Blog/Content marketing
3 December 2022
19 min read

How to write an ebook, from start to publish

how to write an ebook

How to write an eBook from start to publish

Writing and publishing a book is hard work. It can take months, or even years, to write a full-length book that people will want to read. 

What if you dream of sharing your ideas or stories with the world but need more time or resources to write and publish a traditional hard-cover book? 

Don't worry; there's a better option — in this digital era, the simplest way to get your ideas out to the world is by publishing an electronic book (ebook). I’ll let you into a secret; you can write and publish an eBook in as short as one month.

In this post, we'll take you through the simple steps to write an eBook from the start and guide you all the way to publishing. We'll also give you tips on how to make your book stand out from the competition to ensure you have a best-seller. 

If you have the ideas but need help writing your ebook, you can hire Strategically, an eBook writing agency. Our team can write a brilliant and outstanding ebook for you.

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Why write an eBook?

Writing and publishing an ebook is a great way to share your experiences and expertise with the world. It makes it easier for potential customers or fans of your work to quickly consume and benefit from your content.

Ebooks create a lasting impression and help you build your brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field. 

Unlike a traditional hardcover, an ebook is a relatively low-cost, low-commitment way to produce high-quality content to share with thousands of readers worldwide. 

If you want to market yourself to potential employers or customers, ebooks offer a great way to showcase yourself — your skills and abilities— in the most engaging and fulfilling way. 

So, if you're looking for a creative outlet that can reap tangible financial rewards, consider writing and publishing an ebook. 

How to write an ebook: A step-by-step guide

Are you ready to put your thoughts down and write a kick-ass eBook that your readers will scramble for? If so, follow this step-by-step guide to help you from start to finish:

What to do before you start writing

1. Define your purpose for writing an ebook

The first step is to define your purpose for writing the ebook. What do you hope to achieve?

Are you writing the book to:

  • Drive sales for a product?
  • Incentivise your customers? 
  • Build your brand? 
  • Drive traffic to your website? 
  • Generate leads for your business? 
  • Make some extra cash?

Once you know your purpose, you can determine what content will be most impactful for achieving your goal. It will also help you stay focused as you write and promote your book.

2. Decide on your eBook topic

Once you know why you're writing an ebook, the second step is to decide on a topic or idea. 

Your topic can be something you're already an expert on or even something you're passionate about and want to learn more about.

If you can't decide, consider letting your readers choose for you. Put out a call for ebook ideas on social media or your blog and see what topics your followers are most interested in learning about.

The important thing is that you choose a topic you’re passionate about that will solve a problem for your target readers. Make sure your topic addresses the target audience’s problem in such a way that they will actually be interested in reading your work.

3. Define your target audience

Before you start writing your ebook, it's crucial to take the time to define exactly who your target audience is. 

To do this, you should answer these questions: Who are you writing the book for? What are their demographics? What are their needs and interests? What are their pain points? 

By understanding your target audience, you can tailor the content of your ebook to resonate with them. It will also help you zero in on the right topic and angle for your ebook. 

The more specific you can be about your target audience, the better equipped you'll be to write content that appeals to them. 

4. Solve a problem for your readers

Remember, people will only read your ebook if it provides needed value. As you're planning on writing an ebook, keep the problem your target audience is trying to solve at the fore. 

What information can you provide that will help them solve that problem? Your viable solution for their problem is what will add value to your readers.

Whether your information teaches them how to do something new or simply informs them about something they didn't know before, your eBook should make the reader feel unstuck from what they deem a sticky situation.

If it doesn't, chances are they won't bother reading it, which defeats the object of writing it in the first place!

5. Set a timeline: How long will it take?

The next step is to set a writing timeline. How long will it take you to write the ebook? 

Break the work into manageable chunks. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself one week per chapter. So, if you're planning on writing a 10-chapter ebook, plan on spending ten weeks writing. 

Of course, this may be shorter or longer, depending on how much time you can commit to writing each week.

6. Do your preliminary research

Once you have a timeline, it's time to do your preliminary research. The quality of your research will help you better understand your topic and give you a solid foundation upon which to build.

Doing enough research will make the actual writing process much easier and faster. Always leverage your existing knowledge too! If you have personal experience with the topic of your eBook, be sure to share that with your readers. They will appreciate the insider tips and information. 

However, even if you're not an expert, there is plenty of information available online that can help get you up to speed quickly. Just make sure you get your information from reliable sources.

7. Create your ebook outline

After you've done your preliminary research and assessed your knowledge of the topic, it's time to create an outline or mind map for your ebook. 

A book outline will help keep you organised and on track as you write each chapter. Spend some time brainstorming all the topics and subtopics you want to cover in your ebook, and then start putting them in order.

This will make the actual writing process much smoother because you already have a structure. Remember that your outline doesn't have to be perfect--you can always go back and make changes. 

Here are some of the things you should include in your book outline:

  • Introduction (who are you?)
  • Several title options
  • The problem your book solves
  • The solution it provides
  • Chapters and the component of each chapter
  • The main points: Headlines and subheadlines
  • Supporting data and sources of information
  • The call to action (CTA)

The actual writing process 

The most challenging part of writing an eBook is the actual writing of content. However, the writing process shouldn't be as difficult with solid preliminary research and a good knowledge base on your topic.

Plus, you already have your outline, so all you need to do is fill in the meat.

Let's look at the things you need to do during the actual writing process to make it flow seamlessly and hassle-free: 

1. Create a comfortable workspace

Before you start writing, it's crucial to create a comfortable writing space for yourself. 

This could mean setting up a home office with all the necessary supplies or finding a quiet spot at your local library or coffee shop. Wherever you decide to write, just make sure that it's a place where you'll be able to focus and get into the flow of writing. 

2. Set small goals and timelines

Setting small goals for each day or week will be helpful when you're starting out. 

Trying to write an entire eBook in a few sittings will likely lead to frustration and burnout. Instead, break the project into smaller and more manageable goals. 

You may commit to writing 500 words daily or one chapter weekly. Whatever you choose, remember to give yourself some breathing space in case life gets in the way. Allow yourself extra time to avoid feeling stressed about meeting your goal. 

The important thing is to set deadlines and keep writing to keep yourself motivated and on track.

3. Develop the hook 

Every good story has a hook — something that grabs the reader's attention and keeps them engaged throughout the entire book. When you start writing, think about what will hook your readers and keep them reading. 

What are they looking for? How can you deliver that in an engaging and captivating way? 

One way to develop a strong hook is by starting with a strong headline—something that makes people want to click through and read more. Then, once people start reading your ebook, keep them engaged by writing in a clear, concise style with interesting examples, stories, or data points throughout. 

4. Start writing the first draft

Now it's time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)! 

The best way to get started is to put all your ideas down in a rough draft (the first draft). Don't worry about making it perfect — just get your thoughts down on paper. You can always go back to revise and edit it later. 

Since you already created an outline of the ebook, writing the first draft will be easy since all you'll be doing is filling in the points with some explanation, evidence, and examples.

You can write your first draft as a Google doc or Microsoft Word. I prefer Google Docs since your work is autosaved, and you can always recover if something unexpected occurs, like a power blackout or your computer crashes.

5. Use authentic sources and give credit

When including information from other sources in your ebook, use credible, reliable sources. Websites like .edu, .gov, and .org are usually good places to start.

If you're referencing any data or statistics in your eBook, ensure they come from a credible source. Nothing will sink the credibility of your ebook faster than inaccurate information! 

And whenever you use someone else's work, give them credit by linking back to their original content or quoting them directly. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it will also help build goodwill with other thought leaders in your industry.

This point is especially helpful when writing nonfiction content like an instructional manual or a how-to guide. Never forget to include citations and bibliographies as needed. 

6. Use facts and figures

As mentioned, accuracy is key when writing nonfiction content — but that doesn't mean your ebook has to be all business all the time. 

People love concrete examples and data-backed arguments. Wherever possible, use hard numbers and statistics to support your claims and add legitimacy to your eBook. 

This will add credibility and authority to your arguments. Just be sure the data you're using is accurate and current. 

Don't forget to sprinkle in personal stories or anecdotes, which make your content more relatable and engaging for readers. A healthy mix of facts, figures, and personal experiences is ideal for creating a valuable, interesting, and relatable ebook.

7. Package the content well

One of the most important aspects of writing an eBook is packaging the content well. This means you must structure the content in a way that's easy for your readers to follow and digest.

Here are some tips on how to package your content in a way that will appeal to your readers:

  • Smooth flow of content: The ebook content should flow smoothly from one section to the next, and each section should build upon the last. Think of it like a staircase — each step should lead seamlessly to the next one without struggle or confusion.
  • Title, headlines, and subheadlines: Choose a catchy title, and use strong headlines and subheadings to divide the book into sections
  • Divide into chapters: Divide the ebook into chapters, and use each chapter to address one specific topic. 
  • Table of contents: Consider including a table of contents so readers can quickly know where (on which page) to find the information they're looking for.
  • Add media: Use images and graphics to break up the text, so your readers won't feel worn out by large chunks of text.

8. Avoid wasting time

When it comes to writing an eBook, time is of the essence. You want to avoid wasting time getting bogged down in unnecessary details or spending too much time perfecting individual paragraphs or sentences. 

If you're spending hours upon hours trying to make every sentence perfect, it's going to take you a lot longer to write your ebook than necessary. 

At this stage, it's more important to focus on getting your ebook's overall structure and message down rather than sweating the small stuff. So, don't strive for perfection; strive for progress. You can always go back and perfect it later. 

9. Be patient and consistent 

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a successful eBook. It takes time, patience, and consistency to write a great ebook. 

While some people can sit down and bang out a 20-page ebook in a day or two, others might take weeks or even months. And that's OK! The important thing is to be patient with yourself and consistent with your writing habit so you can get the book written without too much stress. 

Dedicate a specific amount of time each day or week to work on your eBook, and stick to it as best you can. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be to stay focused and make the necessary progress. 

10. Don't lock yourself into a box 

One of the worst things you can do when writing an eBook is to lock yourself into a box by being too rigid with the structure or message. 

Just because someone told you that all ebooks have X number of pages or need to be formatted in a certain way doesn't mean you should stick with it —or that those things will work for your book specifically. 

So, be free to experiment! Try different formats, lengths, styles, etc., until you find something that feels right for you and your audience.

Be flexible and willing to change things up if necessary - even if that means scrapping an entire chapter or starting from scratch. Remember, the goal is to write an incredible ebook — not just any old ebook! 

What to do after writing 

Now that you've finished writing the first draft of your ebook, which is imperfect and probably packed with errors, it's time to do some polishing by proofreading, editing, and structuring as appropriate.

Let's discuss some of the things to do after writing your book:

1. Proofread and edit

The first thing to do after completing the first draft of your ebook is to proofread and edit. 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your book. Proofreading will also allow you to identify and correct weird sentence structures, correct the tone, and make your writing more concise. 

Additionally, you can replace cliche words with more captivating ones in the process to make your book more interesting.

A good way to start editing this is to read your book out loud. It may also be helpful to have someone else read through your book to catch any errors you may have missed. Alternatively, you can use online editing tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid or hire Strategically to help with the editing.

Taking the time to proofread and edit your ebook will make it more polished and professional, which will go a long way in making it a success. 

2. Add graphics and media

Once you've proofread and edited your book, the next step is to add graphics and media. This can include pictures, graphs, or infographics relevant to the content you've shared in your book.

If your book is heavy on text, graphics or media will break it up and make it less tiresome to read. They will also make your book more visually appealing to your readers.

Graphics can help explain complex concepts, and media can add an element of interactivity that will keep readers engaged.

You can either use your original images and videos, purchase stock images, or source free images from sites like Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash. 

Just make sure they are relevant and authentic and don't overdo them — a few strategically-paced graphics or pictures will do.

3. Use software to convert it into an eBook

Once your book is edited and polished, you'll need to convert it into a format that ebook readers like Kindle or Nook can read.

Doing this yourself can be time-consuming and frustrating, so consider using software to handle the conversion. 

Several software programs can help you with this. Each software has its pros and cons, so research is essential to find one that best suits your needs.

Some of the software you can use to convert your draft into an ebook format include:

  • Calibre
  • Designrr
  • Kitaboo
  • Online convert
  • Hamster soft
  • Icecream PDF Converter

4. Choose a title for your ebook

It's always advisable to come up with the ebook title after you have completed the writing. 

Your book's title is important for two reasons: First, it's what will show up in search results, so you want to make sure it's keyword-rich and accurately reflects the content of your book. 

Second, it's what will entice potential readers to click on your book, so it's important to choose something catchy.

Your title is what will make your ebook stand out from the competition. So take enough time to brainstorm different options until you find one that's both attention-grabbing and accurately reflects the content of your book. 

5. Create an ebook cover design

After you have chosen a title for your book, the next step is to create an ebook cover design. 

This is the image that will appear on the front of your ebook, so it is important to make sure it looks professional and enticing. Your book's cover is often the first thing potential readers will see, so it's important to make a good impression.

If you're not feeling particularly creative, plenty of websites (such as Canva) offer templates to create a professional-looking cover. 

Alternatively, you can hire a professional designer to design the ebook cover for you.

6. Select a publishing platform

Now comes the fun part: publishing your eBook! There are many different platforms out there that allow you to publish and sell your ebook. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Apple Books
  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Draft2Digital

Before selecting a publishing platform, research each option carefully and select the one that's right for your book and best meets your needs.

How to format and design your eBook

After finding a suitable platform for publishing your ebook, it's time to select an ebook file format for your book.

There are several file formats you can use to publish your ebook. The format you choose depends on the end user and the type of experience you want to give your readers.

Some of the most popular file formats you can choose for your book include:

EPUB

EPUB is the most popular ebook format. EPUB files can be read on most e-readers, including Kindles, Nooks, Kobo readers, and more. 

One of the main advantages of using the EPUB format is that it maintains its formatting across different devices. So, if you create an EPUB file with specific page breaks or font styling, those page breaks and font styling will stay intact irrespective of the device your reader uses to view the book. 

PDFs 

Some people prefer to publish their ebooks as PDF files.

PDFs can be read on any device—e-readers, smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers— making them one of the most versatile ebook formats. 

PDFs also retain their formatting across different devices, so if you include images or special fonts in your PDF ebook, those images and fonts will always display correctly, no matter what device your reader uses. 

They're ideal for books with complex layouts or many images (such as cookbooks or children's books). 

MOBI

MOBI files can only be read on Amazon Kindle devices. Kindle devices have a significant market share— roughly 65% of all e-readers are Kindle. Many authors prefer to use the MOBI format for their books. 

One advantage of MOBI files is that they're relatively easy to create. If you're using a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can export your document as a MOBI file without having to do any additional formatting. 

MOBI files also tend to be smaller than EPUBs or PDFs, so they take up less storage space on your reader's device. 

How to market and promote your eBook

Congratulations on finishing writing and publishing your eBook!

Now that you have your ebook written and published, how do you market it to ensure it reaches its target audience?

Create a landing page 

The first step to marketing your ebook is to create a landing page. Your landing page is a one-page website that provides visitors with information about your book and encourages them to buy it. 

Think of your landing page as a mini-sales letter specifically designed to sell your ebook. 

When creating your landing page, be sure to include the following: 

  • The title and subtitle of your ebook 
  • A brief description of what the book is about 
  • The price of your book 
  • A photo or graphic of the book cover 
  • An "Add to Cart" button or other call-to-action that allows visitors to purchase your book 

Promote your book

Once you've created your landing page, it's time to start promoting your book.

There are several ways to do this, but some of the most effective include: 

  • Email marketing: Send emails to your list informing them about your new book and including a link to the landing page. You can also run ads on platforms like Facebook and Google that target people who are already on your email list. 
  • Paid advertising: You can also run ads on platforms like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, targeting people interested in books like yours. 
  • Blogging: Write blog posts about topics related to your book and include a link to the landing page in each post. 

Track your progress 

Once you start promoting your book, it's important to track its progress so that you can adjust your marketing strategy as needed. 

Some aspects you'll want to keep an eye on include the following: 

  • Sales figures: How many books have you sold? Are sales increasing or decreasing over time? 
  • Landing page traffic: How many people are visiting your landing page? Where are they coming from? What percentage of visitors are buying your book? 
  • Email open rates and clickthrough rates: Are people opening and clicking through the emails you're sending about your book? If not, why not? 

By tracking these metrics, you'll be able to tell whether or not your marketing efforts are paying off—and make tweaks as necessary. 

Mistakes to avoid when writing an eBook

Now that you know how to write an ebook, here are some mistakes to avoid that could break the appearance, impression, and performance of your ebook:

1. Making it too short or too long

One common mistake authors make is writing too much or too little content. 

You don't want your eBook to be so short that it feels like a pamphlet; on the other hand, you don't want it to be so long that it feels like a novel.

Aim for somewhere in the middle—between 15,000 and 20,000 words is a good target length. 

2. Allowing plot holes 

Without a clear plot or organizational scheme, your book will feel disjointed and unfinished. 

Avoid plot holes by taking time to map out the structure of your book before you start writing. That way, you'll always know what needs to come next and won't run into a plot-hole situation along the way. 

3. Choosing a lousy title 

Forbes estimates that 60% of people will only read headlines—which means that having a catchy headline is more important than ever before.

Giving your book a lousy title will make people keep scrolling until they find something that instantly grabs their attention.

4. Skimping on marketing 

No one will read your book if they don't know it exists.

If you want people to read it, don't skimp on marketing. This means you must be active on social media, guest blogging, or conducting email marketing campaigns—basically doing anything you can to get the word out about your book.

5. Neglecting the design 

Just because ebooks aren't physically printed doesn't mean you should neglect their design. In fact, an attractive and well-designed ebook is more likely to catch a reader's eye than a plain one.

Invest in the design by hiring a professional designer, soyour ebook looks its best.

6. Forgetting the call to action (CTA)

Finally, never forget to include a Call To Action at the end of your ebook! 

Like any other marketing material, you want your ebook to promote some kind of action on the reader's part—whether it's signing up for your email list, visiting your website or buying a product.

Include a clear and concise CTA so that readers know what you want them to do next—and then make it easy for them to do it by providing links or contact information as needed. 

More tips on how to write the best eBook

Are you ready to start writing your ebook? Here are five more tips on how to write the best ebook that your readers will love and that leaves a lasting impression:

Use white space liberally

White space doesn't just make your ebook look nicer— it also makes it more readable. When there's too much text on a page, readers can get overwhelmed and lost.

Break up your text with plenty of white space to keep your readers' attention focused on what you want them to read.

Choose an appropriate font 

The font you use for your eBook should be easy to read and complement the overall tone of your book. 

For instance, if you're writing a lighthearted romance novel, using a playful font like Comic Sans would be a good choice. If you're writing a nonfiction book about history, on the other hand, a more serious font like Times New Roman would be better suited. 

Use images sparingly

Images can help break up long blocks of text, but you don't want to use too many of them, or your ebook will look more like a picture book. 

A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to one or two images per chapter—and ensure each image is relevant and serves the right purpose. 

Keep your chapters short

Long chapters can be intimidating for readers to read to the end, so try to keep each one under ten pages. 

If you have longer chapters, consider breaking them into subsections with headings, so they're easier to digest. 

Pay attention to the detail 

The devil is in the details, as they say—and that's especially true when it comes to ebook design and formatting! 

Minor things like consistent margins and page numbering may not seem like a big deal, but they can make all the difference in how professional and polished your ebook looks. 

eBook FAQs

How long should an eBook be?

There is no ideal length of an ebook since it depends on the subject matter and your target audience. However, most eBooks range from 20,000 to 50,000 words. That being said, some shorter eBooks can be just as successful as longer ones. Amazon's Kindle Singles program publishes eBooks that are 10,000-30,000 words.

What program should I use to write an ebook?

You can use any word processing program to write your eBook. Microsoft Word is a popular choice, but you could also use Google Docs or Apple Pages. The important thing is to find a program that you're comfortable using with all the writing features you need. 

What type of eBook sells best?

It depends on your niche and target audience. However, some popular types of ebooks that sell well include how-to guides, books that teach a particular skill or trade, books that offer expert tips and advice, and books that tell a story or provide entertainment. 

What is the most common ebook format? 

The most common ebook format is EPUB. This format can be read on most e-readers, including popular devices like the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. It's also relatively easy to convert EPUB files into other formats like PDF and MOBI (the native Kindle format). 

Final thought

So, you've decided to write an ebook. Congratulations! This is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and share your knowledge with the world. 

If you've read this post to the end, you have everything you need on how to write an ebook from start to publish.

However, if you still don't feel confident enough to write a successful ebook, never mind — you can hire a content writing agency to help you do it. At Strategically, we have a team of expert writers on board, so you can sit back and relax while your ebook is written and published for you.

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