Last Updated on January 29, 2023 by Andrew Shih
What’s the State of the eBook Industry?
When you start to think about writing an eBook, it is best if you get your head around where the industry is before taking the plunge. While the number of eBooks written, published, and sold each year varies widely, there are lots of eBooks self-published every year.
According to Statista, an estimated 191 million eBook was sold in the US in 2020. Between 2010 and 2020, the compounded revenue growth for eBooks was 13%.
If eBook self-publishing feels like a good fit for you, here’s what you need to know to get (self-) published!
The Eight Steps to Writing an eBook
1. Choose a topic
Write an eBook if you have a story to tell, one that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about, or both. In addition to your knowledge and passion, consider the audience you will try to approach with your book. Are they passionate about your topic? Do they already know everything that there is to know about it?
If your potential audience is bored by your topic, if you can’t tell them anything new, consider a different subject or even hold off on your eBook project until you’ve got something new and interesting to say.
2. Come up with (not just another) title
There are many eBooks on the market. There may even be eBooks out there on the topic that you have in mind.
To set yourself apart, come up with a unique title. Use relevant keywords, keeping things like SEO (search engine optimization) in mind, but include enough unique elements to reflect your personality and approach and to stand apart from the crowd.
3. Develop unique content
Why should someone buy and read your eBook unless it has unique content or a perspective that can’t find elsewhere?
One of the best ways to know how to do this is to read other eBooks in the genre and broad topic that you’re targeting. Find the gaps and fill them. Read blogs on your subject matter and see which posts generate the most comments and shares. That may be where your audience’s interest lies.
Every writer’s process is different. It is best always to try to be sure that you know the problem you are trying to help your reader solve—or the objective you’re trying to help them achieve—and that you know and can clearly explain the answer or solution yourself. Those two things are A and Z. The writing process is all about connecting A to Z with as many chapters, sections, and subsections as necessary.
As you begin writing, rough out the number of chapters you think you’ll need to connect A to Z, along with the primary content of each. Then break the content of each chapter into easily digested chunks using headings. Once you’ve built your path from A to Z, start filling in the gaps with your text.
If you’re an experienced writer, you have your preferred platforms, perhaps Scrivener or free options like Google Docs or Libre Office. If you’re new to the game, consider well-established word processing platforms like Google’s suite of tools or Microsoft Word.
Some other essential tools you can use continuously are plagiarism checkers like Copyscape or Grammarly and spelling and grammar checkers like Grammarly. These tools, useful as they may be, are not alternatives to proofreading and editing.
5. Consider formatting carefully
Keep in mind that you are going to market and sell your book electronically. Choose a title, headings, and sub-headings structure that fits your content and breaks large portions of text into easily readable and displayed pieces.
Consider the importance of non-text elements to your topic, things like tables, graphics, and pictures. There are online services like Canva that will help you to prepare tables and charts that fit the style you’re putting together.
If using photographs, be sure to comply with those images’ licensing restrictions. Many libraries of free and “fair use” photographs are available online. These are available on sites such as Flickr, Unsplash, and Pixabay.
Any book—be it on paper or an eBook—that contains errors, spelling mistakes, or bad grammar runs the risk of losing all credibility and its audience. Your eBook should not be marketed, sold, or distributed unless you edit it.
Two things about editing. First, editing is not the same as proofreading. You can proofread your work for apparent mistakes and decide whether you said what you wanted to say. However, editing should be done by someone else who can help with the less noticeable errors and help you to say what you wanted to say even better.
Your editor should also keep you accountable for things like crediting your sources and photos—unless they are fair use—correctly and honestly, and make sure you don’t plagiarize even accidentally. Ideally, your editor has experience and some familiarity with your topic.
7. Design a cover
Books are judged by their cover—even eBooks. You know this. There are online products that will allow you to design your cover for free and provide templates to help you do it.
If you’re as handy with design and aesthetics as you are with words, that may be an option. If that’s not your thing, consider hiring a designer to help with your cover. You can hire a professional or a freelancer to design your cover.
Format the text of your eBook in a way that it can be packaged for sale online. It also needs to be read on tablets and eReaders. If your goal is to sell your eBook to readers on Amazon Kindles, your eBook converts your eBook to the MOBI format. For every other eReader out there, use the universal ePub format.
Those formats aside, you may also choose to sell your book in PDF format if you’re selling from your online store rather than one of those online retailers. When in doubt, convert your eBook into all formats your potential customers may choose. Do not take this conversion step haphazardly. You can do it yourself with online guides, but can also hire a professional or freelancer to help.
How to Market a Self-Published eBook
Congratulations! You have an eBook! Now all you need to do is get it to your audience. Marketing a newly published eBook is a massive subject area with much to consider.
Briefly, some of the things that you need to think through include:
- Specifically, choose your target market.
- Where should you sell? On Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing? Through PayLoadz or Craigslist?
- It is best to research pricing for your book, which includes looking at competitors or materials in the same niche.
- Does it make sense to have your own blog or website? Should you consider adding an e-commerce page to your website to sell your book?
- If you have a website, consider building a pre-sale landing page about your book to let people know it’s coming and collect email addresses for your list to approach once you’re up and running.
- Learn and apply the best SEO principles to support your book—as if you aren’t already.
- As you’re blogging on your own, consider blogging around the theme of your book and teasing the content without stealing your own thunder.
- Consider writing guest posts in blogs relevant to your topic and niche, and connect the subject of your posts to your book.
- If you’re not already active on social media, now is the time to get involved. Consider all the relevant platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, and the like.
Good luck. Every story deserves an audience. Your audience awaits your well-thought-out and carefully planned eBook.