How to Write an Ebook

In April 2010 I had the idea to write an ebook. My plan was to finish it by the end of June, publish it in July and then…well, I hoped to sell a few copies.

This was completely uncharted territory for me and given that writing is not my favorite thing to do, I approached this project as an experiment. Basically I was intrigued by the “launch your own product” process and I wanted to figure out how it all worked.

As you might expect, things didn’t go according to plan. June came and went, as did July. In fact, so did August and September. Then October rolled around and the dark, unfinished project cloud that hung in the air, coupled with the realization that I would probably regret it if I failed to follow through, prompted me to make a final push and just get the thing done already. Which I did.

Then I wrote this step-by-step guide so you could write your own.

how to write an ebook

I officially launched Tell Your Time: How To Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free on October 26, 2010. By that point, I think it’s safe to say I was so relieved I was done writing I would have been happy with $10 so I could buy an ice cream and soda to celebrate.

The Wild Ride Begins

Well, I was a bit stunned when I made significantly more than $10 that first day and now, here I sit, almost 3 months years later…and people keep buying it. Honestly, before this whole thing started, I never really thought much past the first week of launch.

What I set out to do—learn the “launch your own product” process—I have accomplished. At least in part. I’m still learning, but boy have I learned a lot so far.

And that, my friends, is what I hope to pass on to you.

I did some things right and I did some things wrong. Some things I have yet to determine whether I did right or wrong. But what follows are my honest, personal tips for writing an ebook. I hope they’re helpful to you.

Question #1: Should you write an ebook?

Short answer: Maybe, maybe not. I have no idea actually. It totally depends.

Long answer: When I started this process, frankly, it seemed like every time I turned around, someone else was singing the praises of ebook writing. I guess I took it as fact that writing an ebook would be a good and profitable thing, for me and everyone!

In fact, I don’t recall anyone cautioning against it. It wasn’t until I was knee-deep into the process that I started questioning whether or not I should have taken the plunge myself.

Why? Because it’s actually quite a bit of work.

And there are a lot of reasons why an ebook might take off and why it might never go anywhere at all.

Tip #1: Don’t drop everything to write an ebook.

As you’ll see over the course of the next several posts, I wouldn’t recommend putting all your eggs in the ebook basket.

Could it be worth it? Yes. Would I personally do it again? Yes. But not just because I actually came out ahead financially.

My best advice is this: spend 10-20% of your time working on your ebook. Spend the other 80-90% of your time building your blog. Seriously. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that without a blog, your ebook is likely to go nowhere. I haven’t come across an author yet, published or self-published, who doesn’t say writing is the easy part. Marketing is the hard part. Thus the need for a blog. (Don’t worry, I have a simple guide for creating a blog too.)

Also, develop online relationships with others. As we work through this series I’ll tell you why.

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Comments

  1. Kat says

    This is awesome, but what website did you use to publish your ebook? I’m almost done with my book, but I don’t know where to post/publish it. Thanks!

  2. says

    Thanks for the great article. I’m going to sit down and read all the posts (I’ll put it on my ‘to-do’ list). I’m just tossing around the idea of putting my paperback “Crime Beat, Murder, Mayhem and the Mundane” in an ebook format.

  3. says

    Thank you very amy for sharing this. Writing an ebook is always tough but once you had finished writing it then it can be a source of passive income. After reading this post am inspired a bit for writing my first ebook. Hope it will also turn into a great source of income for me .

  4. says

    Nice content, Amy:) I was thinking of writing an ebook for another site I have in mind and was looking for a few pointers and your site popped up, so here I am. I scanned your posts and found some great value in them. I will definitely be back to move through the stages as I begin writing my first ebook. You may have answered this in one of the posts already, but I’m wondering if 1 page in a word doc equals the same as 1 page in an ebook?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] David Gaughran, in his blog Let’s Get Digital, discusses how Penguin Publishing has launched a self-publishing service that over-charges significantly, something an inexperienced writer might not be know in their dealings with this old and established publishing house.  I learned a great deal about the pitfalls of self-publishing and what to be careful about.  For a positive personal experience on self-publishing, check out Christine Grote’s Random Thoughts From Midlife.  A great resource about creating an e-Book can be found at Blogging by Amy. [...]

  2. [...] David Gaughran, in his blog Let’s Get Digital, discusses how Penguin Publishing has launched a self-publishing service that over-charges significantly, something an inexperienced writer might not be know in their dealings with this old and established publishing house.  I learned a great deal about the pitfalls of self-publishing and what to be careful about.  For a positive personal experience on self-publishing, check out Christine Grote’s Random Thoughts From Midlife.  A great resource about creating an e-Book can be found at Blogging by Amy. [...]

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