Four Crucial Steps to Writing and Publishing Your First eBook

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Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 6.06.29 PMEntering the world of eBook publishing can be a little less overwhelming than all the options for print publishing, but there are still some key steps you need to address.

Without a clear path, direction and focus, you may find that all the hype about Kindle book sales and generating leads for your business through your eBooks will not apply to you.

While it’s true many people have become quite successful writing, publishing and selling eBooks, if you sacrifice quality and a few essential steps, you may end up doing yourself more harm than good. You want to be seen as the go-to expert in your industry, not someone just looking out to make fast money.

Step 1: Identify your audience

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 6.22.11 PMWhile a print book will give you more credibility and make you stand out as the go-to expert in your industry, the Kindle market is quickly becoming saturated.

If you don’t have your audience and message in mind first, you’ll be writing to a blanket audience of “everyone,” which means ultimately no one will buy your book.

You need to ask yourself, “If I could sell my eBook to just one person, who would that person be? What do they look like? In what industry to they work? What are their hobbies?”

After you identify your audience, take time to research what eBooks are already available to them. What do the reviews say? Are they in a hot niche market? How many results in an Amazon search do you get when you search for your topic?

Contrary to popular belief, though a market may be saturated, if there are thousands of eBooks already in that market there’s a reason—because people are buying!

Here’s an example: I recently started an almost completely raw diet. I’ve been downloading eBooks and purchasing print books on the topics of raw nutrition, raw “non”-cookbooks, etc. I’m not just buying one book in this niche, I’m buying several!

If a niche is a hot topic and heavily saturated, that may be an indication it’s actually a good niche to write about and have a presence in. If it’s not a hot topic and has hundreds or thousands of titles already available, it may be overly saturated. Hint: “hot” topics are often the subject of news casts and articles, and many social media groups form around them. Think of the diet and exercise industry for some clear examples.

Step 2: Research the gaps

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 6.24.20 PMOnce you’ve researched what eBooks are already available and have skimmed the reviews, start looking in the reviews for what readers wish the book contained. What gaps are found in the marketplace?

You may find the same gap spoken about in more than one eBook title’s listing, and that’s a good indication you should write about it.

Don’t just jump into writing an eBook without doing a little research first. It might also be beneficial for you to purchase a few of the best sellers in your category before writing your own.

Read those reviews and eBooks, and note what you would do differently. How can you customize the same material to your specific audience?

Step 3: Write!

After you’ve researched your audience and know what gaps to fill, write! Carve out a block of time every week to spend time putting words to paper. Avoid editing as you write—simply let the words flow. You can always go back and edit your writing after it’s done. The fact is your eBook will never be finished—there’s always going to be something you can improve. But you can decide when it’s done.

Step 4: Production: eBook editing, design and programming

Then don’t skip these crucial steps: editing, cover design and programming. Unedited eBooks look bad to the reader, and give you a not-so-stellar reputation to your potential audience. If your book is hard to read or poorly edited, reviewers won’t be shy to tell the world.

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 6.38.30 PMWhen in doubt, hire a professional editor to look over your work. An eBook will always have a few typos, but the more eyes are on your manuscript, the more polished it will get.

An eBook cover is the first thing people will see and how they will judge your content. You might have great content, but if the cover isn’t professional you’re just another eBook in the pile.

I’ve seen thousands of horrible eBook covers done by the author or the author’s best friend’s plumber who happens to know Photoshop. Remember the first impression! You don’t go on a first date without brushing your teeth!

You’re courting your potential readers, so entice them to look closer at your book with an outstanding, professional eBook cover. If you can only afford to outsource one service and you’re not a professional graphic designer yourself, outsource your eBook cover design to a professional. Your increase in sales and the broader reach of your message will be worth it!

Lastly, without proper eBook programming, your eBook can be hard to read and get massive negative reviews. Those negative reviews can’t ever be removed from Amazon and can permanently damage your reputation. I’ve seen quickly published eBooks get massive amounts of one and two-star reviews.

Then the guru (usually a guru will do this) emails their massive list and asks people who read their eBook to post a positive review on Amazon. This may counter-balance the overall rating, but it won’t make those negative reviews disappear.

And fixing the formatting later, after the negative reviews have been posted, won’t make them go away either. Do it right the first time and you won’t have any regrets.

The bottom line

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 6.40.56 PMThe truth is, as with all industries, there’s no such thing as a “get rich quick” or “make $5,000 per month your first month!” result with eBook publishing.

It takes hard work, dedication and ongoing attention to fill your audience’s needs to make a career out of eBook publishing.

Now, that being said, eBooks are a great way to generate leads for your business and increase your passive income.

But eBook publishing is not for the faint of heart. Dedicate yourself and your resources, and you’ll see results.

Try it for a quick money-making scheme, and you’ll be sorely disappointed! I’d love to hear what you think about this topic in the comments below…

Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein is a highly sought-after publishing authority, multi best-selling author and award winning international speaker who has started over 50 publishing companies and published over 170 books and e-books. In Fall 2013 she challenged herself to write and published a new Kindle book every week for 18 weeks straight.
Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein
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  1. Delilah says:

    love you ! I heart that stuff about target audience. very lovely, that bit.

  2. Wow (woman of wonder)! I really learned a lot as I am in the editing stage, I have a very interesting title and willing to take this step by step to get this brilliant book out there. I am from South Africa and need to know what I can do to get this out with less hiccups as I’m not sure if all things apply this side?

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  4. Thanks for this post Kristen! There have really some superb ways to writing and publishing eBooks.

  5. Goofy Fellow says:

    Hi,MS. Eckstein,
    Thanks for the article, it was very informative.
    I have been searching around the Net for basic info about writing a Graphic heavy publication and it is not easy to find very much up to date information.
    I would hesitate to put ink to paper without fully knowing that it is something that can be used in the KF8 format (for example) and much of the information is Ancient lore from 2011/12.
    I expect that their are a lot of people around like myself that would like to produce a product for publication and may have the tools to wield both pen and paintbrush but become baffled by the techno end of the process.
    For example,could I take a stack of this rather nice 8.5 x 11 paper and spend hundreds of hours drawing, inking and writing a fabulous tale only to discover that it can not be used as I desire, in a Kindle book or whatever the latest Apple product happens to be ?
    Finding out who my market is, is the least of my worries.
    Can I take my weapons of choice, a Watercolor brush and a pencil to a stack of
    8.5 x 11 and produce something that can be published .
    Can I paint ,write and draw all over the pages, even the very edges and transform that pretty product into a sale able item?
    That is just how I would like to work but I find a ton of conflicting opinions on the web , so I hesitate to do the work because the Tech vocabulary is diverse, to say the least.
    A Nuts and bolts,hand holding explanation of necessity’s would probably be a book you could write, and sell often. (I hope you do not mind my non-Oxford comma.)
    Mrs Wife and I, were early adopters of Pong and then Atari but we are behind the techno-curve , relative to the newer generations, yet we did have time to develop skills not so often afoot today , and that could easily be transformed into something coherent.
    Is their a way , system , program that simplify’s the whole process ?
    We can send files here and there and get our product together but if we have to start dealing with HTML stuff ,then it is as difficult for us as learning Greek,Lithuanian or Cyrillic, A Major roadblock.
    If you have any ideas or links in this area, I would be glad to know.
    Where is the technology at this week ? it is moving so fast.
    Goofy.

  6. Thanks Kristen Eckstein, As a sophisticated intellectual you would think I was too good to read the offerings you and Steve Harrison, and others of your mind put out.I am not.Thanks.

  7. Thank you Denise and thank you Kristen for suggestions and inspiration — you are my kind of person helping others to feel and think better! :)

    I am enjoying success on my eBook sales and consultations on cost savings and inspiration, as I move along in the marketing process and have done as you suggested and glad you are reinforcing these steps for others.

    My book is a timely topic for many nationally and internationally, as I offer many suggestions with ways to save money with day-to-day living in all areas.
    It’s my fun true tales about life as a single gal (not married with help of a 2nd income — yet!), apartment renter, over 26 years in our fab 5-star city of Beverly Hills, CA, maintaining a healthy and wealthy mindset while stretching the dollars in between work, pursuing my dreams and goals working in entertainment in the areas of producing/marketing and as talent. So if I can do it here … folks can do it anywhere! :)

    On and additional note to your informative and essential suggestions, may I add that it is rewarding to also think of ‘giving back’ in the process. For instance, I donate copies of my eBook to moms coming out of domestic violence, military members coming home, senior citizens, nurses, police and fire staff etc. So I suggest that self-published Authors find a non-profit organization or cause to donate copies too — it all helps add wealth of the soul!

    Also, if the Author can write an inspiring blog about their book topic, that too is a FREE (the good “F” word) ‘gift’ to readers and supporters, another way of giving back.

    I like to work on whimsical and inspirational projects to help people feel and think better by using humor and empowerment.

    Thank you for your great work to share these messages as a ‘gift’ to all of us too! Kindly, ~ Christine

  8. Kristen I enjoyed reading this article. I have a question for you.
    An ebook I recently promoted through the select program on Amazon received a 1 star. I was surprised because I believed the book did everything I promised. When clicking the name of the commenter it took me to a page with a book cover of a girl naked from the waist up. Looked at his reviews and there were several with the same text.
    My thoughts are that he did this to get people to click through to read his comments but more importantly to promote his own book.
    I did reply to his comment, but of course this does not help much.
    What would you suggest I could do about this?

  9. Good post, Kristen. I have a question for you: when you say “get a professional e-book cover done” have you had any luck with Fiverr? Or is that not “professional” enough? thanks in advance for your feedback !

    • Hi Sarah,

      I’ve seen one or two decent eBook covers come from Fiverr. The main issue is Fiverr is populated by inexperienced “designers” who have little to no “real” publishing world experience, use templates (all books they do look similar) and rarely would those eBook covers fit the specs for a printer should you ever decide to make your eBook a print book. It’s better to get a professional cover done right the first time, than deal with the headache and frustration of having to get it re-done from scratch just to save a buck. With design, especially book cover design, you get what you pay for.

  10. Interesting post Kristen! You really have shown here some superb ways to writing and publishing eBooks. Couldn\’t agree more with these great steps. Very useful especially for those newbies out there. Keep posting!!!

  11. Kristen, I love how you simplify things for the person who may be hesitating before getting out there and getting that ebook into being…just follow the yellow brick road!