How To Write An Ebook Part 3

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Part 3:  Outlining and Organization

I’ll be honest with you up front — if you don’t create an in-depth outline, get yourself organized and stick to the plan, you’re going to have a hard time writing your eBook.


The reason I can write a new eBook every month is because I STAY ORGANIZED.  It’s that simple.  It isn’t creativity.  It isn’t writing ability.  It isn’t some special power or magic wand.  It’s ORGANIZATION.


So, let me share a few of my favorite tips with you to keep you on track…


1. Get Organized.


I can tell you from experience, you gotta get organized and stay organized if you want to write an eBook.  Each time you get ready to write something new, ask yourself some very simple questions.


  •  What is the focus of this book, article, newsletter, etc.?
  •  What is the message that I want to get across to the reader?
  •  What makes this writing different or special?
  •  What is the order in which I need to divide categories?
  •  Is this a believable idea and if not, how can I make it believable?
  •  What kind of research do I need to perform?


Once you’ve answered those questions honestly, you will have better focus to begin.  I cannot stress the importance of getting and staying organized.  I just don’t know any other way to write than to have a gameplan and to stick with it.  I’d be lost without doing it.


I’ve bought (and used, mind you :o) more planners and organizers than probably anyone else on the planet.  Find me an office supply store and I’ll likely come out with a new planner.  They love to see me coming.


But, it’s money well spent.  It is critical to my success as an author — simply because it helps me to stay on target and complete my projects.


2. Understand your Goals.


When you get serious about writing, sit down and actually write a mission statement.  Identify why writing is important to you, what you expect to get out of it, and what result you want from your writing.


  • Do you want to earn money?
  • Do you want to experience a sense of accomplishment?
  • Do you want to be recognized as an expert?
  • Do you want fame or credibility?
  • Do you want to share your knowledge and experience to help others?
  • Do you want ALL OF THE ABOVE?  (And then some!)


When you need motivation, look at your mission statement and re-read what it was that opened your heart to writing in the first place.  For the writer that finds great success, it’s perfectly fine to be proud of your accomplishments and awards, but don’t get so caught up in things that you lose sight of why you started writing in the first place.  A mission statement will also help keep you grounded.


3. Find a Significant Audience To Sell To


The biggest fear of most writers is that their eBook won’t sell.  And that’s a good fear to have because it forces you to take some time to RESEARCH and find out if your eBook is something to pursue at all.


The biggest mistake you can make as an eBook author is to invest time and energy into writing something that no one (or very few people) want to read, or are willing to pay to read.


Before you write a single word of your eBook, find out if the information you are going to share is “sellable.”  Determine if it’s information that is valuable to a significant number of people.   If your eBook is something you are going to sell in the $20 – $50 range, then you need to make certain that there are at least 10,000 potential customers out there.  You’re going to need to sell a substantial number of eBooks to earn some decent profits, so make certain that you have plenty of people who are potential customers.


If you are going to sell a very “nichey” product for a higher price tag of $100 or more, then obviously you won’t need as large of an audience to choose from.


4. Determine Your Own Unique Approach.


What makes you DIFFERENT?  Why should a customer buy from you instead of your competition?  Are you faster, better, cheaper?  Do you offer more?  More for less? 


From the beginning, you need to find some way that you separate yourself from the rest of the package, something that makes your eBook more advantageous to the potential customer than anyone else’s.  You want them to buy from YOU, so why should they?


One of the things that I like to do — and then stress in my sales letter and ads — is that I offer 100% original, exclusive information.  In other words, if you want this information, you gotta buy it from ME, because NO ONE ELSE HAS IT.


If you can create an eBook that is structured in such a way that no one else is offering it, then you force folks to buy from you if they want the information.  That’s a powerful concept, so don’t take it lightly.  One of the most important things you can do is determine WHY someone should buy from you, and then work on solidifying that as you write.


Exclusive information?  Then write only content (at least portions of it) that no one else is sharing.
Exclusive format?  Then structure yours in such a way that can only be found through you.
Exclusive offer?  Then put together something that is yours and yours alone.


You separate yourself from the competition by eliminating the competition.


5. Have a Purpose.


I mentioned this briefly in another section, but certainly it applies here as well.  To stay focused on your objectives, you gotta have a purpose.  Something that drives you.  Something that is waiting at the end of the journey — at the completion of your project.


One young man started writing as a tribute to his loving parents who through unbelievable challenges had raised him with unconditional love and full support.  As a way to thank them, he decided to write a book, hopefully have it published, and present it to them for their 50th wedding anniversary.  Not only did he get his book published and completely surprised his loving parents, but he went on to a full-time career in journalism.


He had a purpose, a real purpose that drove him to succeed.  Keeping your objective in sight is much easier when you’re excited about your work and strive to succeed at your goals.  The great thing is that you’re never too young or too old!


Heck, even if the purpose is “Nah, nah — see I told you I could do it!” — that’s something to stay focused upon.  One of the most invigorating things in life is to do something that someone told you couldn’t be done.


6. Write Objectives Down.


This is an extremely important step and one that shouldn’t be missed.  If you don’t write your objectives down, you will quickly lose sight of them.  Keeping them as a visual will help you achieve them.


The most important objective is to identify WHAT YOU WANT TO SHARE with your readers.  What is it that you want to share with those who download your eBook?


And, more importantly, have you done that?


Staying on track means looking back over what you’ve already written and determining if it does meet your objectives.  In other words, if you want to give your readers a step-by-step plan for losing weight, does your writing do that?  If it does, keep moving on.  If it doesn’t, then what areas need further explanation or additional information?


7. Working Title.


Choose a title to get you going.  I always like to entitle the product before I even start writing on it.  It helps me to organize all of my ideas towards supporting the main theme of the eBook.  That’s what a title for an information product is — it’s a statement of the main theme of the eBook.


For example, when Jimmy D. Brown wrote List PROFIT System, that title helped him to organize his thoughts, remove information that didn’t belong, and add new ideas as he worked on the outline.  He structured that course so that everything he shared would work towards showing the reader how to profit from their online newsletter (Aka:  ezine)


You can also use the TITLE to help you create your actual chapter headings.  For example:  If you are writing an eBook on becoming a better golfer, you might entitle it “How to Become a Great Golfer.”  Your organization for the eBook might include chapters such as…


  • Great Golfers aren’t afraid to take risks.
  • Great Golfers develop their own unique style.
  • Great Golfers invest in their game.
  • Great Golfers blah blah blah


The TITLE of your eBook, in addition to helping you stay focused towards the theme, also helps you to organize the subheadings / sections of the eBook by incorporating it into the actual chapter titles themselves.


8. Thesis.


A thesis is one or several sentences that state the audience’s main problem and then how your book is going to solve it.  Go ahead and write your book’s thesis, knowing that doing this before your book is written will help keep you on track much better.  In this aspect, the chapters will all need to support the thesis so as you write, you will have that in your mind. 


Basically, you are expanding upon the title of the eBook.  “How to Become a Great Golfer” is the title.  Your thesis statement might be “How to become a great golfer in less than an hour a day by following 7 strategies of other successful golfers.”


Everything you write works toward accomplishing what you state as the purpose of your eBook.  If it doesn’t work towards that, then get rid of it.  It doesn’t belong in there.


9. Use The 4-Step Writing Formula.


Closely connected to writing your objectives down and then seeing if you are achieving those objectives (particularly in reference to WHAT YOU WANT TO SHARE with your readers) is to  use the 4-step writing formula…


Step One:  Write Out A List of Everything You Want To Share.  That’s right, just write down everything you want to share in your eBook.  I’m talking just start rambling on paper (or your computer screen).  Everything you can think of that relates to the subject of your eBook.  Just a list of “ideas” you want to share.


Step Two:  Write Everything You Can Think Of For Each Entry.  For each entry on your list (I.E. Each “idea”) write down everything you can think of.  Explain each idea as thoroughly as you can.  Share research, examples, case studies, quotes, tips, resources — everything you can find for each section.


Step Three:  Organize Your Thoughts.  Take everything and put it into a logical order.  If it’s a tutorial, organize it chronologically in order of which steps come first.  If it’s a “tips” eBook, categorize the tips.  Put things in a logical order for your readers to be able to understand as they begin reading.


Step Four:  Edit And Pad The Sections.  Go back to each section and edit.  Take out what doesn’t need to be in there.  And add more content to the sections that need further explanation.


Congratulations.  You just wrote an eBook. :o)


10. Outline Again And Again.


A common mistake of many new writers is that they are so eager to write, they want to dive into a project immediately without giving much thought to process or content. 


Perhaps you have an idea but it’s only half-baked.  By using ideas that haven’t been thought out very well you usually end up with a poor eBook and a lot of frustration. (How many times have you quit a project and started a new one?) For this reason, if you are just starting to get involved with writing, you need to first learn about and understand the importance of OUTLINING your project.


I always start any writing project by constructing an IN-DEPTH outline.  I jot down every idea that I want to share in the eBook (original ideas and researched ideas) and then I organize it into a logical flow for actually writing the content.


BUT, it doesn’t end there.  As I am actually writing the eBook, I continue to tweak the outline.  I add more subpoints along the way. 


——————- Sidebar ———————
Here’s a “very simple” example:

Original outline…

3 Ways to Research Writing Projects

1. Interview experts
2. Subscribe to newsletters
3. Search keywords at search engines.

Expanded outline #1…

3 Ways to Research Writing Projects

1. Interview experts

A. Determine what you want to ask
B. Identify experts
C. Prepare contact letter
D. Submit contact letter
E. Conduct Interview

Expanded outline #2…

3 Ways to Research Writing Projects

1. Interview experts

A. Determine what you want to ask

I could easily add many subpoints here describing what I would actually want to ask the experts concerning my writing subject.

B. Identify experts

I could easily add many subpoints here discussing ways to find out who the experts are and how to contact them.

C. Prepare contact letter

I could easily add many subpoints here explaining what to include in the contact letter, how to make it “worth the while” for the expert, etc.

D. Submit contact letter

I could easily add many subpoints here about the best ways to submit the contact letter (email, traditional mail, fax, telephone, etc.)

E. Conduct Interview

I could easily add many subpoints here describing in detail how to do the interview. (necessary equipment, interviewing skills, preparation, etc.)

——————- Sidebar ———————


The point is to continue EXPANDING each point and subpoint until you have covered everything that is needed in order to comprehensively and clearly share the information your readers need.


Once you have an IN-DEPTH outline, the writing is easy.  Who couldn’t write ONE PARAGRAPH about each subpoint?  That’s really all it takes. 


In the next installment, we will continue on the subject of Outlining and Organization…

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