How To
10 min read

How to Write an Ebook and Make Money Selling It Online

William Ellis

August 18, 2022

A talented writer can come from anywhere. Some people have wanted to write for their entire lives. Others have never given writing any thought until one day the right idea popped into their head. Some writers live in big cities and others in small towns. The minute a person begins to write, no matter their background, they become a writer.

Writing an ebook
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/ZJEKICY5EXY 

If you have been bitten by the writing bug, you may wonder what you should do to be published. The good news for you is that the ability to get published is already at your disposal, thanks to the ebook format. 

Ebooks have become incredibly popular information, entertainment, and education sources. 

Here's why and how to write an ebook.

Why write an ebook?

You may sigh to yourself at the notion of writing an ebook. After all, isn't the dream to one day hold a physical copy of your masterpiece in your hands? Of course, it is always nice to have a physical copy of your work, which is something that is not inherently off limits in the ebook world. 

However, publishing your work as an ebook affords you numerous opportunities you may not have considered.

No gatekeepers

The biggest predicament most writers face when writing a book is publishing. Getting a book published is a major uphill battle, especially in this day and age. Getting the attention of a major book publisher is increasingly difficult. This is because the submission process is so brutal.

When you submit a book that you want a publisher to take on, you do so with the hope that it will land on the right person's desk. Many people don't realize that before it lands on the right person's desk, it lands on the desk of a person whose job is to check your work. 

This person is usually an assistant, typically drowning in other manuscripts and pitches. For lack of a better term, this person is a gatekeeper.

The beauty of the internet is that it has arguably become the single greatest social hub in the world. Everyone has a voice on the internet, and billions of people have access to it. Nobody has to give you a green light or approval to put your book online. No gatekeepers, no masters. It's just you and your readers.

Affordability

Don't be fooled into thinking that writing an ebook means you will not have to spend any money on its creation and publication. However, it should be said that the costs are extraordinarily low by comparison. 

You can write your ebook for free. From there, it's a matter of how much you want to pay for things like hiring an editor, designing a cover, additional formatting, and other hosting costs. Even if you spent roughly $1,000, you would still be spending less than you would on a physical publication.

Freedom

One of the biggest advantages of the ebook format is the level of freedom you have. You can publish an ebook of any length you wish, create ebooks that are only a few pages long, or write ebooks that are hundreds of pages long. Include illustrations or other multimedia types thanks to the digital format of an ebook. You can create something truly unique, and if it is, then it will potentially be valuable to your potential readers.

Choosing your topic

Your ebook topic should be considered before you write even one word. Your topic is essentially your reason for writing to begin with. 

Did you have a great ebook idea for a narrative work that you want to put out there? Do you have a website and want to use your ebook to promote it further? Do you want to write a guidebook or a tutorial?

Choose a topic that you can commit to. The last thing you want to do is devote time and energy to an ebook you do not finish because you lose interest. A topic that you are somewhat knowledgeable in helps but isn't required. 

Many authors do research as they write and even include some of the learning process in the book itself. Using your learning curve as an origin story of sorts is a great way to start the book and show your readers how the subject became an interesting topic to you.

Develop your ebook title

Some writers think of their ebook title first, and others do it later in their ebook writing process. You can brainstorm some potential catchy titles to start and come back to this later.

Make sure your title has an emotional hook that draws people’s attention. Similar to how your ebook cover design piques a reader’s interest, so will the title. You should have your title finalized by the time you design the cover, which we’ll get to later.

Choosing your demographic

Whether you are working in creative writing or creating an ebook for your business, there is always a bit of research that needs to be done. 

Think about the kind of reader you want to attract to your book. You don't want a book layout incomprehensible to the demographic you are writing for. For example, it would be wrong to have a college-style paper format in a children's book. 

Learn how your audience digests their information so that you can try to follow that process with your writing.

Writing an ebook

Here you are. You're staring at the blank document in front of you. In just a second, your fingertips will touch the keyboard, and the words will just fly onto the screen...at least that's what you imagine happening. 

The actual writing process is different for every writer of every type of work, ebook or otherwise. 

Remember that your writing often differs from how you imagine you will.

Some writers do have the ability to just let the words flow from their fingertips. Other writers feel that they have to plan further ahead and map out what they want to write. 

There is no linear process, but there is one requirement that all writers must meet: that they write. Whether in your local Starbucks hooked up to wi-fi or in the comfort of your home, your main focus should be putting something down on the page. 

Here are some tips to help you crush writer's block to see your ebook through to completion.

Embrace first draft imperfection

A hard truth that every writer must learn is that your first draft will not be as good as you hope it will be. There will be typos, grammar mistakes, parts that don't read well, and some parts that may even embarrass you.

How to write an ebook
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/DXobXpIa9_4

Some writers know this all too well, and as a result, they will be overly precious in the writing of their first draft, hoping to get it as close to perfect as they can. This mindset is a mistake and the enemy of the productive writer. Knowing that your first draft will not be good should embolden you to write fearlessly.

With the knowledge that your first draft will not be the best or final draft comes the wisdom of knowing you will make your ebook better in the next draft. 

To complete your first draft, you need to power through the writing, even if you know you have written something that will need correction. An easier way to do this is to turn off spell check and not red pen your work at this stage.

It would be helpful for you not to look at the screen more than necessary. Typing your work out as it comes to you will get your rough first draft down on paper, so to speak. Forget about spelling, continuity errors, or even story plot holes. You can make endless corrections and formatting decisions later. For now, just write as much as you need to finish.

Setting deadlines

One of the most important things a writer must do, especially if they do not have a book publishing deal, is set up hard deadlines. While it is true that not having a publishing deal means that you don't have contractually obligated deadlines, it is not a good idea not to set them for yourself. 

Deadlines give you an incentive to write. Many published authors will tell you that few things shatter writer's block as well as a looming deadline.

The low-level panic set in when you have a deadline makes for a very good writing partner. Set daily goals based on page or word count, but try not to box yourself in too much. Allow yourself room to breathe a little, do research, and ultimately have fun. 

In the same way that having no schedule will hinder your progress, having too tight of a schedule can discourage you from finishing. Nothing will break a writer's spirit faster than the inability to meet your deadlines and keep up with your goals.

Proofreading

The proofreading process is arguably the most important part of creating your ebook. This is where all of the corrections, be they spelling, grammar, or correcting readability, take place. This stage can take your writing from promising amateur to professional. 

While you most definitely can proofread your ebook on your own, this is where spending a little extra money can make a huge difference in the success of your book overall.

Proofreading it yourself

While hiring a professional to review your work is recommended, you don't have to. Some feel confident enough to review the writing and make the necessary corrections. 

You'll want to do more than just red penning your grammar and spelling. Seeing that your work has a continuity to it and that there aren't a lot of unnecessary ramblings can be hard, but it is worth it.

After having worked for so long trying to put all of these words down on paper, it can be especially hard to cut things out that aren't working in the final draft. This is where an editor would be helpful, but you can also call in the eyes of a friend or family member to give it an objective look over.

Hiring a professional editor

Hiring a professional editor may not be the thriftiest decision, but it will give your ebook an extra level of polish that you may not otherwise have given it. A professional proofreader will spot all of the obvious mistakes, and they will also help to improve the readability of your work. 

The amount you can expect to pay for a proofreader varies. Some will opt for as little as $30 an hour for a freelance editor, and some can ask for as much as $100 an hour, so if you take this route, find a proofreader who can do the job well while also meeting your budgetary needs.

Hiring an editor to comb through your writing isn't just hiring a second set of eyes. You're also getting all of this professional's expertise over their career of working on other books. You've written one book, they've helped with multiple. If there was one area of writing an ebook in which you don't want to be cheap, it's this one.

Machine assistance with grammar tools

If you attempt to proofread your work independently, you will be happy to know that machine assistance is available. Not only do you have spellcheck in most word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but there are websites and services that specialize in proofreading for spelling, grammar, and readability.

One of the most popular forms of machine assistance in proofreading is Grammarly, which will help you refine your grammar and spelling for free. If you are willing to pay the monthly subscription, even until you finish your ebook, it will also help improve the readability.

Creating your ebook cover

Probably one of the most looked forward to parts of writing for an author is finally slapping a cover onto it. For many writers, this is where their ebook starts to feel real. Creating a cover that feels like it belongs on your ebook can be daunting, but it must be done right.

The first thing you'll want to do is research your competitors. You don't want something that looks like all the others, but you also want to gauge what is selling. Remember that there are some publishing platforms where the cover is the first thing the reader sees and needs to be eye-catching and informative.

It must be stressed that you should only attempt to create a cover on your own if you have some background in graphic design. If creating visuals is not something that you are used to, then you could be setting your ebook up for failure by doing it yourself. 

A survey of writing professionals by Written Word Media shows that most authors pay between $100 and $249. Expect to be in the lower range due, or even less, if you only plan to have an ebook.

A graphic designer can be a little pricey, but you are paying for years of experience on a product that will make you money for years to come. 

Cost of book covers
Source: ​​https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/author-income-how-to-make-a-living-from-your-writing/ 

Where to publish your ebook

So you've finally done it. You've written your ebook and had it proofread and corrected. You have an eye-catching cover. 

Now the question is where to put it. 

You could always just put your ebook straight onto your website, but unless you already have a substantial following, it runs the risk of being lost by the wayside. 

Here are some great platforms that you can publish your ebook on.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) 

Amazon KDP is a great platform for publishing your ebook because the Kindle ebook platform is so ubiquitous. You do not have to pay anything for your work to be on the platform. Some do not appreciate converting their book to KDP's proprietary format, but this is a small issue that is solved fairly quickly using Kindle Create.

Smashwords 

Smashwords is the platform if you want to take an almost entirely DIY approach to publish your ebook. Smashwords allows you to publish to several different platforms, including Apple Books, and do so for free. However, they do take a commission of 10% of sales. One drawback is that it does not support uploading to Amazon KDP, so you will still have to upload that one manually.

All you need to do is upload a Word doc and Smashwords will convert it into multiple formats, including EPUB (electronic publication), HTML, plain text, and PDF format. 

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/PkyL3p9Kx8c

Promote your ebook

Now that you have an ebook distributor through Amazon KDP and Smashwords, you’ll want to build hype and get your ebook in front of any potential customer that fits your target audience

Some writers promote their ebooks on social media through Facebook ads. You could reach many potential customers with ads if you have the budget, but you should know how to do Facebook ads, so you don’t waste any money.

As a reader, you may already be in a Facebook group that shares books for others to check out, so you could promote your book there. 

If you have a website, you’ll want to design a landing page where people can pay and download your PDF ebook directly from your site or link to different platforms where they can buy it. You can also send messages to your email list before you launch to build hype and offer discounts to your subscribers. 

Another option that some writers have is to release a chapter of their ebook as a blog post on their site to get people interested. This will give people a sneak peek into your ebook and see if they want to read more by purchasing your ebook. Some writers like this idea, while others don’t want to give their content away for free.

Use content marketing to promote your ebook! Writing a host of content ideas highly related to the topics and sub-topics within your ebook gives a few teasers to what’s inside and builds hope of more details on the topic or any given subtopic. If your content marketing plan is optimized for SEO, you could build a permanent traffic source that converts search traffic into paying clients.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to spend time promoting your ebook. Potential readers need to hear about your book to know it's there, so promote it in several ways, and you’ll be on your way to a successful ebook. 

Conclusion on how to write an ebook

Ebooks are incredible because they are yet another example of how the internet has helped to democratize and monetize creativity. 

By cutting through the red tape and sidestepping the proverbial gatekeepers, you have the power to become an ebook author whose work is seen by multitudes of people. Publishing your first ebook is the first step in what will hopefully be a long journey for you as an author.

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