Decide on a topic. Successful e-books aim at a niche market that seeks specific information. The best combination is to know what you enjoy or feel a passionate commitment towards (or both), as well as what potential readers would want to know more about. You’ve heard it before: help them solve a problem or manage an issue. If what you enjoy is creating e-books about various topics, that’s fine. Know what floats your boat and start sailing.
Be clear about your motivation. The reason most people write e-books is so they can either sell them or use them as free promotional tools to sell something else, or both. What helps you here is to know whether your primary motivation is to provide e-books from the perspective of an Internet marketer or from someone who wishes to establish a long-term relationship with a niche market. Both are valid; and if you find a way to blend the two that feels natural to you, that’s even better. Otherwise, get clear on which one causes you to pop out of bed in the morning like toast, and start there. You can avoid the frustration of bouncing back and forth between trying to become an Internet guru if you’re more personality driven or trying to build a long-term relationship with buyers if your true goal is to master Internet marketing through e-books.
Decide what the format will look like. Look at other e-books to get a sense of format options, graphics, font and size, ornate or simple. If your goal is to be easily recognized, you may want to consider either a logo or appearance that’s immediately recognizable by readers. You may be comfortable with one format (think “Chicken Soup for the Soul”) or your creativity may feel constrained unless you can explore and play on an ongoing basis.
Do you intend to create a brand? “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “Dummies” books are two prime examples of creating instant visual and title recognition for readers. Each book may have a different focus, but readers know what to expect from them. It may be that you start with a brand, create a brand later, or never concern yourself with this. But, it’s something to think about if you intend to create more than one e-book.
Get clear on your content. Your title should inform readers what to expect and the content must support this. If you find yourself mixing in content that doesn’t fit, copy and paste it into an Ideas document and create an e-book about it another time. It’s a good idea to decide on a topic and list what you know will support readers to solve one or more specific problems or issues. These listings can be the section headers. Then, all you have to do is supply information to support each section; create an Introduction; Table of Contents, if needed; and provide contact information and a call-to-action, if there is one.
Plan to edit and proofread, even if you pay someone to do this for you. Another set of eyes is important because you lose your objectivity after you repeatedly work on a document. Errors happen to the best of writers; but I peruse a lot of downloads from people who obviously didn’t let another set of eyes that know what to look for go through it before it went to the public. It will never, ever, ever matter how exceptional a writer you are . . . you will always need to edit and rewrite, and have someone look over what you’ve written.
It’s ready, now what? You need to create a PDF, create ways to get the word out, and a way for people to download it for free or for a fee. There are numerous ways to do this; but what if you’re someone who’s technically challenged or presently limited in some way? How can you get it going as quickly and inexpensively as possible (if not for free)? Research print-on-demand services offered online. The ones that let you publish for free allow you to upload your Word document; convert it to a PDF (which you save to your computer for additional marketing opportunities); create a “book” cover, if you didn’t create your own to upload; and voila! Your e-book is now offered on their retail Web site. You can also create a designated Website for your e-book. If you’re one of the uninitiated as to how to create one or aren’t ready to pay someone to create and maintain a site, research the free sites online. Some of them even offer Web Stores so you can list your e-book(s) and link the purchases directly to your PayPal account. Easy-peasy.
Depending on how much time and attention you can give to write and edit your e-book, you can actually get one written and into the market in a week, give or take a few days.
If you’ve delayed writing your e-book for any reason mentioned above, there’s no reason to delay it longer. I do want to suggest, though, that whatever your desired outcome is, make your most immediate target to get it done and have fun while doing it. One step at a time completes a journey.
Joyce Shafer is a life coach and published writer who helps new writers expand their skills and confidence. Her e-book for new writers, “Write, Get Published, and Promote,” is available at lulu.com and discounted at her Web site. See coaching programs for new writers at http://www.freewebs.com/writegetpublishedandpromote or email firstname.lastname@example.org.