How to Write an eBook
Over the last few decades, we have seen an incredible shift towards digital media in nearly all stratospheres of society and culture.
Media outlets have been forced to rethink their methods, products and delivery systems, or else find themselves heading towards the dumps and recycling centres that millennials are sending irrelevant businesses to.
It’s been over 8 years since Amazon’s eBook sales overtook paperback sales.
People have unquestioningly gravitated towards digital media consumption, and in this cultural shift, the utilisation of eBooks in content marketing has evolved to fit readers’, buyers’ and researchers’ needs.
What is an eBook?
An eBook is a publication consisting of text, images or both that has been published in a digital format meant to be read on the flat-panel display of a computer, mobile phone or other electronic devices.
Anyone can create an eBook, therefore there is a vast range in size, subject, purpose and price. For this article, we’re going to be focusing on eBooks used for digital marketing purposes.
eBooks are one of the most convenient and effective means of conveying specialised information. Readers are attracted to them because a good eBook can provide them with all the information they need in one concise document that can be read anywhere, on any device.
Why create an eBook?
Writing and publishing an eBook can help you accomplish a wide variety of goals. It can:
- Establish your authority as an industry leader
- Expand your audience
- Engage your audience
- Provide your audience with valuable, relevant information
- Set you apart from your competition
- Increase web traffic
- Increase targeted leads for your inbound marketing strategy
- Increase revenue
eBooks are a versatile marketing tool that can be leveraged a number of different ways.
Once the final product is ready for distribution, marketers have two basic choices:
- Charge a small amount of money for access to the digital download or
- Set the eBook up for a free download in exchange for contact information
Creating an eBook around your industry generates quality leads, as the people who are downloading it have already shown a vested interest in your services.
Creating the eBook
If you don’t have a ton of experience writing, it may take you a while to figure out your own creative process and workflow.
It’s easy to get distracted and find yourself in the middle of an internet rabbit hole while performing research. That’s why writers find it important to develop their own personal routines, practices and rituals that help them maintain focus and stay on track.
Here is a step-by-step methodology to help you plan, create and market an eBook:
Set your goals
It’s important to set your goals before you begin writing. Diving right in will result in hours of edits, rewriting, chaos, depression and tears. (Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit...but it’s not impossible - just ask any writer).
By laying down the goal(s) for your publication, you can begin formulating a deliberate and effective path to accomplish your objectives.
If your goal is to generate qualified leads looking for content marketing services, every section, image, call-to-action and ultimately each word you include should work in some way to help you accomplish this goal.
Consider your marketing strategy
The most important thing you need to think about is where your eBook is going to fit into your marketing strategy. Will they be downloading it from a landing page? How will you be promoting it? Will you send it to your subscribers as a free download? Offering it on social media?
Your goals, marketing strategy and subject matter should all be in alignment before you begin writing.
Pick your subject
Now that you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to promote it, it’s time to settle on your subject.
You can create an eBook on literally any subject matter, so the only guideline for choosing a topic is this: make it valuable.
You will be asking people to trade you something of value - either money or contact information - in return for your book. If there are already pillar posts that are available for free from authoritative domains, no one is going to pay for the same information.
Research the subject you want to write about and figure out how to add a unique value proposition that will entice your readers to choose your eBook over all the other available resources.
Pick your template
This part is pretty easy. There are hundreds - if not thousands - of free eBook templates available for download from major brands like HubSpot, Canva, LucidPress, Crello, etc.. Pick one that fits your brand and goals.
Here’s 18 for free: 18 Beautiful New Ebook Templates [Free Download]
Picking your template beforehand allows you to get an idea of how many words each section/chapter should have in order to create a cohesive and intentional design. If you find your sections are too long or too short, you can go back and pick a more suitable template.
Outline your chapters
By now you should have a reasonably clear picture of what your book is going to look like and how you’re going to sell/leverage it. Time to start writing.
The first thing you need to create is your table of contents. This will serve as your own personal outline and help you sort your knowledge.
Be sure to organise your knowledge into an intentional progression that your readers will be able to understand.
Fill in your chapters
Now it’s time to let your creative juices flow. There’s not much I can include here because the content you create will depend entirely on your subject and brand voice. But I will leave you with these 4 important guidelines:
- Use data
- People love percentages, charts and figures. The more you can include, the more authority you’ll earn
- Include sources
- If you’re going to cite something as a “fact” you need to have a reliable source.
- Write for your target audience
- Too many people think that the way they speak makes for interesting written content. 9/10 times it doesn’t. We can all tell if you paid someone to transcribe your voice recordings. Write with intention. If you’re not writing specifically for your targeted buyer persona, you’re wasting time.
- Hire an editor
- If you’re not a writer, I can virtually guarantee that your first attempt is going to need some work. If you don’t have a writer/editor on staff, hire one off of UpWork or Fiverr. They know how to write for specific audiences and will double the value of your content.
Relevant, HQ images are a requirement for pretty much all types of written content these days. You want to appeal to all types of learners, so visuals are important.
My favourite types of images are infographics. They present important data in an appealing way and can be shared easily by readers. Having a graphic designer come up with a few branded infographics will make your eBook look more professional and give you multiple assets for your marketing strategy.
You can also choose to include:
- Stock photos
- Hand-drawn images
- Gifs, memes and other whimsies
BUT - make sure every image was chosen intentionally to help you accomplish your original goals.
Highlight your quotes & stats
Besides images and infographics, there are ways to make important information stand out. Bolded or highlighted keywords, shareable quotes and multiple fonts are just a few ways you can help your text stand out.
Place your CTAs
Your CTAs should be placed in strategic locations throughout your book. And often, the entire last page is dedicated to a call-to-action that is most pertinent to your original goals.
Fine-tune your design
Now that you’ve put it all together it’s time for a final edit. Send it to peers, employees, friends, family - anyone who is willing to read it - and gather feedback. Incorporate valuable insights from them into your final design.
Finalise and convert to PDF
For eBooks that are part of a business or individual’s content marketing strategy, the best type of file to create is a PDF. They ensure that your book, along with its images and links, look the same across all devices.
There’s no need to go out of your way to create a .epub or .mobi file unless you’re actually planning on selling the book for monetary income.
Create a landing page
Now that you finally have a product you’re proud of and ready to show off, the first thing you need to do (if you haven’t already) is create a landing page where people can download your book.
There’s no need to overthink it. It should contain enough information to intrigue your readers, but not enough to give them value without downloading the book. And obviously you need to have a system in place that enables you to capture their information - or accomplish the goals you set at the beginning - when someone downloads your book.
Implement your marketing strategy and track your success
Now it’s time to promote your book and find out if it was worth it! Social media (especially LinkedIn), your own website, blog posts, guest blogs on other sites and emails are just a few ways you can promote your book for free. PPC and social media ads are also good options if you have some capital to invest.
Be sure to set up analytics in order to track your successes and failures. Often it will take a few attempts to get your eBook in the hands of your target audience.
Take a look at our ebook: