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There are many great reasons to write your own ebooks. Two of the best reasons are: (1) It helps establish you as an expert on the products you sell or services you offer, and (2) it can add an additional stream of income to your business.
But where do you begin? Follow these eight steps to create your own professional ebook.
1) Choose Topic and Deadline
Step one must involve selecting your topic. Be sure there’s a market for what you’re planning to write. Some good methods to find this out are keyword and competition research, target market surveys, or asking your newsletter subscribers for their feedback. In addition to choosing your topic, set a reasonable deadline to have your project completed.
2) Write the Outline and Sales Page
Next, write the basic outline of your ebook including notes of any worksheets or supplementary materials (interview transcripts, checklists, resource lists, etc) you want to include. It’s helpful to write your sales page early in your planning, before you’ve completed your content, because as you’re writing you can include the things you want to teach and the benefits of that information, which will help you develop and focus your outline.
Tip: Take your outline and set mini-goals for each section based on your overall deadline so you know which part needs completed by what date in order to reach your goal date for completion. Leave time at the beginning for research and time at the end for proofreading and seeking feedback.
Based on your outline, you should have a good idea of which areas you already know what you need to write and which areas you need to research. Like any other writing project make sure you have multiple sources for your information. Consider the library, books, periodicals, reference books, wikipedia and online resources, surveys, interviews, etc as you research.
Next step is writing. It takes me anywhere from a few days to a few months to finish a special report or ebook; it just depends on how much time I can invest in it.
I use Microsoft Word to write my books in if I’m on my Mac (99% of the time) or Open Office if I’m on my PC. If you need nice software to write in with formatting features, try Open Office.
As I write, I sprinkle in clip art or photos where appropriate to add some visual interest. I like iStockPhoto. You can also check Big Stock Photo or other similar websites for royalty-free images.
Use the header/footer feature to include your product title and copyright on each page of your product. Include a nice title page at the beginning and a final page with your website and business info at the end.
When I’ve finished writing, I print a copy then set the ebook aside for at least a few hours or a day, and come back and proofread with fresh eyes. I generally also have my VA proofread for me.
Hint: If you have more than one person proofread, have them turn on “track changes” in Microsoft Word so you can easily spot their edits and decide whether you agree or not. If you’re not using Microsoft Word, request notes include the page and paragraph where changes were made so it’s easy to locate their edits.
6) Get Feedback & Revise as Needed
Send your completed ebook to a few colleagues or friends who are willing to review it for you and offer their impressions and advice, then make any necessary changes. This is also a good time to solicit testimonials and feedback that you can add to your sales page.
7) Convert to PDF
If you’re on a Mac running OS X, you can print to PDF by doing File / Print / PDF.
If you’re on a PC and don’t have Adobe to convert your file to PDF, two free alternatives that work for ebooks are PDF995 and PDFOnline.
I don’t recommend using .exe format files because you’re cutting all Mac users out of your market if you do (about 8-10% of computers right now, and growing). I’ve seen more than one ebook that I would have loved to purchase, but it was only available in .exe format so I didn’t purchase. If you are determined to use .exe, please consider providing an alternative .pdf format and purchase route for Mac users who may want to purchase your ebook. Please make sure you note somewhere what format your ebooks are in. I’ve also purchased a product before after scouring the sales page to be sure it didn’t say Windows only, then sure enough when I downloaded, it was Windows only. I won’t be purchasing anything from that internet marketer again.
8) Design Cover & Add to Website
Sometimes I do this step sooner with a “Coming Soon!” note. I use Photoshop to design my boxshots and covers. For boxshots I design the cover image, then use the Perspective or Distort tool to make it 3D. Or use layers and shadows to make your image look like a few pages.
Now you’ve got a product and sales page ready!
Work at home mom extraordinaire Michelle Shaeffer publishes The Muses Brainstorm, a weekly ezine with tips to help you balance, manage, and market your home based business. If you’re ready for inspirational guidance and bright ideas sign up free at http://www.thesmallbusinessmuse.com