So you're convinced writing an ebook is a good idea. You've also chosen a sellable topic. Maybe you're the type who will just start writing, but there are a few things I did and a few things I wish I had done beforehand. The nice thing is, these tips could apply to any sort of project, ebook or otherwise.
Get a paper notebook.
This is the first thing I wish I had done from the beginning. It's not a huge thing, but it would have saved me some minor headaches.
Before you start writing, get yourself a paper notebook (or something else that allows you to take notes on the go). Name it, color it, put stickers all over it (or not), but designate it as your the place where anything ebook-related will go.
When you're in the process of writing your ebook, chances are you'll spend a fair amount of your time thinking about it. And many times, your ideas won't come when you're actually sitting at your computer writing.
If you're like me, ideas come in the car, in the shower, while I'm surfing the web, when I can't sleep at 2 am or when I'm standing in line at the post office. For that reason, keep your notebook with you all the times — and use it (so I guess you'll need a writing instrument as well).
This way, when you sit down to write, you'll know exactly where to find all your brilliant ideas. If you don't have one notebook for such a purpose, you'll either have miscellaneous and extraneous pieces of paper here and there and everywhere (ahem), or you'll just plain forget all the great stuff that was about to make you millions. Poof. Gone. That would sad.
Keep track of your time.
I did not keep track of how much time I actually spent working on my ebook. Now I wish I had. Why? Because I like to know which of my income streams are generating the most money based on an hourly rate.
So, now that I'm getting a feel for sales and how they go, I'm wishing I had kept track of my time so I could determine whether or not it has paid off…and if it's worth it to write another one.
Admittedly, this isn't an imperative step, but if you just jot down the approximate number of hours you spending writing in a day or week, I think it's good information to have. You could dedicate a page in your notebook to it (see above) or use an online timer to keep track for you (I use SlimTimer for tracking my time online but here are some other time-tracking possiblities).
Create a mind map.
This is a great brainstorming technique. If you're unfamiliar with a mind map, it's a way to keep track of your ideas. Write your topic in the middle of your page and write down related ideas radiating from the middle. Here's a simple example:
Photo by MyThoughtsMindMaps
There are are plenty of mind-mapping tools available (both free and otherwise). Personally, pencil and paper work fine for me. I recommend using whatever will work without getting you distracted by the cool tool.
At this stage, don't edit your thoughts, just get them all down — subtopics of your main topic and related ideas. Think of all the possible directions you could take this topic. Many of them you may discard in the end (or, use for a future ebook!), but in any case it's really nice to have a visual of the possibilities.
Make an outline.
Once you've got your mind map, create an outline.
My 10th grade English teach was right: outlines are your friend. I always balked at this step in the writing process because, frankly, I dislike writing so much that an outline represented only more work. Any writing assignment I do I just want to get done. Like yesterday.
But, I actually wrote an outline for this project and lo and behold, Miss Wideman was right when she said an outline will help you put your thoughts in order, give you some direction and incidentally, save you time and energy. Who knew? I certainly didn't. But now I do.
A few words about an outline. Don't get hung up on it. Using your mind map as reference, decide on the main points you want to cover and jot them down. These will most likely become chapters or sections. Once they're on paper, it's easier to rearrange them and put them in an order that seems to work best for the flow of your ebook.
For me, my outline created a sense of direction. Think of it like taking a trip. If you're going to take a road trip leaving from Chicago, you'll want to determine where you'll end up, where you'll stop along the way and the most efficient way of accomplishing both.
This is closely related to scheduling regular writing time, but when it's time to write, do nothing else. Close Facebook, Twitter, Skype, email, and anything that assaults you with notifications of something new (or old — it's amazing how my writing time would come around and suddenly I would have an overwhelming urge to answer that email that had been sitting there for 2 weeks).
Just turn everything off knowing you'll be able to get to those things as soon as our writing window is over.
If noise bothers you, make sure your writing window happens when there's little of it. Otherwise, put in ear plugs or ear buds. If you need to clean up around your writing spot first, do that too. I am amazed at how significantly more productive I am when my desk is clear of anything (and even a picked up living space).
The goal is to remove anything that's going to make your brain think about anything other than your writing.
Save. Save. Save.
Before you begin, I highly recommend you create a folder in which to save all ebook-related material on your computer. You'll be saving every 2 minutes. Well, OK, maybe not that much, but I recommend saving a lot. There's nothin' like spending forever writing something only to lose it because it wasn't saved. So, create a folder or something — a central location where everything can be found easily and is organized.
Read the next post in the series: How to Write an Ebook: Writing Tips from a Non-Writer
Other posts in this series
- How to Write an Ebook
- How to Write an Ebook: Why It's a Good Idea
- How to Write an Ebook: Choose a Sellable Topic
- How to Write an Ebook: Preparing to Write
- How to Write an Ebook: Writing Tips from a Non-Writer
- How to Write an Ebook: Editing and Naming
- How to Write an Ebook: Formatting
- How to Write an Ebook: Setting Up Accounts
- How to Write an Ebook: Pricing
- How to Write an Ebook: Distribution
- How to Write an Ebook: Creating a Sales Page (or Site)
- How to Write an Ebook: Preparing for Affiliates
- How to Write an Ebook: Taking care of your affiliates
- How to Write an Ebook: Paying your affiliates
- How to Make Your Ebook Available on Kindle & Nook