How to Write a Non-Fiction eBook Quickly

How to write a high-quality eBook your client will love quickly and easily.
How to write a high-quality eBook your client will love quickly and easily. | Source

Have you ever thought about writing a book, but were unsure where to start? Today, self-publishing is easier than ever before and many people are publishing on Amazon and other platforms. This has its advantages and disadvantages of course. If you are a good writer; there is a great deal of money to be made writing books.

You can write under your own name, or if you really want to make a good living, ghostwrite for clients. Many businesses are taking advantage of the lucrative opportunities eBooks provide. They can be used directly for profit, or as a free giveaway that helps promote their company or service.

When people pay you to write a book, they are paying a premium price for that service for a reason. As a ghostwriter, your job is not only to produce high-quality copy, but to be your clients voice – to convey a message in a way that they cannot. You essentially speak for that person's business.

I ghostwrite books for clients regularly. Most electronic books are not as long as traditional books, but that doesn't mean you can sacrifice quality. In fact, quite the opposite. Customers are discerning and they can spot an eBook that was carelessly written a mile away.

It is important that any eBooks you produce have a great voice, offer valuable, unique information and encourage readers to buy. If your readers can look up the information for free on Google in a few minutes, they are going to be angry they spent their money on a book!

When writing eBooks, whether for yourself or clients, stick to topics you are very knowledgeable about, or at the very least have a great deal of interest in. I have written 3 books in the last 2 months, while also completing other projects.

All 3 books involved subject matters I already had a lot of base knowledge in, making the work much more enjoyable and less time consuming. The end results were solid because the books showed a level of expertise and experience that those without direct experience can't convey.

Outlining an eBook

The first step of a great book is a thorough outline. This helps you get organized and will later serve as the table of contents for your book. Your client will give you an idea of how many pages or an approximate word count.

Often, they will even provide a rough outline or list of topics to cover. The more information you can pull out of them initially, the easier it is to set up a basic outline.

In my example, I am going to say our book is about growing an organic vegetable garden for beginners. With my client, I have broken it down into several sections or subtopics:

  • Why to Grow Organic
  • Tools You Need
  • Growing Organic Peppers
  • Growing Organic Tomatoes
  • Growing Organic Squash
  • Resources for Buying Organic Seeds
  • Organic Pest Control

These are all the subjects my client wants covered. I put them into my rough outline which I can move around at any time.

The next step is to take each section of the outline and break it down into chunks. So, using the very rough outline from above, you can see one of the chapters or sections is “Growing Organic Tomatoes”.

The next step is to ask questions – what would your reader want to know about growing organic tomatoes? Come up with a list of questions. Your list may look something like this:

  • When to start tomato seeds?
  • When to transfer into the garden?
  • How to feed organic tomatoes?
  • How do I deter pests from them?
  • What are the best types of heirloom plants to grow organically?
  • How close together should I plant them?
  • How do I prevent disease in organic plants?

Write out all the questions you think of and then answer them. Perhaps a paragraph or two each.

At this point you should not be thinking “writing a book” you should be thinking gathering and sorting information.

You will use this same process for every section or potential chapter. The beauty of this technique is the ability to jump around and do what piques your interest at any particular moment.

Remember, at this stage you are NOT writing the book.

Most beginning book writers drive themselves nuts trying to write everything in order according to the outline. It results in a lot of back and forth and errors. Don't do that it's a waste of time and money.

Books are about "piece work". In much the same way movie scenes are not filmed in order, neither are book chapters written in order!

You can also use note cards for this purpose. Place your questions and answers on note cards and then when it's time to write the chapter, place your cards in the order that flows the best.

*Hint*

If you need to master getting your clients voice down, you may want to interview them with a few of the questions from the note cards. Record their answers and play them back. It will help you get a feel for how they communicate.

Remember, you are writing as your client - not as yourself! Even if you are conveying your own knowledge and experience, you have to do it in such a way that people believe it is your client conveying the story. It's not always as easy as it sounds.

Writing the Book

After you have your questions and answers for each section of the book, take your question and answer sheets or cards and write the chapter. Place the cards in the way that flows most logically.

In our sample above, the questions are kind of in sequential order already, starting seeds, transferring to the garden, etc. Chances are as you go along you will come up with more questions. For example, how do I prepare my soil before planting?

Well, now we have a new question and answer and it will be placed between when to start seeds and when to transfer into the garden. You get the idea. As you write the book, you incorporate the questions and answers into a paragraph.

So I might start my chapter with “Tomato seeds can be started indoors several weeks before the last frost” etc. the next paragraph would then be “Prior to transplanting your seedlings into the garden, you'll want to be sure your soil is prepared.”

Proceed through each Q and A until the chapter is written and flows nicely, transitioning from one point to the other. Periodically, throw in a personal story or anecdote to give the book a “personal feel” This is where it is important to get your clients voice down. You might want to ask them for some stories up front and record them.

This approach will help you write a well-organized book that does not need a lot of editing or revamping. I have used this technique for every book I have written and have never had a major edit or redo. I can finish most 100 page eBooks within a few days to a week using this technique.

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How to be a Successful Ghostwriter

This Q and A technique ensures you are thorough. It shows you right at the beginning what you will need to thoroughly research and it helps you know right away if you have enough information to create a compelling and useful eBook your client and his/her customers are going to really enjoy. It can also help you come up with further ideas when you aren't quite sure what else to say about a subject.

If you get stuck coming up with questions, try using search engines to get ideas. For example if you type a word or two into Google, other suggestions are listed beneath of other things people have been searching for. This shows you things people have questions about and you can use that in your writing. I have often surprised clients with some of the extra information I have included simply using that technique. They feel they are learning something too and that's important for getting more work.

Remember, as a ghostwriter a lot of your clients come “word of mouth” because you can't simply share a copy of the work with potential future clients. Remember your name is not on it; you have no rights to the work. When you complete a project of this nature for a client, ask them how you might go about getting a reference from them or if they would be willing to pass your name on to others.

Ghostwriting rates vary by project and there is no "set amount" to charge. Those just starting out will make less than those with more verifiable experience. Someone who has ghost written a best seller for example, can be commissioned for thousands of dollars per project.

The more you do, the more you earn, but that does NOT mean go out and sign up to ghostwrite for pennies. When writers do that, it undervalues all of us. Always consider the length of the project, how much research it requires, do you have to format it for kindle? edit? If so, all of those things must factor into your price.

If you discover that you would make more hourly flipping burgers than you did writing a book for a client, you have undervalued your skills. It is something writer's do a lot and it's unfortunate.

I would also add, that unless and until you have a great deal of experience with writing and editing, you will not be an effective ghostwriter. Many people don't want to hear this, but ghostwriting is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. It takes time, a LOT of time and at the end all you get is paid :) no name in headlights etc.

Get some experience first. Become fast, proficient and concise in your writing. Practice editing also; it will make you a better book writer. Once you have done all of these things, it is quite enjoyable and lucrative to ghostwrite books for a living.

You can learn more about freelance writing as a career and how to develop your skills by visiting my blog: www.incomefromwriting.com

Self-publishing books 101 is an excellent resource at a great price with fantastic reviews. It is updated with all the latest information on self-publishing and marketing your books on Amazon.

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Comments 20 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 19 months ago from Midwest Author

It is a lot of work, but it can be done fairly quickly with good organization. Thanks for the read and comment peach :)


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

wow, a lot of work to prepare to write an ebook


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for reading and commenting Sallybea - glad you enjoyed the hub :)


sallybea profile image

sallybea 2 years ago from Norfolk

ChristinS

Very useful information, thank you very much for sharing.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

I have a couple of clients who have allowed me to use "clips" from a book or project without naming the full thing - so writing samples that feature just snippets is another option. Also, I tend to have a lot of writing in general with different voice, style etc. to show potential clients how I can change it up. Another is to have a page that states directly your writing process and how you do your ghostwriting so that a client can tell if you are going to be thorough, do extensive background, interviewing, etc. List what sets you apart and makes your services the most valuable.


Laura Lanes profile image

Laura Lanes 2 years ago from Syracuse, NY

Another good hub, Christin.

I have ghosted six ebooks and quite enjoy it. It seems my block to getting more of these jobs lays in the fact that they are ghost written thus not eligible as samples. You touched on this in a reply above.

Other than asking clients if a potential new client may contact them, any ideas on how to get around that hurdle?


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks so much for reading and commenting grand I appreciate it :)


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I've done quite a bit of ghostwriting, and find that your tips are very helpful. They are even useful for a writer who wants to do a book with her own byline. Thank you very much!


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

No problem Crystal - I'm in love with the topic so it's fun to write about :)


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

Thanks Christin. It sounds like the online portfolio is a good next step for me. I appreciate your willingness to share these tips.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

dahoglund thanks for reading. If you get a couple of clients that don't mind you giving private samples of your work it can be much easier. The daunting part often is references, because if it's ghost written well... lol. I have had a few clients though that will allow me to put potential partners in contact with them and that helped immensely.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Ghost writing has always had a certain appeal to me. The daunting part is not the writing but getting assignments. However, your information is useful and worth consideration.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks Crystal. I will definitely use your ideas for a future hub :) I appreciate you.

If you have a lot of clips, I would definitely work on putting together an online portfolio. You can build your own, or use some of the free portfolio websites available. (I did do a hub on those). There are several things you can do to get started. I'll do a hub on it and expand, but in a nutshell I used Elance (takes patience to get better paying clients) and also targeted specific niches. I write a lot in natural health, metaphysical and self-help genres, so I specifically search for writing jobs in those niches. Also, there are many sites online to search for freelance writing gigs. Some better than others of course. Once you get a few clients you love, word of mouth is your best friend. I get most clients now based on direct referrals.


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

Great explanation and tips. I have never really seriously considered ghostwriting - perhaps I too vain and need to see a byline - but you are right, you are good at persuasive writing! Have you done any hubs explaining how you got started freelancing, or how you built your client base, a kind of step-by-step guide? All of this information is so helpful, but it's a bit overwhelming just knowing where to start. I have lots of work to showcase, having been a reporter for ten years, but I'm used to writing a certain way and I don't have t market myself at all. Just curious if you have any information on the very first steps a wannabe freelancer should take. Thanks!


Deanna-Balestra profile image

Deanna-Balestra 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

These are great tips! I've been ghost writing article for a while now and have gotten a few requests for ebooks but have not accepted any yet due to lack of time, I'm really looking forward to doing my first one. I'd really be interested in some information about pricing as well.

I loved your suggestion about interviewing the "author" to learn their voice!


Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

Great hub, good advice. Voted up


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago

Thanks, I appreciate the information. I keep promising that I’m going to check out Elance, but it seems like I just don’t have the time. So I may have to keep putting off until I retire before I can get serious. It doesn’t hurt to have the info filed away, though. I am very strong in legal, historical, and feature writing. I dislike technical writing, manuals, etc., and I promised myself that after spending 10 years as an advertising copywriter, I would never do that again. Thanks again for the info.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 3 years ago from Midwest Author

Thank you - yours sounds like a combination of technical writing and ghostwriting. What I do currently is eBooks, although I have ghostwritten portions of a "regular" book. That one came to me quite by accident - someone read a website of mine and contacted me and asked me to contribute a portion to their book - but to do it as a ghostwriter.

These days eBooks seem to be all the rage and many people are writing them (and frankly, some who shouldn't and really should use a ghostwriter!) You can find some clients on freelancing sites like Elance if you use that particular company. After that, it really is a lot of word of mouth and repeat clients.

Because you don't get your name listed at all and you sign over full rights, the amount you earn per project is significantly higher. You can command that much, because the book you write will be earning the person you sell it to a profit for many years to come.

I wrote a 39 page book for example recently for 500 dollars. It took very little time because it was a subject I was very familiar with, had written on before and so I had all the research and such handy. I have also taken on longer projects for that amount, but the more you do - the more you can make. Ghost writers that make good money have to be the best of the best and they usually have several different writing skills/styles. I can do technical research type writing (but I hate it lol) and I am also very good at persuasive writing, SEO and copywriting - so I use those skills to market for ghostwriting as well.

Ghostwriters can also do blogs, website content etc. there is a lot of things you can do with it. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago

Christin, you really piqued my interest in freelance ghostwriting. Once I ghostwrote a doctoral dissertation that turned out to be close to 900 pages, including a few photos, graphs, and illustrations. I ghostwrote it with the advisor’s blessings and got credit as an editor of the work at the beginning of the book. That is the only actual book to my resume. After reading this, I think that maybe I had a wrong definition of ghostwriting. I thought the company supplied the facts and the writer wrote the book, or is that technical writing? Anyway, I would like to see you do a hub on sources of that kind of work. Thanksamillion. Voted you up and useful.


SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

SANJAY LAKHANPAL 3 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

Thanks for the hints.Nice hub.

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