Writing eBooks in a Week – Provide Value and Clarity
Writing eBooks just to write, or are you writing eBooks that will sell?
Follow the plan laid out in this article when writing eBooks and in 7 days you will have content that is valuable and clear for your audience.
Amazon, Apple iBooks, and countless other sites are filled with eBooks that never get read. Don’t let that happen to you.
So why do so many eBooks never make it into the shopping cart? Simple, they are not worth buying. You need to think of your eBook as a product or service that represents you and your brand. Regardless of whether you plan on writing an eBook as a source of income or as a promotional tool, it needs to be well thought out. More than anything, it needs to provide valuable information to your audience. It must provide answers to the questions that your audience needs.
Is all of this possible to accomplish in the span of 24 hours … maybe, but not likely. You need to take a realistic look at what it takes to publish a quality piece of writing. The typical eBook today is between 12,000 and 15,000 words. eBooks that are used as promotions are between 7,000-10,000 pages. While the page count is important is developing perceived value (the value the customer believes the product is worth), the content is what will earn the respect, reviews, and recurring sales from customers.
Day 1 – Brain Dump & Outline
One often overlooked technique to ensuring a great outline and meaningful content is performing a brain dump at the beginning of your process. Brain dumps are simple activities meant to extract and visualize all of the content that could possibly end up in your book. I prefer to use a pad of paper and a pencil when I do my brain dump, but any tool that you can quickly jot down your thoughts will work. Find a quiet place that you can focus and work uninterrupted for 45-60 minutes.
Sit down and when you are ready, begin to write down every idea that you can think of regarding your topic. Grammar, spelling and common sense have no place here. Write down the ideas as quickly as they come into your head and keep writing. Resist the urge to edit yourself as you write. Resist the urge to write down only the things that you THINK will be important to your book. Write everything! You never know what will become inspiration later on. Write questions as well as facts. If you have a question about the topic, the chances are your audience will have similar questions. Write them down and then answer them later. After 45 minutes you should have several pages of notes, ideas, and facts.
The next step is to draw up an initial outline.
Step away from your brain dump for at least 2 hours.
To begin your outline, take index cards or something similar and write down a question you need to answer with your book. For example, if you are writing an eBook on Fishing, some of the questions you may need to answer would be;
What do I need to get started?
What type of bait do I need?
Where can I go fishing near me?
Do I need a license to fish?
Come up with 12-18 questions that your book should answer. Each Index Card gets one question.
Next step is to write down 3-4 answers to each question on the back of the card or on a separate color card. Use your brain dump notes to help with both the questions and the answers.
You will end up with something like this;
What do I need to get started?
Now if you have developed 12-18 Questions and 3-4 answers for each question you now have between 36-48 sections for your book. That makes an outline.
If you have used index cards or something that allows you to rearrange the items, you can place them in a logical order for the book. Not all of your questions or ideas may make the final cut and some may not fit in with the theme that has emerged. Save these for a later time and possibly use them for a future book. Each Question represents a chapter, and each answer represents a section of the chapter. You have just created the first outline and you are well on your way to writing an ebook that will give your audience what they need!
If you are curious about the tools I use when writing eBooks, check out this quick tip video about Writing eBook outlines.
Day 2 – Section Drafts
If you followed the above method you have at least 36 sections for your eBook. If you can write 500 words for each section then you will end up with roughly 18,000 words before editing. More than enough for a great eBook that adds value to your audience. Besides thinking about writing 500 words for a section is a lot easier than thinking about writing 15,000 words in total.
Get started by making sure you have a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted. This is really important! Nothing will kill your writing productivity faster than having to start and stop constantly.
For each section you have outlined, write 300-500 words. This will take a full day depending on how much you know about your subject. During this first writing session, don’t bother with adding links, references, or images. When you get to a point where you need something other than words, write a quick note to fill it in later. (Use a highlighter or other device to note the areas that need to be revisited to add content.) The comments section in MS word or other functions works wonders here.
Focus only on writing approximately 500 words for each “Answer” you had in your outline. As you did in your brain dump, don’t waste too much time editing yourself. You are in a creativity mode right now not logical. Once you have completed your draft, put your work away!
I recommend that you do not start on the next section immediately after you finish your draft. Let your mind and your eyes take a break from your content. You will see your areas of improvement and errors more quickly if you are looking at it with fresh eyes.
Day 3 – Section Fill
Now you have a large amount of content that is very creative and full of promise. See writing an eBook isn’t that hard! It is time to start molding it into a finished product. Start out by revisiting any section that was significantly less than 300 words. Try to get the word count up to 300.
Next read each section you have completed. Adjust the words and begin to edit the section for grammar, spelling, and making sure it “sounds” right. More often than not, you will have additional ideas to include, or will not like what you have written, so take the time to make sure you are happy with the section. Once you have completed each section put your work aside. This process will not take as long as the initial draft, but could still take up most of the day.
Day 4 – Final Section Review
Final Read through for each section. Finalize the order of your chapters and each section under the chapters. Change the chapter titles from the questions to something that will make sense to your audience. If you are using titles for the sections (subsections) make sure those are user-friendly as well. If time allows, you can begin to insert your links, introductions, acknowledgments, etc.
Day 5 – Proofread, Edit, and Revise
Today is dedicated to the book as a whole. Compile the book into the format you will be using when you publish.
The most common formats will be:
.PDF (Self-published – self-hosted)
.ePub (Kindle Self Publishing format)
.mobi (Kindle publishing)
.Docx (iTunes author pages)
Once you have it compiled, start at the title page and read the entire book. Don’t stop to edit on this first pass, just make notes on where you see errors or ideas to improve. It is important to read the work once through without stopping to get an idea for the overall flow and how it transitions from chapter to chapter.
Once you have completed your first read through, apply the edits you noted during your 1st pass. Begin the second pass through, but this time, focus on each error as you find it. A few things to pay attention to are:
- How each chapter begins
- How each chapter ends
- If you reference something earlier, make sure it exists.
- If you reference something to come, make sure it exists. (When reading, people’s minds remember the little promises our writing makes, and will feel unfulfilled if the promises are not met.)
- Check that any external or internal links work correctly.
If you complete this step and have time remaining, you can begin to work on Day 6 activities.
Day 6 – Add supplements, artwork, and links
It is time go back and add any images, tables or charts that you talked about or referenced in your first draft. Make sure that each has a caption or better yet a figure number. The way that eBooks are compiled and viewed, you may not always have the image or table on the same page that you reference it. So make sure it has a distinct title you can reference in your text.
Finish adding any links that you may not have gotten completed.
Add any non-core pages (Table of contents, Introduction, Biography, Acknowledgements, etc.)
Compile the book again and check that any reference pages such as a table of contents or table of figures is rendering correctly. Check all links to make sure they are working.
Add your cover art and any other supporting images as required by your format.
Day 7 – Compile, Format, and Publish
Last check for visual appeal.
Compile your book one final time including all artwork and reference pages.
One last read through to make sure it has rendered correctly. Adjust as necessary.
Review the publishing guidelines for your chosen platform
I hope this has been helpful in your eBook creation. While no advice will guarantee that your eBook will be a best seller, this post will significantly raise the chances that it will be successful. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me with any questions, clarifications, or concerns.
Best of luck to all.