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How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

Step by Step strategies to build authority, generate leads, and earn passive income

If you've tried writing an eBook before, you know how hard it can be to get all your content structured properly. 

Without a logical flow and organization, the whole thing just becomes a jumbled mess. And let me tell you, readers can sniff out that lack of structure from a mile away. 

They'll take one look at your eBook and bin it faster than you can say "refund." 

After putting in all that hard work, the last thing you want is people giving up on your book because it's too difficult to follow. 

Actually— the last thing you want is to publish a badly formatted eBook as you’ll instantly lose trust with your audience. 

But don't stress, if you apply a few key principles around planning, structure, and design, you'll be writing and publishing your eBooks with clear narrative paths, smooth transitions, and an overall experience that just flows for your audience.

In this article, I'll run you through all you need to know about writing an eBook that your audience will love, including:

  • Proper planning and outlining

  • How to hook readers in from start to finish

  • Design tips for formatting and layout

  • How to publish and distribute your eBook across all major platforms

  • Marketing strategies to drive sales and email sign-ups

Right then, let’s get started.

What Is an eBook?

An eBook is essentially a book in digital form that you can read online or on devices like a Kindle. 

For those of us who create content, eBooks are a gold mine for many reasons. They're an incredibly valuable way to package your knowledge and expertise into something your audience can easily digest.

But eBooks aren't just one-off resources. They can also be a sneaky way to grow your email list. Offer up your eBook as a free download or bonus upgrade, and bam - you've got people practically throwing their email addresses at you to get that good stuff.

And trust me, if you're reading this, you already know how huge it is to have a direct line to people's inboxes.

When you put out a quality eBook, you're doing two seriously powerful things at once: establishing your authority in your niche by showing off what you know, while also building up a list of warm leads to nurture. 

It's a major power play in marketing.

Types of eBooks

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

As a creator, you have a wide range of eBook formats to work with. Each one brings something unique to the table in terms of purpose and audience appeal. 

Here's a quick rundown:

  • Informational eBooks: These are the most common. Typically, they’ll be a “master-class” guide that breaks down a particular topic or skill in your niche. They deliver comprehensive, actionable information to your readers.

  • Workbooks and Worksheets: These interactive eBooks let your audience apply what they're learning as they go in an engaging format. They're packed with exercises, activities, fillable templates—the whole shebang.

  • Case Studies and Success Stories: Nothing quite inspires people like real-world case studies and testimonials, am I right? eBooks filled with relatable case studies and success stories are like classroom gold.

  • eBook Bundles: Why have one eBook when you can bundle multiple together into one epic content package? These are usually offered as discounted bundles, too, so it's a solid deal for your audience.

  • Niche/Specialized eBooks: I’m talking about industry reports, research papers, and exclusive content for your biggest fans. Hyper-focused, niche eBooks are like premium memberships in eBook form.

The specific type of eBook you create will depend on your goals, what your audience wants, and the unique value you can deliver.

Benefits of Creating eBooks

Creating high-quality eBooks can be a huge investment in your business or personal brand. 

The benefits are:

  • Lead Generation: As I already mentioned, using eBooks as lead magnets or content upgrades is an A+ strategy for capturing those valuable email addresses and growing your subscriber list.

  • Becoming the Authority: Publish informative, well-researched eBooks and watch your expert status in your niche go through the roof. Serious credibility and thought leadership points.

  • Passive Income Streams: The beauty of eBooks is that once you've done the hard work, they can continue generating income for you automatically with little additional effort.

  • Leveling Up Audience Engagement: You’ll get a ton of engagement by delivering high-value, engaging eBooks that build your audience's loyalty to you.

  • Repurposing Possibilities: Don't sleep on how the content from your eBooks can be repurposed into other awesome stuff like blog posts, videos, social media content, and more.

Planning and Writing Your eBook

Are you familiar with the 5 P’s? Proper planning prevents poor performance!

Planning your eBook is what is going to allow you to write a brilliant eBook.

Choosing a Niche and Topic

For this section, I’m going to assume that you already have a niche or a thing you are interested in that you already talk about. 

For example, I harp on about Email Marketing, but yours might be basketball or yoga. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter; the point is that you need a Niche. 

So, you have a niche, and now you need a topic. How do you choose a topic? 

Identifying Problems to Solve

One of the best ways to choose a topic is to list all the problems that need solving in your niche. 

Let me give you an example using email marketing.

Here are seven email marketing problems that many businesses commonly face:

  • Low Email Open Rates

  • High Unsubscribe Rates

  • Difficulty in Creating Engaging Content

  • Challenges with Email Personalization

  • Issues with Email Deliverability

  • Lack of Email Automation Strategy

  • Measuring Email Marketing ROI Effectively

It should go without saying but, you need to really understand the issues, questions and desires your audience has about these topics that you can help with.

Leveraging AI for Topic Ideas

Before I pick a specific topic, I’ll ask myself what problems I can solve, what vital information my target audience is craving, and what my competitors are doing. 

Pick a topic that combines your knowledge and their needs. That is the secret to creating an eBook that actually provides massive value.

If you’re stuck on finding topics, get help from my mate ChatGPT.

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

Response from ChatGPT: Here are five common challenges people face when practicing yoga, along with eBook suggestions to address each challenge:

  • Lack of Flexibility

    eBook Idea: "Yoga for Flexibility: A Beginner's Guide to Improve Range of Motion"

  • Difficulty in Mastering Yoga Poses

    eBook Idea: "Mastering Yoga Poses: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners"

  • Inconsistent Practice

    eBook Idea: "Yoga Habit Builder: How to Establish a Consistent Practice"

  • Trouble Finding Time for Yoga

    eBook Idea: "Yoga for Busy People: Quick Practices for Any Schedule"

  • Physical Discomfort or Pain During Yoga

    eBook Idea: "Yoga Alignment and Injury Prevention: Techniques for Safe Practice"

Once you have the topics, go through the questions from above. This works in any niche. 

Finding Your Unique Perspective

Next, you need to hone in on your unique area of specialization. 

What makes your perspective and experience one-of-a-kind? How can you position yourself as the go-to pro on this subject? 

It’s really important that you take the time to understand this because it will allow you to create hyper-targeted content and help you establish yourself as an authority.

Understanding Your Audience

Okay, so now it’s time to try to understand who your audience is. Who exactly are these folks you're making this eBook for? What are their backgrounds, pain points, goals, and preferences? 

Do research through surveys and interviews and sift through data—that's how you'll gather the insights to write an eBook that speaks directly to your audience.

Analyzing the Competition

Now that you have your topic, niche, and audience locked in, you need to size up your competition. Look at competing/bestselling eBooks, gather feedback directly from your audience, and identify any gaps or unique angles that can help your eBook truly stand out.

One final key step in the planning phase is keyword research. It’s not as difficult as you might think. You can often find the specific terms, phrases, and questions your target audience is searching for, by simply typing into Google’s search bar.

For example:

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

Google Trends is another great way of discovering topics people are already talking about in your niche. 

If you have some cash to invest, then you can use tools like Ahrefs and AnswerThePublic to uncover those golden keywords.

Writing and Structuring Your eBook

Having a solid outline for your eBook is what will keep things flowing smoothly from start to finish. 

Let's say you're a social media wizard putting together an eBook called "The Ultimate Guide to Viral Social Content." 

Your outline might look something like this:

  • Understanding Your Target Audience (who they are, what makes them tick?)

  • How To Create Thumb-Stopping Visuals (because, let's be real, visuals are everything.)

  • The Power of Storytelling (how to capture people's attention and emotions.)

  • Optimizing for Maximum Engagement (the tactics to keep 'em hooked.)

Under each of those main section headers, you will need subsections that dive deeper into specific strategies and pro tips. 

Following an outline like this allows you to guide the reader on a seamless journey where the knowledge builds naturally.

Hooking the Reader

That's all well and good, but remember, we live in a world where people's attention spans are shorter than a TikTok video, which is ironic in itself. 

To keep people reading, you have to hook them in. Grabbing the reader from that very first page is mission-critical. For the intro, maybe you open with a startling stat like "Did you know posts with images get 2.3X more engagement than those without?" 

Boom - you've caught their attention while giving them a taste of the fire content to come.

If you need inspiration on how to hook people in, I suggest watching one of Mr. Beast's videos or a Sabri Subi video. Their hooks are insanely good.

Sprinkle in real-world case studies and examples to illustrate your points in a relatable way. If you're breaking down storytelling, you could highlight how a clever small biz used an emotional, behind-the-scenes story to power a viral social campaign. Pair those kinds of examples with visuals for even more impact.

But listen, this eBook can't just be about sharing knowledge. You need to consistently motivate your readers to implement what you're teaching. 

Let's say creating amazing visuals is a huge struggle for your audience because they don't have pro design skills. 

Address that pain point upfront, feel their struggle, then provide a step-by-step walkthrough for easy tools like Canva that let anyone create scroll-stopping graphics.

Cap off each section with a crystal clear call to action that compels the reader to take what you've taught and run with it. This reinforces you as the trusted authority while giving your audience the confidence boost to take action.

Why Trust Me? 

Russell started his journey as a content writer, writing hundreds of articles for niche websites. He then turned to copywriting, writing for big brands. He is now the founder of InboxConnect marketing agency, has over five years of expertise in email marketing, and has run notable campaigns for leading brands such as Payoneer.

Designing and Formatting Your eBook

The cover matters...a lot. Make no mistake, your eBook's cover is the very first thing that'll catch a potential reader's eye. And you know what they say about first impressions. 

You need a cover design that instantly grabs attention and establishes you as a credible, go-to authority in your niche. 

A bland, poorly executed cover is an immediate turn-off that will undermine your best content.

What Makes a Killer Cover? Great question! 

You'll want to include:

Visuals That Pop: Imagery that's relevant, emotive, and just straight-up eye-catching.

Impactful Typography: Font styles, sizes, and placements that are clean, readable, and complement the overall design.

Consistent Branding: Design elements that reinforce your personal or business brand for recognizability.

Benefit-Driven Copy: A clear, snappy title and subtitle that hints at the awesome value inside.

Now, not all of us were born cover design experts. That's where easy-to-use tools like Canva save the day. 

Honestly, Canva has probably become one of my best friends and the tools I use most in my professional career.

Some best practices when using Canva are:

  • Upgrade to the Pro license and use licensed, high-quality stock images or illustrations.

  • Choose font pairings that are visually appealing and easy on the eyes.

  • Incorporate clean whitespace to avoid a busy, cluttered cover and generally aim for a 60/40 ratio of imagery to text.

  • Optimize for different eBook platforms and device sizes.

To bring this full circle, let's look at a great real-world example of an eBook cover.

Your Next 5 Moves by Patrick Bet-David

Take a look at Patrick Bet-David's book below. What’s the first thing you notice? I bet it’s the attention-grabbing title front and center. You can't help but read "Your Next 5 Moves.” Curiosity piqued, check!

Then your eye gets pulled down to the subtitle, made even more impactful by the contrasting color.

But the real stroke of genius is the central image of the chess pieces. I instantly connect with the book with strategic thinking, foresight, and planning my next calculated moves.

It’s low-key brilliant. By the way, it’s a great read.

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

If design isn't your superpower, consider hiring a professional cover designer and providing them with a creative brief that outlines your goals, brand guidelines, and must-have cover elements.

Understanding eBook File Types

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

eBooks come in all sorts of file formats. EPUB, HTML5 or EPUB3, MOBI, PDF, and more. Each has its own particular strengths and quirks that you'll need to understand. 

EPUB: EPUB is ideal if you want a reflowable eBook that adapts well to different screen sizes, making it compatible with various e-readers and mobile devices. EPUB also supports basic interactive elements like clickable links and limited multimedia content (depending on the reader app/device).

HTML5 (or EPUB3): If you're looking to incorporate advanced interactive features such as videos, animations, or complex interactive elements, consider creating an EPUB3 file with HTML5 content. EPUB3 supports more advanced multimedia features and interactive elements compared to standard EPUB2.

PDF: While PDFs preserve the original layout and are suitable for static content like worksheets or charts, they have limitations with interactive features. PDFs can include clickable links and basic forms, but advanced interactivity (like embedded videos) may not function consistently across different devices and platforms.

For eBooks that incorporate interactive elements like clickable links, videos, or fillable worksheets, I recommend focusing on EPUB format (specifically EPUB3 with HTML5) for a balance of compatibility, readability, and interactivity.

The MOBI format (used by Amazon's Kindle devices) has limitations compared to EPUB or HTML5-based formats. 

MOBI is primarily designed for fixed-layout eBooks with simpler formatting and does not fully support advanced interactive features commonly found in EPUB3 or HTML5.

But, considering it’s the most popular, here’s a breakdown of MOBI's suitability for interactive elements:

Clickable Links: MOBI supports basic hyperlinking and allows readers to click on links to navigate within the eBook or to external URLs. However, complex interactive navigation or embedded content may be limited.

Videos and Multimedia: MOBI has limited support for embedded videos or multimedia content as well. While some basic functionalities may be possible, advanced multimedia features (like auto playing videos or interactive animations) are less reliable in MOBI format.

Fillable Worksheets or Forms: MOBI does not fully support interactive forms or fillable worksheets commonly found in PDFs or advanced EPUB formats. Readers may encounter limitations in completing interactive elements within MOBI eBooks.

As you can see, MOBI may not be the most suitable format for an eBook that requires extensive interactive elements, including complex multimedia content or sophisticated forms. 

Instead, focusing on EPUB3 with HTML5 content or utilizing PDF for specific static interactive features would offer more flexibility and compatibility across devices.

You can read more about this in this article here.

Publishing and Distributing Your eBook

When it comes to getting your eBook out there, you've got plenty of self-publishing and distribution options. The big names are Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Press, and Kobo Writing Life. 

But each one is slightly different in terms of features, pros, and cons, so you'll want to check them out carefully.

Let me give you the low-down on some of the top eBook publishing platforms:

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

The good: Massive reach (we're talking millions of potential readers), lots of great promo tools to help you market your book, and just an all-around simple process for publishing.

The bad: It's crazy competitive out there, so getting your book noticed can be tricky. Plus that revenue share model means Amazon takes a cut.

Pro tips: Optimize all that book metadata to make it searchable, take advantage of promos like KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, and run some strategic promotions to get eyeballs on your book.

Apple Books

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

The good: Seamless integration into the whole Apple ecosystem (gotta love that), premium brand image, and global distribution capabilities.

The bad: Apple has some pretty stringent publishing requirements you'll need to meet. And their promo features can be limited compared to others.

Pro tips: Make sure your eBook is optimized for all Apple devices - iOS, iPadOS, the works, and leverage any editorial opportunities from Apple's side.

Barnes & Noble Press

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

The good: B&N has a dedicated reader base, an easy publishing process, and free ISBNs.

The bad: Smaller market share compared to the Amazons and Apples of the eBook world. Not as many promotional tools either.

Pro tips: Don't sleep on B&N's in-store promos. Optimize all that book metadata to make it searchable.

Kobo Writing Life

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

The good: Global reach for your book, solid promo features to take advantage of, and a flexible royalty rate you can play around with.

The bad: Also a bit smaller market share. And their publishing process is a tad more complex.

Pro tips: Check out Kobo's merchandising ops for promoting your book. Experiment with different pricing strategies to see what moves copies.

Marketing and Promoting Your eBook

At this point, you would have poured your heart and soul into creating an awesome eBook, but if you don't market the heck out of it, how's anyone going to find it?

First, you’ll need a website. If you don’t have a website, I suggest you get started with one. These days, you can create a website or even a landing page for as little as $50. 

PS. You can create a website and an embed form with beehiiv for free.

Your website will be where you publish your blogs and look to gain newsletter subscribers through your signup forms

Sign-up forms, also known as embedded forms, are where people give you their email in exchange for something. 

And if you haven’t guessed it already, this embed form is going to be one place to promote your eBook in exchange for an email. It’s a simple exchange: they give you their email, and you give them your eBook. 

Here’s a very basic example of what that would look like.

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

In addition to the signup form, you can also have links or buttons on your website promoting your free eBook where, again, in order to get it, they would give you their email. 

Put these buttons, forms, or links above the fold, write compelling copy, use eye-catching visuals, and have a CTA that hooks people in. 

Keep promoting your book to your blog readers, email subscribers, or viewers in every video, whatever it takes.

Leveraging Social Media Presence

Social media will be huge for your promotion. I'm talking about X (formally Twitter), LinkedIn, and Instagram—anywhere your audience hangs out online. 

The strategy is similar for all platforms. You’ll want to create content that talks about problems in your niche and then explains how to avoid those problems. 

This will position you as an authority in the space and allow you to promote your eBook. 

Remember, your eBook is a solution to a specific problem in your niche, so you can rinse and repeat this with every eBook you create.

Building and Utilizing an Email List

Call me biased, but one of the most effective ways to promote your eBook is through your email list or, more specifically, email newsletters.

You should focus on two scenarios for email marketing: marketing your book before you launch it and marketing your book after launch. 

When people opt-in to receive your upcoming eBook, you'll want an automated sequence focused on building anticipation and making that initial sale.

Scenario One: Pre Launch

Welcome Sequence:

  • Immediate welcome email confirming their opt-in for the free eBook

  • Follow up teasing what they can expect to learn/why it's valuable

  • Excerpt/sample chapter to pique their interest further

Sign up > Welcome Email > Follow Up Teaser > Final Teaser.

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

Advanced Pre-Launch Sequence:

If you want to go above and beyond, you could add any of the following emails to the Welcome sequence above.

  • Behind-the-scenes look at your writing process

  • Social proof via any early reviews or endorsements

  • Email covering bonuses/extras they'll receive with the purchase

  • Urgency email announcing the eBook release date/pre-order period

  • Special limited-time pre-order pricing or bonuses

If you already have an existing email newsletter, market the launch by doing the following:

E-Newsletter:

  • Share insights/lessons related to the eBook topic

  • Exclusive looks at chapter excerpts or other value-adds

  • Promotion of any live events or workshops around the launch

Scenario 2: Follow Up After Receiving eBook

Once someone has received their copy of your eBook, you'll want automated nurture sequences to engage them further.

Read-Through Nurture:

  • Check-in email asking how they like the book so far

  • Share additional resources/tools related to putting lessons into action (upsell to another product of yours)

  • Request an advance review before they finish reading

  • Invite them to an online discussion group for the eBook

Post-Read Engagement:

  • Ask for their honest review once completed

  • Share top reviews and success stories from other readers

  • Offer any supplementary video courses, workshops, etc.

  • Check on their biggest remaining challenges/pain points

E-Newsletter:

  • Highlight reader transformations and success stories

  • Q&A addressing common questions that came up

  • Promotion of any continuity programs or additional services

Influencer Outreach and Collaboration

One of the best ways to promote your book is to work with people who have a larger audience than you. 

This one requires some thought on who to work with, though if they are a direct competitor of your’s they may be reluctant to collaborate for obvious reasons.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, though. 

To give you a good example, here’s a script someone sent me to promote their eBook via my marketing channels. 

Subject: I bet you like eBooks, but what about money?

Okay, before I get into the script, honestly, this was a pretty average subject line, but for some reason, I still opened the email. 

Just goes to show you can get lucky. I think one of these subject lines would have been better:

  • eBook revenue share opportunity for you

  • High-converting eBook deal for your audience

  • Your crowd + my eBook = a partnership win-win

The goal is to pique their interest in a value-driven partnership opportunity related to your eBook without giving too much away in the subject line. You want them to open it and actually read the pitched details.

Subject lines like:

  • "Your audience would devour this new eBook"

  • "A must-read eBook for your most engaged followers"

  • "Your people need this premium eBook content"

Anyways, back to the script.

How to Write, Design, and Market Your First eBook

It's short and sweet and sells the benefit of teaming up for mutual gain.

Here are some key principles when you outreach to influencers:

Establish Credibility: Take two seconds to look at what they have recently done and mention it. Namedrop specific details they've covered.

Emphasize Value: Don't just pitch your eBook. If you’re confident it’s a high-quality eBook, send it to them right away, or ask if you can send them a copy first.

Offer Up Creative Deals: Pitch giveaways, bundles, and interviews. Get creative with cross-promotional offers.

Make It A Partnership: Don't just ask for favors. Make your offer mutually beneficial to expand each other's reach.

Keep It Casual: Be authentic and real. Let your personality shine through to make that real human connection.

Final Thoughts

I see you’ve made it this far, which means you’re ready to create your eBook. 

But remember, an eBook is more than just content - it's an opportunity to share your expertise, build authority, and cultivate a loyal audience of readers. 

Whether you're a first-time author or an experienced creator, the eBook medium offers immense potential for growth and impact.

So, don't wait any longer. 

Start outlining your eBook vision, design a custom, branded experience, and get ready to embark on a journey that could transform your business.

And when it comes time to promote your eBook, look no further than beehiiv. 

As the go-to platform for independent creators, beehiiv provides all the tools you need to maximize your eBook's reach and impact.

With powerful email marketing capabilities, you can nurture your audience and turn your eBook into a lead generation machine. 

The audience segmentation features allow you to deliver hyper-personalized eBook promotions. 

And beehiiv's built-in distribution channels make it easy to get your masterpiece in front of highly engaged communities.

Your eBook's success starts with signing up for beehiiv today

Leverage the platform's comprehensive suite of marketing and promotional tools to amplify your eBook's visibility and achieve the results you've been working towards. 

Happy mailing!

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