Writing an e-Book 101: The Complete Guide

By: Dr. Iggler

Introduction

An eBook is an ELECTRONIC book - a file containing all the information that a hard book would contain. eBooks are downloaded directly from a secure library online to YOUR computer.

The most common file format for an eBook is a PDF which can be opened in Adobe Reader (a free PDF reader), however, you will be doing the actual "design" of your eBook in a word-processing program like MS Word (a part of MS Office).

If you have a complex design that includes lots of illustrations, you may wish to use a desktop publishing program such as PageMaker or Quark. Also, if you want to add more features to your PDF document, such as hotlinked URLs, forms, or pages imported from other programs, you should purchase the Full Version of Adobe Acrobat. It is well worth the price, particularly if you expect to create more than one eBook. More in Step 6.

Now, the paragraph above is beyond the scope of this eBook guide. Since MS Word is the most commonly used word processing program, this guide will focus on formatting in MS Word.

Now, with all that said, let's get started.

Choosing a Topic

It goes without saying that you should pick a topic you believe other people would be willing to part with their hard earned cash for. It should not be a subject overly done or where there are already vast amounts of useful information already available. Often times, finding a small niche audience willing to pay for your information is better than trying to compete with dozens of other more common subjects.

List all of the Topics in which you are knowledgeable

To help you find a topic, make a list of all the things you could confidently write about. Do you have hobbies or skills that others would be interested in? Do not make the mistake of assuming that because you are knowledgeable about a particular subject, others are too.

Find a Niche

The trick is choosing a niche. Do not write a book which appeals to everyone. Focus on a specific area and you are on your way to success. Why? Because when you target a niche market, you already have a pre-qualified market ready to buy your products.

What information do people want? The answer to these questions, and others, should be your main focus. You need to focus on what they don't have, sometimes you even have to tell them what it is that is missing and why they need it, and when you give it to them, they will reward you financially. Don't be discouraged if the niche is already quite popular, this could be an advantage to you. A popular niche is proof that there is already a market, and money to be made. Just be sure that your product is superior to the competition or has a differing twist.

Research the Chosen Topic

After choosing a specific area of interest as the topic of your eBook, the next step is to spend a reasonable amount of time researching that topic. How much time, you ask? It really depends on how much you already know about the topic. What is important here is you want to be an expert in your chosen niche. At this stage, it is easy to get lost among the huge bank of information on the internet. So it is very important to get organized.

While researching your subject, collect all the information you possibly can, and put it into a specified folder on your computer. Then when you feel you have all the information you need, you can proceed to bring it all together in an organized manner. This will make your eBook much higher quality, fluent, and easy to read.

Go to Wordtracker or Overture and see how many times people a month were looking for what you want to write about. This will give you an idea if it is a viable product. Also do a straight search in Google and Yahoo for your keywords, and see what turns up. Investigate some of the sites, you may be surprised that you have a completely different slant on the information you want to present in the eBook – which is a good thing.

Create an Outline

Now that you have a good idea of what you are going to write, the next important step is to write a detailed outline of your eBook. This is the single most important step in the whole eBook writing process. The outline serves as the backbone of your eBook. It represents your ideas and flow of thoughts. Write the outline as detailed as possible.

Start with Choosing a Working Title

Why? Because it gives you a focal point. Spend time on it, as it is something you should keep coming back to for inspiration. Always make sure you don’t deviate from it. Otherwise you'll end up with an eBook where the content doesn't match the title. Jot down a few different titles, and eventually, you'll find that one that will grow on you. Always remember, a great title is what sells, not your content. Period.

Next, write an Opening Statement

Begin your outline with an opening statement or Introduction. Your opening statement might tell your readers a little bit about what they are going to learn or may be a statement in regard to the subject matter. You also need to grab their attention early on and the best way to do this is to make them feel that you have all the answers regarding the topic. After all, why did they buy the book? Make them feel they made the right decision and that you know what you are talking about.

Followed by a Foreword

Your Foreword might include information in regard to who you are, your credentials, copyrights, and what you want your readers to learn.

List the Main Points

Next, refer to the folders where you stored all of your information, choose from your organized lists, and start writing headings, one right after another. This is a great way of breaking the job down into manageable pieces and tackle them one at a time making the writing process a little easier. It’s also a good way to expand on your overview and see if your headings address everything you wanted to cover.

Fill in the Spaces

Once you've completed your outline and are happy with your list of headings, you can begin filling in the spaces. Write your text in small blocks and leave a space between your paragraphs.

Keep it Simple

A great tip given by many when it comes to writing is to start and don't stop. Write down everything that comes into your mind. If you try to think too much about what you are writing, you will forget important information and it will take you much longer to finish.

Picture your perfect audience for your eBook and write to him/her! Write to your reader, not for your reader. Write as if you are talking to the person. Use the language as you would when talking to your friend. Forget about having proper grammar and linguistic structures for your paragraphs. Just get your thoughts and ideas down! If you are stuck in a particular chapter, move on to the next. Don't force yourself to write that chapter and slow down the whole writing process. It is easier to come back and try writing that chapter again at some other time. You may have new thoughts and ideas which can help you proceed. An important point to remember here is DO NOT EDIT! Just focus on writing.

Most importantly, keep it simple! The average adult only reads somewhere around an 8th grade level, so don't write as if you've just devoured two dictionaries and a thesaurus for breakfast! Write as if you were in a conversation with an average everyday person.

Editing your Work

Now is the time to re-read and edit your work. Read it through several times and be sure to check spelling and grammar errors. If it's hard for you, the writer, to read and understand then it will probably be impossible to others!

Give it to a member of your family or a good friend and ask them to read it through and give you an unbiased opinion as to whether they understand it. If they don't, why not? If necessary, re-write portions of the whole thing, then go through this step again.

Write the Table of Contents or Chapter Titles

The final step will be to either create a Table of Contents or go directly into creating your Chapter Titles. If you're writing your information in the form of a how-to manual, you may want to use a Table of Contents. This will enable your readers to quickly locate important information. If you're writing your information in the form of a book, then you can leave out the Table of Contents and simply use Chapter Titles.

Whether you're using a Table of Contents or Chapter Titles, write your titles so that when they're read, they tell the story. In other words, when you scan your titles they will give you a step by step description of what your information is all about.

Formatting the eBook

A badly formatted eBook will alienate readers more quickly than a badly designed print book. At best, it will look amateurish; at worst, it will be difficult to read or "navigate." Fortunately, you can create a professional "look" with just a few simple Word commands. You'll need to consider the following elements:

Choosing a Font

It's best to use non-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. Use a minimum of 10 points for your text, and 12 to 14 points for subheads. Keep in mind that the reader can increase the display size of your book when reading it onscreen. Since some fonts look better onscreen than in print, and vice versa, test your fonts both ways.

Margins

Use Word's "Format: Document" command to set margins to a minimum of three quarters of an inch on all sides. You may wish to set top and/or bottom margins slightly larger if you plan to use a header and/or footer. Since eBooks don't have "left" and "right" pages, turn off the "mirror margins" option.

Headers and Footers

Place a "running header" at the top of each page. The easiest approach is to simply include the title of your book and the page number. You can place this information flush left, flush right, or centered or place the title flush left and the page number flush right. We recommend using a slightly smaller font size for the header, and (if you like) using italic or bold. We also like to use the "border" command to draw a line between the header and the text. Another option is to put the title in your header and the page number in your footer.

To make sure that your header doesn't appear on the first page of each chapter, you'll need to use the "Insert: Break: Section: Next Page" command (rather than a page break) to separate chapters. Then, make sure that you've checked "different first page" in the "Format: Document: Layout" menu. You can also create a new header for each chapter (e.g., using the chapter title rather than the book title); to do this, turn off the "same as previous" option in the header command.

Adding Illustrations

One nice feature of an eBook is that it doesn't cost extra to include photos, drawings, charts, etc. If you have a scanner, you can scan your own illustrations and convert them to .gif or .jpg files. A program like Photoshop will enable you to crop, enlarge, or reduce those images, or make other modifications. It will also enable you to save them at a lower resolution, thus reducing file size.

While Word does allow you to incorporate illustrations in your text, it's not always easy to position them precisely where you want them. If you plan to use a lot of illustrations, you might want to consider using a desktop publishing program like Quark or Adobe PageMaker. When laying out photos or illustrations, be sure to leave an ample margin between the image and the surrounding text, and, where appropriate, include captions.

Last page(s)

The last page(s) of your eBook is a good place for an index, your bio, contact information, etc. It's also a good place to include advertisements for any other eBooks or products that you are selling.

The Big Finale

Somewhere along the line you have to decide that your eBook is finished. There will always be something that pops into your head later on... that little snippet that you'll wish you would have used. Don't worry about it! You can edit your eBook and resubmit it to Iggler. We'll always be glad to update the PDF on our site.

Creating the PDF from MS Word

To generate a PDF file, use the "print" command in Word and select the "Save as File" option under the "General" pull-down menu. Select "Acrobat PDF" as the file type and set "Destination" to "File." Hit the "print" button and your document will be converted to a PDF file.

If you actually own Acrobat, you can add other useful features to your eBook. For example, you can automatically hotlink every URL in the text (be sure to include the prefix on all URLS). We recommend underlining links or formatting them in a color, such as blue, so that the reader will easily recognize them as hotlinks. Don't bother hot linking URLs in your original Word document, as these links won't be retained in your PDF file. You can link your table of contents directly to the text. You can also import pages or files from other programs, including charts and illustrations. If you plan to import files, leave a blank page in your original document, to be replaced by the imported page; otherwise, your pagination will be incorrect. You can also set various protection levels for your book including a restriction on printing, though we don't recommend this!

Submitting your finished eBook to Iggler.com

Finally, you're done! I'm sure you have a great sense of accomplishment!? Everyone does when they finish their first eBook. Now it's time to make some money! Fortunately, Iggler does this part for you :)

Submit your eBook to Iggler at www.iggler.com/sell.html and earn 50% commission on your eBook. Now that's worth the effort, huh?

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