So, you’re writing an ebook (or you’d like to), and you need help getting started. I’ve got you covered. In this post, I’m sharing my top tips for crafting an ebook from scratch, even if you’ve never written anything longer than a book report.
Excited? I know I am. Let’s get started.
Here’s Why eBooks are Awesome
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to write an eBook for your audience, here’s why writing one will make sense for your brand:
You can sell them!
Quite a few businesses have turned their eBooks into a main stream of income. You can, too. You’d be surprised how a small-ish investment of your time and know-how can keep your business afloat, even during the lean times. eBooks will help you establish and maintain passive income.
You can give them away!
Instead of selling eBooks, give them away. But you’re not really just giving them away for free. It’s actually more of an exchange. By giving away something of value (your eBook), you’ll be receiving something of value (in this case, your site visitor’s email address).
This is why eBooks are powerful lead magnets. Your visitors will feel like they’re scoring something of value (and they are), and you’ll get to grow your email list. It’s win-win. Here’s a perfect example from ConvertKit:
You can build credibility!
So, whether you’re doing an eBook for profit or as an awesome email opt-in incentive, there’s no downside to crafting an ebook. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to say “I wrote the book on that” and then drop the microphone, which is always helpful in social situations.
Just kidding! But, on a serious note, writing an eBook will seriously elevate you to expert status. Your audience will think, if they know enough to write a book on the topic, they must seriously know what they’re talking about.
Now, let’s discuss how to start crafting your eBook from scratch:
Here’s a mega list of free resources for getting images and graphics for your eBook. Subscribe to receive this free bonus.
How to Choose a Subject for Your eBook
There are so many great subjects you can write about, so how do you narrow it down to just one? Start by answering this question:
Who is your target audience?
Once you identify your target audience, you can start researching what they need to know and why. Perhaps you’ve already done this when starting your business. You may already have a handle on who your target audience is. You may know basic demographics, such as age, gender, location, and pain points.
If you do, that’s great. You can skip ahead to the next section.
If you don’t, don’t worry.
Here’s a simple exercise to find the right subject for your eBook:
Take out a notebook and write down the top five questions you get asked all of the time. You know, those questions that always come up when you tell people what you do. That’s the perfect starting point for eBook ideation.
If you know what type of audience you’d like to target, take some time to consider their problems. What are they struggling with currently that you can help with? It can be something that’s simple to you but a source of frustration and confusion for your reader. Start there.
As long as you have a lot to say about a subject, it’s a good sign that you can possibly write a book on it.
Make sure that your book solves a problem. The best type of content for eBooks are action guides that are drawn from your own personal experience. You’ve scratched your own itch and now you’re showing others how to do the same.
Next, you need to figure out if your audience is interested enough in this subject to buy or download the eBook. You can do this by doing a search on Amazon.
Amazon is a powerful research tool that, among other things, will help you validate your book idea. If you search for the topic you’d like to write about on Amazon and it returns a ton of results, you’re on the right track. There’s already a market out there for this type of content.
Don’t worry about competition. You have a unique voice and perspective that someone is willing to listen to. Trust me.
Outline Like Your Life Depended On It
The next step in the process is outlining your eBook.
You may like to wing it. You may like to write without reigning yourself in. But you’re just making it harder on yourself when it comes to editing.
One of the most tragic books I’ve ever read had an interesting premise but was so all over the place and redundant, I couldn’t even complete it. I kept thinking, okay, that’s good to know, but how does this all come together?
I alternated between confused and annoyed, and finally I just gave up. The worst part? It was actually a self-help book.
This can happen to you, if you’re not careful. But you can avoid this with an almost religious dedication to outlining.
You need to have a clear direction in your eBook. It should be obvious to your reader that you’re going somewhere in your content.
Creating an outline is pretty easy. Grab post-it notes, index cards, or scrap pieces of paper. Then, on each card, write down one subject that you’d like to discuss in your eBook. Next, come up with subtopics for each subject. Finally, start organizing the cards together in terms of your final eBook lineup.
Because you have your topics written on separate index cards, you can easily shift around the order of your topics and subtopics, as well as subtract topics from the lineup altogether.
If you’re looking for motivation and more how-to tips, check out Sean Wes. In preparation for writing his book, Sean spent the entire month of July planning and outlining-- and he shared the entire process on Facebook Live and his blog. You can catch all of his livestreams and blog posts (and even pre-order his book) on this page.
Write It Out in A Simple Word Processor
Now, the time has come to actually write out your eBook. Since it’s the 21st century, I’m going to recommend that you stick with a computer-based word processor. And since it’s the 21st century, I’m probably not going to recommend Microsoft Office.
If you have Microsoft Office, fine. But there’s no need to buy it if you don’t. Instead, you can use free Microsoft Office alternatives like Google Docs (my fave) and Open Office.
If you’d like to get really official with your eBook writing, consider Ulysses. With Ulysses, you can organize your writing into groups which makes it so easy to rearrange chapters to your liking. Plus, Ulysses automatically saves your writing so you don’t have to worry about losing your work. I also love the fact that you can set writing goals so you hit your daily target every time.
Choose a Cover
People will judge your book based on its cover, make it grab their attention for the right reasons.
When it comes to designing your eBook cover, go with the “less is more” aesthetic. Large, bold, easy to read text over a beautiful, relevant image can definitely stand out from the crowd and demand a second look.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a professional book cover designer to come up with a cover design. I highly recommend Canva for this.
You can sign up for free, and get immediate access to dozens of book cover templates for free. Browse through this list—it’s amazing what an incredible value Canva provides.
Lay Out Your Book
No one wants a boring eBook. The best way to avoid boring is to inject a graphic quality to the inside of your eBook. Your magazine should look and feel more like a magazine or high-end workbook, instead of an old-school, word only book. Add images and get creative with graphic elements. Your layout should inspire the reader to keep reading.
Canva to the rescue again. You can use their magazine templates to construct an energetic, vibrant eBook that will be a pleasure for your readers. And, what’s even better, you can download your Canva-created file as a PDF (which is the file type you’ll need to create to create a standard eBook).
Use these tips to create an awesome eBook, and once you do, let me know about it! I want to check it out. If you have any questions, leave them down below and I’ll be happy to answer them.