Writing a successful eBook...or rather, Writing a Book!
Why write a book in the first place? The easy answer that you want to tell a story. Everyone I think has a natural propensity when they're talking about something they love, to convey it with emotion and a fervour that only they can muster. Others take that story further, elaborating and perhaps even acting out certain parts of the story as they tell it. With ability to make videos at a touch of a button, many record their daily stories and their lives are infinitely easier than writing a book (he says, with no experience of vlogging). So why write a book? Because a) you love writing. Not like, but love. b) you want to have something tangible in your hand....doesn't quite work for ebooks though, does it? But the image is the same.
I've decided I love it. What next?
The process for writing a book takes months and years. Effort, perspiration, inspiration and patience with yourself. Naturally I can only speak of my experience, as this blog will humbly testify. If you're writing in your spare hours when you come home from work and on the weekends, then it can take insurmountable time and space, chewing away at the fabric of your existence and haunting your otherwise quite pleasant dreams. Well, that's what happened to me, anyway. I started writing the book during the travels, and tortured myself to set a timeline. However, a junior writer of absolutely zero experience other than some magazines here and there, I was still finding my style and my brand. So back to the drawing board. Whilst documenting facts is easy, feeling your way into telling your story is much harder.
You only develop that though through...writing. If you have your style and brand set-up, and you feel that your style can stay the course through an entire book, then you're set. All you have to do is months and months of writing, then proofing. Then re-proofing. And then re-proofing the re-proofed bits. Then speaking the entire thing out loud. Then re-proofing. Then you ask friends to read it, 90% of which will be too busy. Then you get some feedback, realise you've come across as a complete racist, prejudice moron, re-work the entire chapter and find spelling mishaps such as writing trace instead of trance, both of which are correct words but don't fit into the context of why people kept vanishing without a trance. A séance would never be the same.
After the first few chapters of your book you should approach some editors - Penguin and Harper Collins for example have open-periods where you can send in your book for free, usually at the start of the month (here in Australia, anyway). It's very much a 'don't call us, we'll call you'. They won't call you. Don't' cancel dinner reservations in the hope they'll call back. I sound like an arse, but if you're expecting fame and fortune on your first book you're deluded. 'Yes' you say, 'but I'm different, they will see my talent' and perhaps you're right. But very few writers enter the writing field to make money, very few actually do make a great deal of money. Write a book because you enjoy writing and the process of it.
Writing an eBook
Once you've been rejected by a few publishers, you've now entered the world that millions of writers worldwide have done. Welcome to the club! THAT's the precise moment where you think 'fu** this for a game of soldiers, I'm off to do this eBook thing', and that ladies and gentlemen, is where I found myself. So I dug into it and found a lovely company called Smashwords that help you do all those lovely formatting things you need to do within books to get it up to scratch. They have a step-by-step guide which any idiot can follow, even me. They take a cut of 15% of your book sales, but will enable you to actually get your book out there into the public. Woohooo, let the money roll in, am I right?!
The Count of Monte Cristo is FREE
To emphasise, you're wrong. Completely wrong. You have to think, amongst other things, about your intended audience target (action, adventure, travel etc), an alluring cover that will attract readers above all the other books that are on offer. Why should your book be priced above the millions of FREE books that are available. Because it's better? Unlikely. In a world where you can pick up The Count of Monte Cristo for virtually nothing, which is one of the best books money can buy (even though it is free) you have to have really work on your selling points. Marketing isn't just important, it's imperative.
Smashwords give you some great examples, but effectively everyone in the entire universe is judging your book by its cover. Combative man looking dangerous with gunfire and explosions? Buy! Sexy woman in lingerie? Buy twice! Man wearing sweaty nervous smile with book title made up in MS Word? Meh, probably not.
Top Tips - Organise Your Life
Stop watching television. If it help you write your book, then awesome! However, if you're writing a novel around The Great Depression, for example, and you have a winning story about, oh I don't know, plucking a name from random like Tom Joad, then watching repeats of Friends, Game of Thrones or some other stuff probably isn't going to help. Focus.
Top Tips - Realism
This book is your lifelong story, your ambition and your creation. This is the embodiment of you: you're Jesus, but instead of wine and bread you're pages of ink. It's your child!! Having said that, don't get too protective about your book. If someone says a sentence or a paragraph or a chapter is boring or doesn't work, they may have a point. Nothing is sacrosanct, even that one paragraph that depicts the poor Doctor, weeping silently into the freezing night, longing for his soul mate taken in the prime of her life....if it doesn't fit into the scene where the Brady Bunch are buying ice cream, cut it.
And review objectively. This is hard. Take a step back, try to view it from different perspectives. That's why it's important to ask EVER
Top Tips - Invest in Photos and Logos
Hire someone to do your cover for you or at least spend considerable time working on the cover. You can have an absolute masterpiece, but if your cover is nothing then you'll get nothing
Jump onto iStockPhoto to buy photos or the amazing unsplash for free photos. There are plenty of free websites around that offer photos, and if you're wondering about splashing out $15 for a photo, you're probably in the wrong game. If you think it'll make your book more attractive to buyers, it's worth the expense.
Stuck for money but want a cool logo or front or design? Get onto Fiverr they have a range of options and very cheap prices.
Top Tip - Find an editor
AHire an Editor. Hang on, I'll back that up. Hire a GOOD Editor. Look at their previous work, ask for examples, work with them and question them on their editing decisions - in a learned way not a combative way, obviously. You're the master of this book, but they're suggestions could be extremely valid. They vary in cost depending on their experience, but you can pay anything from a $1000 dollars to something obscene like $8000.
Again there are many sites available to you that you can hire people to do tasks for you - kind of like Airtasker but in this instance I like to use upwork - it's quick and easy and you can hire a vast array of professionals to do almost anything. However, be careful about who you hire for any long term or costly projects, suss them out as to who is going to be the best fit for your project. You can check their work with ten minute screengrabs that upwork do automatically.
Top Tip - Return on Investment
Which brings me to my next point - Return on Investment. If you're anticipating spending $2000 on your book with an editor, cool cover design, some fantastic pictures etc then remember if you're pricing your book at $5 you need to sell 400 books, plus the 15% in Sales you're losing out on. If you're using Amazon, say goodbye to 40% of your book revenue. Ouch. For your information I set my target at a realistic....five. If I sold 5 books, then I'd be happy. Writers don't write for money, they write because they enjoy it. For the record, I exceeded my aim!
Top Tip - Tell your Friends
This one was the hardest for me as it involves being vulnerable about your ideas and ambitions, but trust me it's the best thing you can do. If you have a business idea, you'd be surprised at the feedback you can get from your friends and family and strangers about making it better. The same goes with your book. Throw away your lack of confidence. Be open about your writing, don't listen to the negativity, you may get some great ideas and feedback from people that you can use. If they're interested in reading it, then brilliant! You have a free editor that may even buy it or tell other people about it when it is eventually published. Lose the shyness, tell people about your book!
Then just pray to your God...and whilst you're there, ask him/her to buy your book.
Hope that helps, and good luck!!