Have you always wondered how to write an ebook? It’s not as hard as you think! Scroll on to learn how to write and publish your first ebook!
“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it”
There are more books published than people in the world. The barriers have been lifted.
In the past, if you wanted to become a novelist you had to spend a considerable amount of time networking just to get a chance for a big publishing house to read your manuscript.
From the time Gutenberg introduced printing to Europe, up until the internet era, I bet more than 80% of books written remained in the drawer of the author’s desk.
In 2021, it’s never been easier to write and post your thoughts and stories online.
This kind of accessibility encourages more and more people to explore their literary side. But at what cost?
What to Know About Writing an Ebook
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with people publishing books. The issue is when they start writing for the wrong reasons.
Even though most self-published authors will earn less than $1000, there’s still a huge monetary incentive to upload multiple books online.
And that makes for rushed and sloppy stories.
In order to “make it”, you have to write about popular topics. Topics you don’t really understand, so you end with some rehashed Wikipedia articles glued together.
Fortunately, there is a right way to write an ebook. You can still write about what you love and create a side income out of your hobby.
Did you know you can make money from writing about your love of books? Check out our article on how (and why) to start a book blog.
In this post, we’ll explore how to write an ebook — and how to sell it!
How to Write an Ebook in 7 Steps
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty stuff of writing a kick-ass ebook, we need to talk about the essentials.
Step 0: Proper Equipment
We live in a world of excess and constant distraction. Often, all it takes for the creative juices to dry up is an email or a social media notification.
That’s why it’s very important, for your initial draft, to choose the right writing software.
I’ve been using WriteMonkey for the last 4 years. It’s super simple. Goes full screen and I can start typing away instantly.
But there are more elegant options out there, like Scrivener, where you can break up your text for editing, make notes, organize your research, etc.
Lastly, there’s the old school method of pen and paper. And if I’m being honest, do we really need more than that in the beginning?
Step 1: Decide the topic (and then some)
Fiction or nonfiction, you have to clearly define what you’re going to be writing.
For now, we won’t dive into what the audience wants. I just want you to think about what do YOU want to write.
Because remember, an ebook might be 10k to 100k+ words. You’re going to be writing for a long time, so you better enjoy the process.
No one will admit this to you, but when it comes to nonfiction specifically, unless you’re a real expert, you won’t be able to produce anything worth reading.
Now that you wrote down the basic premise, try some freeflow writing. Just type all the ideas that come into your head and create some sort of map about your ebook.
You’ll fill in the details later. We want the big picture now!
Step 2: The Arc and providing value
Solving problems. That’s what an arc is all about. And that’s how you can provide value to people.
Think of your ebook as a 3 part movie:
- The problem occurs
- The struggle happens
- The problem is solved
This is a very simple formula you can use in your book and every chapter.
If your ebook is about starting a successful blog for example, following this formula, you should define the problems you’ve faced starting out, what you did about them, and how you eventually solved them and created a successful blog.
Ask this question every step of the way: “What problem am I solving right now?”
Step 3: Get down and dirty
Wake up, pour some coffee, pick a “writing” playlist from Spotify, and….
No words, right?
Fear not. You’re not the only one who suffers when the blank page stares right into their soul.
For the longest time, writers have been struggling with the idea of inspiration. And many up-and-coming writers have the common misconception that you need to always be in a creative mood to create something valuable.
Let me tell you something. Creativity doesn’t just manifest out of nowhere. It’s a habit, some people call it a muscle, you have to cultivate each day.
In my first year of trying to make it as a freelance writer, I read a blog where the author suggested that if you can’t write 1,000 words every day for a year, then you should find another occupation.
I took it as a challenge and I wrote between 1,000 and 2,000 words every day for a year. That’s 364,000 words. And that’s a whole lot of ebooks.
You’ll find that the more you write, the easier it gets.
Step 4: Edit the sh*t out of your document
For every one hour, you spend writing, commit 3 hours of editing.
You get a high-quality ebook by editing, trimming down, and polishing the rough diamond you hold in your hands.
And don’t be afraid to hire someone to do that for you. Editing and writing are different skill sets.
Paying for a professional editor to take a look at your ebook is a great idea for many reasons, other than making your writing better.
- An honest opinion
- Insider information about your niche market (more on that later)
- The confidence you need to hit “publish”
The internet offers you everything you need — if you know where to look.
You can find editors on job boards, social media, even freelancing platforms like Upper and Fiverr.
Step 5: Perfection gets in the way of getting things done
When I was working in-house for an ad agency, we used to write down “goals” for each project. And then we tried to beat them.
While everyone was frantically polishing and editing their copy before sending it to clients, one of the senior copywriters would write multiple landing pages and emails at once.
He realized that his clients would make more money by trying multiple angles and strategies, until they found what truly works, instead of throwing all of their money in one thing. Higher ROI.
That’s the mentality you should have when writing an ebook, especially if it’s your first one. Because, reminder, it won’t be your last one.
You’ll learn more by publishing a lot vs. spending a year on one short ebook.
I know it’s paradoxical to say this after Step 4 but hey, that’s life. Find the middle ground and don’t sweat the details.
Step 6: Make it pretty
You can definitely judge a book by its cover. There, I said it.
In the age of the internet, people are bombarded with information 24/7. It’s your job to lure them in and present your work.
Even if what you have to say is life-changing, no one will care unless they actually read your stuff.
But you don’t have to go crazy. (Un)fortunately, the bar is low. A professional book cover, a brand-oriented format, and some cool graphics will place you ahead of the curve.
Again, there are many places you can look for people specializing in this kind of thing. And don’t be afraid to order/try multiple designs!
You should also keep in mind that this is an ebook. It’s ok to use charts and photos and whatnot.
Don’t get limited by what you’re being used to see.
Adapt your writing to a new age.
(Noticed how I’m writing one sentence per “paragraph” right now?)
Step 7: Publish!
Many options here as well.
If you decide to publish it on Kindle, you should be aware that they’ll take 30% of your cut!
But your ebook will be available to millions of people, without much work on your part.
There’s also the route of using a semi-traditional house to help you with the launch of your ebook.
Finally, the most profitable way is publishing your ebook on your own. And thus, keep 100% of the sale.
But you need to know how to sell it!
How To Sell An Ebook
The old line “If you build it, they’ll come” is, unfortunately, false.
Right now, you’re 1 of 1,000,000+ people wanting to know how to write an ebook.
Yet, only the top 20% will ever make enough money to get compensated for the 100s of hours spent writing.
But what makes them so special, other than luck?
One word: AUDIENCE.
The rule of 1,000 true fans stands true. You don’t need everyone to follow you and like you. You only need about 1,000 people.
What does that mean to you?
Well, if you already have a following that:
- Trusts you
- Has the same interests
- Asking you to write something
You have the freedom to write whatever you like — within reason.
But let’s say you don’t have an audience. Do you know what’s the best way to build one? By writing!
It sounds counterintuitive but think about it.
Putting yourself out there, as cheesy as it sounds, will attract like-minded individuals. So get cracking.
Choose a niche you’re already interested in. Choose one platform and go all in.
It might take you a few months to a few years before you establish a core audience.
Other than that, you might want to brush off your copywriting skills and write a few compelling sales letters and emails. (Check out this cool book by Dan Kennedy)
There’s no shame in trying to sell your product. You worked hard for it after all!
Epilogue: Learn the art
Writing an ebook is no different than writing a book. All that changes is the medium.
Another strategy you can implement is buying ebooks from authors in your niche.
You’ll learn a lot by observing what other people in your market are doing.
If you’re planning to read lots of ebooks, you might want to invest in a quality e-reader.
Finally, if you’re planning to commit to this journey of writing and editing, getting frustrated, finding solutions, and experiencing all those beautiful ups and downs…
Then, go all in. Do it. Jump with both feet.
It’ll take time, it’ll take lots of brainpower. Patience and persistence.
But it’ll be worth it in the end.
And always remember what Bukowski wrote:
“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it”
Let’s see what you’ve got!
P.S – We’d LOVE to see your work. Share your ebook links in the comments below!
About the Author
George Kourakos is an ad-man by day, a writer by night. He is a mathematician with a creative side. Working full time as a copywriter, George wants to explore his creative side by writing about his favorite topics.