At the beginning of this month, we launched our first eBook: Dividend Investing. We wrote this eBook to help young investors build their dividend portfolios. The main goal was to explain to investors that they can and should start investing as soon as possible in order to build their nest egg. Within the first month, we were able to generate more than 5,500 downloads.
The only thing that comes to my mind right now is how much I would have made if I was selling the eBook at $17… ;-D
How did we market our eBook? That is another question. Today, I’ll share how I wrote Dividend Investing in 2 months at a cost of less than $500.
All right, so you have a good idea, you are a blogger or you write easily on a computer. Is that it? Now you can jump into the eBook fray and start your writing adventure? Think twice, it’s not that simple! Writing an eBook is like writing a paperback; you need to know how to start.
Writing an eBook is like going on a trip: you need to know where to start, where you are going and how you will get there. So the first thing you need to do is to setup a schedule. You need to define how many hours you want to work on it per week. If you don’t do it this way, chances are that you will end-up writing your eBook “when you have some spare time”. Well the problem is that we don’t have time, we use it. So make the time and determine when you will work on your eBook.
Writing an eBook is a big task, if you want to get through it and be proud of what you have written, you had better be disciplined and do one thing at a time. Personally, I have discovered that I am more effective when I work on the same task for several hours in a row. Therefore, when I start writing my eBook, I used blocks of 3 to 6 hours in a row to work on it. You get a better flow of ideas and you are able to make more sense the first time you write. Since you are in your “writing bubble”, all pages written within the same block of time will be coherent and follow the same train of thought.
You have a great idea for your book, awesome! But how can you write a full eBook about a single idea? Have you taken the time to define the mission of your blog? The mission of any projects? Defining your eBook mission is more than writing a simple idea on a piece of paper. You are about to tell the world what you want to do with your book and who will be interested in it. Here’s my example:
Title: Dividend Investing – How To Build A Never Ending Cash Distributor
Idea: Write an eBook about dividend investing. Teach the basics of investing and why dividend investing is a very good strategy.
Mission: Walk young investors (young being not related to the readers’ age but to their investing experience) through a solid investment process. Explain the investing basics so they can make sound investing decisions. Provide the reader with an understandable and easy investing method in order to build a dividend portfolio. Support them with several investing resources so they can find answers to all their questions.
As you can see, I have divided this step into 3 points: the Title, the idea and the mission. Technically, you should start with your idea, work on your mission and then, come up with the title (which is more a marketing exercise than anything else ).
The idea is a very general statement while the mission will include action verbs to define what you will write about and will also identify your readership. You can’t write for everybody, so you better off writing for people that will like what you have written ;-).
We are at step #3 and you have not even started the first page of your eBook! If you want the writing experience to be productive and avoid frustration, you will need a specific outline. Don’t make the mistake of thinking oh, it‘s all in my head. Go one step further; write it down on a piece of paper.
I ran into a few speed bumps when I started to write my eBook because I had the outline in my head. After a few pages written, I wasn’t sure where I was going. This is when I had to stop writing and go back to create the outline.
The outline should be as specific as possible. For my second eBook, the outline took me 4 hours to write. I wrote the title of each section and sub-section of the book to make sure nothing was missing. So you start with your big idea and you break it into pieces. In my case, here is how I started:
#1 Investing basics
#2 How to incorporate dividend investing in your portfolio
#3 Step by step method to building a dividend portfolio
#4 Resources put together to support the readers
This is a summary of my 4 chapters. The goal of this outline was to determine the logical path I wanted to offer my readers. Since I write for novice investors, I needed to go back to investment basics. Then, the second chapter is about dividend investing. The third one, a step-by-step guide is a revision of the first 2 chapters in actionable steps to build a dividend portfolio. Finally, the fourth chapter offers tons of resources for those who want to dig further into the adventure.
Can you start writing your eBook after such a minute outline? The answer is no. You have to create all the sub-sections to make sure you don’t forget anything. For example, I’ll break the investing basics section down with you:
- What is a dividend and how it works
- Why dividend investing should be a strategy you can use
- Overall process of investing decisions
- Investing principles linked to this process
- Risk profile (how to determine your risk tolerance)
- Asset allocation
As you can see, once my sections and sub-sections are clearly defined; it is much easier to start writing. Even better, you will make sense from page 1 to page 44! Creating all the sub-sections requires time and thought gathering. However, once it is done, writing content becomes easier.
You want to start writing your eBook… not yet! The last step before writing is to gather all your information sources according to the sections and sub-sections of your eBook. For Dividend Investing, I had decided to use some existing content from The Dividend Guy Blog and What is a Dividend. I first copied and pasted all articles that I found relevant into my eBook draft and then, rewrote a good part of it. Why? Because I wanted to have the same feeling for the reader from the first to the last page. However, since some topics had been covered already, it would have been stupid to start from scratch.
I also did some research to get as much info as possible for each section. I also copied and pasted the information I used in the sub-sections before rewriting and adding my personal touch on it. I won’t suggest you copy existing information even if it comes from your own content. When I asked my newsletter subscribers what they thought of eBooks in general, several people told me they found that many eBooks were just a pile of old existing articles compiled into one package.
Instead of putting existing articles together, I started with ideas that were already developed on my websites or around the web and then rewrote them the way I wanted to get a unique feel for the eBook.
At last! You are finally ready to start writing some original lines in your eBook! My advice for this step is to complete one sub-section each time you start writing. Your train of thought will flow and it will be easier to cover everything you want to say. Don’t read what you just wrote, keep it for later on.
The creativity process is born from non-censorship. If you keep reading your last paragraph, you will waste an awful lot of time and you will forget your best ideas. Write as much as you can, you‘ll have plenty of time to correct it later on ;-).
The second advice I want to give you is to be emotional. Most people can write textbooks about this or that. But very few people can make them interesting. Why are some eBooks more interesting than others? Because they are able to reach you on another level while you read. How can you do this with a drab topic like Dividend Investing? By adding lines like:
“Have you ever dreamed about having your own magic producing golden eggs?”
“Just imagine how big your snowball would be if you start rolling it at the age of 25 before stopping at 65: you would create a freakin’ mountain of snow out of your little snowball”
“But you can also close this PDF and go back to Facebook. You won’t make money but you will surely have lots of friends!”
“I want to make sure that you don’t go climbing Mt Everest with nothing but a pair of Nikes and your iPod!”
By adding analogies and by trying to touch my readers feelings (even if it means being borderline cocky), I’m able to keep them with me and interested in reading the whole book.
It’s important that people can recognize you by reading your book. If they don’t, you will just be another eBook they downloaded. What will make your eBook special is your personality because nobody is like you. Try to exploit this unique marketing advantage you have!
Before going to step #6, I want to come back on the importance of using emotions and feelings in your eBook. Try to focus on benefits for the reader as well. When you can combine emotions and benefits, you have a winner. Because people can relate to what you are talking about. Dividend investing is a boring topic, creating a never ending cash distributor sounds a lot more fun don’t you think?
Once the book is done, yup, only once it is done, read it in one shot. This will give you the general feel and you will be able to identify which parts need to be improved. Don’t spend time on grammar and spelling, this will be step #7. Right now, just concentrate on the general feel of the eBook. Identify if you have a constant flow of ideas or if you get lost at one point.
Once you are happy with the result, have a few friends read it. They will give you another perception of your work and it will guide you to a better eBook.
Man, I’m most happy to write in English since it’s not my mother tongue. Why? Because I didn’t take any chances and I had Chris from FreelancePF correct it (the dude has a Major in English ). Don’t take any chances and have your eBook edited by someone with a high level of English. You can’t make many mistakes with an eBook, people will give you the credibility with regards to your writing skills more than your knowledge of the topic you are covering.
This is another part of the work that I outsourced. Why? Because I’m a writer, not a designer! One of my virtual assistants formatted the book and Peter from logosforwebsite did the cover page, the 3D book image along with the header and footer found inside the book.
To me, it was really important to make a very professional book. I wanted to have all these little details you find in a professional eBook even if I was giving it out for free. Why? Because I want to show what I can do and then, sell my next eBooks ;-).
Nope… I’m stopping this post right here…. Hehehe! In fact, covering the marketing aspect of an eBook will be as long as this post to write. This is why I’ll do it in a few days ;-). Stay tuned as I will share with you all my techniques to promote my first eBook.
Note: the entire process took me 2 months to achieve a 13,000 word eBook. With my experience, I expect that it will take me the same amount of time to write my second book which will be more like 20 to 25 thousand words. It helps to have a structure!
Do you have questions about how to write an eBook? The comment box is yours!
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