Many of us have thought about writing an ebook at one time or another, whether it may be a novel or a non-fiction tome. If you need the nudge to get started here’s how to write an ebook.
Writing a book isn’t easy, but employing a good workflow can make it more manageable. In this article we’ll explain how to write an ebook, from the steps you should take to the tools you should use.
Preparation: Collect Your Research and Notes
Most of the time, you’ll already have an idea for what your ebook is going to be about. If not, it’s time to start brainstorming. Assuming you do have an idea, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to start writing just yet.
Ideally, you’ll have as much information as you can ready before you start to write. For fiction, this means compiling character notes, settings, plot details, and other bits of lore. For a non-fiction book, this would be your research and sources.
If you’re more of a hands-on type, you might want to capture your notes or research with a pen and paper. Assuming you’re more digitally inclined, there are plenty of apps that can help you with this.
Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are two of the most popular note apps available, but they’re not the only ones. Google Keep, Apple Notes, and relative newcomer Notion are all viable options as well. Some of these apps have built-in scanning functionality that can even help you organize your pen and paper notes.
Writing: Getting to the First Draft
Some people prefer to just start writing and see what comes out. Others prefer to prepare and plan everything in advance so they know the structure before they start writing. Both methods have their strengths, but for non-fiction, you’ll definitely see major benefits for planning ahead.
If you’re a planner, there are a few tools you can use. Microsoft Word has an Outline view that can make laying out the structure of your book easy. Dedicated outlining apps like OmniOutliner can also help streamline your planning.
When it comes to writing your first draft, it’s all about what makes you comfortable. If you prefer simplicity you can use a simple text editor. If you want some more features, a word processor like Microsoft Word is great, while LibreOffice is a great free alternative. For writing from anywhere, Google Docs is a great free tool (here’s how to use Google Docs).
Some writers might want an even more powerful tool. That’s where dedicated apps like Scrivener enter the fray. Scrivener can take your first draft all the way to a finished ebook, but it does come with a steep learning curve.
Editing: Revisiting and Revising Your Work
Your first draft is just that: a first draft. To truly make your ebook shine, you’ll need to make one or more revisions. This could range from some heavy edits to full rewrites. When you think it couldn’t possibly be any better, give it one more pass.
Get some other people to read your drafts too, if you can. Even better, hire a copy editor, line editor, or both. Copy editors check your grammar and punctuation for errors. Line editors read over the manuscript and check for overall larger issues affecting the story you’re telling.
When it comes to working with editors, Microsoft Word is the industry standard. You can’t count on a copy or line editor using whatever obscure format you wrote your manuscript in. You can absolutely count on them using Word, so this is the default option.
If you need to use the Word format, specifically the Track Changes feature, but don’t want to pay for word, you have another option. Recent versions of LibreOffice map fairly well to Microsoft Word. You might run into some issues with fonts, but LibreOffice will do in a pinch.
Cover Design: People Judge Books by Their Covers
No matter how much you slave over your manuscript, nobody will read it if the cover looks amateurish. Your final draft could be perfect, but with a boring design on the cover, nobody will ever know.
Don’t worry if you don’t have design skills. You can use a site like 99designs to find a designer for your cover. Alternatively, you can hire a freelancer on a site like Fiverr. There are also these alternatives to Fiverr if you’d rather use a different service.
If you do happen to have design skills, that’s even better. You can use tools included in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite like InDesign or Photoshop. For something even easier, you can try Canva. Depending on what you need, you can even use Microsoft Word to design your cover. Just remember to make your ebook cover look professional.
Layout: Creating the Finished Product
You should now have your finished and polished manuscript as well as a cover design. So it’s time to put it all together into your final ebook. Before you start, there are a few things left to consider.
First, decide where you’re going to sell or distribute your ebook. Amazon is the king of ebook sales these days, but it’s not the only one. If you’re just looking to get your book out there, you might want to consider giving it away for free. Here are the free ebook download sites to get you started.
You’ll use different formats depending on where you distribute. PDF is a widely used format, while Amazon and its devices use a proprietary format. EPUB and MOBI are other popular formats, with MOBI also working on Kindle devices.
As mentioned above, Scrivener can compile your manuscript to several different ebook formats. All you need to do is add in your author details and cover art. If you want to distribute on Apple devices, you need to use iBooks Author.
For more graphically intense ebooks, you might need different tools. Microsoft PowerPoint can come in handy for these types of ebooks, as can Adobe InDesign.
How to Write an Ebook: Read More First!
No matter how experienced you are, you can always improve as a writer. One of the best ways to learn as a writer is to read more books. Read everything you can from fiction to non-fiction, even genres you generally aren’t fond of.
Unless you want to compile a massive library (which some of us do), you probably have a finite amount of space for books. If you’re a voracious reader but don’t want to surround yourself with books, reading on a tablet is the solution. So, with that in mind, here’s our list of the best tablets for reading digital books.