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How I Published My First Ebook: Tips for New Writers

Avatar of Alicia Rades

Publishing an eBook is a long, rigorous process despite how easy it looks from the outside. I mean, self-publishing is supposed to be super simple, right?

Not quite. At least it’s not easy if you’re concerned about presentation, and you should care or no one else will.

The Beginner's Guid to Writing Quality Online Content

If you’re interested on publishing an eBook, you might have something to learn from my experience. Take a look at the steps I took to publish my first eBook, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Quality Online Content, to learn a bit more about the process.

Step 1: Come Up With a Great Idea

My idea came when I started my writing blog, The Writing Realm, in August 2013. (Notice that this was five months before I published the book. Keep this timeline in mind as you proceed with your project.)

My goal of the blog was (and is) to give writing tips to newbie writers and to help them succeed since I felt I had a lot to offer from what I’d learned in the past year. (And believe me, I’ve learned so much more about writing since starting the blog than I’ve ever learned before.)

The eBook was meant to supplement the blog and give a more in-depth look at what I knew best: writing online content. I loved the idea and knew I had enough expertise and could move forward with it.

Step 2: Start Putting Your Ideas on Paper

Next, I started writing my ideas down. My first thought was to give 101 tips for writing better online content, so I started writing a few tips every day and using examples to back up my points.

The main idea I want to emphasize here is that you don’t have to have a lot of time to write an eBook. There were days I went without adding to the book because I was too busy, but with a little work here and there, I got it done.

Step 3: Change the Title 20 Times

I’m not entirely sure how many titles I went through before settling on the one that best prepared readers for what was to come. My first title ideas was 101 Tips for Writing Better Online Content, but that wasn’t very strong, so I tried a few alternatives. I then realized that finding 101 solid subheadings wasn’t going to do it for me because I would probably end up giving tips that were of no value to the reader if I forced it.

(There are actually a lot more than 101 tips in the book, but most of the tips are under the subheadings and help supplement the main point. I ended up with about 60 major tips.)

I decided to cut the “101” part and went through several other titles. I didn’t settle on “The Beginner’s Guide” until my editor pointed out that people need to know what level to expect since it’s not targeted toward experienced writers. I felt The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Quality Online Content was perfect for setting my readers up for what was to come while attracting the right audience (newbie writers looking to improve their web content).

Step 4: Write, Revise, Write Some More, Revise

Each time I wrote a new tip, I’d go back and look at it again. I’d ask myself things like:

  • Am I making sense?
  • Could I use an example here?
  • What words can I cut to offer more value?

I revised, then wrote some more, and then revised that. I let it sit for a few days before going back to read the entire thing and making sure it was good to go. I asked myself, “Would I publish it in its current state?” When I decided yes, I hired an editor (which ended up being a REALLY good idea!).

Step 5: Fiddle With Cover Ideas

In between writing and rewriting, I also looked at a few cover ideas. While some people advise against it because it doesn’t look as professional, I purchased a stock photo that I thought worked well with the idea. (I didn’t have a ton of money to hire a cover designer.) I experimented with text, color, backgrounds, and image sizes to see what I liked best. I finally decided on a theme I liked. (I didn’t settle with it yet. You’ll see that later.)

Step 6: Hire an Editor

Next, I hired an editor to take a look at my writing and provide feedback. I went with someone I’ve known forever (yay for having an editor as a sister!), but there are plenty of freelance editors looking for work who can help you out.

Step 7: Design the Final Cover

After I got the feedback from my editor (and discovered the book still needed a lot of work!), I settled on the final title based off her suggestions. I knew I was ready to finalize the cover and start letting people know the book was coming out soon.

I was always jealous of how people made their eBook covers look 3D, and I was also completely lost on how to do it. Turns out it’s really easy with MyECoverMaker. You just make the 2D version by uploading your image and inserting your text, and they make it into a 3D version. It’s really easy and cheap!

Step 8: Take Your Editor’s Comments to Heart and Revise Again

With my editor’s comments, I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I took the comments to heart and revised almost everything she suggested. I added more stats and examples, cut unnecessary information that I missed the first time, and did a serious document search for repeated words.

Just use CTRL+F to find the words in your document and see how often you use them. I don’t know why I didn’t try it the first time around!

Step 9: Send it Back to The Editor

After I polished my writing and revised based on my editor’s comments, I sent it back for review again in hopes of earning a gold star! I got a few more suggestions back, but overall I was proud of how I did and so thankful for having my editor there as a second pair of eyes.

Step 10: Buy Your Own ISBNs

I didn’t want my eBook to show the publisher as “CreateSpace Independent Book Publishing.” After all, that’s not what the bigger bloggers who I look up to do. Instead, you can name your own publisher—even if you’re self-publishing—as long as you buy your own ISBNs. This is the number that follows your book around and identifies it to book stores and libraries.

To do this, simply head to Bowker and you can buy your ISBNs there. You can purchase a single ISBN for $125 or 10 for $250. If you’re going to publish in different formats, such as Kindle, PDF, and ePub like I did, you need a separate ISBN number for each format. You can read more about it here.

But don’t worry! You don’t have to spend that type of money. If you’re publishing on CreateSpace or Smashwords, you can get free ISBNs for your books. I published on both of these platforms, so you can choose either option (free or paid ISBN).

Step 11: Revise Yet Again and Make the Final Touches

I looked at everything one last time and made the finishing touches, such as adding the ISBNs to the copyright page, making sure the table of contents was accurate, etc. Now I was ready to put it on different formats.

Step 12: Put Together Web Pages to Sell the PDF On Your Website

The easiest format to transfer from Microsoft Word is PDF. All I had to do was save it as a PDF file, but I wanted to sell that file on my site, so I figured out how to set up different pages and add a PayPal button so that people could buy the PDF file directly from my website.

Heather Porter’s post about how to set this up was a lifesaver!

Step 13: Spend Hours Testing the Format for Different Files

Now that I had the content ready to go, I had to figure out the formatting for different file types. Since CreateSpace and Smashwords convert your Word file, it was all about uploading and previewing the file for me.

For CreateSpace, you can preview the file before you publish it, and most everything transfers just fine. I had to tweak a few lists and bolded words, but that was pretty easy. For Smashwords, I uploaded my file and then downloaded it back on my Nook to preview how it transferred, and that looked great, too. You can also download the Smashwords Style Guide to make sure you’re doing it right the first time.

Step 14: Wait a Few Days for The Websites to Review Your Files

It takes a while for CreateSpace to review your files, and even though I was anxious, I had to give it a while before my book went live on Amazon. Keep this in mind when you’re getting ready to publish.

Step 15: Set Up Your Giveaway

I really wanted to give my book away for free for the first month because I wanted to earn reviews and promote the book. I went to StoryCartel to set up my giveaway. You can choose to giveaway a free print copy of your book, three $10 Amazon gift cards, or a Kindle. I chose the Kindle. (You can download your free copy of my book and enter for a Kindle until Friday, February 21, 2014 here.)

Step 16: Announce the Book and Jump Up for Joy!

When my giveaway was published and ready to go, I literally jumped for joy! I already had my blog post ready to go except for the link to the contest, so I linked to the giveaway and announced it on social media.

I’m certainly not saying that you have to follow these steps in this order to publish your book. In fact, there are a lot of things you don’t have to do like buying your own ISBN or setting up a giveaway. You can, however, use the resources mentioned to help you along your publishing journey.

Let me know if you have any further questions in the comments below.

About the Author

Alicia Rades started her freelance writing career with CopyPress in 2010 and has been freelance writing ever since. She has a passion for writing, both for work and for leisure. Visit her blog at TheWritingRealm.com.

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Avatar of Alicia Rades About Alicia Rades

Alicia Rades started her freelance writing career with Copypress in 2010 and has been freelance writing ever since. She is the author of the book The Beginner's Guide to Writing Quality Online Content. When she’s not writing for clients, you can find her sharing freelancing and career advice on various blogs or moderating comments on her favorite writer’s forum.Visit her website at AliciaRadesWriter.com and connect with her on Google+.

Comments

  1. Alicia, it is so awesome to see you grow your writing career! We couldn’t be more excited for you! Plus, the eBook is really great. All of the writers in Community should definitely grab a copy!

  2. Writing my very first book is one of my goals for 2014.

    The whole ISBN is totally new to me – never even heard of it (right, that’s how early in the process I am :D) – thanks for this post, Alicia – bookmarking it for later when i actually have a first draft at hand and start thinking about what’s next :)

  3. I’m excited for you Alicia! I think it’s great that you included in this post how you came up with the title. It seems simple, but it’s really important to set your readers up for what they will actually read, otherwise some will inevitably be disappointed, which would be unfortunate.

  4. Hi Alicia, Thank you for a wonderful primer for newbies on self-publishing! I scooped this article here: http://sco.lt/7nSpEX

    I love the stock photo you used for your cover. Very cute and gives a pleasing and friendly look to the book. I used Fiverr.com for my ebook covers and was very pleased with them.

    Thanks for the tip on Ecovermaker! I love the 3D look of your cover. Will definitely check our Heather Porter’s post on setting up a page to sell the PDF.

    Awesome tips and looking forward to reading your book from Story Cartel. Much success to you, and your book, Alicia!

  5. Hi Alicia. My name is Teresa. I am new to this community. I am currently, writing down your tips on writing an eBook. I am finding it to be very interesting nonetheless. I would love to have a copy of your book. I will look through regular book stores for it. I have an idea for a book myself that I would love to have in print. I’m going to start working on the logistics of the book soon. Again, love the writing. Any further tips on how I can get into this thought of writing on this site here?

  6. I would like to order your book, but I am having difficulties in doing so. I do apologize for it.

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