Seven Ways to Write (or Blog) a SHORT eBook FAST!

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Most of us are busy. Although you might realize the benefit to your business of writing and publishing an ebook, you may feel you simply don’t have the time to write a book, especially if you are already producing a lot of content, for instance on a blog or in a newsletter.

I can think of seven types of books you can write fast—especially by blogging them—and turn them into short ebooks. (See my post on how and why to blog a business-boosting book.)

Short ebooks can be anywhere from 15 to 100 manuscript pages in length. The completed book might be between 4,000-35,000 words long. We are not talking about your magnum opus. This is, indeed a short book you write fast.

Create a content plan for you short ebook, and then don’t make more work for yourself than necessary. Keep your chapters short. Don’t write more than necessary. Blog your book, or write it as if you were blogging it; sit down each day and write 500 words. Then make each chapter 1,500-2,500 words long, for example. Each chapter will consist of 3-5 blog posts (each averaging 500 words). If you have 10 chapters, you’ll end up with a 15,000-25,000 word book.

Whatever word processing program you use, keep an eye on your word count so you don’t overwrite. Remember: You are writing a short ebook fast.

Let’s take a look at the seven types of short books you might consider writing or blogging.

1. Tip Book

A tip book features a list of 10-101 tips. Normally, you find one per page, but some tip books offer just long lists of tips with many per page. Each tip might be just a sentence long or you can include a paragraph or two of explanation. This determines how many are included on the page.

Writing a tip book is pretty simple. Just compose a list of tips about something you know a lot about or that your customers or clients ask you about frequently.

~ Can you tell prospective clients 20 ways to manage employees?
~ Do you know 30 ways to save money on taxes ? Can you think of 100 ways to generate more business leads?
~ If so, you’re an expert on that topic and can write a tip book.

Writing or blogging a tip book will only take you as long as the number of tips (or steps or ways) you choose to include. Fifty tips, 50 days—unless you write or blog more posts per day or more tips per post.

Kindle Fire Tips and Tricks by Tim Sievers, at just 70 pages, is a good example of a tip book. It also includes illustrations.

2. List Book

If you can write a list, you can write a list book. Simply create a list of 10-101 things your clients or customers need to know on a subject and write a short informative essay to go with each item on your list. Or just write a list and publish it like Barbara Ann Kipfer did with her book 14,000 Things To Be Happy About or Scott Edelstein did with 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published.

Consider the numerous things you know about your business, industry, product, or service.

~ What do your clients want to know about this?
~ What information could you put on a list that would benefit your customers?
~ How many ways or things do you know that you can provide to add value to other people’s lives?

Then sit down and make that list. Next, flesh it out with just a bit of content for each item—a paragraph or two or three. You can do this with one short writing session a day or a blog post a day. Before you know it, your list book will be written.

Whatever your area of expertise, you can make a list about it—even tea drinking. For instance, 50 Ways to Drink Tea by Evelyn Sotiris, is on the Amazon bestseller list in the “Coffee & Tea” category.

3. Quotation Books

Find enough quotations to fill a short book—25-50—on a theme that relates to your particular area of expertise. Then add your own words to someone else’s famous words. In other words (excuse the pun), elaborate upon the sentiments of those more well-known than you by relating what you think they meant, what they mean to you, why you chose them, or how your customers or clients can use them to further themselves or their businesses.

Quotations are inspirational, and inspiration continues to sell well even in the business world. Although this type of book requires that you do some research to find the quotations, you can still write the rest of the content off the top of your head and share your own expertise. In this way you increase your authority—fast—with a short book. Also, this is an easy type of book to blog! And these blog posts often get shared.

The Tao of Warren Buffet by David Clark and Mary Buffet at 196 pages is longer than the quotation book I’m suggesting you write, but it’s a perfect example of what to include. It provides an explanation for each quotation, and they are grouped into chapters by topic.

4. Rx Book

Most of the books I edit or coach people to write fall into the prescriptive nonfiction category. This means they offer guidance or direction on a particular topic. They might provide 10 steps for better business practices, or 8 ways to better parenting or a guide to getting published, for example.

The authors might be experts—or have interviewed experts—on how to lose weight, build a better solar home or get more business leads, for instance. If you can think of a topic, passion or interest, someone is an expert on it—maybe you.

These types of books are also called how-to books. Some examples of how-to books you could write include:

~ a handbook (The Dog Owner’s Handbook)
~ a guide book (A Guide to Setting up a Blog or 10 Ways to Help Your ADHD Child)
~ a rule book (18 Rules for a Perfect Marriage)
~ a step book (18 Steps to Writing a Business Plan)

Just write down the steps, rules or ways—whatever how-to information—you want to include, and begin writing your advice. Offer your prescription to cure whatever ails your customers or clients.

How to Manage in Times of Crisis by Ichac Adizes is under 100 pages and fits the bill when it comes to a short how to book. Try to keep your chapters to some easy prescriptive steps.

5. Anthology

Too busy to write your own book content? Solicit content from other experts. Ask 10-25 experts to contribute a chapter to your book. (Again, these could even be guest blog posts that you later put into an ebook.) Make sure all the chapters relate to one topic; in fact, plan out the content for the book, then ask the appropriate experts to contribute to your book. Give each of them:

~ A specific topic
~ A specific word count
~ A deadline
~ A request for rights to publish their work in your book

You will then add an introduction and a conclusion and a chapter of your own.

Anthologies have been made popular by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.

6. One Big Idea

Do you use one central idea for your business? Or is there a “big idea” you’d love to get across to potential customers and clients or to the world at large—an idea you think would catapult you and your business to success? Take that one idea and write about it in a short book.

Explain your idea in a concise fashion. Then explore it further using:

~ Anecdotes
~ case studies
~ reports
~ statistics
~ other evidence

Break your idea down into subheadings rather than chapters. You might include an introduction and conclusion. Then blog it or write it!

This ends up reading like a manifesto a long article. Thus, it can feel less intimidating to some people.

Seth Godin in a master at writing short one big idea books, including Tribes, and The Dip.

7. Q & A Book

Last, but not least, you can compile a question and answer book. This book is exactly what it sounds like: a book of your customers’ or clients’ more common questions answered by you. Again, this is easy to write or blog in short bits—one question with an answer per day.

A client of mine came up with 10 questions prospective clients most commonly ask; he actually discovered he had already answered most of these questions on his blog already and was, therefore, able to repurpose existing blog posts for a good portion of his book. He wrote the remaining portion. You can easily do this from scratch as well.

By employing one of these seven short-book structures, you’ll write or blog your book fast. You’ll then be ready to get it edited, have a cover designed, and convert it into an ebook format. Before you know it, you’ll be using your short ebook (and maybe even a printed book, too) to promote yourself and your business.

Got a tip for writing a short ebook fast? Share it with us in the comments below! 

Nina Amir
Inspiration-to-Creation Coach and author of "How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time," inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose.
Nina Amir
Nina Amir
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Comments

  1. Thanks for a great article! I especially liked the detail you included concerning the different types of books we may write. Very helpful!

  2. Excellent post Nina! Denise Wakeman led me here from a Facebook share. I’m in the midst of cranking out my own book, and it’s been a long hard slog, to be sure. I love these ideas!

  3. Great Advice on how to write a short ebook. The advice couldn’t have come at a better time….

  4. How about something original?

    So many writers write about writing. Haven’t any of them lived life? I point-blank refuse to read a book by a writer about writing.

    Write about your life. If you haven’t got a life. Go and get one, and experience life before you start writing.

    Write like you think and speak, about subjects you know about.

    Too many people want to become teachers of life before becoming students of life.

    What are 3 of my current works-in-progress?

    Lot 312. The childhood of a serial killer. A whydunnit as opposed to a whodunnit.

    The Holy Cola: Red Santa finally gets exposed as a fraud … by Green Santa.

    The Odd Asylum: The peregrinations of an anally-rententive academic, Arthur Andrews – a 26 Chapter Opus containing every word in the OED.

    Old Man Orgasms

  5. Nina, thank you for publishing this brilliant article, this will help many writers who want to become published authors. One of the most common comments I hear from authors who have not yet published their book is, “I’m still working on my book!” For many of these folks, they’ve been working on their book for close to a year or longer! Yeah! Let’s help more people to share their message with the world!

    • Thanks Dvorah! I want aspiring authors to become published authors, and they can do that fast with a short book. No reason to write long these days anyway. Who has time to read long? Not me! The trend in publishing is toward shorter books for that reason.

  6. Definitely going to be rereading this. I love that you included an example with each type.

    Thanks, Nina!

  7. Thank you so much, Nina! I’ll be very interested to see what feedback you get.

  8. These are some great ideas here that I can use for an ebook. My concern is that if I blog my way to an ebook I could have trouble with getting it published on Kindle. Are they ok with prepublished content?

    • I don’t believe it is–except maybe with KPT Select, but I am am doing further research to find out. My blogged book, 10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self, is available as a printed book on Amazon, but not as an ebook.

      • William, I agree with Nina. You are most likely not going to just ‘copy and paste’ your blog posts into a document and upload them to Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform.

        With editing, added content etc. and having everything pulled together into one document, I would expect that Amazon would be fine with it. Would be interesting to see what our TFOI digital publishing expert Kristen Eckstein has to say on this…I’ll see if I can get her to come over and comment.

        • I always recommend to my clients that their blogged books be edited and revised after they create the first draft on the blog, and I also suggest having 20% new material included in the finished manuscript as well. That said, there are people just dropping posts into programs like Anthology and publishing. I’ll contact Kristen, too, and I’ll let you know what the Kindle people say. (I still think its a KDP Select issue…)

    • Hey William,
      If you use take content that you’ve published on your blog to create a Kindle book, you may get an email from Amazon, wanting to verify that the content is yours. Once you do that, you’re fine.

      However, only exclusive (not published anywhere else) content can be enrolled in the KDP Select program.

      My book that’s coming out in a few weeks is a compilation of my Expert Briefs blogs posts. 🙂

      • This resolves the question well, Nicole — this is the clearest answer to that question I’ve heard. Thank you very much.

        • Elizabeth – here’s the verbiage on Amazon’s site:
          “What does it mean to publish exclusively on Kindle?

          When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information.”

          Reference: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect

          • Again, this brings up the question of revised content. My book, How to Blog Your Book, is available on my blog as the “first draft” of what was later published by Writer’s Digest Books. It is available on Kindle (and as a paperback on Amazon) as the final edited version; this was revised and edited and is now almost three times as long a the original that exists on my blog. Amazon had no problem with that. You can still read the original version on my blog, howtoblogabook.com.

          • Thank you so much for this additional information, Nicole!

      • Nicole,
        Thanks for this answer. That was what I remembered, but I wanted to be certain before I answered. I don’t enroll my books in KDP Select, so I’ve never had a problem, and I typically don’t suggest it to my clients. I’ll still report in on what Kindle says in response to my query.

      • Blogged material CAN be used in the KDP Select program! I have spoken to Amazon. Read this post: http://howtoblogabook.com/2012/11/06/can-you-publish-blogged-material-as-a-kindle-ebook/

    • Nicole answered it below (I’ve been very sick), and the bottom line is if all you do is publish blog posts outright on Kindle, Amazon doesn’t like to sell what people can find relatively easily elsewhere online for free. Not to mention the book won’t read well or flow. Using your blog to get your book written is a great way to do it fast, and you can either form a private accountability group & set all those particular posts to password protected, or edit your posts thoroughly to update content, links, and make sure your message flows congruently throughout. If you edit it or change it in any way, KDP select won’t care. And your readers will thank you for putting everything in a concise format, saving them time and updating it to read as one unit.

    • Here’s the definitive answer to your question (and I’ll scroll down to add this link again as necessary since I know this conversation repeated in other places): I spoke with an Amazon rep and emailed with another to get a quote. You can use material that has been blogged and is on your blog in both the Kindle and KDP Select programs. You will just be asked to verify that you have the rights to it. Here is a post I wrote about this: http://howtoblogabook.com/2012/11/06/can-you-publish-blogged-material-as-a-kindle-ebook/

  9. Many, many thanks for this valuable post. You have provided
    an abundance of very real possibilities…most of which will work
    for this wannabe entrepreneur!

    • Jon,
      I’m glad to hear that! And you don’t have to be a wanna-be entrepreneur for long. Get bloggging. Get a book. You’ll be in business before you know it!

  10. You’ve got my brain bubbling with ideas, Nina, and this article helped me recognize that the book I’m brewing in my head will be a “One Big Idea” book. The other models are all enticing for the future, though.

    Could you address the concern about Amazon’s new crack-down on work they deem as unoriginal? How much do you have to change blog posts if you’re re-purposing them into a book?

    Thanks so much.

  11. Lynne Klippel says:

    Thanks Nina- you created a very good list here which are certain to inspire.

    Just from a publishing standpoint, I’d suggest that writers who want to print their books aim for at least 20,000 words. If a print book is much shorter than that, the spine looks pretty thin. Shorter books are idea for Kindle and other e-book readers. I love that we can have so many options today to publish books o any length!

    • Good point, Lynne! Thanks for adding that…

    • Thanks for this clarification, Lynne. It makes sense that you’d want a printed book not to look too skimpy.

    • Lynn,
      I usually tell people they can produce really short books as booklets. I have a stable of them to my name. These are saddle stitched and so inexpensive to produce. They also can be printed in small sizes. It’s a great and unintimidating way to get started. After that, yes, they normally need closer to 30,000 words in my experience to have a decent spine. The book will need to end up over 100 pages to have writing on the spine, especially at Amazon. I have a book that has writing on the spine that was printed elsewhere, but Amazon will not print on the spine because it is only about 76 pages long.

      • I’m glad you pointed out the idea of a booklet here. One of the things that honestly bugs me in the digital publishing/Kindle space is calling something 15 -20 pages a book.

        The main reason comes from the print world. The only books that are really short generally are children’s picture book and 32 pages there is very common. In school or in the business world though something 15, 20, even 30 pages long is a paper or a report.

        I think Amazon has missed the boat in not offering other categories for short works and allowing everything to be called a “book”. They had a “shorts” category at one time, not sure if it’s still there.

        The reason I believe this is important and not merely semantics is because books have been around for a long long time. People have an idea about what a book looks like as well as, most importantly, what a book costs. Selling something under the length of a printed book that has a decent spine I think just creates problems for authors and publishers in the long run. Pricing is a huge issue right now. For one person to offer 150 pages for $2.99 and someone else 20 for the same cost and calling it the same kind of product, I think makes the problem bigger.

        In addition, a lot of internet marketers offer special reports both for free and for sale. I wonder what length is going to be acceptable/expected for something like that if the trend continues that almost any length can now be called a book.

        Interested to hear more perspectives.

        Overall, great tips here Nina!

        • Pricing is an issue, but you have to decide what your content is worth. Also, there is a difference between how nonfiction ebooks are priced and fiction ebooks are priced in many cases. You can ask more for nonfiction.

          I get “books” in the mail all the time that are saddle-stitched booklets. It’s fine to call these books. I wouldn’t get into deep semantics over it. I teach a class on how to write a short book fast and tell attendees they will become a published author with a booklet. It’s still a published book. And I have booklets with a price of $10. They are worth it, believe me. I’ve paid $7-15 for an ebook online with less info–often marketed as a “progam.”

          It’s all relative. But you can write a short book fast, produce it as a “short,” as an ebook or as a booklet–or even as a small-sized book so you increase the page number, it’s still a book and you are still an author.

          • Nina, you have mentioned saddle-stitched booklets a couple of times. Could you share where you have those printed?

          • Larry,

            I get my booklets printed at 1-800-procolor.com. They happen to be located in my town, but you can use them from anywhere in the country. Send them your pdf, and they will print 1 copy or as many as you like and send it to you. Tell Jon I sent you! They also do print-on-demand books through Robertson Publishing, a very nice small outfit that will give you personal care. Tell Alicia, Jon’s wife I sent you…should your booklet grow a bit to big for the booklet press. :~)

  12. Perfect Timing on this post!

    I am in the middle of brainstorming a new ebook as we speak.

    I have so many ideas sometimes the biggest problem is just trying to pick one and go with it. Because, of course, ALL the ideas are brilliant in my opinion. And who am I to delay releasing this brilliance to the world?

    That would be pretty darn selfish of me. I think I am going to go with the One Big Idea type book.

    Thanks for the clarity,

  13. It’s great to be reminded of these specific structures that can get writer’s block undone and publications completed.