Monday, February 26, 2007

ATTN E-book Writers: Here are the Steps I Take to Create a Successful E-book

There are tons of articles on the internet about writing e-books. So, what makes this one different? In short, me. As the writer of six e-books and one e-course, here I will outline the process I use to create my e-books.

First, a little history: As the article, Are You an Angry, Frustrated Freelance Writer? illustrates, the rate war rages on among freelancers. And, in my opinion, it is not likely to be solved anytime soon - if ever.

This is why I'm a firm believer that freelance writers should create their own products for sale. It doesn't have to be an e-book because many don't have the knowledge or fortitude to promote such a product. It could be t-shirts, mugs, a greeting card line -- whatever. The point is, having an extra income stream is just smart business, in my humble opinion.

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NOTE: Writing an e-book is the easy part. You will spend 10 times more time promoting this product than you did writing it. If you think money is just going to pour in because you put your e-book up for sale, you're wrong.

Marketing - in any business - is where the real work comes in. Keep that in mind BEFORE you decide to create an e-book to sell. So, with all that being said, following is what I do once my little ole brain lights up with an idea I want to turn into an e-book.

1. Research: I research the competition, looking for the following: like products; where sold; by whom; for how much.

I didn't do this with my first two e-books, but got into the habit of it after that. Researching a product will tell you the following -- among a host of other things: what the competition is, how to devise a marketing plan and what to sell it for.

Every e-book is different, but what will sell it is you - as in, your experience, the spin you put on it, etc.

As for marketing, you can read effective web sales letters, see where the competition is promoting similar products, assess whether others are offering add-ons, etc. I could go on and on about this portion (and I will in another article), but just so you know, research is where I start.

2. Outline: Usually, I take about a week to come up with an outline. Just like writing a paper in high school, I outline the chapters and what I want to cover in them.

I usually don't formalize the names of the chapters until after they have been written; my outline lists the idea I want to cover in a given chapter. Sometimes that will turn out to be the name of the chapter - but that's not the norm.

3. Write: It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to three months to complete an e-book. It all depends on how busy I am. One thing I do do is give myself a completion date. I'm the type of person who will procrastinate forever if I don't give myself a deadline. So, I try to keep that.

4. Quality Control: Usually, I will hire a freelance copy editor/proofreader/editor to do the QC on the e-book. I usually give the freelancer a week to complete this.

5. Rewrites: If the copy editor/proofreader/editor has suggested structural changes, eg, this section would work better in Chapter 3, then I will switch things around.I have to admit, though, I don't do much rewriting because in my outline, I pretty much organize the material the way I want it to appear.

6. PDF It: Turn the file into a .pdf. This is not really necessary, but it helps in keeping users from copying and/or editing your material and possibly reselling it.

7. Create Sales Letter: I create a page on my website to promote the book.

8. Create Marketing Plan: Usually, I have an idea of how I want to go about promoting the e-book before I even write it. Because I've written a few and write for a niche audience (creative freelancers), I pretty much follow the same marketing plan, tweaking it from time to time.

9. Promote, Promote, Promote - into eternity!
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Laura said...

Thanks for this really helpful, yet concise, list of steps.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Thanks Laura. Many think that you can just throw an e-book together; that's why there's so much garbage on the web. BUT, as any serious writer knows, a lot of thought and planning goes into creating a USEFUL product buyers will appreciate and put their trust in.