Write an E-Book. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
One of my clients, besides being enthusiastic and entertaining (it’s always more fun to work with someone who loves what he does) builds and manages websites. As any top-notch website producer will do, he advised his client to advertise an initial free offering (IFO) to drive traffic and engage his audience. In case you’re not familiar with the term, an IFO is an offer for a free, informative download or takeaway from a website. It could be a niche market E-Zine, a report, an introductory webinar (not an advertisement, but instead, real content) or an E-Book. Any of these products, properly constructed and marketed, are great ways to authentically build a following and incentivize visitors to take advantage of the services offered. In exchange for the product, the site visitor submits his or her email address, which lands solidly on the newsletter distribution list.
Enter the need to write an E-Book.
In response to my client’s advice, his client turned right around and said “Great! Write it, will ya?” Promptly, I was assigned the task of coming up with a list of the topics to be covered in the e-Book and devising a proposal to bid out the freelance writing project.
As I set about researching and writing the bid, I got more and more excited about the project – I wanted to write an E-Book myself! Always one to take initiative, I decided to write up a sample introduction and pitch authoring the book personally! My client loved the intro and told me to scrap the freelancer proposal. “Get to work!” he said.
1. The first thing I have to say about the plan to write an e-Book is go out on a limb and don’t be intimidated. Step outside your comfort zone. I did – I’ve never written an e-Book before. Yes, I’ve published in newspapers and blogs, but an E-Book? New territory. So, you’ve never written a book before? Believe you can do it; then set out and prove it.
2. Before you begin, identify your goals: Who is your target audience? What is the purpose of your E-Book – what information are you presenting and how are you going to set it apart from other resources on the subject What are you hoping to accomplish when you write an E-Book? In other words, why should anyone read it? You’ll need an outline of all the topics you plan to cover, so you can get organized and to make sure you don’t miss anything. Once your outline is ready, you’ll realize that you also have your table of contents. The first page of your e-Book is complete!
3. It’s crucial that you connect with and relate to the topic of your e-Book. There’s a reason they say, “Write what you know.” If you know about it and you love it, you’ll be able to impart that enthusiasm to your reader. If you find yourself having to write on something that does not interest you but may interest your audience (say, shoelaces), try to find an aspect of the topic that you can relate to. Present it from that angle (for example, unique ways to tie your shoelaces, or fun and unique shoelaces on the market today). Write and E-Book that interests you. If you’re bored by your topic, your reader will be able to feel your indifference and you will alienate him. If you find a way to connect to your topic, and even get excited by it, your reader is going to feel your fervor, and reading your book is going to impart that buzz on to him.
4. When you know what you want to say, start writing. Some people say you can’t start writing a book until you have a title. I say, the title will come to you eventually. If you wait until you come up with the perfect title, you’ll never start writing.
Staring at a blank page is intimidating. There’s so much to say – the looming task – write an E-Book – where do you start? People like to say, “Start at the beginning.” I say start wherever you want. If you can’t think of an introductory paragraph or even an introductory chapter, start with chapter two or even chapter five. Once you have some ideas on paper (or a Word document – does anyone write on paper anymore?) not only will you be less intimidated because you’ll see that you can do it and that some of the writing is already behind you, but you’ll get into a groove. The ideas will flow, you’ll have some momentum and it will be a lot easier to continue. As with any creative project, the most important thing you can do is create. It doesn’t matter what you write; you can always edit it later.
5. Make sure you format your e-Book in an easy-to-read, user-friendly way. You can download an e-Book template from the web. Separate the text into small sections with bold headers; too much text without enough divisions can be difficult to focus on. Break up the text with pictures (downloadable, often for free or at low cost, from stock photo websites), personal anecdotes, graphs and charts, bullet points, lists, and sidebars so your readers don’t get bored. Write an E-Book that is not only informational, but easy to read and visually pleasing.
6. Write an E-Book with a strong conclusion and make sure it links back to your website. Remember, as much as you want your reader to learn from your e-Book, your ultimate marketing goal is to drive traffic to your website and to convert this traffic into sales. So refer to your company several times throughout the text to ensure that readers know where to go for more information. You don’t want to convince them they need shoelaces and then have them end up buying from a competitor!
7. Finally, make sure you get your e-Book proofread before publishing it. You want it to look clean, professional, and error-free. Ask a colleague or friend to look over it for errors that you might have missed.
Once your e-Book has gone live, go ahead and add “author” to your resume. You now have one more skill!