The birth of an eBook – one booklets journey from workshop handout to Kindle heaven

I’ve been passionate about many things over the years and they wax and wane according to my mood, my situation, the weather and social climate; but one thing has remained fairly constant and that is my belief in empowering people. If you were to check out my LinkedIn profile, you would see right at the top of my summary the following quote, “give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

This mantra of mine has resulted in me running workshops, doing presentations, managing seminars and generally having coffee with people who want to pick my brain. In the doing of most of these activities I tend to create resources that I then give away to attendees or people I’m talking too.

This then is my starting point.

Broadcasting Powerful Messages with Twitter
Broadcasting Powerful Messages with Twitter eBook Cover Image

I’ve lost count of how many of these resources I have actually created over the years; they must run into hundreds (if not thousands). A few of them are seen out in polite company on a regular basis because of the regular workshops I run; but the majority are shy creatures scampering blinking into the sunshine only once in every two or three years to be washed, polished and updated for the latest audience.

My moment of enlightenment came when I realised that I could actually give more life to these shy, retiring creatures by making use of the opportunities that the digital revolution offers us and it seemed especially sensible given that I spend so much of my time in this environment anyway.

But before you stop reading at this point and scuttle off to examine your digital filing cabinets for similar resources that you too have created over the years, I wanted to share some thoughts I have around the subject as well as my experience of creating six books and one short story that are now sitting in Kindle Heaven (and in paperback and epub format too).

I thought the easiest way to gather my thoughts was to talk myself and you, the audience, through the mental gymnastics that were needed in order to bring ‘Broadcasting Powerful Messages with Twitter‘ into the digital revolution.

Its birth gives me the perfect opportunity to hit two goals:

  1. to provide a practical piece of help that anyone can apply to the materials they happen to have lying around,
  2. to begin the marketing process that is the only thing lying between Kindle obscurity and Kindle heaven.

And so we move on.

This new eBook started out as a workshop resource booklet that I handed out to all attendees on my workshop of the same name. It provided a whole host of extra information and support that I was never able to cover within the course of one session. It made sense to me, once I’d had my moment of enlightenment, that I could simply bring the two things together; the things that I talk about in the workshop and the booklet I’d already created, to bring to life a brand new resource which was somewhat longer than the original but was succinct enough to be called a ‘short’, the eBook equivalent of a longer booklet.

Preparing the document

Original Broadcasting Powerful Messages with Twitter Booklet

There are a number of things that a new Kindle publisher needs to be aware of before jumping right in to creating their first eBook and making sure that this stage is carried out effectively and diligently will provide a strong foundation for your future success as an Author.

The first thing to note is whether this is your own work; if it is you can carry on reading; if it isn’t then you need to go and ask permission from the copyright holder first.

Is the material still relevant?

It is sad but true, that things change rapidly these days and those technologies or insights which were cutting edge just a couple of years ago might no longer be relevant or even available to the current audience. If this is the case for you, then you need to take as objective a view as possible of the work you now have sitting in front of you and ask yourself whether you would pay for such a piece of information if you still needed to know it? If the answer is ‘yes’ then your next task is to determine whether a complete re-write is needed or whether you can get away with a simple update.

You cannot edit your own work

Is the document you have sitting there suitable for releasing into the wild?

Now, those that know me will tell you that grammar is not my strongest point when it comes to writing and you may have noticed that I have a strange love affair going on with the humble comma which I like to add in the strangest places.

I’m also the mistress of the over long sentence and the extremely long paragraph, two traits which can send my friend Tamara into paroxysms of frustrated editing. If you are not as good, or as diligent, as you might be then you will probably need to do as I do and ask someone with sharper, more pedantic eyes to look over your work and edit where necessary. You may even prefer to pay a professional editor to do this for you because they will spot, not only the spelling and grammatical errors but also the flaws in your argument and structural failings.

When I wrote Woman on the Edge of Reality it went through four different editing set’s of eyes and if I read it now I’m reasonably happy that it’s pretty much sorted, but I can still spot the odd misspelt whose vs who’s. No book is ever perfect, there will always be someone that spots the ‘deliberate’ mistake. Your job is to make it as near perfect as it can be simply because the last thing you need is to have your professional competence questioned over a trivial misplaced full stop or out of place apostrophe.

A picture paints a thousand words

Before you say it, yes I know that this is going to be an eBook and therefore it doesn’t have a printed cover. But a well designed and attractive cover image screams ‘professional’ and will help you to attract sales. If you aren’t great on Photoshop yourself then why not pay someone to design the cover on your behalf, there are plenty of cover designers available, if you’d like to do it cheaply then why not ask a local graphic design student to take it on as a project.

Getting it ready for the Kindle store

If you don’t already have a Kindle Direct Publishing account, you will need to go and get yourself one.

Essentially an eBook for any eReading device such as the Kindle is a single webpage that allows the text to flow without restriction, this means no page breaks, no page numbers and no margins (as such). The concept of a ‘page’ isn’t relevant so all the formatting of your current document needs to be removed and replaced with the bare essentials.

There are three basic steps:

  1. setting the basic format for the book
  2. creating a table of contents (if relevant)
  3. adding in any web links that are necessary

Now, I could go into great depth about how to actually create the document but this post would end up twice as long as it already is and besides, those nice people over at Amazon have done a really good job already and you can find the details here:

What are you going to charge for your work?

You set the price you think your work is worth and Amazon takes a fee off the top. eBooks that are priced between $0.99 and $2.99 will earn a royalty fee of 35% and those priced above $2.99 will earn a royalty fee of 75%. You can also choose to add your eBook to the lending programme but you won’t be able to add it to any other online services for a minimum of 90 days if you do so, Amazon want exclusive access.

A good idea might be to check out the competition and then make a judgement based on what that competition actually is. If they are books that are priced at around $3.00 (books have more than 40,000 words generally and are often nearer to 60,000 +) and you’ve written a booklet of say 10,000 words then you would be well advised to consider carefully the amount you decide to ask for.

In this instance, I shall be pricing my new eBook at $0.99 for two reasons; firstly it’s an expanded booklet and secondly because I want it to sell.

Once all your files are ready and you have a lovely new book cover image too then it’s time to take the plunge and upload your work.

Promoting your eBook

There are many different things you can do to promote your brand new eBook but at the most basic you will need to:

  • Add a link to it from your website, together with a nice picture of the cover image
  • You could add it into your email signature – I’m sure that this has helped sales of LinkedIn Made Easy take into it’s best-seller status
  • If you are on Twitter you could tweet about it
  • If you are on Facebook why not let friends and family know that it’s available

The primary subject of this blog is all about book marketing, so perhaps if you have read this far and are moved to create your own piece of digital written history, then you might like to keep on visiting so I can share with you the secrets I’ve learned over the years.

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