Cheryl Steimel, Paranormal, Contemporary Romance and Short Story writer and Shinjini Mehrotra, Tarot Card Reader & Art Journaling Expert discussed ebook writing and publishing and all that it entails on a Facebook Live panel. We discovered that writing and publishing your ebook may not be so hard if you have some strategy in your mind.
Finding inspiration to put together your first ebook
It was in 2011 that Cheryl brought out her first ebook. It became a matter of necessity when her contract with her publisher got over and they could not keep up with their financial commitments to writers. Cheryl got into ebook writing and it was tough 7 years ago. There wasn’t much online support; you had to send in a printout of your proposal by mail, and so on. The only way to meet other authors was through monthly meetings, face to face. It’s a lot easier now, and everything is almost instantaneously available. The online writing community is so supportive of new writers too.
Today, you may not sell as much, but you get a bigger cut of the royalties compared to publishing in print, so you are earning more per book. Websites like Amazon gives a good portion of sales to the author. There really is no excuse not to publish an ebook anymore.
Shinjini wrote her first ebook in 2016 after the AtoZ Challenge with Blogchatter Ebook Carnival. Though she didn’t see the merit at the time, at the prompting from Blogchatter she decided to take the plunge. Lots of free help from experienced writers available also helped her along.
Pointers to Keep in Mind for Content Planning of Online and Hard copy Books
If you are writing a non-fiction book with lots of images, format properly so that images are visible
Make sure your ebooks are mobile-ready – again format properly – there should be no blank lines, pages, etc. Ebooks must be mobile app compatible too.
Have your ebook marketing-ready with a Call to Action at the back. This is where you ask for reviews. When they click on review, it should take them back to the website they bought your book to write the review. Most people are impulse buyers and if they like what they just read there is a good possibility they will buy again. The link will be useful for them to buy other books you wrote.
If you are looking for ideas about what to write, look for what’s in demand in the market, find out what’s trending. And if you enjoy and are very familiar with the trending topic, write it. Remember to write only what you are familiar with, don’t come off as a fake by writing what you’re not familiar with. For example, you are a romance writer and you find out that people are suddenly more interested in ghosts, you can write a ghost romance book.
Plan to write a series. Series always makes for interesting reading. They help to establish you as a writer. People get familiar with your name. Even established writers do a series when they know a book is doing well. If you have a great idea, a series is something readers look forward to and thus tend to buy whole series.
If you are writing with a lot of images like in art journaling, you will have links to YouTube videos, lots of images, links to other things; MS Word can handle all of this. Create a Table of Contents (TOC) for longer docs in your MS Word file. Learn how to use headings and subheadings so you can jump from place to place in your ebook easily. If you have a licensed version of MS Word you can convert your ebook doc into a PDF as well.
Google Docs also works very well for this. It is free to use. It can handle links, images and video links well. It will create a TOC kind of table – an outline on the left side automatically if you put a heading in bold. You can also create a PDF easily in Google Docs. It is user-friendly and since it is cloud-based, your work gets saved thus saving you from unforeseen disasters.
If your ebook is not content heavy, has a lot more images and less text, try Canva. It has images you can use or you can upload your own. The layout is easy. Best of all, the free version should be adequate for most people. You can convert the final ebook into a PDF easily in Canva with your links workinh.
If you are a serious writer on your way to writing the next Great Novel as an Ebook and/or as hardcopy, the panelists recommend Scrivener. Scrivener allows you to make notes, create avatars so you can imagine what your hero/heroine looks like or acts like, add references, etc. You can even convert the results into a Word doc.
Marketing an Ebook
Writing today isn’t just about ‘writing’. You don’t need an MBA in marketing, though that would be great! A few simple tricks will help you to overcome the hill called “marketing.” Marketing is as important as knowing how or what to write. 40% of your success is about marketing it right, so the maximum number of people will be aware of it and buy it.
How to Market an Ebook as an individual – a tailored approach
- EBooks can be used as an opt-in, a free download, in exchange for the subscriber’s email address. These email addresses are collected to create an email list for a newsletter
- Start marketing your ebooks using social media
- Make the cover and title attractive, spend enough time and care on them. Remember that’s what is going to grab someone’s attention first and only then will they check to see what it’s all about
- Another great idea is to bring down the price of your book or give it away for free. Advertise on social media and get traction that way
- Think globally. Link your ebooks to local bookselling websites like Amazon.in or Amazon.com and similar sites in other countries so that your ebook is available to everyone
- Remember that mobile phones are used the most to access content online. Make sure your ebook and your blog optimized for mobile screens
How does having an ebook help you?
Blogchatter’s championing of the yearly global daily blogging event AtoZ creates a lot of enthusiasm in April. Apart from the enthusiasm, there is also a lot of good content that gets generated via the 26 posts. Blogchatter has been pushing its bloggers to convert these posts into an ebook format. And how do you use this ebook apart from listing it on Amazon?
- The ebook can we a part of the welcome package that you send out to new subscribers, or to your existing ones
- It will help you create an email list and a loyal set of readers
- You will find the momentum to write a newsletter once a month
What can you write about every month in a newsletter?
- Personal stories on the creative process,
- Give glimpses into your creative process,
- Talk about you so that you are building a relationship with your audience
- What you are doing next and so on
One of our panelists created an ecourse on tarot card reading for example.
By doing all these things Blogchatter pushes you to grow, realize your dream, and find your voice. By creating a newsletter or ebook, you gain confidence to write. By encouraging people to do videos, many gain the self-confidence to start their own YouTube channels. Writing is a solitary pursuit, having a community here gives writers assurance, and the support to ask questions. They encourage you to persist, to keep going after the first draft, and revise and keep going…till you finally have an ebook.
What Happens When Your Ebook is no Longer Fashionable?
- You can clean up and update older books
- Tighten the writing of a very inexperienced you!
- Update references to things that don’t exist like references to TV programs that don’t exist anymore. Now repackage it and sell it in paperback or release it with a new cover as an updated ebook
- Of course, you can leave it be, a record of life during a particular time
The Ideal Length for Ebooks
Novellas are popular with people don’t have a lot of time to read. A novella usually has 40,000 words. There is a traditional length for different types of writing, like an epic fantasy may have more than 100,000 words. Romance books used to be 80,000 to 100,000 words but now 70,000 to 80,000 are common. Don’t mind the length, add scenes if necessary that add to characters. A book is done when it’s done. Finish telling your story.
Choosing a Niche
Choose your niche according to your interests and knowledge. Write the story that interests you; write what you’re familiar with. Some stories don’t fit into one niche. If you use a combination of historical, romance and paranormal then the choice of niche is a lot more. Find out what’s trending and market with an emphasis on that niche. Research online what’s hot and write accordingly. At the same time write only if you know about the topic, don’t come off as a fake with badly researched writing.
Best Online Tools or Websites to Aid in Writing an Ebook
Scrivener is for those who write a lot, people who write novels and other long books and are serious about their writing.
MS Word and Google Docs are good for someone who is compiling blog posts or writing a novella.
Join a Facebook group or Blogchatter chat on Twitter (Wednesday 8.30 PM IST) or Facebook Live (Friday 9.30 PM IST) which are very useful if you are a writer. In many Facebook Groups, writers are willing to share their experiences and discuss how much they earn too. By joining a few you can learn a lot more and pick up pointers that suit you.