How to write an eBook?
Days 1-2: Pick Your Topic
You probably have some sort of idea in your mind already. Something you thought about last winter and now keep returning to every now and then.
Pick up a piece of paper or a Post-it note. If you always wanted to write something very important on a paper napkin, here’s your chance. Take a pen and write down a one-sentence summary of your idea.
Now put it in your desk and leave it there for the next 30 days.
I’m dead serious.
Chances are, you would enjoy writing about this idea, but do you know for sure that it’s something that your audience will buy? Because if it’s not, you just wasted your time writing something no one needs. And that is not the risk you should be willing to take.
What you need is a great eBook idea.
A great eBook idea should be specific.
“Don’t try to write a definite guide to your topic, as it’s overwhelming for your readers,” warns Ali Luke on Copyblogger. “And it doesn’t leave much room for your next eBook.”
It should also be useful. You’re reading industry blogs and following relevant discussion on forums. What problems come up again and again?
Ask your audience what they want and give them something to choose from. Set up a simplesurvey and tweet it to your followers or post it on your Facebook page.
Days 3-4: Create an Outline
Before you start writing, you need to get organized.
“You need to put all those wonderful ideas down on paper in a form you can use,” writes Andy Ingermanson on Advanced Fiction Writing. “Why? Because your memory is fallible, and your creativity has probably left a lot of holes in your story — holes you need to fill in before you start writing.”
There is no one foolproof approach to creating an outline. The best is the one that works for you, so choose wisely.
#1: Draw a mindmap.
You can use a tool like bubbl.us to do it without ever leaving your favorite browser. Put a topic you’re writing about in the center and start adding ideas as they occur to you. Use lines to connect different ideas or create a logical sequence. Put everything down, no matter how big or small it is. You’ll revise the whole thing later.
#2: Work backwards.
Start at the end. What do you want your reader to achieve once they’ve finished reading your eBook? Then take a step back – how will they get there and what do they need to learnbefore that can happen? How about before that?
#3: Write a list.
Make a bullet-point list in Evernote ( Word will do too ) for everything you can think of thatneeds to be in the book.
“Don’t worry about organizing it at this point, just brainstorm,” suggests author Lisa Nowak. “Take walks. Talk to other people. Do whatever is necessary to generate ideas.”
Once you’ve got the big pieces in place, write 3-5 key points for each chapter/section.
#4: Examine other eBooks.
And books. White papers or reports. Anything really. What topics appear in most of the outlines? Is there anything you should add to yours?
Days 5-25: Start writing (!)
Not suprisingly, the majority of your time should be spent on the actual writing.
Let’s assume that you’re aiming for approx. 70 pages, with a couple of images here and there. That breaks down to writing 750 words a day.
And it’s a good number too.
“250 words per page is considered to be the standard accepted number of words per page. So, three standard pages are about 750 words,” points out Buster Benson on 750words.com “It really just comes down to the fact that this amount of writing feels about right.”
It’s still a sizeable commitment.
But one month later you’re going to get your very own eBook.
Here’s a couple of tips on how to keep writing those 750 words a day every day for the next 21 days.
Write out your likely barriers.
Author and blogger Roby Blair would likely agree. His blog post, “Write Every Day in 2014: 14 Steps for Forming A Writing Habit” encourages you to ask yourself:
“Where are you going to mess up? Come on, you’ve been living with yourself for the last few decades. You’ve got a pretty good sense of what’s likely to keep you from succeeding.”
“Rather than pretending you can just “do better this time” or “will through it,” acknowledge and accept these barriers. Are you likely to sleep in? Feel burnt out and unable to write? Will your kids distract you? Write out the most honest possible descriptions of your likely obstacles,” he writes.
Figure out the right time of the day to work on your eBook.
If you’re at your best in the morning, write in the morning. If you’re focused at 10 pm, when there are less distractions, do your writing then.
Turn off distractions when you’re writing.
Turn off the Internet. Seriously. Do your research first and then leave everything else till the very end. If you do your research as you go, you’ll end up constantly switching back and forth.
Got other programs running in the background? Shut them down.
Turn off your cell phone and notifications. You don’t need to be talking to anybody while you’re writing.
Clear your desk. No papers, devices, chargers, nothing. Remove the visual clutter from your workspace completely, so that it’s not even a subconscious distraction.
Make writing your priority if it’s important to you.
Try using a distraction-free writing program like WriteRoom, Ommwriter or jDarkRoom.
Set a timer for 25 minutes, then write until the time is up. Take a 5-minute break and then start again. You can learn more about this approach here. If you don’t have a timer, you can use one of the pomodoro apps. Just google it.
Don’t stop writing.
Sometimes you need to google something, look up a link or find a picture. Highlight the area that needs your attention with yellow marker or just include something like <!!!> in the text of your document, so that you know later that this needs your attention.
Don’t edit while you write.
Even if it’s the very first paragraph that you can’t get quite right. Leave it and move on. You will write faster if you separate writing and editing stages.
Another neat trick you can try is to:
“Copy your LAST sentence at the end of every writing day into an entirely new document. Then spend a minute writing out some directions for yourself about what you want to accomplish the next day,” says Daphne Gray-Grant on Publication Coach. “The next day, work only from this fresh document. This way you can’t be lured into editing your work before you finish writing it.”
Keep writing every day.
Try to create a habit of writing every day. While certainly hard at first, it will yield high rewardsafter.
Kevin Purdy on Lifehacker suggests that you…
“Stop writing mid-sentence to ward off writer’s block.”
The same approach can be used to continue writing every morning or night for the next 21 days.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is what one of the most successful comedians of all‐time, Jerry Seinfeld, did to write his jokes every day for years.
It’s quite simple really.
Every day that you complete your writing task, you get to put a big red X over that day on your calendar.
“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
This certainly has worked very well for me, so it should work for you too.
Days 26-28: Edit your eBook
Ideally, you would want to take a little break before putting on the editor’s hat. But since you’re on a deadline here, you’ll have to dive right into it.
For some people, this is the hardest part of writing. After starting to write, of course. But you’ve already gotten through that stage. In fact, you’re at the finish line.
So instead of waiting, print the whole thing out and look at your eBook like you didn’t spend the last 21 days writing it.
You can always just transfer it to your iPad or Kindle if you don’t feel like using that much ink and paper.
Now read it and pay special attention to things like:
- Information that you’ve covered in more than on place;
- Material that you wanted to include, but didn’t;
- Chapters or sections that would read better if presented in a different order.
Don’t spend too much time trying to perfect every word; there will be time for that later on.
Obviously, fix the typos and mistakes that you spot, but avoid getting overwhelmed with it.
Spend these three days focusing on cutting out unnecessary bits, re-ordering sections or paragraphs and adding any quotes and stats you didn’t have time to look up earlier.
Then read the whole thing out loud. Yes, really. It may help you spot the issues you would otherwise miss.
Looking at your eBook at this point, you’re probably feeling proud of yourself. You should be. You have almost finished writing your eBook.
But there are still two days left. This means, you still have to…
Days 29-30: Proofread and make final changes
Your work in these two final days is what differentiates your eBook from the pack of unprofessional ones that appear in the interwebs every day.
So get your eagle eye on.
“Read your work backwards, starting with the last sentence and working your way in reverse order to the beginning. Supposedly this works better than reading through from the beginning because your brain knows what you meant to write, so you tend to skip over errors when you’re reading forwards,” writes Mignon Fogarty on Grammar Girl.
“Always proofread a printed version of your work. I don’t know why, but if I try to proofread on a computer monitor I always miss more errors than if I print out a copy and go over it on paper,” she continues.
Pay special attention to things like your/you’re and misused apostrophes, as these are the most maddening writing errors, as found out by Grammarly.
Check format last.
“Paragraph spacing, text wrap, indentations, spaces above and below a bullet list or between subheadings and text, and so on. Leave this for the end because contents may shift during handling,” warns Leah McClellan on Writetodone.
Now you try it
I hope you can see the potential in applying these techniques for writing your eBook.
Yes, it takes hard work to create something great.
But by following this strategy, you already know that you will get a finished eBook in 30 days.
You can then easily sell your eBook directly to your audience on social media and your website or blog using Sellfy.
I want you to give this approach a try and let me know how it worked out for you.
Do you know any good tips on writing? Have I missed anything out? If you have a question or thought, leave it in the comments section below.
Tagged:Tags: ebookhow totips and trickswriting