You’ve probably heard of James Patterson. He’s the best-selling author of all time, with over 250 million books sold worldwide. His success got him a place on the New York Times bestseller list, where he’s remained for over a decade.
While reading an interview with Patterson recently, something he said caught my attention:
“If you want to become a successful writer, write what you know,” he said. “If you want to write historical fiction, write about history.”
What exactly does he mean by this? Is there some secret to being successful as a writer that not everyone knows?
Here’s the inside scoop on how to write an ebook, from someone who’s written a few books herself.
Step One: Set a Deadline
In writing, as in most things in life, there are advantages to planning. Setting a deadline for your book will give you a sense of urgency, and you’ll feel compelled to get the project done. Plus, you’ll have the motivation to keep working hard and to meet the deadline.
Step Two: Decide On Your Platform
If you’re new to this whole ebook thing, you might not know what platform you should use. Should you go with Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iBookstore? Or maybe you should explore.pdfs since they’re easily searchable through Google?
The answer is: it depends.
What do you prefer? Do you mainly read on Kindle or do you prefer to read books on your phone? What are your budget constraints? Are you just starting out or are you looking for ways to expand your readership?
Once you’ve decided, the choice is easy. You can build and launch your ebook within the same platform, or you can choose to go cross-platform, which means your ebook will appear on all the different devices and platforms you have.
Step Three: Start A Blog
Blogs are an essential part of any serious content creator’s digital toolbox, and for good reason too. Having a blog can give you a place to post your work, connect with potential collaborators, and grow a community of people who want to hear what you have to say.
Step Four: Publish Your Blog Posts On Your Patreons
Don’t want to set up a blog? That’s ok. You can also use your Patreons to publish your blog posts for free (with restricted rights). Just make sure you put a good description of your blog post on the homepage of your Patreons, so people know what they’re getting into.
Step Five: Start A Website
Speaking of blogs, don’t want to set up a separate blog for your content? You can also use your Patreons to launch a very basic and stripped down website, which you can then use to market and distribute your content. Remember: your goal here is to create content that is commercially viable, so don’t skimp out on the design and expect the world to come to you. You can use the free version of Squarespace, which many people have had success with. For a more robust platform, consider Shopify, Wix, or OneSpace.
Step Six: Get To Know Your Readership
You’ll never know how many times someone has told me that they wish they’d known more about their readership before they started writing. It’s quite common for new writers to underestimate the power of this group of people they’re about to engage with, and so they end up creating content that doesn’t resonate with them. If you want to create content that your readers will value, put yourself in their shoes for a while. Ask yourself:
- What do I want from this content?
- How do I want to receive it? (i.e. ebooks vs. audio books)
- How is this content going to benefit me?
If you can answer these basic questions, you’ll be able to create content that is much more useful and engaging.
Step Seven: Measure And Improve
As a content creator, whether you’re an author, blogger, or shop owner, you’ll eventually run into the problem of determining if your content is actually helping you reach your goals. The best way to attack this problem is through measurement and analysis. If you want to know exactly how many people are reading and/or buying your content, you can use Google Analytics to track these metrics. You can also use survey tools to garner feedback from your readership. If you’re looking to grow a commercially viable audience, you can use tools like Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, and Instagram paid advertising to gain momentum.
Let’s reiterate the lesson here: writing an ebook is a great way to go. It’s an easy, accessible way to distribute your work, and it has the potential to earn you a significant income. It takes time to build a following, but once you do, the income can be more than decent. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means, but it’s definitely a viable option for those looking for additional ways to make money online.