Lessons in e-book writing

20th March 2012 | Posted in Marketing communications

So a group of us with small business skills have got together to write an e-book. (See my previous post on why and how.) I volunteered for role of editor. Why? Because I used to be the editor of a magazine way back when print was king, and I know about project managing collections of articles and their writers. And because it’s always good to break new ground.

So from a position of knowing very little about e-book production, I’ve learned a few lessons and built on a few things I already knew.

  1. Keep your writers in the loop. Regular updates will maintain interest and help to get them to produce the articles they’ve promised.
  2. Don’t get too obsessed with chasing people if the whole thing is being done a voluntary basis. You only have so much free time.
  3. Make it easy for people who aren’t used to writing. Provide a template with examples of headings and text.
  4. Share the load if you get busy. Proofreading should always be shared. Why not find some good editors too who are all agreed on the look and feel of the articles.
  5. Talking about look and feel, have some guidelines for spelling, grammar, layout, font size – all that sort of thing. So it looks like the book was planned, not hurled together.
  6. Set deadlines. Again, as it’s voluntary, people might not make the deadlines. We’ve taken nearly four months to get this book together – partly because I got very busy and paid work comes first, but the articles took a long time to come in.
  7. You can use Word templates, styles and clip art to organise your pages so they look more interesting. I created a style for headlines, intro paragraphs, boxed out quotes and info for more information. And I dragged in an awful lot of clip art.
  8. You could use stock photo images as well if you’re willing to pay. There are several sites where you can get lost for hours, but www.istockimage.com is a favourite.
  9. If you want to make money from your e-book, you need to format it for Kindle and other e-readers. There’s help on the Amazon web site and elsewhere. If all you want to do is offer a free downloadable .pdf, there are plenty of free pieces of software that will do that for you without having to buy Adobe Acrobat.
  10. Give everybody plenty of credit in the book, with links to their web sites and any other contact information they want to add. Photos of authors helps to build relationships with the reader. Then publish it wherever you can for maximum exposure for everyone.

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