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How To

How To Write an eBook: The Complete Guide

Ebooks have changed the game for aspiring writers and entrepreneurs. You no longer need the money, exposure, or resources to publish physical copies of a book. Even more, there is an endless list of the types of ebooks you can create—novels, short stories, children’s books, how-to guides, workbooks, etc.

In college, creating an ebook was one of our first major projects, and we spent a while learning about the importance of creating ebooks as an amateur writer. Producing digital books can earn you exposure in a way that can earn you money, be made for little-to-no cost, and require little experience (meaning you don’t need to be an established writer with an agent and best-selling novels).

I’ve gathered everything I’ve learned through my education and my research to help you learn how to write an ebook. This entire process can be achieved with simply an internet connection and the drive to create. I will be sharing both free and paid options for every step, with the free options being excellent for beginners and the paid options for when you’re ready to take your writing to the next level.

My hope is by the end of this post you’ll be ready to get working on your ebook with all of the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed. Don’t forget to share this post on social media, and feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have.

I will be discussing both narrative and non-fiction ebooks. The process for each is relatively similar, but I will be making a few distinctions where necessary.

For a free printable template for writing an ebook, sign up here👇 for my newsletter and you’ll be able to download a copy!

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If you would like to jump ahead, here you go:

Section One: Preparation

Before you even begin writing your ebook, there are a few steps you’ll want to take first: brainstorming and drafting.

Brainstorming

This process requires a little bit of research and a whole lot of thinking. Set your ebook up for success by focusing on precisely what you will write about, how it will make the reader feel, the design, and what you hope to gain from it.

Brainstorming is where you take your idea and bring it to life. Throughout this process, your end product may be unrecognizable to the one you brainstormed, and that’s okay.

You’ll want to solidify what your book is about by creating a premise, logline, or something similar. This is the slogan for your book; you want 3-5 sentences summarizing your book while drawing in potential readers. What you create for the premise will be what you use to promote and advertise your book. It will be what you refer back to so you can keep your story focused.

Example: You’re writing an ebook about the best ways to add productive habits to your daily life.

Bad Premise: This book will help you learn productive habits.

Why is this not good? No emotion, no excitement, and it doesn’t explain why I should read it.

Good Premise: 100 hours of research has been compiled into these science-backed habits that will have you living the productive life you dream of.

Now is also an excellent time to take note of the tone, topic, and theme of your ebook, as well as creating your ideal reader. Knowing who you’re writing for is necessary to create a relatable, enjoyable, and marketable story.

And, if you don’t have one already, create an author bio. In a few sentences, show people who you are, what you do, and why they can trust you.

Tie up the rest of the important information by thinking about what you’ll price your ebook as, any copyright precautions you’ll use, and the design of the book you’d like. Find some ebooks that are similar to the ones you’re planning and compare them. Are they similar in the price? Is there a particular style many seem to follow?

Finally, look at a few publishing sites you’re interested in and research the pros and cons of each. It’s best to figure this out now because each site has its styling and formatting rules that you’ll need to follow. There are plenty of choices, and we will be covering some of them in the publishing section.

Drafting

There’s no right way to make the first draft; however, the most important thing is to write one. I know for me (and I’m sure for many of you), this is the most stressful part. It can be knowing where to start, how to start, or even the overwhelming feeling of knowing how much still needs to be written that holds too much pressure.

How do I turn this blank page into thousands of words that get my point across in the most engaging way possible?

To make this process easier, I recommend breaking it down section-by-section.

Make a bullet list of the main sections (or chapters if it’s a narrative) and order them in the most logical way. Stick to the broadest topics and build on them.

Then, for each main topic/chapter, break each into 2-3 smaller sections.

Example:

Main Topic: Does waking up earlier increase productivity?

Sub Topic: Biggest Pros and Cons of Switching Your Sleeping Schedule

Sub Topic: The Most Compelling Experiments That Prove Waking Up Early is Beneficial

Again, it’s important to order them correctly, or in the most logical way.

Example: If your ebook is about the process of baking a cake, your outline might look like this:

  • Main Topic: Preparation
    • Sub Topic: Gather Ingredients
    • Sub Topic: Measure Everything
  • Main Topic: Baking
    • Combine Dry Ingredients
    • Combine Wet Ingredients
    • Mix Together
    • Bake in Oven

These sections go in chronological order. Your book wouldn’t make much sense if your outline was:

  • Main Topic: Baking
    • Combine Wet Ingredients
    • Bake in Oven
    • Mix Together
    • Combine Dry Ingredients
  • Main Topic: Preparation
    • Measure Everything
    • Gather Ingredients

For Printable Outline Templates (Both Narrative and Non-Fiction Ones), You Can Download Them Here:

Section Two: Creation

Now you’re ready actually to create your ebook! Depending on how long your book is and how many hours a day you work on it, this could take a few days, a few weeks, or even months.

Writing

This step is simple: write your ebook. Use your outline to write the book one section at a time and stick to the formatting rules of the publishing site you chose. You may be tempted to wait to properly format the book until later, but save yourself the headache (I’m speaking from experience here, it’s way easier to format now.) and properly format the document before you even write the title.

You can use any writing program to format your ebook, so I’ll just leave a list of options, both paid and free, and let you get to writing.

Important: Do not forget to hyperlink everything! You want your reader to be able to use the table of contents and click any links you add (that’s a significant benefit to using ebooks).

Editing

There are two main categories when it comes to editing: structural and grammatical.

Structural is all about re-reading and adding or taking away paragraphs. Check that everything flows nicely and that each sentence adds something to the book (this is doubly important for narratives as filler sentences lead to boring books).

After everything is how you want it and you’ve looked over it multiple times, you’ll want to use a spell-check program to ensure there are no major mistakes.

These programs are great at catching mistakes that you may have overlooked or didn’t notice. That being said, don’t apply any changes without looking them over. Programs aren’t perfect and don’t always know what you’re trying to say, so it’s a good idea to double-check.

You’ll likely make a few mistakes, and it’s likely that the spell-check will make a few mistakes. It’s unlikely that both will make the same mistake, so having both checks is beneficial.

Personally, my favorite program is Grammarly. You can use the free or paid version as both are excellent. With the free version, Grammarly will find any major issues and alert you to them. It’s more than enough if you have a strong understanding of grammar. The paid version gives more customization (like tone and readability) and shows suggestions for better sentence structure, overused words, and more.

Give your brain time to rest in between revisions and work on the next step while you do.

Design

The more united your ebook, the more professional and appealing it will appear. This is why design is imperative.

Before you open that photo editing or design app, decide on a color palette. You can use Pinterest and other sites to find some color palette ideas. You’ll want 3-5 colors for your ebook, which you will use for every aspect of your book, including the cover, font colors, and images for social media. This also ties into branding, which can get pretty complicated. Just know the goal is for your audience to see your images, marketing, and other work and know it’s you—without seeing your name or logo.

Colors can elicit emotions, any of which could influence which ones you choose to use. You’ve probably heard of red being associated with anger, energy, and power; and, you may associate blue with relaxation, creativity, or sadness. Feelings of relaxation may be perfect for a self-help book, whereas the energy from red may suit an action/thriller novel.

Even the tones can be influential. Muted tones are more calming, pastels can be playful, and bright, vivid colors are more exciting.

There are many factors of color theory, so if you’d like to learn more, here are a few resources:

Creating a custom color palette can be tricky, so I tend to opt for pre-made palettes. You can find hundreds of color palettes, both free and for pay, already made for you with particular themes in mind. Some of my favorite places to find palettes are CanvaEtsy, and Coolors.

The sky’s the limit with design; just be sure that the designs are easy to read and high quality!

Section Three: Next Steps

Once your ebook is written, edited, and the cover and additional images are created, it’s time to publish and promote your creation!

Publishing

You chose which publishing site you wanted to use in the beginning, so everything should be formatted specifically for that platform.

Most publishing sites have small fees to publish or take a percentage of your sales. Free places, like your website/portfolio, may seem tempting, but there are a few disadvantages to publishing your eBook on your website.

With established, popular sites like Amazon Kindle and Smashwords, your book goes out to a larger pool of potential readers. These sites have thousands of visitors daily looking for new reads. So, even though your book might not rank high among the vast amount of other books, someone searching for your genre, your topic, etc., will be more likely to find it.

With your own site, your book goes out to essentially no one (or to whoever frequents your site), and you have to bring 100% of the traffic. Getting people to your ebook is a challenge at best and requires promotion, marketing, and some luck. This is why starting on a site that already brings traffic is helpful.

Besides that, most mainstream publishers have everything you’ll need in one place (such as copyright options and ISBNs). This can be nice, especially when you’re starting.

Either way, here are some options you can research more in-depth and find which site fits your needs best:

Promoting

Bottom line: you need people to find your book, and that can be harder than you think. Waiting for someone to stumble upon your book is like standing in a lake and waiting for a fish to jump into your hands. You need to be proactive and work on bringing people to your book.

There are thousands, even millions, of books online, so getting yours in front of people isn’t easy. When you’re a beginner, there are no reviews, no loyalty, no following, no one searching for your book, nothing. SEO helps and is necessary, but an audience is way easier to grow through social media.

Places like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., give you the ability to connect with like-minded people and share your work as well as being relatable and authentic.

I have more information on promoting yourself as a writer in my post about advancing your creative writing career. So, if you’d like to learn more, you can check out that post here!

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