Writing An Ebook: 10 Things I Learned

by Meg Guiseppi on May 23, 2011

Two months after launching my ebook, 23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land, I’ve been looking back at and assessing the writing, publishing and promotion process.

All in all, I think I did okay and weathered things well throughout my first foray into self-publishing. I certainly learned a lot for the next time. The following 10 things are at the top of my list:

1. Create a solid outline and table of contents, and get the book written . . . then worry about the title.

I slowed the process by fretting about the title from the beginning, spending hours and days toying with variations. Meanwhile, I wasn’t writing any content. I knew what I wanted to cover in the ebook. That was enough to map out the outline.

After wasting too much time, I finally got down to it and allotted time each day to writing the content.  In doing so, the table of contents came together and the title fell into place, just like that. Then it was just a matter of filling in some gaps and finishing up.

2. Prioritization and time management skills are critical.

It took me a while to figure it out, but I learned that I had to go straight to writing at the beginning of each work day, and put in a solid 2-3 hours (or more, if possible), before letting emails, social networks, or anything else distract me. I wrote a post about this, Say NO to Social Media . . . Sometimes.

3. Don’t dwell on making it perfect, at the expense of launching sooner.

When everything was done – the writing, formatting, cover – I procrastinated by continually editing, as I found new things to add, and wanting to get everything just right. I had some anxiety about letting it go and putting it out there. Finally, I realized that I could either continue tweaking, knowing it didn’t really need it, or I could take the leap and publish it.

4. Plenty of pre-launch promotion is needed.

Well before launching, I should have sent out a draft of the ebook to get endorsements and build buzz. The 2 pre-launch blog posts I wrote weren’t enough. I should have done more before launch to establish an online footprint for the ebook.

5. There are tons of great, free resources out there to walk you through creating an ebook.

Here are 2 that cover a lot of ground and really helped me:

6. Pass off the tedium to someone else.

I did most of the work myself – formatting the text and, of course, writing all the content. But I hired a designer (Felice Katz of Graphics To-Go) to create the cover, and a desktop publishing professional to tidy up a few loose ends with formatting the final PDF file.

Although doing most of the formatting forced me to learn quite a bit about Word, next time around I may hire someone to deal with all the formatting, and free up precious time for writing and launching sooner.

7. Setting up an online shopping cart is relatively easy.

I used e-junkie and PayPal to capture and process sales. There’s nothing much involved with setting up a PayPal account but, at first glance, e-junkie looked kind of complicated. It took a little time because they offer so many features and options, but it wasn’t difficult after all.

The PDF file was a cinch to upload, and now it all runs smoothly on its own, with no participation required by me to complete a sale. I get an email when one’s been sold, e-junkie collects the money and deposits in my PayPal account and, when it clears, the money is available to me.

8. When you have a strong Twitter network,  people are there for you when you need them.

Without being asked, many Twitter friends took it upon themselves to spread my tweets about the ebook, retweeting more than once. Others I reached out to were kind enough to retweet me.

Still others went out of their way and wrote blog posts about it or used their blogs to promote it. Thanks a million Hannah Morgan (@careersherpa), Randi Bussin (@myreinventure), Katharine Hansen (@kat_hansen) and Jeff Lipschultz (@jlipschultz).

9. Blogging and Twitter work beautifully together to spread the word about anything.

My blogsites gave me a home base to write about and promote the ebook. Before launching, I wrote 2 posts about it, a post accompanied the launch and, with this one today, I’ve written 2 more posts since the launch.

The blog posts allowed me to provide in depth information about what’s in the ebook. My tweets helped drive traffic to the posts and, ultimately, my ebook sales page. All good!

10. This will not be the only book I publish – digital or otherwise.

Despite getting bogged down in the tedium, I loved putting together this ebook and learning from the process. I think one of the reasons I held back from launching it, was that I didn’t want it to be over.

In fact, I did feel a kind of loss once the flurry of activity subsided and my work was pretty much done. I’ve tossed around a few ideas for another ebook, but haven’t set myself to anything yet.

Related posts:

Why I Wrote My Executive Branding and Job Search Ebook

Chapter 1 of My Ebook: 23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search

Blogging and Twitter: How Tweet It Is!

Online Reputation Management: Relevance, Quality, Diversity, Volume, Consistency

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi May 24, 2011 at 4:37 am

Kara,

Thanks for letting me know my post was helpful.

Good luck with your ebook. Love your blogsite!

Meg

2 Kara May 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I’m venturing into my first e-book soon, hopefully to be followed by a print book. Your recommendations will be quite useful! Thanks for sharing your insights.

3 Meg Guiseppi May 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

Hannah,

Glad I could help. I was hoping that by sharing my reflections looking back, and the resources I uncovered before and during the writing process, others considering writing an ebook would benefit.

It was such a good experience! As I said in the post, I’m still figuring out what to write about next.

Thanks for commenting!
Meg

4 Career Sherpa May 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

Meg,
I love these 10 points! You’ve shared just enough to give confidence and wise insight. I am looking forward to seeing your next product!

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