As I ventured in writing ebooks for Kindle myself, I noticed many people do have the same questions I got. And they were not always finding the answers. I decided to write down what I learned so far in hope it will help aspiring writer out there; you.
It is a good thing to break down the whole process into simple steps. Climbing Mt Everest is a huge undertaking and will scare you. But if you break it down into smaller steps and take each one of them individually it looks much more accomplishable. It is the same with writing a book; be it your first novel or a nonfiction work. So let’s start.
For some it is the hardest part, for others, it is the easiest because the got plenty of ideas. IMHO it is important that you somehow relate to the topic as writing about something you don’t like is a dread, and the chance drastically increases that you won’t finish it. Remember how it felt to write essays in school? Boooring :-)
Now remember what happened when you could write about a topic that you love? It felt much better, and your readers will notice this. Here are some tips for finding your ideas.
Take your time and create a list and do not judge in this step. It does not matter, just collect. I prefer doing this with pen and paper as I feel more connected doing it this way. But it is up to you.
Just don’t take forever, limit this step to 1 or 2 days and then decide. And stay with your decision. You want to finish, and your first book will not make you famous anyways.
When you chose your topic, it is time to do a bit research. The focus is on a bit. If you start doing to much research you get into the Paralysis through Analysis state and won’t accomplish anything. It is a bad state, and it happens to me too, and I can tell you it is hard work and willpower to overcome it. I found it much easier not to fall into this trap in the first place.
Take some time and carefully do your research, but do not overdo it. Limit it also to 1 or 2 days and then stop. Doing more might trap you in Paralysis through Analysis.
When you collected now enough information about your topic, it is time to structure it. The structure will help you to set some boundaries for writing. Your chapters feel right and not just thrown together. Also, it does help you with doing your writing sessions later. You can work on a single chapter or even a subchapter and know exactly what should be included. You can focus and don’t stray away.
Write each section you want to write about on a post-it note or index card. Do it briefly, but in a way that you still know what it means.
Now you go through your bunch of post-its and group similar topics. A group forms the content of a chapter now, and each post-it can be a subchapter. Do it with all notes. Take a rest and go over each group, order the subchapters, throw subchapters out if they don’t fit or rearrange them into another chapter.
See Pat Flynn, a successful entrepreneur, doing it live. This method is priceless.
Of course, you can outline on the computer, and it might have an advantage with works like George R. R. Martin’s. I noticed the old school way works better for me, no battery things required, I can work outside, and I am not limited by the way the software think I should work.
Take one day for your first iteration and another day for checking again with a fresh and clear mind. It might help if you take a day off in between.
Our outline helps us now with focussing our writing sessions. We don’t have to think about what to write; you already outlined it before. We just need to fill in the blanks under each subchapter. You can work on a chapter or even a subchapter and just focus on it.
Before you start writing, turn off any distractions. Get a quiet place, be alone, no phone and better no internet.
When you are ready, start with a brain dump for the chapter. Write down anything that comes to your mind for this section. Write. Write and Write. Don’t think and don’t edit. As Scott and Khan suggest it is important to get it out of your mind, so you get words on a paper and ideas out of your head making room for new things.
And if you need to add a number, or can’t remember a word or even think you need to do research, keep writing and insert a short to do for later.
Depending on how fast you write you get a first draft in no time. It will be ugly and full of spelling and grammar mistakes, but it does not matter, nobody will see it. Important is your ideas are on paper now.
Put it away and let it rest for a few days. Then revise and create a second draft. If you do it on a chapter per chapter basis or for your full book does not matter. Just split writing and editing into a different session. Hence, why the next section is about editing.
If you have problems with that, try out Blindwrite or the blind writing mode in Moopato. They hide your text and when you don’t see what you are writing your inner editor and critic can’t work. And that’s good because your writer can do now uninterrupted.
You can edit each chapter individually or a completely after your first draft. That is up to you. But as I stated here and in article, do not write and edit at the same time. Some people can work this way and be productive, but it seems it does not work for most of us; it does not for me.
You can split your editing into different tasks
You should at least do it one time to get your second draft and if you got enough time, don’t do it directly after writing the chapter. It helps to edit a chapter with a clear mind and distance to your first draft.
Don’t go crazy with it. You can edit forever and will get nowhere. Always remember you want to finish your book, so I’d limit it to 2 drafts and a few days.
Yes, you can write and format your book in Word. Follow Amazons formatting guidelince and you can upload your Word Manuscript. But I advice you not to use word for it. Not because I sell a software helping you with it, but from saving you the pain.
If you mostly use plain text, no images and no table of contents it works, but when you do have pictures and more formatting, it gets troublesome. Not only you have to fight with Word, it is famous to mess up with images, but also with the result uploading to Amazon. Word is for Letters, not books and especially not a good choice for formatting books.
Write your Book in Markdown. It is an easy and human readable plain text format which supports formatting like images, links, emphasis, bold, lists and such. The benefits are it is plain text, easy formatting and there are many tools to publish markdown documents to other formats. Be it PDF, Webpages or eBooks. Additionally, you can style your book easier with a template and do not need to touch your manuscript for reformatting.
Just save you the pain and don’t do it with Word.
When you have written, edited and formatted your eBook and it is ready to publish, you should proofread it. Read it aloud to spot spelling and grammar errors or missing words easier. Check the layout, are images displayed correct, does the table of contents work, do links work and such.
Use the Kindle Previwer to proofread it on multiple devices. Send it to your own Kindle and read it on an actual device.
Everything works? Great. Now you can ask friends and family to recheck it for you on their device. Or you find a professional proofreader or some help on Fiverr.
If you used a suitable software in the formatting step your time spend here is drastically reduced. It will look fine on multiple devices and you primary check for your spelling and grammar mistakes.
Sign up for the kindle direct publishing, fill out your tax and payment information, and you are ready to publish your first book. It is the last step in our process, and it is the easiest, but still the most fearful one.
Amazon guides you through all of these steps, so I don’t need to cover it here. When you uploaded your eBook to Amazon KDP, filled out your Books Metadata, uploaded your Cover, you are ready to publish it. But wait, did I do everything right, I better double check. I kid you not. You will double check once or maybe more times and some fear to hit the “submit” button.
Just double check once and then click the damn button. Yes, you will make mistakes, and no you would not notice it before it is too late. Don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake you can correct it later. Publishing takes around 12 hours and in this time you can not change your book. Don’t submit each change individually because you always have to wait the 12 hours or so. Collect them and fix in one go.
You’ll get an email when your book is live, so search it on Amazon and buy a copy. Download the copy to your device and proofread it again.
Now you know what steps you need to take for writing your eBook for Kindle. The only thing left is that you need actually to take these steps. Start right now and keep moving for the first week. You need to get momentum so you won’t stop and you will increase the chance of finishing and accomplishing your goal. You’ll feel proud of finishing it.
It does not matter if it does sell or not. It does not matter if people like it or not. The most important part is to finish it. For yourself.