As a small business owner, the idea of writing your first ebook can be an incredibly daunting task. Where do you start? How much time will it take? What should you write about? I know I definitely asked myself a lot of those same questions.
Deciding “what” to write about will be just as (if not more) important as the quality of your content. Before you get started, you’ve got to spend some time thinking about your target audience.
What are current and prospective customers going to find interesting? How will your ebook add value?
Clearly Defined Subject
Sometimes it’s a no-brainer—it can be a title, a topic, or content you’ve had swirling around in your head for a while.
In most cases, you’ll either start with a title and build your content around it or start with the content and come up with a title once you’re further along in the process. I’ve done both in the past and have found either approach can be equally effective.
Once you nail down what you’re going to write about, you’re going to want to create an outline. This will give your content some much needed structure which means it should ultimately be much easier to read.
The outline will also help you wrap your head around the writing process by allowing you to break the ebook project into smaller more manageable chunks.
Your title is one of the first things people are going to see and can obviously have a huge impact on whether or not they decide to read your ebook. Great ebook titles are interesting and descriptive and, in most cases, are able to clearly articulate value.
Take for example the title of this ebook from PhotoShelter: 11 Secrets to a Great Photo Website. We’re all familiar with “top 10”lists but they decided to switch things up a little by adding one more item.
Instead of tips, they tease their content by referring to them as “Secrets”—who wouldn’t be intrigued? And what photographer (their target audience) wouldn’t want a great photo website?
Clean and Professional Formatting
If you want to create a .pdf (which many small businesses do) that current and prospective customers can download for free from your website, you can either try to design the layout yourself or hire a designer to help you out. Luckily, there are a lot of great free resources out there including this PowerPoint ebook template from HubSpot.
Above all, you want to make sure the overall look and feel of the ebook reflects your small business and your brand in the best light possible. You definitely don’t want to break the bank, but you also don’t want to skimp.
If you’re thinking about selling your ebook on Amazon Kindle, iBooks or another online platform, you’ll definitely want to research any and all formatting requirements.
For example, Kindle Direct Publishing's Simple Formatting Guide includes helpful tips on how to format your text, paragraphs, and table of contents. Unfortunately, not all e-reader formats are one-size fits all so you are likely going to have to convert your document based on the specific requirements of each site.
Relevant and Engaging Content
Whatever topic you decide to write about, your #1 goal is to share interesting and relevant information for your target audience. When possible, look for opportunities to include pictures, ask questions, and engage with your readers.
In Blogging for Badass Small Businesses, I included some screen shots from my blog, quizzes, and checklists throughout as well as links to information I thought small business owners would find helpful...
I also like to write in a conversational tone (meaning I use a lot of contractions). I’ve always found that resonates much better than a style that’s more stiff and academic.
As you think about your audience, make sure you identify the writing style that you think is going to be the best fit.
Visually Appealing Cover Design
If your ebook cover looks shabby, people aren’t going to read it plain and simple. If you have a strong design background and feel like you can create the ebook cover yourself, awesome. If not, know when it’s time to call in reinforcements.
In either case, you can always look for design inspiration from ebook (and print book) cover designs that you like (and don’t like).
As with layout and formatting, there are lots of free or low-cost ebook cover design options out there to help you get started.
Getting started with your small business ebook
Have questions about how to get your small business ebook off of the ground? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Andrew Mason]