text and can be zoomed in and out on without cutting off portions of text.

    I think if you’re considering self-publishing your eBook it would be a good idea to consider multiple ereader formats.

  9. says

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been more and more interested with eBooks lately. I love the fact that if you are knowledgeable about something, you can get the information out there fairly easily and have it be so available to people. I’ve downloaded a number of ebooks, some free and some paid, and they have been great resources. These are good things to know in case I ever go down the eBook path.

  10. says

    Just recently I read a (free) book by a blogger I like to follow. I love the content and everything except I don’t think she revised at all. There are so many tiny mistakes in the book that I kinda got disappointed in her.

    I am starting to write an e-book (not even sure if I will give it away or charge, just know that I will do it) so this post really came in the right time for me. Thanks

    Oh, I agree with Kyle when it comes to formats. I use Amazon Kindle a lot and sometimes PDFs can be hard to read on it.
    Brankica just posted Amazon Kindle for bloggers Why you should have it

  11. says

    Those were some great tips, Kevin. I think writing a ebook is really quite a great way to gain trust in your niche. But like you said many people’s ebook are just jumbled up because they go on adding all unwanted things in the book, most probably cause of too much of research. Also many authors are too impatient and they publish their ebook without revising, which is surely a bad idea.
    Shiva just posted Get Paid To Shorten Links – Top Paid URL Shorteners

  12. says

    Excellent points but I can’t stress enough 1. Getting a professional editor to read it and 2. Paying a designer to format it – at least a little. The payoff for these two things (and it doesn’t have to cost you a ton) is *huge* for your brand and enabling people to respect and consume your content. Read an eBook today with great content but no visual appeal and lots of typos. If I didn’t know the person who wrote it, I might have discounted her thoughts. And she was a marketing coach. I expected pretty content without typos!

  13. says

    There is one thing I always do in my eBooks. It is presenting information creatively and beautifully. I think people no longer want to read traditional eBooks. They want stuff that is more entertaining. They don’t want to read big blocks of text and pages stuffed with content. This traditional way of reading and learning is dead. That’s why more and more people are turning to videos for education. Videos are pleasurable compared to eBooks.

    This why I think eBooks must be more entertaining. You do that by using graphics, a lot of white space, hand written fonts, pictures, etc. In so doing, you make sure you don’t bore your readers. If your eBooks is boring, readers will hate it no matter how useful your content is.