A step-by-step guide on how to create and monetize an e-book in as little as one weekend
- Corrie Alexander is a freelancer who wrote an e-book about affiliate links.
- She says creating an e-book is worth the effort because you can get sales month after month.
E-books compliment any kind of business you have, whether you're a freelance writer, a blogger, or even a business that doesn't even have anything to do with writing.
Not only are they a great way to make some extra money, but they also help establish you as an authority in your niche or industry.
A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of writing their own e-book because as soon as they hear the word "book," they envision spending hours and hours hunched over their computer, banging out 70,000 words. Then there's the matter of editing, finding a graphic designer to create the cover, and figuring out how to actually sell the thing.
But here's the truth: creating and selling an e-book is really not that difficult. For one thing, e-books don't have to be 70,000 words long. In fact, most e-books are well under 10,000 words. (Some are as short as 2000 words.)
The reality is you could technically write and publish an e-book in a weekend if you have the right tools and strategy — which I'm going to show you now, step-by-step.
Step 1: Plan your e-book
Before you do anything else, you want to determine what you're going to teach your audience with your e-book. A bit of market research can help you figure out what your audience is dying to learn.
If you have an email list or a following on social media, you can take a poll on what they're struggling with most as it relates to your niche. You can also check the comment section of your blog posts, videos, or whatever kind of content you're posting and see what questions come up over and over again.
It could also be something you had a hard time understanding in the past. Because if it's something you had an interest in learning, it will probably be something your audience is interested in too.
For example, I came from a blogging and affiliate marketing background when I first started writing on Medium.
But even though affiliate links are allowed on Medium, I could find almost no one talking about it. So I experimented and found a few strategies that worked well for me, and it was something that other people commented that they were interested in when I talked about it on my YouTube channel, so I wrote a book about it.
In terms of planning your e-book, this doesn't need to be overly complicated, either. Honestly, e-books are just like glorified blog posts.
Come up with a working title, then the outline for your book as though it were a blog post. Then, for each main point in your outline, break that section down and make subheadings for it. If you want, you caan even make subheadings for your subheadings.
When you're done, you'll have an outline of your book, with each main heading being a chapter and the subheadings being the content for each chapter.
Step 2: Draft your book
This is the part that tends to intimidate people, and I get it. If you struggle with writing long-form content, I highly recommend investing in a Jasper AI Teams account to help you out. Jasper is an AI writer that can help you make short work of your writing projects by helping you write the first draft.
It's a powerful tool, but learning how to use it correctly is important because it's a bit more complicated than slapping the "compose" button and letting Jasper do the rest. However, you can find a free "Jasper Jumpstart" training on their website that will show you how to use the tool.
Whether you use Jasper or not, the goal is to just plow through that first draft and get all your thoughts and ideas onto the page.
Don't worry if it's messy or doesn't flow well; the goal right now is to finish a rough draft.
Step 3: Edit your e-book
When I edit my content, I have three phases:
1. The hard edit
Here, I go through one line at a time and rephrase things, fix grammatical mistakes, and change things that don't flow well. I'll add sections and move things around.
This is a crucial step, especially if you used Jasper to write your rough draft. Because Jasper can get a little creative with his "facts," you need to ensure everything he's written is correct. You'll also want to rewrite passages to sound the way you would say them.
2. Grammarly Pro
Yes, Grammarly has a free extension which is better than nothing, but I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes when you use the Pro version.
Not only does it help you catch spelling and grammar mistakes, but it also helps you make your writing more concise and clear, which is crucial for informational content like this.
However, I don't take all of its suggestions. For example, I don't care if I write in passive voice, and its suggestions to change words for more variety don't always make sense. But I consider each suggestion and decide for myself if I should change it.
This is also the phase when I run it through the plagiarism checker. And this is an important step regardless of whether you used Jasper or wrote it yourself because there's so much content online that you want to make sure you didn't accidentally copy anything.
Grammarly Pro has a great plagiarism checker, but it's a bit sensitive in that it flags sentence fragments and commonly used phrases as plagiarism.
Again, use your judgment here; if it's full sentences that are getting flagged, then you'll definitely want to change them. But three or four words taken entirely out of context don't really count as plagiarism.
3. Final read-through
I wouldn't do the read-through on the same day as your big edit. Take a day and return with a fresh mind, making you more likely to catch errors.
For this step, you can either read it out loud to yourself or can use a tool like Speechify to read it back to you. I prefer Speechify because it catches things that I miss. For example, it will pronounce something funny if it's spelled wrong.
Speechify has a paid version where the voices sound human and natural, but the free version does the trick too.
Step 4: Create your e-book cover
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but sadly, people do. So you'll want your cover to be professional and stand out.
You can hire an illustrator if you really want, but it's unnecessary. If you have a creative side, you can make it yourself using a tool like Canva.
Canva has a ton of free book cover templates that you can use as a springboard for your own design. It's an intuitive tool and is as easy as dragging and dropping elements and text where you want them to go on the page.
If you want to go a step further and create something totally original, you can use Jasper Art to create graphics for your book. (Jasper Art is included with every Jasper subscription.)
For example, I generated an image of a woman sitting at a laptop wearing sunglasses in "pop art" style. Then I uploaded my Jasper image to Canva and incorporated it into my book cover.
If you don't have an eye for graphic design or the thought of making your own cover makes you want to scrap the whole project, don't worry. You can skip this part altogether and go with a really simple cover, either by minimally tweaking one of Canva's templates or using a default cover in the next step.
Step 5: Create a visually appealing e-book
Technically, you can paste your document into Google Docs and just save it as a PDF.
But that isn't very visually appealing or professional-looking. To create your e-book, I would recommend one of two options:
- Canva: The first option is to create your e-book within Canva. They have a document editor, which makes it a lot easier to create e-books than in the past. However, there is still a lot of work you'll need to do to get the e-book ready. For instance, you'll need to manually add in your table of contents, page numbers, and any other visual elements.
You also have limited ways to export your e-book. You can export it as a PDF, which is fine for selling the e-book on your site, but there are no options for Kindle format or flipbooks.
- Designrr: My preferred tool for creating e-books is Designrr, which allows you to import your article from Google Docs and formats it for you automatically. You can choose from a wide selection of free design templates, which include professional-looking book covers.
Once you import your e-book, you can further customize the e-book to match your brand colors or add additional graphics.
You'll likely still need to do a little additional formatting, but it's much faster than Canva. The pro account also allows you to export your story in Kindle format, should you ever wish you publish your e-book on Amazon.
For now, once you're happy with your e-book, click on publish, select pdf, and you've got your finished product!
Step 6: Sell your book using PayHip
There are lots of ways to sell your e-book, but one of the fastest, simplest, and cheapest ways to do so is to set up a shop on PayHip.
PayHip is a platform that allows you to sell digital products, courses, online coaching, and memberships. It's really easy to use, and you don't pay anything until you make a sale.
One of the reasons I like PayHip over other platforms is that they handle the value-added tax, or VAT, which is a European sales tax that you need to remit when you sell your products to people who live in the countries that collect that tax.
It can be a real pain in the butt to manage on your own, but it's one less thing to worry about if you host your products through PayHIp.
All you need to do is connect it to your PayPal or Stripe account and then upload your products via the products page.
You can price your book for however much you want, keeping in mind that PayHip takes a small cut of each sale.
You can also upload a mockup of your e-book (which you can easily create with Canva) and add a brief product description.
Once you add the product, you'll get a link to your product page to share with your audience. Promote the link on your blog, YouTube Channel, email list, or in your platform bios. (You can also include it in the call-to-actions of your Medium articles.)
Creating an e-book may feel like an undertaking, but it doesn't need to be, especially when you have the right tools. And it's so worth the effort because you'll be left with a digital asset that can continue to make sales month after month.
Corrie Alexander is a freelancer and content creator.
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