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.
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.
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!
What tips can you add to these steps?
Are you having a tough time writing and formatting your eBook?
Where are you struggling?