Have you been approached by a potential client to write an eBook for them and had to turn it down because you didn’t know how? Tsk tsk!
Well, here is a guide to writing eBooks so you won’t have to say no again….unless you have a big workload already!
WHY WOULD YOU OFFER EBOOK WRITING AS A FREELANCE WRITER?
Writing eBooks for others can be quite a lucrative trade! There are so many people out there who want to write one, but don’t have the time, knowledge or skills necessary to do it. And this is where we, as the amazing freelance writers we are, step in.
We can offer eBook writing as a service and capture the ideas of our clients.
But how can you offer this service if you don’t know how to write an eBook?
Well keep on reading and find out! This guide will step you through HOW to write an eBook and help you gain the skill and confidence to add it to your repertoire.
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY LARGER PROJECTS LIKE EBOOKS!
Many freelancers choose not to offer eBook writing as a service as they can be quite large projects to take on. But don’t be intimidated by the size. Think of it like a retainer client, such as ongoing blog post writing. To avoid becoming overwhelmed break it down into smaller parts.
- Chapters (think of each chapter like a blog post)
USE THE RIGHT SOFTWARE.
This will come down to the scope of the project you are taking on. Does your client want you to do EVERYTHING? Or do they simply want you to write it?
If the contract between you and your client simply calls for you to write the book, but not format it as an actual eBook than you can probably opt for simplicity and write it in word.
However, if your client wants you to not only write the eBook but also edit and produce it in the appropriate format, you may need a different software program to Word.
There are many arguments out there as to which the best one is. Personally, I use scrivener. I found this fantastic post by Aric Mitchell on Life’d.
He makes it sound so easy, and following his 9 steps it really is! I highly recommend you check it out. I also use Scrivener to plan, outline and write novels as there is so much functionality in it.
CAPTURE YOUR IDEAS AND COMPILE RESEARCH.
Whether your client has provided you with an outline and all the research, or you need to do this yourself, you will need somewhere to capture all those ideas.
I am a huge fan of a simple notebook and pen. You can buy a cheap little notebook and keep a separate one for each client and eBook. Or one notebook and use coloured tabs to identify the different projects.
I have also recently started using evernote. I have not used it long enough to form an opinion, however many freelancers out there swear by it.
If you are using Scrivener, there is also a spot to keep all research notes with the manuscript. This is what I use too. Super handy, and everything is in the one spot.
At this stage there may be a lot of back and forth between you and your client as you work through the ideas of the book and what your client wants included. If you are doing this via email make a folder where you keep all those email conversations. If it is via phone call, skype, or messages than make sure you record and keep those conversations all together in a folder on your computer.
However you choose to capture notes and ideas, make sure they are organised and easy to find.
THE SIMPLE STEPS TO CREATING THE EBOOK
Once you have all your ideas and research compiled, you than need to write, edit and format the book.
- Choose a great title.
- Create an outline.
- Break it into parts or chapters
- Edit the eBook.
- Final edit.
- Format for eBook.
- Make sure you include front and back matter.
- Create a front cover.
Choosing a great title:
Your client may have already provided a title for the eBook. However, if they haven’t you need to come up with a title that encapsulates the main idea of the eBook. Personally, I find I generally come up with the title after I have written the main part of the book.
Create an outline:
Again, your client may provide you with an outline or a rough idea of what and how they want the topic covered. So how do you create an outline?
Simple, ask yourself what topics the eBook will be covering? Write down these ideas, along with the main points you have discovered through research. Shuffle these ideas around until they form a logical outline that flows from one idea to the next.
Break it into parts:
Once you have a solid outline, you can create subheadings or chapters accordingly. Be sure to list the main ideas and points under each.
If the eBook is going to be quite large or long, it is worth discussing with your client whether they would like you to send them each section as you complete it. Or perhaps they would just like to see a timeframe of when you will complete each section. Even if your client isn’t fussed about seeing a timeframe, you should set yourself deadlines to complete each part or chapter. This will keep you on track and ensure you do not fall behind on your work (an easy trap to fall into when working on larger projects, especially if you have other client work).
Edit the eBook:
Once you have all the chapters and parts written out, let it rest for a day or so before reading it over as a whole. This means you will look over it with fresh eyes.
Read it aloud.
Print it and read it on paper, with a pen in hand to mark any ideas or corrections as you go.
Than go back to reading it on screen.
Once you have edited the first draft, send it to your client for approval before moving on.
Before you take the next steps to format and finalise the copy of the eBook you will need to conduct a final edit. This will include things like checking any links you have entered into the text, final fact checks (no one wants to publish the wrong information), and that the order of the book flows and makes sense.
Now again, your client may want to do the formatting themselves. In which case you will have stuck to a simple Word document, right?!
However, if your client wants you to format the eBook than there are several options.
As mentioned, if I am writing an eBook from woe to go I use Scrivener.
It is super simple to go from a Scrivener draft to an eBook using the compile function.
If not using scrivener than you can always save your word document as an eBook or PDF.
If your client wants an eBook for Kindles, there are some great formatting guidelines on Amazon.
Use these guidelines to help create a visually appealing and well-formatted eBook:
- Use generous margins.
- Whitespace is your best friend!
- Keep font sizes and style consistent.
- Use the footer option to add page numbers.
- Use professional images where possible.
Include front and back matter:
What is front and back matter?
It is all that additional information needed to make the eBook professional and complete.
Front matter is things like:
- Copyright information and credit page.
- About the author (this can go at the front or back depending on your client). Make sure to include your clients website and business details.
- Title page one – just that. The title and author name centered and in large font.
- Table of Contents
End matter includes:
- Printables (if there are any).
- A call to action (website link, post a review, subscribe to newsletter etcetera).
Create a front cover:
You can use online design spaces like Canva to create eBook covers. However, I would only suggest this if your client wants something very simple.
If they want something complicated or that needs a lot of design work I would suggest you recommend they hire a professional (unless you also have a design degree or graphics experience under your belt. In which case have at it)!
Once you have completed the final edit, added in the front cover, front and back matter and formatted the eBook you need to CHECK IT ALL AGAIN!
Yep. Another editing round!
This time be sure to print it out in its entirety to make sure it prints correctly and as intended. You also need to check that it renders on digital devices properly.
IDEAL LENGTH OF AN EBOOK.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the length of en eBook. It all boils down to who you are writing it for, what you are writing and what your client wants.
Say what you need to say in a concise, organized and comprehensive fashion. Don’t fill it with fluff.
If that’s 12 pages or 60, it doesn’t matter as long as it is quality information.
HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE TO WRITE AN EBOOK?
This really is the million-dollar question, isn’t it?
I always quote based on a figure that I would be happy to receive for my work.
But there are so many variables in eBook writing.
- How long is the project? Obviously, you will charge more for bigger/longer eBooks.
- How quick is the turnaround time? I charge slightly more if the client wants a tight deadline.
- How much research involved?
- Are you responsible for everything, or is your client providing some of it (i.e. research, the outline)?
- Do you need to provide the simple guts of the project and your client does the rest (as in the formatting and images)?
All these questions need to be taken into account when forming a quote. This is where a creative brief is super handy! If you have a thorough creative brief and understanding of the scope of the project than you can come up with a quote for the project.
So than you need to figure out if you will charge a per hour or per project fee.
Personally, I like to charge a per project fee (once I have a thorough understanding of the project and the level of work involved and how long it will take me). If I charge a per hour it leaves room for uncertainty of the costs involved. The client may expect that you spend only 10 hours a week for say 2 weeks. However, it may actually be 15 hours a week for 3 weeks. That is a huge difference in costing.
Whichever way you decide to charge, be sure to have a Writers Contract or Letter of Agreement in place that sets out project fees and invoicing so you and your client are always on the same page and it doesn’t leave room for misinterpretation.
If it is a long eBook I also like to create payment milestones. This will protect you against non-payment. There is nothing worse than putting in hours and hours of work to create an eBook and receive NO PAYMENT! My advice, negotiate with your client. Ask for an upfront fee and make sure it hits your accounts before starting work. Other milestones I like to create:
- Outline (again, only if it is going to be an exceptionally long project)
- First draft.
- Final draft (writing only)
- Formatting and completed project.
So now you know the basic steps to writing an eBook for a client! Go forth and create!