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eBooks and Digital Publishing

Can’t figure out your eBook topic?

May 7th, 2015 . by Peggy

Trying to decide what eBook to write?If you’re an independent marketer or small business owner, chances are you’ve heard someone say to you, “You know so much – should write a book!” But you can’t write about everything you know, nor should you. Keeping your eBook topic tight will make it easier for readers to connect with you and recommend your eBook to others.

A well-known marketing consultant in Vancouver BC once told me, “The first rule of consulting is to never tell them everything you know.” Perhaps this is also the first rule of writing. The most difficult thing in the world for any passionate person is to know when to stop. Avoid overwhelming readers with too much detail in your eBook topic, too many choices, and too-vivid descriptions. Instead, focus on the “must know first” idea, and then slide into how to do it.

Once you have established your “must know first” concept, consider partitioning or “modularizing” the remaining content. Modularizing content is an excellent way to deliver information in a clean and digestible format. eBook 1 may have demonstrated that they need your concept, but then they may only need eBooks 3, 4, and 7 to do it their way.

If you’re still struggling with how to focus your content into an eBook, try these other exercises.

  • What is the number one problem faced by your clients or readers?
  • What is the most expensive mistake made by your readers?
  • What do people in your niche dream about, but are rarely able to achieve?
  • What can you do, that nobody else in your business can?
  • What can you do to partner with others serving the same market? Could you co-author an eBook and share the benefits?
  • What can you do to improve on others in your niche?

Choosing your eBook topic carefully is important, but it shouldn’t stall you. If you find yourself staring down the road for more than a few days, and not moving, you’re stuck. It’s best to simply re-focus and move on. Writing about something unfocused is better than writing no eBook at all. Starting with these questions may seem elementary, but sometimes, the most obvious answers are the right ones.

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New Year, New Writing Schedule

December 31st, 2013 . by Peggy

Is 2014 the year you write your eBook?Is 2014 the year you really want to get that book written?

Whether it’s a breakout novel, a business book to help your company or build your profile, or just a creative explosion, 2014 can really be your year. I’m totally revising my newsletters into a once-a-month inspiration email that will give you all sorts of reasons to keep writing. It’s a like writing class that you don’t pay for!

Each month will include:

  • Downloadable writing calendars and writing schedule mini-poster for your wall
  • Punctuation mark of the month, including usage tips and examples
  • Monthly themes and writing prompts
  • Writer’s Wrecipes – my personal collection of brain-and-heart-feeding soul food
  • Writing contests and events worth knowing about
  • Recent Kindle stats and top sellers
  • Client Spotlights including cool real-world secrets to share with you
  • Tech tips to solve marketing and publishing problems we all experience
  • Monthly specials on products and templates to make your writing easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable

Be sure you’re signed up! Click here to sign up if you haven’t already:

I’m on a mission of my own in 2014

… to finally get that historical novel of mine written and out there! I’ve spent over a decade working on various non-fiction projects and a few novels that are frankly, not that hot. :) Although I’m a trained technical writer and researcher, I’ve never studied how to create fiction. But this book is special – I’ve had it in my bottom drawer and in that dusty corner of a hard drive for years. I’m sick of fantasizing about it – I want to experience the writing of it! I’ll share my own writing trials and successes as we move through the year. I’ll tell you frankly what works for me, and what doesn’t.

I’m also giving myself permission to fail on this project, which is a very uncomfortable step for me. I’m not happy when I make mistakes, but I recognize that as a serious character flaw, and I want to work on it. If you have tips for me, I welcome them!

Let’s spend 2014 working together, inspiring each other, and getting books DONE!

Again, be sure you’re signed up for the monthly newsletter list by clicking here:

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10 Things to Know Before You Write an eBook

July 25th, 2012 . by Peggy

My number one question of all time is, “How do I start writing an eBook?” Here are my top 10 recommendations.

1. Don’t buy any software or services.

Part of the reason I do what I do is to demonstrate to Authors that they really, really can do this all by themselves. As you’ll see as you get to know me, the approach I recommend is actually very simple. Besides, one of the biggest concerns you should have as you build your eBook business is to avoid creating dependencies. In the eBook business, those who build on a foundation of frugality are the ones that win in the long run. The only exceptions are an editor (non-negotiable, in my view), possibly a tech like me, and possibly a graphic designer for your cover. Otherwise, any halfway tech-savvy marketer really can do this from their kitchen table.

2. Start writing in a basic word-processor.

This is not the time to try to learn anything new. Your focus needs to be creating spectacular content. Avoid the distraction of fancy software by using something with which you’re already familiar. For most writers, that’s still MS Word. My fave happens to be OpenOffice, which is – you guessed it – FREE. It looks a lot like MS Word, and in fact, can open, edit, and save files right back to the MS Word .doc format. Just don’t go out and buy a new computer or think that you need to upgrade. Ironically, I actually spend more time for my eBook clients stripping out the hidden codes and back-end gunk from fancy software, than designing the actual eBook itself. I really do. And it’s a pain. Use what you already have and things will turn out much better in the end.

3. Don’t forget to do your research.

Before you move much farther past the beginning of your outline, be sure that you do some basic keyword research. This is how you find out if the book is even worth writing, because if there isn’t a market for it, why write it? Or, can it be tweaked into something that is marketable? Can you discover an opportunity that you didn’t know existed? Is the idea ahead of it’s time? Behind the times? Right at exactly the right time? I find that in about two hours of some basic – and fun – research, I can learn more than I could ten years ago in 6 weeks of work.

4. Don’t lose momentum.

When that muse appears, RIDE HER, ride her HARD, into the sunset. Your family’s opinion of your late-night writing sessions shouldn’t be allowed to phase you. So what if you drink a little more coffee or eat a few popsicles: just get ‘er done. If you’re in the mood to write, drop everything else. Don’t ignore inspriation, or you’ll bore of it quickly, and then it will never get written. (That boredom is the number ONE stumbling block I see in clients.)

5. Involve yourself in the book’s community.

By this I mean that if you’re writing a steampunk novel, by all means, join a steampunk society and go to the meetings. Business books mean getting out to networking meetings, and setting yourself up for speaking gigs. Poker books mean you should be playing daily, as part of some sort of group. Think of yourself as sitting in the center of a massive web. Look for opportunities to expand beyond your local geographic area, such as joining organizations that have expansion chapters, like Rotary clubs. And that’s just the (so-called) “real world”. Be certain that everyone in the online community related to your topic knows who you are. This is where social media comes in, as a way to easily integrate yourself and let people know about you. Very importantly, you should buy an eBook that is grounded in your community, perhaps the most well-known, and read it in the format in which you think you will publish. (Ie., if you’re aiming for a Kindle eBook, buy a Kindle version and read it that way, to familiarize yourself with the format. It’s surprising how many Authors come to me for help, yet they’ve never bought or read an eBook themselves.)

6. Buy the domain name, and secure social media ID’s in the name of your eBook.

If you haven’t hear me say this before, you need to buy the exact domain name of your eBook’s title. If the .com isn’t available, re-title the book. Setup a basic WordPress blog at that location and start making regular entries as you write, to build traffic to your site. Even if you never plan to write a single blog post or post a single tweet, at least buy or reserve the title, and your Author name, so that nobody else gets them, as yes, people will look for you by your Author name, the title of the eBook, and under any pseudonyms you have.

7. Start building an eMail list.

Please do NOT simply add people to your email program’s personal address book. Besides the fact that this doesn’t work, it happens to be illegal. (I’ll shortly have a revised version of my Cheat Sheet about this topic, which will explain all of this in detail.) Instead, use a free or low-cost account at MailChimp, aWeber, 1ShoppingCart, or even to manage this. It not only allows you to build a legal double-opt-in list, but also to offer things like free stuff when people sign up, and have really attractive-looking templates for your content. List-building will become a permanent, ongoing activity in your business. The sooner you start, the better.

8. Design the cover.

This might sound premature, but actually, it’s quite important. The sooner you can start talking about your upcoming eBook, the better. You’ll need to put an image of the cover on an information page on your blog, perhaps on your business cards, and of course, on social media. I have also printed out poster-size versions of it and put it on my vision board to inspire me to get it done more quickly. Or to brag.

9. Start looking for an editor.

You may need one of any of a variety of types of editing, from style and content editing, to simple copy editing, which is really mostly grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. The earlier you can form a relationship with this person, the better. As I said above, it’s a non-negotiable. The book must be edited at some point, and it’s probably a lot less expensive than you think. Objectivity is key – do NOT hire a friend or a family member. Besides ensuring basic writing ability, ignore any degrees on the wall. The most important thing about this editor is that you trust them. If you don’t, find someone else.

10. Write a proper marketing plan.

I don’t mean a series of unrealized ideas, but an actual written plan. I don’t mean a business plan, either, but a very specific marketing plan. And no, this doesn’t need to be more than a page. It must simply be concrete. (Concrete does not mean inflexible, by the way.) I use, which is actually a mind-mapping tool, to create what ends up looking more like an infographic than a marketing plan. This allows me to change it when needed, and I can block out specific tasks that I need to complete in a certain order to make things move along. It also looks pretty darn sexy when printed out and posted on the wall.

While this is obviously not an exhaustive list, I think it covers the most important points. You’ll note that most of this is about setting up marketing tools for down the road, not actually about the writing. This surprises most of my clients that I don’t tell them how to write, or that I don’t start talking about how to use formatting for the manuscript. This is because all of that is secondary to your ability to sell it. Anything in the formatting can be fixed, modified, or more likely, is inconsequential anyway. What I want most for you is to realize the benefit of making these strategic choices up-front.

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