Guest Post by Anthony Chatfield
I wrote my first eBook almost 6 years ago. It was pretty short and sweet – about 10,000 words about how to avoid cheaters in World of Warcraft. It took me more than two weeks and I got paid $150 for it, but boy was I proud of that book. It was not very good.
Fast forward six years and I’ve written more than 300 eBooks on everything from breeding Bettas to making money online. And to get here I’ve developed my fair share of tricks, tactics and shortcuts to create amazing content extremely fast.
Today I’m going to share with you exactly how I create content rapidly for each of my clients and my own sites so we can go from concept to Clickbank bestseller in less than a month.
Step 1 – Who’s the Author?
Before you write a word (or hire someone to do it), determine who your author is. I can count on two hands the number of eBooks I’ve written with the actual author’s name on them.
Nine times out of ten, it’s a pseudonym or even a persona they’ve developed for a certain niche.
Look at all the big names – people like David D’angelo? That’s a persona. Even Peng Joon had his Tony Sanders brand of gaming guides.
It’s pretty standard stuff.
But when you’re writing a book, it matters who that author is. Is it a woman? A man? A teenager? A retiree? An expert in that field or a newbie who kicks ass at research?
When you figure this stuff out it’s SO much easier to write the book because you know what that person would say about this topic.
Step 2 – What’s This Thing About?
Once you know WHO the writer is, WHAT are they writing about?
This is the niche, sure, but it’s also the problem you’re trying to solve.
You can’t write an eBook about weight loss. That’s not a problem. The problem is how long it takes and how hard it is to lose that weight. So the eBook is really about willpower and time.
You’re going to write about how to make it easier.
This might take a bit of research, but a lot less than you think. There are thousands of books already out there about weight loss. All we need to do is find an angle that is unique to the field and then do what those other writers do well in ours.
Step 3 – The Big Juicy Selling Point
Why would someone buy yet another book about weight loss?
This is the question I often ask myself as I’m sitting down to write a book for a client. What purpose does THIS book have in a market already filled with similar products?
How can this one stand out, be unique, be fun to read and engage people from the sales page to the final day in the action plan?
It’s not always easy to ask this question, but it’s a LOT easier to ask it now (on day one or two) than after you’ve written it. It’s also MUCH easier to sell a product you already know has a strong unique selling point.
Some of my clients write the sales letters for their books before I start on the book. I love this – it makes my life so much easier. But when this doesn’t happen or if I’m writing a book for my own purposes, I take the time to get things right early.
This is the Clickbank marketplace. If you’re not sure about your USP, check other products in your niche. Are they doing it that way?
Weight loss is a great example.
You can’t write yet another book about weight loss that doesn’t have a unique spin. Organic weight loss. Juice diet weight loss. Prison workout weight loss. Yoga weight loss. You need something.
Has anyone else done it? If not, you’re set.
Step 4 – What’s It Going to Look Like?
This is where I come back to the client with everything I’ve gathered.
Let’s say I’ve looked at Clickbank and seen that not one person has written an eBook about weight loss with Yoga. So that’s the angle I take.
I then write an outline for the eBook so I know what I need to get to fill it out. Here’s what those early outlines look like:
I aim for 8-11 chapter titles, including the introduction and conclusion. This number is the same no matter how long the book is. It’s a great number because it looks meaty but it isn’t overwhelming when someone sees it.
I then aim for between 5 and 10 subheadings per chapter. Enough to cover the topic in-depth and break up content, but not so much to be overwhelming.
This is all very important. You’re reading this right now and thinking “I don’t want to do this – I’m going to hire a writer”.
Sure, but that writer probably won’t be nearly as thorough as me.
So having this outline, and a clear topic and author in mind BEFORE you hire them will make your life so much easier.
Step 5 – Gather Resources and READ!
Steps 1-4 should take you between a day and three days to complete. It seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. When it comes to eBooks, you need one solid hook to make the product unique and the rest is about how well it’s written and how it’s sold.
Step five is a little different.
It takes more time and, to be perfectly honest, isn’t always necessary. But it can make a HUGE difference if you want your book to be really good.
This is where you do your research. Some writers will pick one or two resources and essentially rewrite them in a new voice.
I don’t like this. Not only is it illegal (copyright is serious my friends), but it’s lazy and the book will read lazily because of it. My strategy is different.
Here’s what I do:
- Buy 4-6 books (Kindle is best for quick reference)
- Check all Tables of Contents to see if I missed anything good
- Take copious notes on all major topics from my book
- Write it from scratch only referencing my notes
- Watch interviews, read blog posts and troll forums to make sure I understand how people talk about this topic
Again, I know a lot of you will turn to your friendly, neighborhood writer to do this for you, but if you take a bit of time and create a list of books they can buy (or buy them for them), you’ll put them on the path YOU want for the research.
Seriously, that little bit of extra time defining what you want for a contractor can be a HUGE difference in how the final product looks.
Step 6 – Write Like a Maniac
Be honest. You thought this entire post would be about writing, didn’t you?
I have a surprise for you – the writing part is the easiest when you do everything right. When you know who is writing, what they are selling, how they are selling it and have a solid collection of notes in hand, the rest flies by.
When I know what I’m writing, I can finish a 50,000 word eBook in 4 days.
Of course, not everyone can write that fast, and a lot of Internet marketers prefer to hire writers who can do the heavy lifting. But there are a few tricks I use to speed this process along. I’ll split them into tasks depending on whether you or a contractor is doing the writing.
First, if you are writing:
- Set Daily Quotas – Know how much you need to get done daily and set quotas so you always have a goal in mind.
- Write in Chunks of 1,000 Words – Break down those quotas even further into 1,000 word chunks. If this is too much, make it even smaller. 500 words in one sitting is totally doable for even the least writerly inclined
- Fill Out the Chapter with H2’s and H3’s First – When you start a chapter, go through and add all of your subheadings before you write. Then it’s more like filling in the blanks.
- Use LOTS of Bulleted Lists – Bulleted lists are amazing. I like to include at least one for every 1,000 words of text. They eat up words and screen space and they are useful for the reader.
- Type “SCREENSHOT” Where You Want Screenshots – Don’t worry about getting screenshots now. Just make a note so you can come back and add it later.
- Use Dictation Tools Where Possible – I use my Mac’s dictation tool to rip through my personal projects extra fast. The average person talks at 150 words a minute. Imagine writing a book that fast.
Now, if you’re outsourcing:
- Provide a Detailed Outline – Give the writer your outline, but be a little flexible so they can flesh it out as they work.
- Set Short Milestones – Set milestones to check in every 3-5 business days so you can check the work and ensure they are writing what you have in mind.
- Talk to Them on Skype Daily – Check for questions and provide feedback once a day on Skype if possible.
- Pay Accordingly – If you want a badass eBook, you’d better be prepared to pay more than $0.01/word. I’m biased on this, but trust me, it’s well worth it. I charge $0.06/word, but you can probably find a good writer for as little as $0.03/word.
- Provide Account Access – If the writer needs to take screenshots in your accounts or research a paid product, give them access up front to cut down on delays.
- Respond to Emails Fast – If they ask a question or need feedback, reply as soon as possible to cut down on delays.
- Read Drafts Right Away – Don’t hold those drafts. Most writers will stop working while you review. You’re wasting valuable time for every day spent not reading the draft.
Do it right and you can have the entire book done and ready for publication in less than two weeks. Heck, if you’re lucky, the contractor you hire is free and can go into high speed until it’s done. One week eBook in your hands.
Step 7 – Get It Just Right
Okay, the book is done and you just took a big breath, ready to dive into the marketing aspects.
It’s not done yet though. You still need to do a few things:
- Edit the Book – Read it, edit it and prep it for publication.
- Format the Book – Format it so it looks nice. If you don’t know how, hire someone on Fiverr or Odesk for $20.
- Add Screenshots – Get as many screenshots in as possible. I recommend at least 1 for every 1,000 words of text.
- Test Read It – Test read the book when 100% done and then have at least 3 people do the same.
This stuff can be done while you finish the rest of your project – getting a sales letter together, building the site, etc. – but it needs to be done, so don’t put the book on a back burner and forget about it yet. Be ready for a bit more work before you can call it good.
Is It Worthwhile?
Writing an eBook is one of the most effective, profitable things you can do as an Internet marketer.
Sure I’m talking about big ones – 50,000 word behemoths for publication as $47 products. But it doesn’t need to be that tough.
You can use the same tips here and create a short 5,000 word mini eBook as a free giveaway on your affiliate site in less than two days. Or create a killer 10,000 how-to book that you sell for $20 on the Warrior Forum.
There are a LOT of ways to use eBooks to build your business. Do it right and you can start churning them out at RAPID speed week after week.
Anthony Chatfield has been writing eBooks for clients around the globe since 2006. Today, he runs Great Leap Studios, a content marketing firm in New York City, and runs his own blog at AnthonyChatfield.com where he writes about freelancing, working at home, writing, and productivity.