How to Write an eBook with No Prior Experience

Writing and publishing an eBook is easier than you might think!

How to Write an eBook with No Prior Experience
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Between taking our kids to soccer practice and trying to balance a handful of side hustles, most of us are BUSY these days. We don’t all have the time to learn all the ins and outs of writing, editing, and formatting…but what if you didn’t have to? 

Spoiler Alert! You CAN write an eBook with no prior experience in tech or writing. Thousands of people are doing it right now from the comfort of their living rooms all over the world. This blog post covers all the basics, including how to pick your topic and turn it into a money-making manuscript that brings in royalties even when you’re not actively working on your publishing business. 

Need to see it to believe it? Claim your free blueprint at our no-cost beginner-friendly webinar that reveals Amazon’s biggest money-making secrets and how you can get started today.

Getting Started on Your eBook

Some of our AIA students are passionate about Shakespeare and classic literature, but that’s absolutely not a requirement to get started with publishing a book on Amazon. The top skills it takes to create a book and see it through to the end are basic computer skills, basic reading skills, and perseverance. Really. 

Let’s take it from the top: 

Define Your Topic

Having expertise in a particular field will always help, but as long as you’re willing to research, you don’t have to be an expert in anything. This is always one of the biggest mental blocks we see in new students who first join our AIA publishing academy. Of course, having an actual interest in a topic will make it much easier to keep the momentum going as you do your competitor research and start bringing your ideas to life. 

  • Start with a brainstorming session. Write a list of the first 10-15 ideas that pop into your head. 
  • You can look to Pinterest, Instagram, or even Amazon for inspiration. 
  • Think about things you wish you would have known earlier in life. Do these things have to do with your health? Relationships? Travel?
  • Then find “Proof of Concept” or repeat the brainstorming process until you’re sure the idea is going to be profitable. 

Pro Tip: “Proof of Concept” is a major lesson in AIA because we don’t want our students wasting their limited time working on books that won’t actually produce an income. We can show you exactly which data to look for that practically guarantees your book will fill a gap in the market and make readers happy to keep buying and recommending your book. 

Research and Market Analysis

Here’s a deeper dive into conducting your research and market analysis: 

  • Competition: Check out the top-performing books and authors on your topic to gauge what readers are engaging with. What can you learn from their success?
  • Target Reader: Define who your book is for. What are the common demographics or interests of your ideal reader? What problems are they trying to solve? Are they beginners? Are they more advanced? 
  • Content Gap: Look for what's missing—an area where readers' needs are not fully met by the existing material. Your competitors’ reviews section can be a GOLDMINE for this kind of stuff. 

Pro Tip: It might be tempting to write about a topic that has zero competition and zero books on Amazon, and while this might work out in your favor sometimes, it’s not really something we recommend. Having some competition is actually a good thing because it means there are real people looking for real solutions to their problems, and you have the opportunity to do that better than anyone else on the market. If there aren’t any other books on the subject, others might not be searching for it at all. Why take the risk? 

Outline Your Content

Once you’ve nailed down an idea that readers will want to get their hands on, you’ll need a book outline. This sets up the whole structure of your book and will determine whether readers can easily follow along or get confused and leave a one-star review before even finishing the book. 

  • Choose whether to DIY the book outline or outsource it. 
  • If you decide to outsource the book outline, you can either work with a freelancer or a self-publishing agency. 
  • A good book outline is very thorough and breaks each chapter down into even smaller, more specific sub-sections.
  • You can use bullet points, but all the legwork you put in now will make the writing process WAY quicker and more manageable. 

Need a recommendation? Publishing Services is our go-to rec for self-publishers looking to outsource their work to established experts in the field. 

Set Achievable Goals

Be realistic. If you only have an hour a day to work on your publishing business, don’t try to rush the process. Your readers WILL notice.

  • If you decide to work with a freelance writer, you can set goals by word limit or chapter. 
  • If you decide to work with a publishing company that doesn’t work in milestones, you can start planning your book launch or research your next book idea while they’re working on your manuscript. 
  • Discipline isn’t about being perfect every day. It’s about showing up even when you don’t feel your best. Self-publishing is like any other job out there. You’ll have highs and lows! 

Working with a Ghostwriter

You can find ghostwriters on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, where you’ll find creative professionals for every budget. There are tons of new creatives looking to build up their resume and get some experience under their belt, but there are also tons of seasoned professionals who have been in the industry for a decade or longer. 

Steps to Hiring a Ghostwriter:

  1. Define Your Vision: Start by outlining your eBook's topic, audience, and key messages.
  2. Set Your Budget: Be clear on what you can afford, as this will influence the level of expertise you can access.
  3. Search Thoughtfully: Utilize Upwork and Fiverr filters to shortlist candidates based on their experience, ratings, and writing style.
  4. Ask to See Work Samples: Request writing samples to gauge a ghostwriter's proficiency and compatibility with your vision.
  5. Communicate Your Expectations: Discuss your project in detail, establishing deadlines, revisions, and any confidentiality agreements.

Editing, Revisions, and Refinement

You should be communicating with your ghostwriter throughout the manuscript process so you don’t run into any surprises, but the work doesn’t stop with the final draft. Writing and editing are two totally different skill sets that you’ll be responsible for overseeing as the publisher. 

Options for Editing

Just like all the other parts of the publishing process, you get to choose whether to take the workload on yourself or bring in outside help. Most of our students choose to do their own editing to cut back on costs, but there’s no right or wrong way to go about it as long as you always keep your readers and the end product in mind. 

Many people don’t realize that there are free AI tools like Grammarly out there that can automatically spell check, format citations, and even help you rephrase sentences. 

There are also several kinds of editors: 

-Developmental Editors: will perform heavy-duty edits and a little bit of ghostwriting

-Copy Editors: will check on the format, style, and accuracy of the text

-Proofreaders: will do the final polishing checks before you’re ready to publish 

eBook Design and Formatting

Formatting an eBook isn’t always the most fun thing, and we’ll be honest. It’s not uncommon for people to give up at this stage after running into some challenges. 

Let’s be clear: formatting isn’t actually a hard concept; it can just be finicky. But you might notice a pattern here—you can outsource that, too!

Cover Design and Layout

Here’s what the cover design and layout consist of: 

  • The front cover, back cover, and spine of your book 
  • The font choice, font size, and images 
  • The book title, author name, and any other “bonus elements” you might want to add

Pro Tip: Amazon forbids the use of “best-seller” stickers or any other information that could potentially mislead readers. That being said, you can absolutely add other textual elements to your cover, saying things like “101 recipes inside” or “5 bonus tips inside.” 

eBook Formatting Details

When it comes to book formatting for Amazon, a consistent and reader-friendly layout is key. You should:

  • Structure your chapters: Headings should be clear and distinct for easy navigation.
  • Utilize a user-friendly writing platform to set your text alignment, line spacing, and font size for optimum readability.
  • Format paragraphs with indentations or spaces to define sections clearly.
  • Include a dynamic table of contents that allows for easy movement throughout your eBook.

Pro Tip: You’ll have to format your book differently for each format you want to sell it in, i.e., paperback, eBook, audiobook. It adds a little extra time to the publishing process, but it’s definitely worth it to reach different audiences and expand your royalties. 

Publishing Your eBook

At this point, you’ve turned your idea into a fully publishable manuscript, and all that’s left to do is actually publish the dang thing. If you’ve made it here, CONGRATS! Most people on this planet never do! 

Your Self-Publishing Options

Self-publishing guarantees that you’re in charge of the entire creative and publishing process. YOU get to decide where your book is sold, and YOU get to retain the rights to your work. You’ll then get paid book royalties from a percentage of your book sales. 

The top places to self-publish are…

  • Amazon’s KDP
  • Apple Books
  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Etc. 

Read about the best self-publishing companies to look out for in 2024!

Navigating Amazon and Other Platforms

Getting your books published online is actually pretty easy and straightforward. You just need to follow these steps: 

  1. Create a publishing account with platforms like Amazon KDP.
  2. Format your eBook to comply with platform-specific requirements.
  3. Upload your manuscript and eBook cover through the platform's guided publishing process.
  4. Set your eBook price, considering platform royalty structures.
  5. Make sure your banking information is up to date and accurate, so you can get paid automatically through KDP! 

And boom, there you have it. You just published an eBook with no prior experience! 

Marketing and Promotion

The hardest part of the process is over, and your book is out in the world. Now, how do you get people actually to read it? That’s what marketing your Amazon book is all about. 

Creating Calls to Action

You might have seen “Call to Action” abbreviated as “CTA.” This is just a really basic marketing term for any words/copy that’s meant to get your audience to take action on something. This could be to purchase your eBook, sign up for your email newsletter, or attend a book signing event. We teach all our students to include CTAs in their book descriptions and even inside their books to gather book reviews. 

Here are a few strategies for crafting compelling CTAs:

  • Create urgency: Use time-sensitive language like “Download now” or “Sale ends soon” to encourage immediate action.
  • Be clear and direct: Make your CTAs as straightforward as possible so there’s no room for confusion. 
  • Placement matters: Place CTAs prominently in your marketing materials, including websites, email campaigns, and at the end of free content you offer as a sample.

Support and Resources for Self-Publishers

Self-publishing can get a bit lonely, especially if your friends and family don’t quite understand how it all works or what you’re trying to do. Here are some tips and tools that might help!

Connecting with Other Aspiring Self-Publishers

Building connections with peers who are also on the path to writing and publishing eBooks can be incredibly supportive. Online forums and social media groups offer fantastic opportunities to swap tips, gain feedback, and maintain your drive.

  • AIA’s Facebook Group: We’ve grown to over 35k members from every corner of the world. People use this group to find accountability buddies, troubleshoot, and share their success stories
  • Reedsy: A platform that not only helps you find professional assistance for your publishing needs but also connects you with a community of writers and publishing experts for networking and advice.

Writing Tools and Software

Writing tools on the market are exploding right now, thanks to the advances of AI. Why not take advantage of some of them? 

  • Google Docs: Ideal for those who prefer simplicity and the ability to access their work from any device, Google Docs offers straightforward document creation and editing features. Because it’s cloud-based, it also auto-saves your work which is pretty handy. 
  • Canva: With its user-friendly interface and a vast library of templates, Canva makes it easy for authors and publishers to design attractive book covers without needing advanced design skills.
  • Grammarly: An AI-powered writing assistant that helps improve grammar, punctuation, and style, helping you polish your manuscript at any stage. 
  • Pro Writing Aid: Offers in-depth writing analysis tools, helping to enhance the clarity, readability, and quality of your text.
  • Provides AI-driven tools for automating parts of the publishing process, including customer research and first drafts. 
  • Copyscape: A plagiarism detection tool that ensures your content is original, protecting you from inadvertent copyright issues.

Overcoming Challenges

Unless you’ve got a superpower, chances are you’re going to run into some roadblocks along the way trying to get your publishing business off the ground. Here are some of the most common challenges we see in our AIA students (and what you can do about them): 

1. Dealing with Self-Doubt and Fear

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: Understand that feeling uncertain is part of stepping into new territories. It's okay to feel this way!
  • Break It Down: Tackle the publishing and writing process in small, manageable steps. This approach can help keep the overwhelm at bay.
  • Recall Your Why: Remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. 
  • Use Fear Positively: Let the fear drive you rather than hold you back. 

2. Adapting to Feedback

  • Be Open: Embrace feedback as a tool for growth. It’s not always easy to hear, but it’s golden for improvement.
  • Seek Diverse Opinions: Actively look for feedback by sharing your work with beta readers, joining writing/publishing groups, or finding a mentor.
  • Embrace Flexibility: Be prepared to revisit and revise your work. Changes based on feedback can significantly enhance your eBook, making it more appealing to your audience.

3. Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

  • Recognize It’s Common: Understand that imposter syndrome affects many creative individuals, not just you.
  • Celebrate Your Achievements: Regularly remind yourself of your accomplishments and progress, no matter how small.
  • Focus on Learning: View your journey as a continuous learning process, where every step, even setbacks, contributes to your growth.

It Takes Less Time to Publish a Book Than You Think 

You can’t get much busier than Lesley, a 50-year-old mom, full-time nurse, and personal trainer. Lesley knows firsthand what it’s like to feel like you’re never sleeping enough and always waiting for the next shoe to drop…the thing is, self-publishing changed all that in a single month. 

She made thousands of dollars from just one book! 

Listen to Lesley’s story here: 

Then head over to our webinar to see how you can get started ASAP!

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