Written By: Tom Ogg
At the very epicenter of digital marketing is content. And, nothing represents content better than a well organized and written print or eBook. Writing a book elevates you in your client’s eyes to someone with special knowledge and expertise. Being a published author, once a formidable task, is now something everyone can and should accomplish to heighten their stature as a travel expert.
Today, everyone reading this should contemplate writing their first eBook on their travel niche. Writing an eBook is easy, inexpensive to produce and potentially can be very profitable. Here are three reasons for writing your first eBook.
1. To Make Money: Publishing and marketing eBooks is not the daunting task it once was. In fact, writing, publishing and marketing it to the entire world is downright easy and doesn’t require any special skills at all. Anyone can do it and should. A successful eBook may generate an excellent income with little risk.
2. To Use as “Bait”: Offering a free eBook on a subject that travelers in your niche will be interested in is a very effective way to be introduced to new clients. First, since you are the author of the information in the eBook, you must have a level of expertise far above a typical travel agent. Don’t ever underestimate the value of being the “expert”. Second, by offering a free eBook on a narrow topic within your niche you can collect a name and an email address for your email list. This in itself is reason enough to write an eBook. Having a focused email list of potential clients interested in what you specialize in is the first step towards success.
3. To Become an Expert: Obviously if you are the author of “Alaska Port Guides” you are an expert on cruising Alaska and her ports. Your eBook can be about anything and there are travelers that will want the information. ”Waikiki’s Back Street Dining, 10 Restaurants You Do Not Want to Miss” would easily capture the attention of visitors to Waikiki and could be s short eBook that shares some wonderful information. Best of all, you can capture to names and email addresses of those that request it. And, they will be impressed with your expertise.
The Process of Writing an eBook
OK, so now we know why you should write your first eBook and now we will deal with the “How”.
Create an eBook Concept
Before you start writing you need a solid concept for your eBook. What is the purpose of the eBook? Why will people want to read it? How are you going to market it? Will you take it to print too? What qualities do you possess that will make you an expert on the subject that you are writing about? You should have all of this thought out long before investing time in creating it. The best eBook concepts are when you are documenting your expertise and considerable knowledge at a level even knowledgeable readers will find engaging. Here are some common mistakes made when developing a realistic eBook concept.
You Are Not Going to Get Rich: This is brutal. Of course everyone wants their eBook to be successful, but the reality is that it is quite unlikely that your book will be one of the New York Times best sellers and more likely that you may possibly only sell a few copies, at best.
Forget Trying to Make it Perfect: Agonizing over every page, paragraph, sentence and word is likely to detract from the overall message that your eBook will convey. Get it to the point of commercial viability and stop there.
Don’t Use Writing Tools: Sure you want to be perceived as professional and educated, but you readers want to get to know you. Your eBook offers the opportunity for you to express your knowledge and personality in a way that will help readers connect with you. Your eBook should shout your uniqueness and personality and not follow a canned format.
Don’t Use the Shotgun Approach: Kindle alone currently has over fifty million eBooks for sale and that is just the start of the number of eBooks in the world. The best way to make your eBook relevant is to have a pinpoint focus on a keyword subject. By having a narrow niche focus that can be found by using obvious keywords will guarantee that your eBook will be offered to the right consumer.
Create an eBook Plan
Now that you have a valid concept, it is time to create a valid plan that you can use to measure your progress with. The very first thing you should do is establish the eBook’s publication date. Let’s say that you are writing an eBook about cruising the Danube River and are focusing on releasing it for the 2021 booking season. You will need to understand when the river cruise lines will start accepting bookings for 2021 and then when the details of their 2021 sailings will be released. Once you have that information, you now have your publication date.
Create an eBook Table of Contents
The best way to create a Table of contents is to start writing down each and every topic that you want to cover in your eBook. Don;t worry about the format or the order in which they are documented. Take 2 or 3 days to uncover each and every topic that would be relevant to your eBook.
Once you have them documented make a 3×5 card for each one and start trying to put them in a logical order. If there are overlapping topics just put them on top of each other in the stack of cards. The challenge is to create a TOC with each chapter being a unique and relevant topic. Where there or two or more topics that are competitive with each other, chose the one that is most relevant and then write down the other topic(s) a subheadings on the card.
Once you have everything in order, you have a start to your TOC. Now, take each card and start jotting down logical subheadings for each chapter. Again, the idea is to create a rough TOC, but nothing is set in cement at this point.
Create a Critical Path to Publishing
Now that you have a solid concept, a plan and a TOC you can start scheduling your time to complete the eBook in time to be published. Set a date for each chapter to be completed and remember you do not have to write them in their TOC order. If one chapter is dependent upon information being released, save that chapter until the appropriate time. You should have the manuscript done in plenty of time to have it read and commented on. The best way to do this is to offer the manuscript for free to the exact market your eBook focuses on.
Offer the opportunity to read and then review to manuscript and to offer reviews and comments that will be used in the publishing of the book. You can generally get well known people in your niche to do this in exchange for the publicity that they receive by having their review published in the book and also in press releases.
Since we will obviously be writing a book on travel of some sort, will it include a lot of pictures, or will it be primarily textual?
The first thing you must consider is how it is going to be marketed and what format the eBook will be created in. While there are certainly more eBook formats, the 4 most popular are .pdf, .azw. .epub and Flip Books. Here are the differences.
.pdf: .pdf stands for “Portable Document File” and has been around since the 1990s. While there are numerous .pdf creation tools, the most robust and .pdf standard is Adobe’s “Acrobat Pro”.
Acrobat Pro offers numerous security functions to keep your eBook from being shared with 10,000 of the reader’s best friends, which is critical if your eBook is “for profit” And, Acrobat Pro also offers the ability to compile and edit .pdf documents.
For the purposes of delivering a 4-color eBook that will probably be printed and read, or downloaded and read on a desktop or notebook computer .pdf is a great choice. If your eBook has a lot of graphics, pictures, charts and other fixed width design layout features then using the .pdf format makes a ton of sense.
The downside to using a .pdf format is that while it can be opened on a tablet or smart phone, its fixed width does not allow the eBook to be presented in an easy to read format. On a smart phone one would have to scroll across the line from left to right in able to read it.
And, while the fixed positioning of .pdfs is a problem when trying to reflow content, one can easily create a .pdf, for each device category by changing the size of the pages so that a .pdf built for a smart phone displays well on a smart phone and so on.
.azw: amazon.com uses the .azw format for its Kindle eBooks and this should be a format that you should consider simply because it offers such a rich environment of marketing opportunities.
When you submit your book for inclusion in amazon.com’s robust book marketing effort throughout the world, you are presenting your eBook too hundreds of millions of potential customers.
amazon.com’s keyword search function makes it easy for you to reach potential buyers based on keywords that you use while publishing on Kindle.
The .azw format allows you to select either fixed or reflowable options so that your eBook text will flow to fit whatever device it is being read on.
While the assumed negative aspect of using a .azw format is that they can only be read on a Kindle device, the truth is that there are numerous Kindle apps that allow Kindle eBooks to be read on just about every smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop that exists.
The tool you will use to create a .azw file is “Kindle Create” a free program that you download from kdp.amazon,com. (KDP Stands for “Kindle Direct Publishing”) It offers two different opportunities to create .azw files. If you are building an eBook with reflowable textual characteristics you will need to have the content in a word document. If you are creating a complex eBook with pictures, graphics and other complex layouts then you would need to have a finished .pdf document of the eBook.
.azws are great for creating ebooks with interactive TOCs. When you launch a new project with Kindle Create if will give you the option of choosing “Novels, Essays, Poetry, Non-fiction” which is a reflowable text environment from a .docx document or choosing “Textbooks, Travel Guides, cookbooks, Music books” which is a fixed width document from a .pdf document.
So if your eBook is textual or complex and you want the marketing reach of amazon.com’s global presence this is probably your best choice.
.epub: .epub has emerged as the most widely used format for eBooks and works on just about every device with the exception of Kindle devices. .epub files are easily made by creating a manuscript in Word . Then you will have to convert it to a program that can export a .epub file.
Apple Pages, Adobe InDesign and Open Office all can export documents as .epub files and there are numerous online services that will create .epubs from your files, as well. It is as easy as import your docx file and export as .epub file. That’s all there is to it.
If you will be writing many eBooks and print books, join Adobe’s “Creative Cloud” and learn to use InDesign to create professional quality print and eBooks. InDesign has export options to create both fixed and reflowable .epub designs.
If you are just only going to write one eBook then there are tons of ways to create an .epub from a .docx manuscript including paying someone to do it for you.
Unfortunately conversions into the .epub format never look the same way they do in their native environment and many of the free online converters do a poor job of it. There are some .epub editors that can allow you to manipulate the layout of an .epub file to make it look more professional.
.epubs are made by using XML and XHTML and incorporates CSS for design. While there are tools for editing .epubs unless you are comfortable working with XML, XHTML and CSS files it is going to be difficult editing a complex eBook.
There is also the opportunity to create “Flip Page” books which are viewed online and offer highly interactive environments that include textual, visual, video, audio and are completely responsive.
Flip page book technology has come a long way from its early days where they barely worked. Today they offer a very stimulating experience for the readers.
Flip Page Books are excellent for complex and interactive eBooks that may include video, audio or other interactive elements. Flip Page Books are likely to be the way of the future simply because they can engage readers in much the same way that Facebook does,
Again, marketing is the key to making your decision.
What Software Will I Need?
You can use any word processor to create the content for your eBook. Microsoft Word is the standard, but if you are going to be using the .epub format consider using either Pages or Open Office.
.pdf eBooks are created by software that takes documents and turns them into “Portable Document Files” which can be viewed by anyone using a .pdf reader. Adobe Acrobat is the most common .pdf reader but most browsers have built-in .pdf readers that you can use to facilitate opening a .pdf.
Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge all have built in .pdf readers however they are very basic. The best choice to create .pdf eBooks is Adobe Acrobat Professional.
You can easily create an eBook from a variety of documents by importing the various documents and then put them together in logical and create an eBook. This is especially effective if you have several chapters that are separate documents.
The best feature of Acrobat Professional is that it allows several layers of security so that no one can steal you content and share it with a million people.
.azws will require that you download Amazon’s “Kindle Create” which can take a .docx (Word document) or a .pdf and turn it into a Kindle .azw document. Kindle Create allows you several formatting options to really give your eBook a professional look.
There are themes that you can use depending on the type of eBook you are creating and you can control the font and paragraph parameters to control the overall eBook’s appearance.
Flip Page eBooks require making a few decisions. There are a number of companies that will convert your .pdf files into Flip Page books but they are charging for hosting them on their servers. The first decision is if you want that to happen, or not.
By using a quality Flip Page book creator you can host the Flip Book on your own server, which is the way to go. While there are a good number of Flip Page companies that sell Flip Page software, I would suggest that you go with the more expensive ones simply because it is still an evolving technology.
As the technology matures, the pricing will certainly become more affordable. The one that we use is 3D Issue (3DIssue.com) and we have been happy with them for several years now.
Software for creating complex print and eBooks is necessary. The industry standard is Adobe InDesign and this program will allow you to take advantage of state of the art technology to create highly engaging content for your books.
However any page layout software will work as long as you can create a .pdf with it. High quality .pdfs are what digital printers need and also complex eBooks.