If your blog has been gaining some traction, chances are your readers find value in what you’re sharing. This means they might just pay for more in-depth information. Ebooks are a great way to give your readers more of what they love while creating a passive stream of income.
First off, let me say that writing an ebook is not as daunting as it sounds. We aren’t shooting for War and Peace here (though if you are, more props to ya). We’re trying to create a digital product that your readers will be scrambling to buy and will benefit so greatly, they tell all their friends to buy it too.
After writing two of my own, here are my suggestions for a (mostly) headache-free process to create a product that actually sells.
Make a plan
To get started you’ll need to create an outline. Do not start writing until you have a plan in place. Let me repeat, DO NOT start writing until you have a plan in place. I did this – I wrote and wrote, blindly scribbling anything that seemed relevant at the time. I took a couple weeks off and when I came back to the book a month later, I scrapped the whole thing and started over.
I’d advise you to not repeat my mistake and plan what you’re going to write about from the start. Your outline should consist of chapters and a few bullet points under each for sections or what the chapter will cover.
Find out what they want
During the process of creating your outline you’ll want to survey your audience, since they will be the ones buying the ebook, not you. For my last book, I did this by creating a giveaway and requiring readers to share their biggest blogging hurdle to enter. One week later I had over a hundred answers to what I should be including in my book. (Thanks everyone!)
Just like in blogging, you’ll also want to define your ideal reader from the start. Who are you writing to? What are they struggling with? What is their end game? I’ve always found it helpful to create the image of a person in my mind and write specifically to them. Much less overwhelming than thinking of all the people you want to help and what each of them needs.
To keep you on track throughout writing, I recommend creating a one-line mission statement for your book and make sure everything you write supports it.
Choose a format
Once you have your outline, your ideal reader and your mission statement, you can start writing.
For both my books I used iBooks Author – a free plugin for the iPad and Mac. I found the ability to see my chapters and sections in the sidebar extremely helpful. You could also keep it simple and create a Word/Google doc that you export as a PDF, but I liked that iBooks set my text in columns and make my end product a little more fancy.
For my first book I used one of their generic templates, but for the second, since I had a better handle on the program, I started with a template and the edited the crap out of it to make it my own. Book ebooks were exported and sold as PDFs, but you can also upload it to iTunes.
Pick a deadline and create a marketing plan
At some point during the writing of your book, if not before, I would recommend setting a deadline and announcing it to the world. Want to know a secret? When I announced the launch date of my last ebook it was only half finished, which sure lit a fire under my ass to get it done!
At this point it’s also a good idea to start working on your marketing plan. Creating free content similar to your book reminds readers that you know your stuff and guest posting before and after your launch will get you and your product in front of potential buyers that may not have found their way to your site otherwise.
and an editor
Once your book is written, you’ll want to hand it off to an editor. Mandy is my go to lady for this. No matter how good I think my work is, she always reminds me that I start too many sentences with “So” and applies “however” properly.
At this point you’re probably coming up with list after list of things that need to be added or updated. This will be a never ending cycle, so don’t go for absolute perfection, just write the damn thing and publish. When I finally finished writing I had an immediate swell of panic (like 30 seconds later – totally surprised me) that I’d missed something and I should keep researching just in case. But I didn’t need to do this and you don’t either. Save it for book number two!
Set a price
Figuring out pricing is difficult no matter what you’re working on. I recommend checking out other ebooks in your field to see how much content they contain vs. price. Also consider where you’ll be selling your book – you can charge a little more if it’s through your own webstore, but ebooks on Amazon are rarely over $15. Lastly think about the income of your readers. If you’re marketing to millionaires you can charge a lot more than if you’re marketing to college students.
If you’re creating your first digital product you might even do something small and make it available for free or as a incentive to sign-up for your mailing list.
The most important element
If you’re thinking you may write an ebook someday (or sell any type of product at all), start building a mailing list now! I put this off for years because I didn’t really know what to with it, but I’m so glad I read of ton of marketing books that made it a priority. Getting that launch announcement into over 600 inboxes was extremely helpful in having a successful book.