How to Turn Your Good Book Ideas into an eBook

Turn good book ideas into an ebook

Writing and publishing an ebook can be a thrilling adventure and a great business move, but coming up with good book ideas and a quality ebook that has real impact requires a well thought out strategy.

Tara Gentile knows this very well. Gentile, who hosts the “Profit. Power. Pursuit.” podcast, has made her career about helping entrepreneurs find success. She’s also an authority on ebooks and good book ideas. In her popular CreativeLive course, How to Write and Publish an eBook, Gentile recommends that you thoroughly answer some essential questions about your book before you start working on it. Your responses will help guide you in the writing process and in your marketing decisions:

1) Why is this book topic(s) important? Are these topics good book ideas? What kind of change can someone make after reading your book?

2) Who is the ideal reader? Who do you want to read this book? Describe him or her in detail. Who is the broader audience for this book?

3) Search Amazon or go to a bookstore, and compare your book to others on the same topic. How is your book different? What can you learn (cover design, table of contents, etc) from similar books that are selling well?

4) Why should you be the one to write this?

Want to learn more about the power of habits? For a limited time, all Money + Life classes are $99 or less! Shop now.

The writing part is the easiest part

You’ve had really good book ideas floating around in your brain for awhile, but now it’s time to put that idea into writing. Start with an outline or a table of contents or whatever makes it easier for you to structure the book. You don’t have to start from the beginning or the end. Write whatever chapter comes to mind first, and once that’s done, move on to another chapter. You can put everything in order later.

Some of you may just be putting together your ebook from blog posts, emails you’ve sent to answer reader questions, essays or other content that you’ve already written. In that case, you’ll just need to dump it into one document, organize it, read over it, fill in any blanks and polish it up. Just be sure to keep your ideal reader in mind as you’re compiling and writing your good book ideas.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or from a bunch of blog posts, you will need to write a strong, catchy introduction. This is where you grab the reader and make him want to keep going. It’s also what potential customers will see with Amazon’s “Look inside” feature, so this intro section may make or break the sale.

Proofread your book once it’s written, do a spell check and grammar check. Ask a couple of friends to look it over for you–they may be able to catch mistakes that you’ve missed.

Formatting 101

You can use Google Docs, MS Word or Evernote to write the ebook, but ebook publishers require you to upload the ebook document to their website in either the EPUB format (Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes&Noble, etc) or MOBI format (only required for Amazon’s Kindle store).

To convert your document into the EPUB format:

  • Export your DOC file into a PDF file (in MS Word, click File, then click Export as PDF)
  • Convert your PDF file into an EPUB file using Pages, MS Word or Google Docs.

To convert your document into MOBI format:

  • Open your DOC file with Pressbooks and convert to MOBI. Pressbooks charges about $20, but you get a MOBI file, EPUB file and PDF file.

There are other methods (Calibre offers free conversion to both MOBI and EPUB formats), and new options pop up all the time. Just use the one you’re most comfortable with.

Make it look pretty

Gentile recommends that you spend some serious time thinking about your cover design. Whether you like it or not, people DO judge a book by its cover, and your cover will sell your book. Check out sites like Canva, or Picmonkey to create a cover design for free. You can also hire a graphic designer if you have the budget for it.

If you want to use color photos for the cover or within the content, Gentile advises using bold images with high contrast, since many people will be reading your ebook on a Kindle, which only allows for black and white.

Turn good book ideas into an ebook

What’s your platform?

Before you can upload your book anywhere, you’ll need to decide how you want to sell it. As Gentile puts it, “your goals guide your distribution.” For example, if your book doesn’t have any worksheets, charts or other informational graphics that are essential to the book, you could offer an audiobook version along with the Kindle version. That means you’ll need to schedule time to sit down and create a quality recording. You can also throw together a bundle, like Gentile does, offering the EPUB, MOBI, PDF and audio files all in one.

If your ebook is relevant to the content of your website or blog, and you have a strong following, you might want to consider selling the ebook on your own platform. This way, you can track who your customers are and add their email addresses to your database for email updates or newsletters. There are also other platforms where you can sell your ebook, including Gumroad, Sellfy, Sellz and Leanpub.

Ebook publishers won’t give you access to any customer info, so you won’t know who bought your book unless they contact you directly. Gentile offers a way around this: put a clickable link and a spelled out link inside your ebook that allows customers to go directly to a subscription page on your blog or website so you can capture email addresses.

Another important factor to consider at this stage: money. Amazon and other ebook publishers take at least a 30% cut, depending on how you price the ebook. Selling the ebook on your own means you keep all the profits, minus credit card or Paypal processing fees.

Are you trying to make a lot of money from this ebook, or did you write it for another reason? Perhaps you’re using the ebook as a tool to boost your expertise on a subject. Or maybe you’re trying the passive income game for your blog or website. You might even be giving the ebook away for free or for 99 cents as a way to draw more readers to your blog or more customers to your business website.

If your goal involves reaching the biggest audience possible, then Amazon is likely your best bet. Amazon will take a cut from your sales, but if money is not your objective, then just think of it as a fee for the use of a very large promotional platform. Gentile also thinks that selling your ebook on Amazon may lead to greater credibility than if you were to simply offer it up on your own website or blog.

Want to learn more about the power of habits? For a limited time, all Money + Life classes are $99 or less! Shop now.

Now here’s the marketing stuff

This is the stuff that helps you get noticed. As Gentile says, “Nobody will read your book until you tell them it’s available.” Good point. So here’s how to spread the word:

  • Promotional partners: Send personalized emails to other entrepreneurs, bloggers and authors who cover the same topic, and ask if they’d be interested in getting a free copy of your book to review on their blog or website. You could also offer to write a guest post for their blog.
  • Family and friends: They may not be your ideal reader, but they can be your biggest fan. Gentile says they can help by talking about your book to their friends and colleagues, some of whom just may be your ideal reader.
  • Media blast: Pitch your book to local news outlets, relevant bloggers and podcasters.
  • Email your subscribers: You’ll need to send out emails to your blog/website subscribers about your ebook. It helps to have a planned release date for your ebook, so you can send teaser emails to build anticipation and try to collect some pre-orders. Send an enthusiastic email on launch day, and a few days later, send an email with a friendly request for a review for those who have read the book.
  • Social media: Be sure to post regularly on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, depending on which platforms you prefer. This is where your cover design will really shine and attract customers. You can also post quotes from the book, as well as behind the scenes pics of yourself working hard on the book!

The amount of time and energy you put into marketing your book will determine how well your book sells. If your budget allows for it, hire someone to help with the promotional efforts.

There you have it—now you have an ebook! Just remember to always keep your ideal reader in mind, as well as your goals for the book. These two things will steer you in the right direction throughout the entire process.

Want to learn more about the power of habits? For a limited time, all Money + Life classes are $99 or less! Shop now.

Suchi Rudra

Suchi Rudra is a nomadic writer of articles, stories and songs, taking inspiration from her travels. Follow her wanderings at Tread Lightly, Travel Naturally.