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What is an EBook?

An eBook is a book in the form of a long text document. It can be bought and read on a computer, smartphone, or eBook reader. An advantage to eBooks is that they are usually PDF or EPUB files, which can be sent from person to person easily.

Image via Flickr by clasesdeperiodismo.

EBooks can be shared quickly, so use eBooks to generate awareness of your brand, to create leads, or to provide information on a topic you have extensive knowledge of. Because of its length, an eBook allows for more detail than a shorter blog or email without the cost of publishing a paper book.

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Another advantage of writing an eBook is that they can be self-published, which is incredibly cheap or free. Books that would typically be too short for normal printings make wonderful eBooks.

How to Write an EBook

Follow this step-by-step process to develop your own eBook in no time.

1. Decide on a Basic Concept

EBooks differ from other books mostly in the way that they are published. Starting an eBook is much like writing any other book. First, you must develop an idea for one. Sit down and write an expression or one to two sentences that summarize the basic information or concept behind your eBook. Once you have this, you can build upon your ideas.

Simple ideas can make some of the best books all around, especially with eBooks. Those looking to create large-scale fiction works might have to spend much longer on this step, considering the detail required for this writing style.

2. Expand on Your Concept

Take your basic concept and try to expand its different aspects. It helps to draw out a web of each one. For example, let’s pretend you wanted to write an eBook on how to start a dog grooming business. Write down all the secondary concepts that relate to your first one. Things like, “Tools you will need,” “Benefits to mobile grooming,” and Expected costs and returns.”

Next, begin the same process with each sub-concept that you identified in the previous step. Write an expression or one to two sentences under each one, trying to connect these ideas until you can see a structure starting to form.

Of course, each book type might require different tools. Self-help books will often do better if you start with a vertical outline, while DIY books work well with a web. In the end, it comes down to your personal preference and writing style.

3. Create an Outline

Now that you have expanded on your concept and written a few sentences for each part of your web, it’s time to organize these thoughts into an outline. Put each thought into a vertical format, rearranging until it makes sense with the book’s flow. Start with the most basic concept and move towards more complex ideas as you fill in your outline.

Each section will become a chapter for your eBook, so you may want to break these chapters into even smaller groups. You may want to turn these smaller concepts into their own chapters or a several-chapter series. Be sure to research your target audience and arrange each chapter from the most important information first and the least important information near the end.

4. Write Your EBook

Now, you should begin writing the body of your book. Stylistic elements like the title or table of contents aren’t important at this stage. Some people prefer to start their book from the very beginning, working their way slowly from top to bottom. Others may want to start in the middle of their book or jump around from chapter to chapter, adding things here or there. It really is up to you how you do it.

Remember that it takes time to write a book, regardless of its length. You must persevere to complete your eBook. Take some time each day to write a small amount. Choose a word count or an amount of time you will dedicate to writing. This should be a tangible and quantifiable goal like “I will write for one hour today” or “I won’t stop writing until I have 1000 words down,” rather than a general goal like “I’ll work on my book tonight” or “I’ll add to chapter two.” Don’t stop working towards your goal until you have reached it.

5. Rewrite Your First Draft

At this point, you have finished your first draft. Your work’s main body has been written, although it isn’t complete yet. Leave your first draft to simmer for a week or more, allow it to bounce around in your mind, and come back with fresh eyes. Reread your chapters and decide if the flow is acceptable. Does each chapter make sense? Should two chapters be combined, or should one chapter be separated into several?  After you have rearranged a second time or concluded that your original arrangement was correct, it’s time to edit and revise each section, chapter by chapter.

Editing is a long process, but luckily it takes much less time than the writing itself. Again, choose a tangible goal and stick to it. Edit one chapter at a time or focus on a set number of words each day. Often, words and sentences need to be moved around a little. Adding or removing one or two words can make the difference between good and excellent writing. Boil down your points and remove unnecessary fluff to create succinct and easy-to-understand ideas.

6. Add Some Style to Your EBook

It’s time to add a title, introduction, conclusion, bibliography, or any other stylistic elements your book is missing. Titles are best chosen after writing your book because a title often becomes obvious during the writing process.

Simple titles in plain language are the best default. Titles such as “How to Start a Dog Grooming Business” or “What You Need to Groom Your Dog at Home” will bring in your target audience. If your simplistic title is commonly used and you want to differentiate your eBook from others, consider adding your name into the title, for example, “Jane Doe’s Guide to Starting a Mobile Dog Grooming Business.”

7. Format Your EBook

Using the correct formatting is imperative to your eBook’s success. Use the “Styles and Formatting” option in your word-processing program if it is available. This is far more efficient than setting font sizes and headings manually. Use an easy-to-read font in both body text and headings. These should be larger than you would typically see in documents for work or school. Make your text easier to read with things like:

  • Bold to bring attention to important information and italics to emphasize words.
  • Quotes in a different style than the rest of your text.
  • A “pull box” for quick tips.
  • Bullet points to break up lists.

You should place a header or footer on each page, including the page number, the title, your name, copyright notice, or your blog’s URL. Microsoft Word offers the ability to format your header and footer differently on the first page if you choose to use a cover. Add a bibliography to cite sources you’ve used. This is good even if your only sources are friends and family. Here, you can give them credit by listing their names.

8. Include a Cover

You’ll need an eye-catching cover to market your eBook efficiently. Just like physical books, the cover is the first thing a potential reader will see. If you have the skills to design a cover yourself, go for it! If not, you might want to consider hiring a professional. When designing a cover, make sure to either get permission if using any copyrighted images or just stick to non-copyrighted material.

Using graphics or images can illustrate important subjects and will make your eBook more enjoyable to read. These graphics or images must be directly related to your topic. You want to use images that add value to your content and give the reader a better understanding of the information you give them. Remember, an attractive front cover will always bring in more readers.

9. Publish Your EBook

When deciding on how to publish your eBook, take note of the varying degrees of piracy protection, royalties you will receive, and how large of an audience you can reach. Find the one that fits your goals best. Most writers choose the publishing platform that will net them the most profit, while others might prefer to reach a larger audience.

Websites like Booktango, Smashwords, or Lulu can take your finished copy and publish it as an eBook. Most sites like these offer their basic services for free. Publishing an eBook doesn’t really cost the publisher anything, so you shouldn’t expect to pay to publish. Some websites offer premium services that will cost you, including marketing and editing. If you need nothing more than basic publishing, you shouldn’t purchase these programs.

Another commonly used publisher is Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, through Amazon. This format will allow you to publish an eBook to the Kindle Marketplace for no charge, allowing Kindle owners to purchase your eBook. You can get paid 35% of each purchase if you set your price below $200, but you can choose to get 70% if it is between $2.99 and $9.99. KDP greatly limits your audience to only those with kindle readers and has smaller royalties when compared to other publishing options. For example, Lulu offers 90% royalties for each book sold.

10. Self-publish With Special Software

You may prefer to publish your eBook yourself. There are several programs specially designed for this purpose. Cost and usability vary widely between options here, although all will allow you to publish an eBook without restricting how you can sell it. Self-publishing doesn’t have as many highly effective anti-piracy measures that a dedicated publishing company might.

Some of these programs are:

  • Calibre: A relatively recent program with a quick and powerful design, Calibre converts HTML into the industry-standard format, EPUB. Though this service is free, they do have an option to donate. Because most word processors can save your work as HTML, Calibre can be a breeze to use.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro: One of the best for creating PDF files, Adobe Acrobat Pro is a terrific tool for publishing your eBook as PDFs, which can be read by almost any device. Adobe Acrobat Pro allows for password protection on all saved PDF files, although it isn’t free to use.
  • OpenOffice.org: Another popular and free software, OpenOffice.org’s word processor can save as a PDF and protect your files like Adobe Acrobat Pro, though it lacks advanced writer’s tools like the ones used to add a cover. This product also has similarities to Microsoft Works.

With so many self-publishing options out there, research as many as possible to find the best one for you.

11. Promote Your EBook

You started with a basic concept, wrote your book, and published it. Now, it’s time for promotion. You have the option of paying a marketing service to promote your eBook or relying on self-promotion. Paying a professional to increase the number of potential readers may be a worthwhile investment, especially if you suspect the book to become a big seller.

Your social media accounts are incredible tools for self-promotion. Create posts about your book with links on where to purchase it. Use established platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, especially if family and friends are already connected to you through your personal accounts. The more people who know about your book, the more potential buyers you have.

EBooks are one of the best tools to market your content and can be an amazing way to create additional income. Follow along with this step-by-step guide, and you’ll be an eBook writer in no time!

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