7 tips to write your first e-book

If you're looking to offer value to customers and capture leads, an e-book can help you do it
5 minute read
Adam Smith @HomebrandAdam
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Writing an e-book gives you a great marketing tool for your business

E-books are a powerful marketing tool. They give you a way to capture leads while adding value for your customers. You can do this by offering an e-book in exchange for an email signup

The thought of producing an entire book can be pretty daunting. If you've never written long-form pieces before, coming out of the gate with an e-book can seem like an insurmountable task.

But writing an e-book is actually achievable. It will take some hard work and dedication, but you can produce and distribute an e-book in a matter of weeks if you follow these 7 tips.

1. Decide on a topic

First you'll need to pick a topic for your e-book. This should be relatively simple. You want your e-book to focus on your area of expertise.

Your expertise is your business. Whatever industry you're in, you're in a position to offer an authoritative voice to your customers.

Think about some of the most frequently asked questions you get from customers. Determine their biggest need that your product or service addresses.

It's important to be specific. If you pick a topic that's too general, you'll overwhelm your readers. Moreover, the more specific and targeted you are with your topic, the more qualified leads you'll create and the more unique your e-book will be.

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2. Outline your book

Next you'll want to draft a rough outline for your e-book. Think about what each chapter will cover. The best way to do this is to think about the problem or concern your e-book is addressing. What is the end goal of the reader? What do they want to be able to accomplish after reading your e-book?

Once you've determined this, break the end goal down into a number of steps readers will have to take to achieve it. Each of these steps can form a chapter.

Once you've broken down each chapter, think about sub-sections. Come up with 3–5 points to cover within each chapter. The more you outline your e-book, the easier it will be to write. If you have a thorough outline, your writing process will be a matter of filling in the blanks to expound upon each point you've mapped out.

3. Look for content you can repurpose

You should already have a content marketing strategy. Part of this strategy should be regular blogging. If you've been disciplined about posting regular blog updates, the good news is that you won't have to start your e-book from scratch.

Once you've picked a topic and mapped out your e-book, look for previously posted content that fits within your topic area. You can repurpose some of this content for your e-book. Remember that you're looking to offer added value to your readers, so you won't just want to regurgitate your blog posts verbatim. But use old blog posts as a springboard and framework for your e-book content.

4. Set a daily word count goal

Now comes the difficult task of actually writing your e-book. The tips above will make the writing process flow smoother and easier, but there's no shortcut for the actual work of getting words onto the page.

The best way to stay on task is to work on your e-book every day, and to set measurable and achievable goals. Block out time in your schedule to work on your e-book, and set a word count goal for each day.

Once you hit your word count for the day, stop, even if you feel inspired to keep writing. Ernest Hemingway advised writers to stop writing for the day before they felt they'd exhausted their inspiration, saying, "I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."

By quitting each day when you hit your word count goal, you can keep your momentum going for the next day. Often the most difficult part of writing is beginning, and if you begin each day with inspiration left over from the day before, you can help avoid writer's block.

5. Make revisions

No matter how good your first draft is, it can always be better. Once you've finished writing, go back through your work and look for areas to improve. Think about whether or not the information flows in a logical order. Keep an eye out for any spelling or grammatical errors. Look for topics or concepts you could have explained better. Look at your e-book from the perspective of a reader and determine if you've answered their questions clearly and concisely.

This is also a good time to trim the fat from your e-book. Pay attention to see if you've repeated information unnecessarily or included unrelated or irrelevant information.

6. Choose a file format

Next you'll want to choose a format in which to save your e-book. There are a few different file formats you can use, such as:

  • PDF. A PDF, or portable document format, can be read by most devices. It can be opened on desktop or mobile, and is supported by almost all modern e-reading devices. However, PDFs generally don't reflow text to fit different screen formats. This means your e-book might appear differently on different devices.
  • AZW. AZW is Amazon's proprietary file format for Kindle devices. It's responsive to screen size, and will work on Amazon's Kindle devices as well as iOS and Android devices. It won't work on other e-readers, however.
  • EPUB. EPUB is one of the most widely used e-book file formats. It can be opened on almost any device, except Amazon Kindle devices.

Each file format has its own limitations. However, a PDF is the most universally accessible. You may sacrifice formatting and text flow on some devices, but you can be assured your readers will be able to open and access your e-book file.

7. Get some professional help

Putting together an e-book is a lot of work, even using the tips above. You may want to consider getting a professional to help your e-book reach its full potential.

A graphic designer can help you make your e-book visually appealing. They can help design a cover, add graphic elements throughout the book and lay out the text. Likewise, a freelance writer can help you craft your e-book's content. If you don't have time to devote to writing an entire e-book, you can hand your outline to a good freelance writer who can put words to your ideas.

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