Five Authors Share Their Experiences Writing an Ebook

For this post, I decided to do something a little different – I used the website MyblogU to find people who were willing to share their experiences writing an eBook. You can find out a little more about them below.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

seosmarty Ann Smarty Ann Smarty I have 7 years of experience in Internet Marketing and blogging. You can find my personal blog at seosmarty.com

Philtrate

Philtrate

EP_pturner Philtrate Phil Turner I have been working from home since 2010

Care Mycue

Care Mycue

CareMycue Care Mycue A high-level mentor and coach helping clients experience the welcome relief that comes from meaningful insight into their life experiences, effectively reigniting their sense of power and purpose.

Yoav Ezer

Yoav Ezer

@YoavEzer I’ve been marketing online since 2005. Build several companies including one that reached 7 figure sales. Learned a LOT.
Paul Manwaring https://twitter.com/IMHBlog Internet Marketing Hustle Paul Manwaring Blogger for 5+ years

Q. Why did you decide to write an ebook?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

I had an idea that I wanted to spread. To me knowledge is sacred, and I am a knowledge evangelist. I do not want my knowledge to die when I do. To make sure that it spreads forever I have to get it in the hands (brains) of enough people that at least one of them will pass it onto a lot of people in the next generation

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

I decided to write an ebook as an incentive for my visitors to sign up to my email list. It’s a good place to start when trying to build a list, however a word of caution; do not continuously give away free stuff to your readers in exchange for an email. Otherwise the only subscribers you will have are those wanting stuff for free.

The other reason was the fact that I had never written one before and had always wanted to get my views out there in a book. I designed the layout and graphics that went into the book to so it also was a great learning experience in that regard.

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

I was building an online training program that contained audios and videos and while those were great, I felt that the customers needed a step-by-step guide to really be able to execute what we were teaching.

So I wrote a ‘companion’ guide to the audios/videos. I meant for it to be a 10 page PDF, but it turned out to be a 50 page ebook.

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

I’ve done so much writing online that I thought I needed to somehow organize that content to give it wings (among other benefits). That’s what I did: I went back to my own blogs and all other blogs I was contributing for and packed my articles into one pdf: It turned out to be a very indepth reading!

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

In early 2013, I had reached a deep experience of peace and fulfillment in life after naturally triumphing over a lifetime of depression and a complicated divorce. From this new plateau, I saw a unique opportunity to help others rise up and take a leadership role in their own lives, and so I decided to write a book. In January 2014, I completed my first manuscript and submitted it to a traditional publishing house for consideration. Around that same time, I was also learning how ebooks were changing the face of publishing, and how easy they were to format and post for sale. As an experiement, I decided to write one of my own. I had great personal experience into a topic that I knew would be genuinely useful for budding entrepreneurs, so I commited myself to the process of creating my first ebook.

Q. What was your first ebook about, and why did you pick that topic?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

My first ebook was about learning and how we recall what we have learned when we are under pressure. It explained a principle I had included in my teaching, a theory that is so simple the students refused to believe it until they tried to apply it in exams and found that it worked. I wanted to spread this principle far and wide.

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

I decided to write an ebook as an incentive for my visitors to sign up to my email list. It’s a good place to start when trying to build a list, however a word of caution; do not continuously give away free stuff to your readers in exchange for an email. Otherwise the only subscribers you will have are those wanting stuff for free.

The other reason was the fact that I had never written one before and had always wanted to get my views out there in a book. I designed the layout and graphics that went into the book to so it also was a great learning experience in that regard.

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

I was working with Dr. Glenn Livingston and a few other well known internet marketers to create a training on joint ventures. Specifically about how to set up and profit from joint venutres is the long term.

We had several different subjects we wanted to create a training on – all of them interent marketing related, but we weren’t quite sure which one to start with.

So… we surveyed Glenn’s list to see if there was demand for information on joint ventures and the response was overwhelming, apparantely many people wanted to know more about the subject. That’s why we decided to create a training and an ebook on the subject.

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

My very first eBook was about guest blogging. I was very excited about that topic because, when I was starting out, contributing to established blogs really helped me get very well known. Also, most of bloggers I wrote for became my best friends. I saw lots of win-win benefits of guest blogging and wrote a lot about that!

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

At the time I began learning about ebooks, I was also meeting many budding entrepreneurs who were struggling to understand how to maintain the energy and creativity they needed to start their business while still holding down a day job. Over the previous four years, I’d developed many of my own mindfulness tools and strategies for successfully navigating this tricky balancing act, so writing an ebook on the topic was a great way I could provide genuine value. I titled the book “How to BE in your day job until your business takes off!”, and shared how the book itself is a testiment to the fact that the strategies actually work!

Q. If you’ve already published your first ebook, without giving any figures, how well did it sell?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

I published it on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program – it received all 5* reviews and those who read it told me that it was amazingly simple and that their teenage sons and daughters said it worked for them as well. It has not sold many copies except when it was available on free download.

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

My ebook was more of a free report, I wasn’t selling it but I plan to release an ebook and video series next year (when I get time to complete it) which I hope will sell.

From my current ebook it has been downloaded over 150 times with over 50 clicks on links within the ebook which have converted quite well (better than I expected)

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

It sold very well. We havn’t cracked the 1,000 copies barrier yet, but we’re getting there.

The main reason for that is that we had an existing audience to sell to and that we’ve survyed them in advance so we knew there was demand for the product.

After having a few successful launches an more than a few un-successful launches I am now very reluctant to go into a market without surveying it first in order to establish that there is demand.

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

I’ve never tried to sell my eBooks. I used them (1) as the incentive to sign up for my sites (2) to educate people who were using my platforms and (3) for branding. If I tried to count indirect impact of the above three things on my income, I am sure the result would be “pretty awesome”

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

In the first four months of posting my ebook for sale, I had two inquiries about it and sold exactly zero copies. In all fairness, at the time I published it, my mailing list only had six people on it (all friends/acquaintences) and I hadn’t put any concerted effort into marketing it. While I was writing this ebook, I learned from a fellow ebook author that the first ebooks he posted for sale didn’t really start selling until he wrote and published more ebooks. Following that theory, I put my effort into formatting and posting a four-part ebook series consisting of poetry I had written in 2009, and I’m now starting a third ebook which is based on the manuscript that the publishing house declined to publish.

Q. If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

I will not use the Kindle Direct Program next time because it is limiting: To enroll requires you to agree that the ebook will be exclusive to Amazon. With my next ebook I will use Smashwords in order to release it to all channels simultaneously. Smashwords does not send it to Amazon, but I can enroll it in their program manually, just not the KDP (exclusive) system.

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

I wanted to keep the report brief as I knew no one would want to read a 100 page report. I kept it to just under 20 pages. I think for my next ebook I will create my main ebook which will be a large detailed report, and then create smaller 20 page ebooks that all funnel to the main ebook. That way I can offer something for free, and have the optioni to upsell.

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

I would probably spend less time on building a followup sequence to sell the product and just build the sales sequence as I go.

I spent 2.5 months building 9 training videos as pre-sell materials and it turns out that the people who badly want the product buy it after watching 1-2 videos and the others don’t bother watching the videos at all.

They read my emails with great enthusiasm, but they don’t click through to the videos.

What I plan to do now is replace this follow up sequence with a more salesy, longer email sequence (yes that’s right – I mean to be more aggressive with my sales pitches and less forthcoming with the free info).

And I plan to write it as I go – an email every couple of days instead of taking the time to prepare everything in advance. This way I won’t spend another 2.5 months going in the wrong direction.

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

I was giving my very first book for free without asking for anything in return. It got indexed by search engines and thus scraped multiple times. Since then I’ve always “hidden” download links behind “Subscribe” or “Join” links not because I am greedy but because I had that poor experience with my first eBook!

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

Looking back, there is nothing I would do differently. Authoring ebooks was the gateway leading me to start a coaching business, and I’m thrilled to be helping people navigate fear, overcome limiting beliefs, and take a leadership role in their lives. Until I began publishing ebooks, I never dreamed of myself as an entrepreneur. Since posting my first ebook for sale, I’m filled with a whole new set of dreams for my life.

Q. Do you outsource any of the work on your ebooks? If so, what?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

I outsourced the cover of mebook, but had trouble communicating the concept I wanted to the graphic designer. I write all theebooks myself because it is my uinique knowledge that goes into my books: That is why I write, and it is not possible to outsource a brain-dump; I might hire an editor next time.

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

The only thing I would outsource is proofreading. But even that I would prefer to do myself. If you are getting someone else to write your ebook I cant really see how you can put your own voice into it. I like being able to talk about things from my viewpoint and luckily have the skills to create most of the graphics that go into my ebook.

If I was not skilled in graphic design i think this is what I would have to outsource. Other than that you can do it yourself.

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

Of course… I outsource everything (almost)…

1. We interviewed experts to get the knowledge we needed for the ebook/training. We’ve had a list of questions from the survey, but we want we wanted really high quality answers for those questions so Glenn put together a team of some of the smartest marketers in the industry and we’ve ‘outsourced’ the product creation.

2. I then used outsourcing to transcribe the recordings.

3. I used the transcriptions to create an outline for the book and as a source for the text

4. I wrote the actual book myself – although it would have probably been wiser to outsource to a ghost writer.

5. I used a freelance editor to edit the entire thing

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

The only parts I’ve outsourced were (1) eBook cover design (I tried creating them myself but they never looked professional enough. I do believe the cover is very important because most people do judge by the cover) and (2) proof-reading (When I’ve worked on an eBook for months or weeks, I almost know of it by heart, so I am growing error-blind. Another set of eyes is always helpful!)

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

With my mindfulness ebook, I chose to hire an editor. That editing process helped me begin to understand where my writing strengths and weaknesses were, and helped me feel more confident about the quality of the final product. With my poetry series, I chose to edit them myself since I knew better than anyone the essential intention of each poem. As for the writing, format, and design of these first books, I’ve done all that myself. In the future, I may hire someone to format and design the final product simply because design is not my core strength.

Q. What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to write an ebook?

A. Philtrate (The Teacher Escape Guy)

It is more complicated than it is usually made out to be. It is much more than uploading a MS Word(c)  file. Obstacles include:

  • formatting – avoid italics and bold text, be careful with images, avoid tables
  • finding someone to do the cover – fiverr is your best bet
  • finding someone to proofread and edit your masterpiece – friends are free (except that you then owe them a favour)
  • deciding the price – from Free to $9.99 on Amaazon. More expensive ebooks have fewer sales, but cheap ones are often perceived as worthless
  • deciding what platforms to use – Amazon’s Kindle is NOT the only game in town
  • marketing – this is the big one, you have to get eyes on your ebook before you can sell it

A. Paul Manwaring (Paul @ IMH Blog)

Make it your own and offer something truly of value. Think about the design too, and if you are not a designers get your book designed by a professional.  I see too many times someone write a good ebook but the design lets it down. Poor choice of font, and low quality images can kill a page quicker than the words inside them.

A. Yoav Ezer (Yoav)

I have four if you don’t mind…

1. Find an audience first – The most awful thing that could happen is for you to launch your books and then hear nothing but the crickets chirping. The best way to find an audience if you don’t have one yourself is to partner up with someone that already has an audience.

2. Survey that audience to find out if there is demand for the book – And to find out if there are specific questions that you need to answer in your ebook. Answering your customer’s real questions will help you sell a lot more books and make your ebook a lot more valuable.

3. Move quickly – Write quickly, launch quickly, fail quickly. Spending a lot of time on one part of the sales funnel usually means you are going in the wrong direction.

4. Write a kick-ass sales letter – I spent as much time writing the sales letter as I did writing the book. And that was one of the reasons it sold so well.

A. Ann Smarty (Founder)

Just do it!

Too many people are just planning for ages… They may be scared away by the endeavour and never get down to the action. I know because I’ve been there myself.

When you actually start working on the eBook, you get excited and most things get done easier than you may have thought!

A. Care Mycue (Mentor, Coach)

For a first ebook, choose a topic that you have a ton of experience with, and keep the focus of it fairly tight so that you can complete it within a couple of months. You will gain a wealth of insight in the process of completing that first project which you can then use on future projects. Also, your ebook will go through several iterations, so don’t get hung up trying to make your first draft perfect (or even your last). One nice thing about ebooks is that you can continue to make edits even after it is posted for sale! Finally, here’s a link to the great free ecourse by successful ebook author Paul Jarvis that led me step by step through the process of writing and publishing my first ebook: http://mydamnbook.com/. I’d love it if you sent me an email when you’ve posted your first ebook for sale!

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