Steps to Creating a How-To Ebook

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You’ve got an area of interest in which you are well versed. You know it’s a topic in which others are interested and clamoring for more information. You also have the drive and the ability to condense your knowledge into a single volume and offer it for sale. In other words, you have the basics of what it takes to become an author. All you need now is an awareness of the steps involved in creating a “How-To” ebook.

Here’s what you need to know.

Choose Your Topic

If your topic is already evident, you’ve got a good head start. While you may think you know everything you need to know to write your book, spend some time on Amazon and other bookselling sites to see what’s out there about your topic already. This way you can learn from those who have trodden the path successfully. You can also then avoid repeating exactly what they did.

The best move is to tell the story from your own unique perspective. This makes your book more distinctive and easier for you to write.  Your topic will usually indicate your title. For a “How To” book, your title should deliver a promise a reader can visualize. This will make it more compelling. As an example, rather than “How To Maintain Your Car,” call it “How To Get 200,000 Miles Out of Your Car.”

The Importance of Style

The best books are written in a conversational tone. In other words, write like you’re explaining the subject to a friend. This makes it easier to read and more enjoyable besides. To ensure everything is covered, experienced authors start with the conclusion. They then break down how to get there into the commensurate steps and proceed accordingly. Beginning at the end helps you stay focused.

Come up with an easily digestible format to make your book easier to follow and stick to it. Keep your headers identical and make the color scheme simple. Use an easy on the eyes font like Calibri or Arial in 12 points for body copy and no more than 20 points for headers. Paragraphs and lists (if needed) should be short and succinct.

Pictures Save You a lot of Writing

Illustrations make conveying complex ideas a lot simpler. Ideally, you’ll shoot your own original images to avoid licensing fees and other issues you’ll encounter with stock photography. If shooting your own is too far out of your comfort zone, contract a professional photographer to work on your behalf—or carefully choose from stock. Whatever you do in this regard, make sure you have written permission from the owner of the pictures to use them in your book.

Proofreading/Editing

Before you turn the book over to a professional editor, go over it several times—reading aloud—to help you spot typos, punctuation errors and formatting issues. This will save you a lot of time and money because you will have caught most of the obvious stuff yourself.

Once you’re satisfied you’ve found everything you can find, put it in the hands of an editor to smooth it out and eliminate readability issues. Don’t think you can self-edit, because nobody can do it well. Your brain will trick you into overlooking things because you know what you meant to say.

By the way, that editor needs to be someone with whom you have no personal relationship. You want somebody who will be unconcerned about your feelings. That’s how you’ll get the cleanest possible product to offer ebooks online stores to sell.

Choosing a Cover

While the editor is cleaning up your book, start working with a graphic designer to create a cover design. It should be eye-catching, look good in thumbnail size, and clearly communicate what the book is about.

Don’t go homemade. Your book will look amateurish when it’s alongside others. Speaking of which, it’s a good idea to look at competitive volumes when working up your design to see what works in your genre—and so you can surpass them.

As with the photos you use inside the book, make sure you have the photographer’s permission to illustrate your cover with their work. Here, original photography is an absolute must. You don’t want to risk using a picture someone has already employed on another book.

Your title should stand out by being a different color than the rest of the cover. It should also be rendered in a different font style and a larger size than all other copy on the cover. Resolution of visual elements should be at least 300 DPI.

Formatting for Distribution

There are currently two primary formatting standards out there. Amazon prefers Mobi for Kindle devices. Epub works with other readers and is accepted by Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore and Kobo. If you’re going to be selling from your own site, you’ll want to offer the book in Mobi and Epub as well as the Adobe PDF format. This will give you the ultimate in flexibility so everyone can enjoy your book (AKA buy it).

Uploading for Distribution

This is a lot simpler than it might seem at first glance. Here, you have a couple of choices. You can set up your own website and sell on your own, or you can go with one of the established bookselling sites. There are pros and cons to both approaches. You’ll keep more money selling on your own, but you might see more sales with an established seller. Ultimately, your choice will depend upon what you feel you can do based upon your experience and expertise.

Promote, Promote, Promote…

Even if you sell it on an established site, you’ll need to market your book aggressively. If you’re an established blogger, you’ve got an advantage in that you already have a following likely to be interested. Either way, you’ll need to conduct some research to find the best forums, blogs and social media outlets to target. You can also offer guest posts around the topic of your book to popular blogs and magazine sites. Another proven method is to give the book to influencers to help build buzz about the work. Just make sure their audience will be interested before approaching them with your requests.

Following these steps to creating a “How-To” ebook will set you on the path to creating a successful project. Be aware it’s likely to be an uphill endeavor. However, this will just make achieving your goal that much sweeter.

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