One of the best ways to get new clients, improve your credibility and increase your income is to publish an ebook.
But for most small business owners, freelancers and consultants, the real writing process is hard, even for writers, and writing is just the start of the work.
Then you've actually written the book how do you then turn it into an eBook that will look good on all manner of mobile devices and which people can actually buy online?
If the very thought of writing an eBook wasn't enough to put you off then working out how to self-publish it might.
Writing an eBook is one thing I'm recommending to more and more bloggers in our blog consultations but many of my clients have the same concerns about the technicalities of self-publishing telling me:
“But I don't know how to write and self-publish an ebook, it just seems too hard.”
So although it seems like everyone and their dog is jumping in to the self-publishing band wagon these days it's important to remember that the number of people who have actually written and self-published an ebook is tiny compared to those professionals who'd like to but don't know where to get started.
If that sounds like you here's my quick start guide on how to self-publish an eBook. I've delayed writing this post because self-publishing and eBooks aren't my true area of expertise like blog design and web copywriting is but I'm hoping the shortcuts I used to get my book self-published will help you too.
Before we get start here's a quick disclaimer. Don't expect to get rich from selling your eBook. I recommend you think of self-publishing an eBook as a way to build credibility but don't expect to create a huge income from it. Although hopefully it will produce a small income stream look on writing and self-publishing an ebook as a way to increase your reach and credibility and aim to make sure sales cover the expenses involved.
Finally, remember the aim is not to self-publish an ebook just because you think you should. For the ebook to work in your favor you need to create an eBook you're proud of and which your target audience will love.
I don't pretend to know everything about self-publishing, far from it but this is what I did to self-publish my eBooks.
How to Self-Publish an Ebook for Bloggers and Beginners
1. Write the ebook
I'm a classic over-thinker but try not to over think this one too much; you're not writing War and Peace it's just your first ebook.
If your ebook is going to be a free giveaway to entice people to subscribe to your book then it doesn't need to be long. 3,000 – 5,000 words may be all you need and you can base this type of ebook on existing blog posts if you wish. Starting a blog series can be a great way to create content for your book and keep updating your blog. Once the series is over you can reuse the content to create your ebook. This is how I created my Blog Writing Magic ebook which is free.
If you want to write a book to sell you might want to make it longer and meatier but again you can use existing content from your blog if that works, along with new content that adds more unique details and information. But again it depends on the sale price of your ebook. Remember many Kindle eBooks sell for just 99 cents or $2.99 so you need to make sure the amount of time and effort you put into your ebook doesn't outstrip the rewards you'll get from it.
No matter what the topic is or how long you plan to make your ebook start by coming up with a great title because titles are as important for eBooks as writing headlines are for blog posts. Basically if the title isn't right no one will want to read your ebook.
Once you've got a title and know exactly who your target audience is outline the book and come up with chapter headings. Keep it simple. For example with my book Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps I knew from the beginning that I wanted to cover blog design, writing and promotion. Within each of those three areas I jotted down ideas for what I wanted to cover and quickly saw I had four chapters on design and promotion but only three on writing. I liked the idea of a 12 step guide (what can I say!) so I fudged it slightly and created a fourth chapter for the writing section so chapter eight is more of an overview of any points that didn't fit neatly into the other chapters called Reality Check and Adding Value. It worked.
Once you have an overview of content with a chapter outline which you can note down on one or two pages of A4 that's the beginning of your ebook. Set a realistic deadline such as writing one chapter a week, fortnight or month depending on how much you can manage and stick to it. Write your book in Microsoft Word if you can – more on that later.
2. Make your ebook professional
When the ebook is complete it's time to add the finishing touches. You'll need content for these pages:
- An inside cover page with the title, author, copyright, your blog name and URL.
- A contents page with an overview of the chapters;
- Copyright details page (mine also includes thank you's)
- Introduction (if needed)
- About the author page (because you want to increase your credibility and make sure book readers visit, revisit or subscribe to your blog).
- End notes (if needed – I call mine The Final Word because I wanted to include a last call to action, thank readers and remind them how to get in touch with me).
- Resources or Acknowledgments if you've mentioned other books or websites or interviewed people for your ebook.
3. Edit your ebook
I love editing other people's writing but not so much my own. Still, it has to be done. In order to make sure you're proud of your ebook and that it's error free and easy to read it needs to be carefully edited.
Start by editing your ebook yourself. If you wrote it over a few weeks or months you should be able to pick up and sort out all sorts of problems, then work out how to tighten your writing up and make it flow. These tips on editing blog posts will help you edit your eBook too.
Once you've done as good a job as possible you should really get someone else to edit your book. There are a few options for finding an editor for your ebook:
– Ask a friend to help out preferably someone with real editing skills. If you're a professional writer you can offer to swap services with a friend who might like you to edit her work in return.
– Hire a professional editor – As a professional writer it was important for me to make sure my book was perfect. I enjoy the writing process but after working on a book for many months you never want to read it again so paying for an editor was money well spent for peace of mind and to free me up for other things. I hired an editor I met on Twitter (hello Bill Harper) and another professional writer who I met through my lifestyle blog Carla Rose Fisher gave it a final proofread.
Whatever your budget and approach do make sure your writing is professional and easy to read so you can publish your ebook with confidence.
4. Design Your Ebook
Cover design is hugely important because people do judge books by their cover. Make sure your book looks as good as it is either by swapping services with a friend if you know a graphic designer or by finding someone who can help you.
Creating an eye-catching ebook cover that also looks good online as a tiny thumbnail image is hard but it can make a difference to ebook sales.
My ebook was first published as a PDF and sold using E-Junkie. If you have no budget you can create a PDF document yourself from a Word document by saving it as a PDF file but do spend time getting your ebook to look as good as you can before you hit publish.
Because the design of my ebook is a reflection on me I hired a graphic designer to create the cover of my eBook and design the inside pages layout in InDesign. He worked on three chapters then we saved money because my clever husband Rich learned InDesign and formatted the other chapters in the same style.
The new Kindle format of my book available on Amazon doesn't offer as much flexibility for design but again, because learning how to create a Kindle isn't a good use of my time since I may only write one ebook a year, I hired another professional with experience to do that for me. He created a tested and validated Kindle version with the relevant meta-data and a thumbnail image of the cover which is compatible across all of Amazon's e-readers as a standard, reflowable, ebook and not a fixed layout like the PDF version.
The charge was around $250 which was money well spent because it saved me heaps of time and made me confident the Kindle version of my ebook would be approved by Amazon and work. I’m now using word-2-kindle.com for kindle formatting. They do a great job and they only charge $49 to format a typical novel. They also do print formatting for Createspace for $199. Local graphic designers are nice, but you can save a lot by using these specialized ebook formatting shops. (Sue Anne also used word-2-kindle.com for her “Stress Management Decoded” Kindle book)
5. Choose a Platform and Price for Your Ebook
More corners were cut here because when I started researching how to self-publish an ebook I immediately felt overwhelmed with all the options like Smashwords, Lulu and Scribd to name just a few. So I asked Kama Franklin, another bloggy friend and self-published author at The Happy Migrant who recommended CreateSpace and Amazon.
I created the print version of the Successful Blogging book from the original PDF ebook in CreateSpace which means it can be ordered in print on Amazon and delivered to anywhere in the world. Then I added the Kindle version to Amazon when it was ready so readers have the option to buy my ebook in print or on Kindle.
I'm using the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) option on Amazon which means I can't sell my ebook in any other formats but if at the end of the 90 day contract I'm not happy with it I can always change that and continue to sell my ebook as a PDF and on Kindle though not with KDP.
You may decide you don't need a print copy of your eBook but self-publishing in print has been great for me for several reasons:
- Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps is a joint course and workbook so people can fill in the workbook in the print version and keep their ideas together for future reference;
- Useful for book sales after talks and public speaking sessions;
- Great giveaway on my blog, at events or to valued clients;
- Great way to stand out from the crowd so if I particularly want to impress someone I can give them a copy of my book as well as a business card;
- Many people (like me!) still don't like reading eBooks and would prefer to buy a print version if they can so it's good to offer both options.
Pricing your ebook correctly is important too. If you're using the KDP program the greatest price is $9.99 but some studies show that for greater sales you should sell your e-book for $5.99 or less. This is something I plan to experiment with.
Bear in mind that Amazon's 70% royalty for self-published authors only applies to Kindle books priced between $2.99 and $9.99; otherwise, the royalty rate is 35%.
And furthermore you should consider giving your ebook away for free (think of it as a loss leader) because some data indicates that free ebooks get about 100 times more downloads than priced ebooks, even the 99 cent ebooks.
6. Publish and Promote Your Ebook
Once you have the last edited Kindle version of your ebook with a cover you love and a print version if you decide to create one you're ready to upload them to CreateSpace and Amazon and start selling them. It will take a few days for them to be approved so make sure that process has taken place before you start promoting your ebook on your blog and social media accounts.
Once you're sure it's all ready to roll write a blog post, email your list, promote on all your social media accounts and fingers crossed you'll get some ebook sales (unless you've created a free ebook of course.)
You can also promote your ebook through guest posting, by offering it as a giveaway on your own blog or other related blogs and through interviews and guest posts.
Then check out How I Became an Amazon Best Selling Author and How You Can Too by Angela Artemis for more ideas how to get the most out of your ebook.
Self-Publishing an eBook: the Final Word
Self-publishing an ebook isn't easy but it can be done. Hire professional help for the bits you can't do, look on it as an investment in your career or business and get on to it.
Because self-publishing an ebook is a brilliant way to differentiate yourself and your blog and prove that you really are an expert in your field.
Just be sure to write and produce an ebook that you're really proud of and remember – it may sound complicated but now you know how to self-publish an ebook there's never been a better time to get started.
Got questions about how to self-publish an ebook? Leave a comment below.