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How to Write a Non-Fiction eBook Quickly
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.
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.
Have you written an eBook?
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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