The first time may seem daunting. I understand that, it was the same for me when I first did it in 2015. How do I write an ebook and get it published online? It isn’t really that hard, but it still is a lot of work.
To write your book, you should follow your own method. Every writer has their way of writing down their stories. Some are plotters and others just start writing without planning their plot, letting it all flow out. Some consume endless amounts of coffee during their writing journey, others stick to tea – the coffee or tea conundrum seems to be another huge discussion among writers on Twitter 😉
However you write your book is entirely up to you, because it is your creation. This may sound vague, but honestly, I think that no one can tell you how to write your book (although the internet is full with tips), because I believe that there is no strict method to writing, and by the way, it is your book, not mine. I can’t tell you how to write your own creation. If the story is in you and it has to come out, then it will come out.
If you are not writing fiction and you want to write a manual or a guidebook instead, then I suggest that you plan it out before you start writing. You want to make sure to organize your chapters and subtopics and – most importantly – keep it a light and interesting read.
For a manual or a guidebook, a conversational tone is recommended. You don’t want to bombard your reader with a long, boring essay.
Essays were for high school, but in real life, who wants to read an essay? Well, actually, I am sometimes guilty of reading essays, when they cover topics of my interest 😉
Now the Practical Stuff
Your manuscript is ready. Great. What now?
I use Word for all my writing projects, and so that is where I do my editing and formatting.
For editing, I recommend that you hire a professional editor. They often see what we do not always see right away. It is best to let our work be revised by an extra pair of eyes, and from a fresh perspective.
Of course, an editor comes at a cost, and the higher your manuscript’s word count is, the higher the cost for editing will be. It can run up to $800 or $1200 US, or more. Not everyone can spend that money, and there are many authors who edit their work themselves.
If you want to do this yourself, I recommend the following:
- Have the patience of a saint
- Do several revisions, not just one
- In your first revision, correct the most obvious errors, such as spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. If you are noticing paragraphs that somehow do not match with previous events in the history, then correct them too; if not, leave that for the second revision. You can also use Grammarly for the spell and grammar check.
- In your second revision, check for repetition and errors in the story. For example, your main character is a Muslim and then in a later chapter you have him eating a BLT sandwich in a diner; or let’s say, your character is blind and suddenly in one chapter he or she “sees” something. Those things can happen to the best. We do not always notice those mistakes, but a fresh pair of eyes does, that is why an editor is recommended.
- If you are doing this yourself, then it is best to leave the manuscript untouched for a week or two (some authors wait even a month) and then attack it with the red pen (or your keyboard) again. When we look at a written text over and over we tend to miss the obvious, but when you leave that text aside for a while and then tackle it again, you will notice many more details than before.
- In the third revision (after another week or a two-week break) check for spelling and grammar again; and get tough on yourself. That means, delete sentences and even paragraphs that are not necessary. I know, that one is hard to do. I had to do it as well with my current manuscript. I deleted several thousand words, because there was too much description and much of what I had described was already revealed in dialogues between characters.
After those three revisions, get a beta reader to go over your work. There are some excellent beta readers and they will add comments about what they think is good and what may be lacking. Beta readers are extremely helpful.
After you get your work back from the beta reader, read his or her suggestions, and if they resonate with you, then follow up on them. I used a beta reader two weeks ago and she did exceptional work with my manuscript. Thanks to her critical eye, I put my document through another round of editing and I am now getting to my final result. I am planning to publish my book this month, in May.
Don’t Forget the Formatting.
How is that done? Formatting makes your text presentable. It includes indentations in the first lines of each paragraph, a new chapter on a new page, an author disclaimer page, your copyright info, a table of contents, linking the table of contents to your chapters through hyperlinks, and (if applicable) a list of sources.
Let’s go over this step by step.
An author disclaimer page should include the following. The below example is a screenshot of one of my books. It does not have to be exactly like this one, but hopefully this will give you an idea.
A table of contents is important, especially if you are selling it as an ebook. Sometimes readers like to find a certain chapter and if that chapter is linked to your table of contents, then they can easily find it. How do you link the chapters?
Method to Create Hyperlinks
First, you highlight the chapter. Let’s say, it’s called Chapter 1: Coffee or Tea for Writers. Highlight the whole title and then click on “insert” in the top menu. A new menu will appear, you will click on “bookmark”. Then a box will pop up. You have to give your chapter a name. You can call it chapter 1 or ch1, it doesn’t really matter what you call it. The name’s only purpose is for you to find it later on. Repeat this for every chapter in the book, including prologue and epilogue if you have them.
After that, go to your table of contents, and highlight the first chapter in your table of contents. Again, click on “insert” in the top menu, then click on “hyperlink”. A box will appear with a list of the chapter names you just created. Since this is chapter 1 you click on chapter 1 or ch 1 in the box (or whatever name you gave it). Now, the chapter title in the table of contents is linked to the chapter in the book. That means, if a reader clicks on the chapter title in the table of contents, he/she is taken straight to the chapter.
Repeat this process for each chapter until all of them have a hyperlink.
How do you make indents for the first lines of each paragraph?
Highlight the paragraphs, right click, and in the menu that appears click on “paragraph”. The paragraph dialog box will display. Choose the indents and spacing tab and apply your changes. Click on save.
Chapter on a New Page
To ensure that your chapter always begins on a new page, simply click the ctrl and enter key, and you can start writing your next chapter on a new page.
There is also another way. You can insert page breaks, which will also make sure that a new chapter appears on a new page. Simply click on “insert” in the top menu (when using Word), then click on “page break”. This method may differ, depending on what version of Word you use.
I always just click ctrl and enter, it works just as well, and it is faster.
I hope that all of this is useful for your ebook project. If you have any doubts or questions, please let me know in the comments. If you have any suggestions, I am always happy to hear them 🙂 .
Wishing you much success with your book projects!