8 Steps to Writing Your First eBook

I've been writing articles on the internet since 2011, and started writing my eBook near the end of last year.  It was a journey and learning curve.  I want to share the things I learned and hope it might inspire anyone out there thinking of writing one to take on the challenge and try it.

1. The Idea

Without an idea your eBook is dead in the water.  Take the first step and make notes about things that pop into your mind. An important component about writing in general is to get your name out there and noticed on the Internet and use it as a platform for selling your eBook.

Pick a Topic

In any kind of writing research is your friend, so take your time and read books, magazines and articles on your chosen subject.  The Internet has a wealth of information for you to tap into.  Life experience is a great place to start and if you're passionate about something even better.  It's worth knowing that your average eBook is about 25 pages long.

Writing Preparation

Buy a notebook, something you can carry around with you while you're out and about.  Ideas can come at some strange times during the day, having a notebook at hand is a life saver.  You'll find you spend a long time thinking about it at your PC, but not nothing will come into your mind.

Keep your eye on the time it takes you write, each day that goes by needs to be spent doing something constructive to do with your eBook.  This can be writing, developing your blog or writing out your marketing strategy.

A good start is to write an outline on your chosen subject, this will help get your thought's in order.  Jot down your chapter headings, you can always rearrange them in the order you want them in later.

Keep all distractions to a minimum, mobile phones, Ipad's etc things with social media that will pull you away from your task and will cost you time.  Switch them off.  You'll be amazed what a couple of hours without distraction can for your writing.

Once you start typing out your eBook, remember to create a new file and save as you go along.  This will save you frustration if you do end up losing your work.

2. The Writing Part

Write from the perspective of your target audience, and define who it is you're writing for, that way you can connect with your audience.  Make writing a good habit, use and develop it.  This is your opportunity to pass your own insight into the things you're most passionate about.

Every writer's worst nightmare is 'writer's block', when you go to write/type something and there's nothing in your mind.  Don't get overwhelmed by your task, do it in bite sized chunks.

Write in draft form, keep it simple and stay away from formatting your document.  You can do that later on when you eBook is close to completion.

The same goes for editing, wait until the end, your main aim is to have a draft copy of your eBook, you'll have plenty of time later to make it pretty.

Saving your document throughout and putting in on a memory stick will pay off and ensure you don't lose the manuscript you've created

Choose a finishing date, a date in your calendar your ready to sell it by.  This should all coincide with your blog/website.

3. Edit and Name Your eBook

At this point a small celebration is in order, you've written your draft, done your research and the end is in sight.

This is where proofreading comes in, read it over and over in your head to hear how it sounds.  I like to print my manuscript out and read it over.  It's so easy for things to get missed on a computer screen.

Check your grammar and spelling, don't leave it up to the spellchecker.  I never completely trust my spellchecker.  Make it your best work but also bare in mind it'll never be perfect.  You have a date in your diary to keep, so stick to it and get it done.

The Perfect Title

Waiting until the end to pick a title is a great because you have a fresh perspective on what you've written.

Your book may have taken a different twist to the way you imagined.  Had you chosen a title at the beginning it may no longer fit with what you've written now.

4. Formatting Your eBook

My choice was to use Word, it's simple and easy to use for fiction and non-fiction titles alike, Images and photo's can easily be uploaded.

Your eBook will be read on a variety of devices, mobile phones, Nooks, PCs, Kindles, laptops and tablets.  The page and font size will vary to the original document so keep it simple and clean.

5. Preparation

Don't Use
  • Page numbers (some devices allocate page numbers based on the preference of the owner, eBook files don't have a universal page number)
  • Advertising and promotion - Don't promote other competitors if your publishing with other websites.  Use your website/blog, Facebook to promote yourself
  • Headers and footers
  • Background images and colour's along with borders aren't recommended. Text will look feint on a grey scale e reading device
  • Drop caps at the beginning of each chapter
  • Different colour text
  • Multi column's, stick to a single column layout
  • Text boxes - If a large font size is being used, the text box may run onto the next page
Your page size is irrelevant - letter or A4 is fine.  Use standard settings for your margins.

6. Formatting Your Manuscript
  • Don't use multiple spaces or tabs
  • Use a single paragraph break, not double paragraph breaks
  • Separate sections and sub-sections with a central break
  • Separate chapters with a page break, don't use multiple returns to  move to the next page
Styling Fonts and Text
  • Choose Arial, Georgia and Times New Roman for the main body of text
  • 10, 11 or 12 pt is great for the main body of text
  • Use block text
  • Use single line spacing
  • Use bold, italics and ALL CAPS to make things stand out
Use Images

Images can be used but take into account the following:
  • Some e readers don't display colour, but only display grey scale
  • Insert images into your manuscript as separate files (GIF, TIFF, PDF, PNG and JPG) are all fine to use
  • Don't float images left or right of text.  Keep them in their own line instead
Links in Your eBook
  • Providing the Internet connection is on these links will work automatically on an e reader device, so make sure your website and social networks get a mention
  • Use Word's hyperlinking and bookmarking to link from one place in the manuscript to another
Front and Back Matter 

About the Author and Author's Note

This gives you the opportunity to write about yourself and promote yourself in the process.

Your eBook Cover

You can pay someone else to create one for you or you can create your own, this is all down to money.  Keep it simple, I can't stress this enough.  Amazon provide an eBook cover maker for you.  With this you can create your own without the harassment of looking for images.

Further down the line you can always pay for someone else to do it for you, when you've got some money in your pocket.

7. Pricing Your eBook

Go on Amazon, one of the biggest platforms for selling your eBook.  They offer various ways of making an income from your eBook.  In the long run it will get your book out there and put money your pocket.

Start by selling it for $0.99 that way you'll gain an audience for other books you want to sell later.

As a writer its good to start small, build an audience that will be buy your book.  Unless your an established writer its pointless setting your price high.  People need to connect with you on your blog/website before they open their wallet's and spend.

8. Distribution and Marketing Your eBook

I recommend selling through Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo.  This way, you have a platform with thousands of people at your finger tips.  It's also secure and VAT is taken care of.

Let me know if this has been helpful, or if you have any questions.

Read More About Self-Publishing: A Bloggers Guide: My Experience  so far Selling eBooks OnlineHow to Self-Publish on Kindle: 3 Simple Steps to to Publish Your eBook

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