How to write more ebooks
A quick guide for new authors
Written by Phil Wade
Copyright © Phil Wade 2016
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First Published using Papyrus, 2016
In my first book I covered the basic steps to go from ebook idea to publishing. I received some great reviews and ratings form fellow ebook fans and writers so I decided to write another to help people tackle the infamous ‘book 2’.
This ebook aims to help you follow up your success of publishing your first ebook by showing you where to go next and how. It’s quite easy to make 1 ebook as it’s often the fruit of months or years of mental planning. In contrast, the next one and the one after that need a different approach.
Chapter 1: Feedback
Every follow-up should begin by looking at the first ebook. Look at your downloads, reviews, star ratings and any comments or feedback on Social Media, blogs or websites. Basically, use whatever data you can get your hands on to gauge responses to your first baby.
Some ebooks do very well in their reception by readers, their earnings or ideally, both. Whichever, you need to understand why people downloaded your ebook and why others didn’t. Then, what those readers actually have to say about what they read.
Read any reviews on Shakespir then google your ebook to find any other reviews online, user comments and other mentions. Think about sharing free copies with people on Facebook or Twitter in exchange for a feedback chat. Ask them 1) Why they downloaded it 2) What they thought about it 3) What they think could be improved 4) What would they like for a sequel.
Be careful though, it is VERY hard to take criticism about an ebook you poured your heart and soul into so think about getting a friend to help. Make sure you are very clinical and pinpoint exactly what worked, what didn’t and try to identify opportunities for your next ebook. Turn everything into an opportunity. For instance, negative answers to 2) and 3) can be great as they will give you topics for future ebooks.
Chapter 2: A mind map
Make a class mind map by writing the name of your first ebook in the middle then add a line and then a bubble with each of the questions from the previous chapter in. Next, start writing the comments you received around them. Once that’s done, I suggest adding another bubble and calling it ‘what I want’ and brainstorming and writing any objectives you have, titles, ideas, content or desires for your next ebook. Be honest.
Once it’s finished, you’ll have a very visual representation of what readers thought, want for the next one and, equally important, what you want. Now it’s completely up to you as to what you focus on and in fact, you probably have enough data for your next 5 books. I’d look for ideas that stand out and highlight them. What you are looking for are ideas that can help you with the following:
1) A suitable sequel title that either adapts the first ebook, just adds the number ‘2’ or creates another phrase that is obviously a follow-up.
2) Ideas for the content and chapters.
3) 1 or 2 (max) things to change with the original style.
Don’t try to change too much or book number 2 will seem more like a completely different series. Stick with what worked and drop a few things that didn’t.
Chapter 3: Template
Open the Word doc of your original ebook, save it as your new title and look carefully at each chapter. Use it as a template for writing the second. Stick to the same look and feel, minus your few changes. The shorter the time between the old and the new ebooks, the easier this will be.
The chances are that you probably gave yourself complete freedom with the first title but now you need to recreate that magic but in the same bottle, so to speak. This is a completely different task as you are now limited and so needs a very different approach. Don’t be put off by the constraints as half of your work is already done for you because all you need to do is fill those X pages with content similar to what is on the page already.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and look at each page of the original then your new page in book 2. Ask yourself ‘if read the original, would I like this new one?” Readers may buy both of your ebooks and read 1 after the other so they need a consistent style and for the ebooks to fit together. Of you intend to write a series, think of people reading all of them in one sitting.
When you finish the contents page or a few chapters, try printing out ebook 1 and ebook 2 out and setting some of the pages out on your table to see if they visually go well together.
Chapter 4: The block
Your early enthusiasm will soon wear off as ebook 2 is often less ‘fun’ than ebook 1. By about half of the way through your second masterpiece, you might get fed up of writing with the constraints and writing for your audience. If you are in it for the sales, think of it as a business project where you are simply making what customers need. If you are a ‘free downloader’, think of the finished ebook and the happy readers. Now is the time to push on.
[* Unless you made a very good plan with detailed chapter notes, you might also get the frightening writers block. This is because you are digging from a very shallow well. In comparison, you probably had 20+ years of your life to go into ebook 1. Hitting a brick wall means you haven’t been strategic enough and created a very clear and detailed plan. This is how publishers work so they can literally allocate different chapters to different writers. For us ‘yes I plan but not that much’ writers, I think it is best to balance planning with creativity so do the brainstorming trick for each chapter and ‘plan as you go’. This will stop you feeling like writing is a job and keep your creativity juices flowing. *]
Don’t limit yourself to ebook 2. Make notes, doodles, scribbles or even cartoons of any thoughts you have when you are writing, when you are stuck or when you finish a chapter. All of these ‘in the moment’ fragments can be of use for ebooks 3, 4, 5…
Chapter 5: The future
When I finished my first 2 ebooks, I still had ideas for a couple more so by ebook 3, I decided to create a series. This is no simple task but it is achievable. If that’s not for you but you still want to write then think about related titles. For branding and marketing, it’s good to have some kind of connection between titles if they are in the same field. If not, then simply adding the ‘author of…’ is also a good idea.
Serious ebook writers set up blogs or websites to promote themselves and ebooks. They use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their work with the world. This is OK but it might not drive sales unless you are paying to boost your posts. For people who really want to make money, it’s not easy. From what I know of other author friends, I’d say that having your ebook available for download everywhere i.e. on Shakespir, via Apple, on Amazon is the first step. Then you have the social media promotion step, an attractive blog with weekly new content, a nice email newsletter and even guest blog posts, ebook reviews and maybe a column in a magazine. This is what many ebook writers do but that is also the problem. If everyone does it then there is too much competition. You need to identify your target audience and find out how to reach them and how they can spread the word.
Remember that you need to build trust in your readers so if you released ebook 1 in January and ebook 2 in June then the readers will expect another by November. Nurture this relationship using whatever channels you have and make it 2-way so you get useful feedback from your fans.
Good luck and remember to use the #ELTebook hashtag if you share ebooks about ELT.