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5 Steps to Successfully Write and Format eBooks for Amazon

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A blank screen stared back at me. How in the heck do you do this eBook publishing bit?

I’d put off publishing an eBook for this very reason. For at least 3 years. People told me it was easy; my experience said something very different.

I am tech allergic so if I’m able to write and format an eBook just about any blogger can.

After publishing my 15th product (Blogging from Paradise: How to Retire to a Life of Island Hopping (Part 2) now on Amazon)– between books and eBooks – on Amazon the other day I figured it’s time to share how I went from confused, newbie self-publisher to seasoned self-publishing veteran. Worries about how to write and format eBooks handcuff most aspiring eBook authors. If you give into this fear you’re leaving so much money, authority and branding juju on the table.

Let’s dissect how you can effectively write and format your eBooks today.

Step 1: Why? (Set Your Intent)

I published my first Blogging from Paradise eBook with this intent in mind; to free me and to free you. If you don’t get this one right all else goes to custard. Writing something that frees you and your audience will attract to you the inspired ideas, people and circumstances you need to create a widely-read, prospering eBook.

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Stay away from writing just for money or fame. Focusing on those outcomes alone poisons your creativity and dampens your inspired spirit. Write to free yourself and to free your audience. Watch magic happen before your eyes.

Step 2: Tell Your Story and Write Your Passion

I love sharing my blogging tips. I love traveling. Blogging from Paradise was born.

I also enjoy sharing my whacky travel stories. So I decided to develop analogies between how my travel stories help you become a better blogger.  I may explain how being nibbled on by a Wild Man in Nepal taught me a blogging lesson or perhaps how petting three, 400 pound tigers – in their cages – inspired me to grow as a blogger. No one else on earth can tell my story. The same rings true for you.

Tell your story. Link your personal experiences in to your niche and please, make sure to write your passion. If you need to do research, use reputable sources to fact find. I myself have about 7 year’s worth of experience to call upon, blogging-wise, so this store combined with my blogging stories is all I need to publish eBooks. In your case you may need to dig a bit deeper but if you’re writing about your passion the words will flow smoothly.

Step 3: Write 500 – 1500 Words a Day for Your eBook

My eBooks span 15,000 words. I find that to be the perfect length for my audience. This means I can finish the first draft in approximately 15 days, give or take a few days if I’m flying from New York City to Bali. If that’s the case, I can finish the first draft in much less time. 22 hour flights are best spent creating a brand-building, income generating eBook (at least that’s what this globetrotter thinks).

If you feel like 1,500 words is too much chop down daily writing sessions to 500 words. This means your 15,000 word eBook will take about a month and a half to write. No worries. Just make sure you ship, as Seth Godin says. Reach that 15 K limit and get down to the nitty gritty.

Step 4: Re-read and Hand it to a Third Party for Proofreading

After finishing my first draft I re-read the eBook. I add a bit more spice if needed. Perhaps a colorful travel story or 2 could be added.

I also hand the eBook over to my eagle-eyed wife Kelli for proofreading. She’s obsessed with spotting any errors – in a good way – and corrects my muck ups. I then re-read it to prepare myself for the last phase of the process; good old formatting.

Step 5: Formatting

Before we dive into practical tips I wanted to stress that I promote my eBooks solely on Amazon. The related Kindle Select program offers authors a multitude of ways to reach into new, growing, targeted audiences. With that in mind we’ll discuss how to format your eBooks for Kindle.

This document saved my life. Or, it helped me format my eBook more easily. Read it, it’s a keeper.

– Simple Formatting Guide from Amazon

Save your eBook in Word. Good. You’re ready to move on now to make your eBook Kindle ready.

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Justify Text

I justify my text. This makes for better reading and easier scanning. Click the Justified icon on Word, located between the Align Right and Numbering icons near the top of your file. Your text should appear in block form now.

Insert Page Breaks

For proper formatting insert Page Breaks between chapters. I simply press Control + Enter to break between chapters. This one’s a must; without proper Page Breaks your chapters will run into one another, making for a sloppy read.

Tag Chapter Titles and Sub Sections

I use H1 tags for each chapter title and a few h2 tags for sub headers within each chapter. Using headers make for easier reading and allows you to set up a dynamic table of contents if you so choose.

Set Up a Dynamic Table of Contents (Optional)

You can do the dynamic table of contents bit if readers want to reference a particular chapter or sub section. Insert a Page Break after the title page. Now you’re on a new page, before chapter 1.

Now, you may see a divergence here. I use Open Office now (instead of good old fashioned Word), so I simply click “Insert”, “Indexes and Tables”, and “OK” to set up a Table of Contents. Word users may click, “Insert”, point to “Reference”, then click “Index and Tables”, then click the “Table of Contents” tab and “Show Outlining Toolbar.” H1 tagged content shows up as a chapter in your table of contents and h2 tagged content pops up as a section of each chapter.

If your eBook is 7K to 15 K words or so it’s not imperative to use a dynamic table of contents since the read will be a bit easier and shorter. Your choice.

Add Page Numbers in the Footer Field

Don’t forget to add page numbers! Click, “Insert”, “Footer”, then left click in the Footer area, and click “Insert”, click “Fields”, click “Page Number” and you should be all set. Again, this is Open Office so Word may vary slightly.

Save as Filtered HTML

Save the doc as Filtered HTML. Click “File”, “Save As”, click the drop down arrow by “Save as type” and click “Web Page, Filtered”, then click “Save”.

Have a Cover Designed

Find a good web designer to create a quality cover. Amazon demands the longest side of your cover – length or width – be 1100 pixels wide.

Now you’re REALLY ready to roll. Your eBook is Kindle ready. Set up an account on Amazon, and happy selling!

Your Turn

What tips can you add to these steps?

Are you having a tough time writing and formatting your eBook?

Where are you struggling?

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Blogging

Does Blog Content Make You Money?

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Nope.

My eBook:

How My Wildest Travel Experiences Can Help You Become a Successful Blogger

starts off with a Bali Bang. I slammed into the ground during a wicked motorbike accident. Pain followed. Big time pain. Excruciating pain. What was my life and blogging lesson? Never take your eyes off of the road. I looked at a dog for a split second who’d been hit by a car or motorbike. Shaking my head at his injured paw, I missed the oil slick ahead. Ouch. 2 seconds later, I felt like 40,000 monkeys stabbed me in the back and lungs, after hitting pavement, Superman-style.

Blogging is similar. You will be punished if you take your eyes off of the proven, straight and narrow road of blogging fundamentals. One such fundamental is knowing YOU, not your blog, and not your content, makes money. Sometimes, we say blogs or content makes money because we speak in casual terms to help people see importance in creating and connecting. But getting clear, and helping you understand this simple concept, behooves me to stress how your generous practice, your creations and your connections make you money through your blog. Never, ever is it the other way around because blogs are inanimate objects. Content is an inanimate object too; it cannot do anything, or be anything,

You are the one, the blogger, the being, that puts everything into motion. This involves your generous effort, your willingness to learn a skill and your daily practice, creating and connecting for years, to make your content pop. Sure I sell stuff THROUGH my content but it was me, and my generous effort, and not the content itself, that did the selling. The content is not anything. Content cannot do anything. Content is worthless unless bloggers inject worth into it; see what I mean? The blogger makes it pop, or, makes content a dud, and that pop-dud outcome bases itself solely on a blogger’s generous effort and full commitment to learning their craft, day after day, for years of their lives.

You can and will succeed. You can do it. Really. But you need to understand how you are the center of it all. Everything moves according to your focus, practice and generosity. Content is a tool; like a hammer, if by itself, totally useless. Hammers need humans to work, and hammers need skilled carpenters to really sing. Content needs skilled, generous bloggers to make it sing, too, and the skills increase as your focus and generous practice, and service, increases.

Does blog content make you money? Nope, not at all. Put in the time and energy to helping folks for free. Improve your skills. Increase your exposure. In time, slowly add multiple streams of income to your blogging campaign. Allow cash to flow to you as people see you in all types of spots, making a serious impact where you show up, because of your blogging skills. Everything gets easier if you commit 100% to honing your skills blogging-wise because the content genuinely sings when you get the job done, with your prodigious, polished blogging skills.

Content makes zero dollars.

You, through your practice and generous service, develop the skills through which you make your content top notch. Profits follow.

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Blogging

Why Do You Want to Publish an eBook?

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One subsection of my eBook on writing eBooks is:

Know Why You Want to Publish an eBook

Knowing why gives you clarity if you write to free yourself and to free your readers. But if you write just to make money or to be well know, clarity lessons. Fear invades your mind because you write mainly to get, not to give. Shifting from fear to fun intent-wise just takes a little decision on your part. Small potatoes really. But this shift does feel a bit uncomfortable if you are new to the eBook writing process because you need to face fears. Who wants to face fear? Nobody, really.

But facing fear is one tax to pay for being successful in blogging and life. Ditto for your self-publishing journey. I largely faced fears to be who I am today, although I keep uncovering fears along the way. Part of the journey. I am cool with that. I had to ask why I wanted to publish an eBook about 4 years ago when I went on a tear, but even before, in 2014, I asked why I published an eBook in the first place? Simple. I created a new blog and brand in Blogging From Paradise and just believed having an accompanying eBook would help me be successful. I only had one eBook in mind. I never thought beyond the single eBook. But someone told me I deserved to write another eBook so after my first, I wrote and self-published a second eBook. I caught the writing bug.

100 plus eBooks later, here I am, writing eBooks for years, and now, promoting the eBooks effectively. The why, the emotion I chose in writing eBooks, propels me forward because I do what I do to have fun, to spread love and to help you, largely. One small part of me wants to make money online too. This is OK. As long as it is a small part of what you do, eBook-wise. Moving that money aspect mostly to the side gives me the energy to keep writing and to keep promoting, should I choose to write another eBook. Now I am all about promoting those suckers.

Why did you consider writing and shipping an eBook? Be honest with yourself. Think through your driver. Money? Fame? Sweet passive income stream? Each primary driver saps your energy because money, fame and passive income flow to you years or minimum, months, after publishing your eBook. What do you do during that zero dollar time? Money drives you, but you see no money. Since you lose your motivator, you quit. This is why so many authors fade into obscurity. Poor driver. Sell 3 eBooks, get flustered because you made $4.35 over 6 months, and quit, because money drove you but you made no money. On the flip side, bloggers and authors who choose a fun, freeing intent promote and write every day for their online career because the work is the reward. All else feels like a bonus, gravy, extra, or icing on the cake….including money.

Be straight with your eBook driver. Do not bother writing an eBook if you mainly want money because you quit and fail when money does not arrive. Even in rare cases if you make money pretty fast, you lose your heart and feel bad reaching money goals because we are mainly designed to have fun and help people, not to make money.

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Blogging

Do You Believe You Deserve Blogging Success?

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My friend Alonzo Pichardo sent me an interview recently.

Pay close attention guys; one concept behind the video can be destroying your blogging success. Sure killed my career, for years.

Boxing legend Evander Holyfield went bankrupt, it has been claimed, as of 2012. He lost/spent $530,000,000 USD, 530 million dollars. Allow that idea to sink in. I read how Mike Tyson reportedly went bankrupt after spending/losing over $300,000,000, 300 million dollars. Most of these ideas astound people because we do our best to manage money effectively. I could live 40 life times on 500 million dollars. Anyway, a recent Mike Tyson interview highlighted one reason why he went bankrupt after amassing 300 million. I deeply suspect Evander blew through 500 million largely due to the same mindset. Iron Mike noted how he believed he did not deserve the big bucks. He saw himself as a broke kid from a rough neighborhood who did not deserve money, because he loved fighting for free, and also, clung to the past, keeping the same self image from when he lived in poverty.

If Tyson believed he did not deserve 300 million, the quickest way to get rid of 300 million is to spend like mad and blow the money irresponsibly. Most humans say he is foolish but this is not true; HIS BELIEF SYSTEM ensured he would do everything to get rid of the 300 million he did not deserve…and it became so.

Blogging and Deserving

Do you genuinely believe you deserve $10, or $100, or $100,000 through blogging? Most bloggers do not believe this, so they never make much money. Other bloggers make some money but lose it quickly through poor financial decisions, ensuring that they do NOT keep the money that they believe they do not deserve. Blogging, money or financial conditions have nothing to do with the money woes. The blogger’s belief system concerning money is 100% the root cause behind the problem. Change the deserving issue, and you change the income. Or cling to deserving problems, and keep slamming into blogging financial problems.

I recall not believing I deserved more than 99 cents for an eBook. I slammed into financial issues, sold few eBooks, then decided to face my deserving issues and deep fears concerning money and my self-worth. I eventually rose all my eBook pricing to $6.99, $9.99 and $20. Why? I deserve to sell 7 to 20 dollar eBooks. People buy at these prices – far more than at the dirt cheap prices – because I BELIEVE I deserve to make sales at those prices. Why? I faced deep fears concerning deserving. But if I never faced deserving-fears, I never make the money. Plus I would quickly lose money I made because if I still believed I did not deserve much money, my subconscious mind would find a quick way to lose my money. My belief system creates the experience. Ditto for your belief system; even if your ego does not agree with this point.

Like I say in my eBook:

7 Smart Monetizing Tips for Hungry Travel Bloggers

you may leave your comfort zone if you learn new, scary techniques for monetizing your blog effectively. One scary and uncomfortable tactic involves observing your money limiting beliefs in the light of truth. If you do not believe you deserve money, you never make money or you make money and lose it incredibly quickly. Belief created the experience. You believing you do not deserve money creates the experience. Clear the fears, release deserving issues and money will flow to you more easily. Plus you will keep the money, too. Pure win-win, if you ask me.

 

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