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How to Write an Amazon Kindle eBook – Part 3 (Writing and Editing)

I’m writing a Kindle eBook.

This is part 3 of a multi-part series that explains the entire process I’m going through. Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

After choosing a title for the eBook and starting your marketing efforts, the next step is to write and edit your eBook.

 

Writing the eBook – Approach

I’m a slow writer.

When I first started out writing the book, “slow” was an understatement.

I kept procrastinating because I felt overwhelmed.

Staring at a blank screen wasn’t fun.

However, I did two things that helped me write.

First, I decided I’m not writing a book.

Instead, I approached it as if I’m writing a series of emails to a friend who I wanted to help out with managing their team. This removed the psychological barrier of intimidation.

The second thing was that I leveraged content that I had already produced.

I had my blog posts on The Couch Manager blog, the emails I sent out to my newsletter subscribers, and the content of my Managing & Influencing Virtual Teams course.

I took some of the best content from all those 3 sources and used them as a starting point for my book.

 

Writing the eBook – Tools

I used both Scrivener and Microsoft Word to write the book.

I could have used Microsoft Word on its own, but I had heard so many good things about Scrivener that I wanted to give it a try.

Apparently, most best-selling authors, including Tim Ferriss, rely heavily on Scrivener because it has amazing features that makes it much easier to write.

I couldn’t agree more.

Scrivener was so easy to use and had some absolutely phenomenal functions. I don’t think I’ll ever write another book without it. The best feature was that I could easily move different chapters around and consolidate others through the corkboard function. Plus, having a “bird’s eye” view of my book chapters in the margin gave me satisfying feeling of control.

This also helped me boil down the number of tactics from 27 to 17 because I started to notice some overlap among the different tactics from the initial list.

So the sub-title ended up changing to “17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees.

Here’s a screenshot from Scrivener while I was writing my book. The margin on the left helped tremendously in assessing the flow of the chapter titles.

 

Scrivener

 

After I was done writing the book, I used the export feature in Scrivener to create an MS Word file.

I did that for 2 reasons:

  1. I wanted to hire an editor to edit the book, and most editors are already familiar with Microsoft Word
  2. Amazon accepts Microsoft Word (.doc) files to their Kindle Direct Publishing platform, and I wanted to prepare it for the Kindle format anyway.

The total length of the book was a little over 10,000 words.

 

Editing the eBook

The next step was to hire an editor for the book.

I went on Elance and submitted a proposal so that different freelance editors could submit their bids.

A few days later, I started getting different quotes from editors.

The quote fees ranged between $150 and $550.

I then picked an editor who I was impressed with (that cost me somewhere in the middle of that range), and within a week, I had a freshly polished book that was ready for publication.

The editor was awesome – he went back and forth with me on a couple of questions that I had, and actually suggested a few modifications for the tactic titles. He even helped prepare the formatting for uploading to Amazon, which saved me some time.

Most importantly, he also suggested I modify the title of my eBook, which is something I didn’t expect.

 

Modifying the Title of the eBook

The original title I chose for the book was:

Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees.”

However, my editor’s suggestion was to change the title to:

Motivating Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Will Inspire Your Remote Employees to Excel”

Hi justification was that the word “influencing” was a bit vague and that the word “motivating” was stronger. He also thought that “inspire…employees to excel” would be a better phrase choice than “get things done with employees.”

This made me re-think the title, even though I was pretty much set on it. The title is, of course, a very important part of the book – it’s the two second pitch that makes people interested in it and eventually buy it – and I didn’t want to take this potential modification lightly.

So to help out with the decision, I simply asked my friends on Facebook and readers on my blog which title they thought was better. I also ran two ads on Facebook with the different titles to see which had a higher click-through rate.

The results were as follows:

  • The majority of my friends and most of my readers chose the newer  title: “Motivating Virtual Teams” over the original one
  • The Facebook ads were split at nearly 50-50 with the click through-rate, meaning both of them worked.

So technically, the “Motivating” title won because my friends & readers chose it.

However, after sleeping on the decision for a couple of days, I didn’t feel very comfortable changing the title.

That’s because I already had people who signed up to my email list who were interested in the original title (check out Part 1 to see how I did that).

Plus, even though “motivating” and “influencing” could be considered synonymous in some aspects, the reality is that they are different topics.

In other words, it was going to be a different book, and I didn’t want to go back and change the content to reflect the “motivating” aspect of virtual teams.

So I decided to stick to the original title and move forward with it.

 

Next Step

The next step after writing the book and editing it is to design a professional cover.

I actually hired an elance designer to do that – which I’ll tell you all about in my next post.

Cheers,

Hassan

How to Write an Amazon Kindle eBook – Part 2

I’m writing a Kindle ebook.

This is part 2 of a multi-part series that explains the entire process I’m going through. Click here for Part 1.

After deciding on the reason behind writing the book (to gain credibility & authority and to learn about online publishing), and the platform I want to publish on (exclusively on Amazon KDP), the next step is to decide on a title and start your marketing efforts.

 

Choosing a Title for the ebook

The title I chose for the book is “Influencing Virtual Teams: 27 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees.”

Frankly, I didn’t spend much time on coming up with this title. It was based on the title of my online course (Managing and Influencing Virtual Teams), and the number “27” was just a quick estimate of how many tips I can provide.

I also wanted both an informative and a catchy title that explains exactly what managers would be gaining from reading the book.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if my primary objective was to make money, I would approach writing the title in a totally different way.

I would basically start searching for the best-ranking and highest-selling books on Amazon’s Kindle marketplace (in the virtual teams and project management niche), then analyze what keywords those books use in both the title and the book description.

I would also use Google’s Keyword Tool to find out keyword volume figures, and use the combination of that with the Amazon information to come up with a title and subtitle that are keyword-heavy so that the book ranks high on the list of searches.

However, because my primary objective is not to make money, but rather to gain credibility and authority in this space, my title was not based on any of that.

Just a quick side note here:

I don’t think “making money” as a primary objective of writing a Kindle ebook is a bad thing at all. In fact, this might be my next mini-project after publishing this book.

However, I just think this objective is so commonly abused, that it has created a lot of junk ebooks online – and a lot of plagiarized ones as well.

So if making money is your objective, then make sure you’re providing your readers more use value than you’re getting in cash value before you hit that publish button.

The next step after coming up with a title is to market your book.

 

Why You Should Market your eBook before Writing It

There are 2 reasons why you should market your ebook before you start writing it:

First, you’ll gain validation on your idea. If no one is interested in your book now, then no one will be interested in it later. So if you don’t get enough traction, you might as well stop writing the book while it’s still early and you haven’t invested a lot of time or energy in creating it.

Second, you will have a prospective list of people who are willing to buy the book once it’s out. Even if those folks don’t end up buying, you’ll at least know that this topic is something that interests them and you can market your second or third book to them down the line.

 

How to Market your eBook before Writing it: Create a Squeeze Page

A squeeze page is a simple landing webpage that asks people for their email address so they can opt-in to get notified once the book is out.

Click here to see how mine looks like (and feel free to sign up!)

You need three things to create a squeeze page: a cover for your ebook, an email marketing service (to collect the emails), and the squeeze page itself.

Let’s start with the exciting part.

 

#1: Designing a Cover for your eBook

Creating a cover for your ebook is important because people react more favorably toward something which is visual.

Technically, you don’t need a cover at this stage, but it will help tremendously in everything from the number of signups that you get, to other marketing efforts which we’ll get into later.

One thing to keep in mind is that the cover you create at this point does not need to be the final cover design you’ll settle on.

In fact, mine will definitely change because the title will probably be different and I also want to design a more professional cover when the book is actually published.

Here’s how I created my own cover.

Step 1: Hire a designer on Fiverr

Fiverr is an awesome marketplace to find freelancers who would offer services for only $5.

I hired mine in under 10 minutes by signing up to a free account, searching for a freelancer by punching “book cover design” in the search box, and choosing one who had a high positive rating.

I then gave the designer some ideas about the general style that I wanted to see, and had a cover ready in 4 days.

Here’s the designer I used to create my ebook cover for only $5.

And here’s how the cover looked like after I got it back from him.

Virtual Teams Book Cover 2D

My Book Cover in 2D

Step 2: Create a 3D book cover

The next step is to create a 3D cover from the 2D version. This is an optional step, but I like to make a 3D cover because it creates a more professional looking image for visual impact. You can also hire someone on Fiverr to design a 3D cover for you for $5, but I use an online service called BoxShotKing (aff link).

This is a more expensive paid service (around $60 for 6 months), but because it allows me to do unlimited creations and modifications on ebook covers, as well as other great graphics (without using Adobe Photoshop), it is totally worth it to me.

Here’s how the final cover looked like after I used BoxShotKing.

Virtual Teams Book Cover 3D

My Book Cover in 3D

Now that you’re done with the cover, the next thing is to set up your email marketing service.

 

#2: Setting up Email Marketing Service

An email marketing service is used to collect your prospective readers’ email addresses.

This is the cornerstone of your entire marketing effort because the more people you get on your email list, the bigger the audience of your book will be once you publish it.

You can also use your email list as a great way to build trust and a relationship with your audience.

For my own email marketing service, I use what most power bloggers use: AWeber.

AWeber has excellent deliverability rates (meaning a high number of emails will actually reach your subscribers) as well as amazing customer service. They also give you some impressive stats.

That’s why I use AWeber on both of my blogs – The Part-Time Webpreneur and The Couch Manager.

AWeber is not very cheap – you pay like $1 for the first month, and then $19 for every month after that, but it is TOTALLY worth it.

However, if you don’t’ want to pay that much, at least initially, you can use another service which is free up to the first 2,000 subscribers called MailChimp.

After setting up your email marketing service, the next thing is to create a squeeze page.

 

#3: Create a Squeeze Page for your Book

There are hundreds of ways to create a squeeze page.

You can create one yourself from scratch and host it on your blog (free but painful), or you can use a service like LeadPages (aff link) which is a paid service but super easy to use.

A big benefit of using LeadPages is that you don’t even need to have a blog (you can host your squeeze page on their servers), and they even pre-fill some workable text for you than you can easily replace.

I’ve used (and still do use) a lot of squeeze page services, including Premise, but LeadPages is hands-down one of the best and simplest out there, so I highly recommend it.

The other advantage of using LeadPages is that it works beautifully with AWeber. You create a form on AWeber, and it automatically appears in LeadPages once you link those accounts.

I took me less than 4 minutes to create my squeeze page.

The LeadPages template I have used for my own squeeze page is shown below. I just uploaded my own 3D cover that I created, changed the text that they have, and linked my AWeber account. It was as simple as that.

LeadPages Screenshot Book Template

LeadPages Template

 

My Final Squeeze Page

My Final Squeeze Page

Conclusion

To recap, after you decide on a title for your book, create a squeeze page by designing a book cover (using Fiverr and BoxShotKing), signing up to an email marketing service (using AWeber) and setting up a squeeze page (using LeadPages).

I know this all seems like it will take you a bit of time (and money) to invest into, but it will pay off down the line once you have your book out.

The next step is to advertise the link to your squeeze page so that people sign up. Publish it anywhere you can – on your Facebook status update, in an email blast to your colleagues, on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

I also added a widget in the right column of my blog directing readers to the squeeze page, and I wrote a blog post that I’m writing a book (even asking people for help in spreading the word about it if they’re interested).

Here’s how the widget looks like.

Screen Capture Virtual Teams Book Widget

 

Next Steps

The next step after all of this is to basically finish writing the book and have it professionally edited. This process is going a bit faster than I originally expected because of a couple of things I’m doing.

I’ll tell you what those are in my next post (make sure you sign up in the top right corner if you haven’t already to get notified once that post is out).

Cheers,

Hassan

P.S. I need your advice.

Which title seems more like a book you’d pick up?

1 or 2?

(1) Influencing Virtual Teams: 27 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees

(2) Motivating Virtual Teams: 27 Tactics That Will Inspire Your Remote Employees to Excel

Comment below and let me know.

I’m considering changing the title I came up with.

Feel free to reply with just “1” or “2.”

P.P.S. Part 3 is now out.

 

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