Beginning your eBook

by Joe Kuzma ( joe_kuzma)

I discussed the benefits of having an eBook on a recent episode of the DisContent podcast. There are many merits to putting your knowledge in print. Among the important reasons for producing an eBook, expanding your audience, positioning yourself as an expert, and making money from the sale of your book are the primary motives to create one.

If the benefits of making an eBook have you excited to start one, you’re probably wondering what the next step is. That’s what this article will focus on, as starting an eBook isn’t necessarily as easy as establishing a blog.

What is your motive?

This may seem like you’re putting the cart before the horse, but the very first thing you need to think about when creating an eBook is your intended end result.

Are you looking to make money? Or are you trying to expand your audience?

The answer for how you want to end up will dictate how you begin.

Self-Publishing

The process you will be utilizing to produce an eBook is called “self-publishing”. That means you are not going through a publishing house as you may do with producing a traditional paperback book.

The biggest benefit for doing this on your own is 100-fold. There are many other great books which deal with this topic that you can explore, but in short, you won’t be at the mercy of editors, brick and mortar bookstores with limited shelf space, tiny royalty payments or having to buy X amount of copies of your own book upfront (which will all but definitely collect dust when they don’t sell).

Therefore, the DIY path to creating the great American novel is the best for 99% of aspiring authors.

Expanding your audience

One way to leverage an eBook is to offer it as an incentive for sharing your email address or following a social media page. A popular idea is to give a book away for free in order to build your email newsletter.

If this appeals to you, then creating your eBook may be as simple as typing up a Microsoft Word document and saving it as a PDF. Then, you can set up a WordPress plugin or integrate the offer into many popular email marketing programs (i.e. MailChimp).

PDF format

A PDF may give you the opportunity to be more creative as well. You can use more images and creative design within PDF documents. If you’re a more advanced computer user, you may even use desktop publishing applications, such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign, to create your materials.

Where a PDF differs, however, is copyright protection. Traditionally, once your product is made available to the public, the cat is out of the bag. If your eBook is in PDF format and is only available for purchase, you can bank on people sharing it. That may not be a bad thing as it will increase your reach, but it will also impact your profits.

That’s why I typically recommend those who are seeking to make money from eBooks use the Amazon Kindle path.

EPUB, MOBI and online bookstores

Years ago, Amazon revolutionized electronic books with the launch of the Kindle device and bookstore. Today, Kindle book sales account for over 70% of all eBook sales.

Instantly, anyone can become an author. However, and this will go back on one of my mottos, you can’t simply type a book into Word and publish it on the Kindle store.

Well, you can, but you definitely shouldn’t.

I know I’m famous for saying “Just be good, don’t worry about being great.” Unfortunately, this phrase doesn’t hold up well if you’re selling an eBook versus posting a publicly accessible blog article or social media update. You will have to proof your book for grammar errors and typos, plus make sure it’s properly formatted…

Formatting eBooks

Remember my line above about simply typing into Word? That’s the problem you may face if trying to self-publish. Many self-published eBooks are trash. Some estimates are as high as 80%. The books are either crippled with poor formatting or so many mistakes they are unreadable. That’s because most people will process their Word document through a tool and call it a day.

This isn’t mentioned to scare you away from self-publishing. It’s still the easier path than hiring anyone to publish a book for you. You keep 100% of your profits and own your book.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news it if you don’t have experience with HTML coding, formatting your book could be a daunting task. Again, this isn’t the end of the world but mentioned to point out that properly formatted eBooks are built in the same way as basic websites. You may need a helping hand (such as mine) to cross the finish line and have your book displayed in the Kindle store, Apple iBooks store or Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll also know whether or not your vision for a book applies to the Kindle world. Books read on the black and white device are nearly all text-based. If you have a lot of photos, diagrams, charts or illustrations you wish to place in your eBook, the EPUB/MOBI pathway to these stores may not be the route you want to go. Amazon, for example, will charge a delivery fee with each copy of your book sold: for text-based books, this amounts to pennies.

However, each image added to an eBook will increase its size and thus increase the delivery charge. Since the Kindle device itself is a simple black and white screen, limiting the number of pictures in your book should be a priority. I mention this specifically to my audience here, as I believe all of you are leveraging content marketing for a business or hobby you wish to grow into a profit center.

This advice does not apply to children’s books, which is a different application entirely (as the book is likely full of illustrations). Children’s books are also specifically tied to devices which have the ability to graphically show them, such as the Kindle Fire or an iPad, rather than your basic Kindle device.

Still interested?

You should be. eBooks are a tremendous way to reach new followers and increase your footprint as an expert in your field. The few caveats mentioned here are pitfalls to avoid on your way to establishing you as a credible author. Should you have any questions about further steps to take in the eBook creation process, feel free to send me a message.

Hello! My name is Joe Kuzma, and if you’re reading this, thank you! I’m pleased to virtually meet you and I hope we get to know one another well throughout this crazy journey of producing content.

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