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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

Writing: Your Best Blogging Friend

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Writing helps you succeed with blogging. Because writing gives you credibility. Credible bloggers land clients, sell eBooks, place sponsored posts and drive steady traffic, too. Write your rear end off. Write 500-1000 words daily. Write to be confident. Write to be clear. Write to gain credibility in your blogging niche. Of course, most bloggers struggle because few bloggers practice writing offline, daily. Bloggers only write when they publish a blog post or guest post. BIG mistake. Most bloggers publish posts infrequently, meaning you get in little writing practice. Not good.

Why do you believe you can just show up, write and publish a post and become successful quickly? If blogger were this easy, guys like me could have gone pro within weeks of buying my domain and hosting. Alas, it took me thousands of hours and years to go full time because I had to practice writing, creating and connecting to be REALLY good at blogging. Skills, exposure and credibility flow to bloggers who tirelessly practice all aspects of blogging. Everybody else fails and quits.

All money you make through blogging flows to you because people trust you and your blog. Writing skillfully – with confidence and clarity – is the only way people trust you and your blog. The more you write, the more skilled a writer you become. The formula is genuinely simple. But quite uncomfortable to put into action, sometimes. Few bloggers want to practice writing with nobody watching. Some bloggers foolishly skip writing practice because they believe writing offline for practice wastes their time. This is like saying you waste your time practicing shooting hoops in a lonely, empty gym if you aspire to make it to the NBA. NBA stars practiced 10,000 hours or more, often times in quiet, lonely gyms, and always *in private, out of the public eye, with nobody watching*, to become skilled enough to go pro. Expect to take a similar journey in order to become a professional blogger.

Writing is your core skill. If you write well, you make money online. If you write poorly, you do not make money online.

Buy my eBook:

15 Ways to Make Money Blogging

Every way to profit – out of these 15 strategies – can work quite nicely if you practice writing offline daily. Practice to become confident. Practice to become clear on your writing. Confident, clear writers write with authority. Writing with authority inspires trust in your readers. Again; this is a simple process. But sometimes, this process feels uncomfortable. Nudge through discomfort. Write, write and write some more. People who trust you based on your writing skills tend to buy your eBooks, hire you to coach them, hire you to freelance write for them and buy sponsored posts on your blog. Be diligent in writing. The money flows to you based on how much you practice writing. Plus, practicing your writing makes you prolific. Being prolific increase your blog traffic and blogging profits, too. No downsides exist to writing offline daily. Only upsides. So….write!

Practice in private. Shine in public.

Any successful blogger you envy now practiced writing so diligently that you would never envy their writing practice. After having written millions of words both online and offline, nobody envies the work I put into going pro. But being free to circle the globe? Worth it!

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Blogging

Do You Assume too Much?

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One of the biggest problems in blogging; bloggers assume too much. Perfect example is someone emails looking for your best sponsored post price. Right away, most bloggers fear losing money to a cheapie because they ASSUMED someone looking for the best price is cheap. Based on past experience. NO! Do NOT do this. Because based on NOT assuming, but being open and in the moment, more than a handful of folks looking for the best price placed orders at my full price, when I shared it was my final price. I rarely if ever assume because assuming cuts you off from traffic and money, based on past experience and future expectations.

These days, I am more in the moment. I am open. Let’s say a blogger quotes their sponsored post price as being $100. A blogger outreach service pro asks for a lower, better price. In that moment, you can do one of two thing: make a foolish assumption that the individual cannot afford $100 or simply share how $100 is your flat, final price. Assuming they cannot afford $100 INSTANTLY robs you of $100. I mean, instantly. Labeling their email as spam or being nasty with them immediately robs you of $100, based on your ignorant assumption. Choosing not to assume anything opens you up to making a quick $100. Wealthy people with large budgets sometimes seek the best price. Rockefeller would be worth $280 billion today – by estimates – and he balanced his books to the penny. He sought the best price but had billions to invest and did invest billions to be the wealthiest person the world has ever known.

This is why I wrote Creating the Mindset of a Successful Blogger for you. How you choose to think and feel dictates how you act. How you act dictates your success. Failures cling to the past and wander into the future by assuming future scenarios based on past experience. But wise bloggers remain grounded in the present, never assuming. Of course, many cheap bloggers willing to pay only $5 for a $100 sponsored post emailed you with “the best price” reply, in the past. But never rob yourself of $100 by assuming these folks do not have $100 to invest in your guest post. I leave no stones unturned. The way I see it, spending 1 second to read a “Give me a sponsored post for $5” email here and there is worth the “OK, let’s place it for $100” email I see more often these days. Assuming cuts you off from abundance. Being open-minded tunes you in to abundance. Make more money. Be open-minded. Stop assuming.

A few moments ago, our Uber driver told us he originally hailed from Jordan. He has been in the USA for 20 years. My silly mind made a quick assumption; he must live in NYC, like many folks do who immigrated to the USA over the past few decades. He still had a heavy accent. But I refused to assume this and asked him where he lived in the USA. He said in the same New Jersey suburban development where we lived. Small world! Not assuming opens you up to fun, fascinating experiences. Stop assuming online. You’ll make more money, too, and will enjoy your blogging journey.

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Blogging

Blogging Success Is YOUR Choice

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Blogging success is your choice. Blogging failure is your choice. YOU choose. Never blame anyone or anything for your blogging failure. Everything in life begins and ends with you because life follows your thoughts and feelings. People or things may *appear* to slow you down or get in your way. But all appearances are illusions. Illusions are not real, not true. You and you alone choose to succeed based on your chosen thoughts and feelings, independent of situations or circumstances around you.

For example, I had a tough time falling to sleep last night. Didn’t pass out until after 6 AM and only slept to 9:30 AM. Tossing and turning, my mind raced with fears. I feared being exhausted and getting sick. I feared work I’d be behind on, today. I also feared simply sitting with my racing thoughts and feelings, being in bed for hours, since I lay down in bed at midnight. I could choose to lay in bed to observe the fears or I could watch Netflix. I chose to observe fears. Eventually, I chose to get up and write my first blog post of the day at 5 AM. I feared waking to work due to fatigue. But nudging into the fear allowed me to create content, positioning myself to expand my success.

I also chose to wake at 9:30 AM after limited sleep to do 20 minutes of intense Kriya yoga, to meditate for 30 minutes and to spend 30 seconds in an icy cold shower. Heck yeah I feared doing each on 3 hours of sleep. But successes CHOOSE to BE the people that succeed. Life unfolds as a series of personal choices. Either you make comfortable choices based on fear, struggle, fail and quit blogging. Or you make uncomfortable, freeing and usually fun choices based on love, leading to your blogging success. You choose. No one can choose for you. No one can wade through fear for you. No blogger can glide through the discomfort for you. This is an intimately personal experience that you need to face, embrace and live, to succeed in blogging, all based on your choices.

Check out my eBook:

10 Reasons Why Fijian Fruit Bats Would Be Absurdly Successful Bloggers

I observed these cute little – actually big – guys during my 4 month trip to Savusavu, Fiji. The little dog men swooped in every night like clockwork, working the papaya trees on the front lawn on dusk. The fruit bats never missed a night; their survival depended on feasting at sundown every single evening. Develop the same attitude with your blog to guarantee success. Be like clockwork. Show up daily. Work. Shine bright in a world of blogging failures who choose to work in fits and starts before choosing to quit. Blogging feels uncomfortable but the journey gets easier success-wise by choosing to wade through scary, unpleasant periods. You have a personal choice to make: generously help people for hours daily over years to succeed online. Or choose not to, guaranteeing your failure. You choose. I believe in you. I know you can choose success. Choose not to fear burnout. Choose to be happy about your future blogging success.

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