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5 Ebook Publishing Hurdles, and How to Beat Them

This guest post is by Paul Jun of Motivated Mastery.

During the journey of writing my first ebook, there were many roadblocks and sudden realizations that I faced; it’s only right for me to share them with you so that you can avoid undermining your ebook’s true potential, or at least starting from scratch.

Below you will find the crucial issues that you must overcome when it comes to writing the ebook and marketing it. Answering these questions mindfully will help you stay on track, deliver a compelling ebook, and prepared you as best as possible.

Don’t count other people’s money

Halfway through my book, when I was brainstorming out loud with my two friends, I realized something: the style of this book was someone else’s; it wasn’t original. I had emulated too much of their format.

The thought of having to start all over kept flashing through my mind. A friend of mine told me, as my head was between my knees: “Listen, you can’t copy someone else’s style of book just because they did well on it. You have to create your own book, your own style. Be original. Be you.”

You may have read ebooks and also witnessed the sudden growth of the owner’s blog and subscription numbers, and you told yourself that you could do the same. The truth is that you can, but you have to be wary that you aren’t basking in someone else’s success; it’s easy to get lost in the thought of this ebook being the end to all your problems. You need to work beyond your limits to produce something compelling. Writing this ebook may change you a little…

Evaluate your approach

I had to do some reevaluating—some beer-with-classical-music-in-background-style thinking. I asked myself some questions:

  • What is this ebook about?
  • What do I have to offer my audience?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What will they receive from reading this?
  • How can I build a relationship with my readers?
  • How long do I want to make this so it doesn’t feel like I’m barfing a bunch of history and facts on them?
  • Do I put a price on this? (We’ll get to that.)

These were all questions I had to ask myself, and answer mindfully.

If writing an ebook has been on your mind, these are crucial questions you should be asking: they will help you stay focused on what you’re delivering. The worst thing you can do is veer off topic or not meet your target audience’s needs. Do that, and you’ll lose your readers’ attention and possibly their trust.

Have you ever read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? It’s a must-read. In this book, Pressfield talks about resistance. That’s it. He focuses on the entity, he breaks it down to the bare essentials, and he presents it to you in an easily digestible way. He makes it relate to you. He reveals something that you knew was there but could never put a name to. (You can also listen to his interview with Copyblogger here).

That’s a powerful book: Pressfield never veers off track, he doesn’t overload you with information in each chapter, and he explains how to swing the sword to slay the dragon.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, self-help, romance, comedy, or vampires ravaging cities—the topic of your book must stay focused through the beginning, middle, and end.

Without answering the questions above and having a clear target audience, it doesn’t matter what kind of guest posting and marketing you do: your book will never reach the audience it’s meant to.

A simple question to ask yourself is: Who am I writing to? Can you envision that person? This usually helps a lot. When Stephen King wrote, he always had his wife in mind.

Rely on teamwork

Ever read the end of a good book, or any book for that matter? It was never crafted by one person; it was made by a team of people: a spouse, family, or friends assisted in the making.

In order for your ebook to stay focused, you need people to edit your work and tell you where parts are confusing or out of place. My one friend was the editor, carefully picking at every word, as well as the punctuation, format, and tone; my other friend helped me brainstorm: we would spend two hours every morning just talking about the book, what I wanted it to do, how I want it to affect people, and so on.

This helps tremendously; it’s safe to say that it’s absolutely imperative to the creation of your book. This is not a solo venture, or for the weak, or the fainthearted. Writing an ebook—and a compelling one at that—is hard.

Over the last year, I networked with some amazing people, and they all provided me valuable insights that pulled me back into place when I was close to falling off the edge (thank you Sean PlattJeff Goins, and Danny Iny). A little bit of feedback can go a long way. That one thing that someone says to you can be the missing puzzle to your problem.

Networking is the lifeblood of growth and success. Bloggers don’t become popular by themselves: they build a network of friends and like-minded individuals who help each other out along the way. Don’t be afraid to reach out—as a matter of fact, you should reach out; you should talk to your friends, other bloggers, writers, and authors, and you should use email to your advantage.

Free or paid?

At some point, the question will hit you: What will I charge for this ebook? $1? $2? $10? Or will I make it free? And where will I publish it?

You could do any of a few different things, but be sure to read up on the Terms & Conditions:

  • offer your ebook in PDF format as a subscription or newsletter opt-in bonus on your blog
  • publish through Kindle
  • Publish through Smashwords, an indie publishing website
  • Publish through iBooks
  • publish through Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Note: If you go the Kindle route, you can either opt into their program or not; if you don’t, you can publish anywhere, but if you opt into the KDP Select program, your ebook will be locked in for 90 days and only be exclusive to Amazon. Also, if you go through Smashwords, they will assist publishing your ebook to iBooks, Nook, and other platforms.

In order to build your online authority, you need to build trust and relationships. Content is good, but you need more than that. You need to create something—from your knowledge or experience or techniques—that alleviates stressful situations, breaks down difficult concepts, or simply educates in a simple and informative way. By doing this, you build trust with your audience. Your blog offers them a place to continue to the conversation and know more about your cause.

Why do you think the popular bloggers have such a large following? They know something important and insightful, they know how to explain and teach it, they create an accessible product that is viable on a multitude of platforms, and they consistently over-deliver.

Deliver to the best of your ability, prove your authority, build relationships, and it will spark limitless possibilities.

When it comes to pricing your first ebook, here are some things to consider:

  • What is my strategy for making it free or paid?
  • Who am I trying to reach with this offer?
  • How will my audience react?
  • What are my limitations? You can’t have the cake and eat it too, so really think over your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What is your rationale for charging or making it free?
  • How can this build relationships and trust?
  • Are you simply just releasing an ebook to release it, or do you have long-term goals for this?

These questions I cannot answer for you; they depend on your measure of value, strategy, and goals for your product.

Think it over. There is no wrong answer. This may not be your only ebook, so every opportunity is a chance to experiment.

Devise a strategy

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” — Sun Tzu

You want your ebook to spread like airborne virus. You want this ebook to be on every tablet, smartphone, laptop, and desktop. You want to make some serious noise, and this requires you to devise a strategic plan.

Before you launch your ebook, I advise you to take these steps:

  • First, get the permission of your friends, network, niche—whoever is willing to endorse your eBook.
  • Use your blog as a launchpad and a place for your audience to find and contact you.
  • Build hype; give your audience a sneak-preview and let them know when you plan to release it.
  • Send out a newsletter or do a blog post asking for assistance. (You’ll be surprised who steps up to the plate.)
  • Get the permission of other bloggers to do a guest post.
  • Have guest posts lined up, ready to be shot out all at once, so that you’re visible everywhere.
  • Use social media to market your book through hashtags, calls to your followers, daily tweets, and more.
  • Create a succinct, compelling page on your blog that promotes your book and tells your readers how to get it.
  • Reach out to your community, niche, friends, family, and networks.
  • Remember to always thank your readers and helpers.

It doesn’t end there…

You have to keep this going. People may come to your blog, but it’s your job to get them to stay.

This is your moment, your debut, the opening scene. Will you shock and awe, or will the launch of your book simply fail because you lack strategy? You are in control of this outcome. Hard work, smart planning, networking, and momentum are required of you.

If you want this to be the inception of something remarkable, answer the above questions mindfully, reach out to your friends and networks, and use what you can effectively so that your ebook may reach its audience.

Paul Jun is a writer and author of Building An Empire With Words. His blog, Motivated Mastery, is about inspiring mindfulness, simplifying your life to make room for what’s important, and harnessing the effectiveness of free will. You can also find him on Twitter (@PaulJun_). His eBook will be available for free the day this post is live.

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Comments

  1. Really interesting post with some great points to think about. I especially like where you say “You have to create your own book, your own style. Be original. Be you.” I think this is something I MUST remember when trying to create something, thanks.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Yes, absolutely. The moment you try to emulate someone else, their style of writing, format, then you lose all possibility of creating something unique.

  2. Thanks Paul and Darren for the timely advice. I have been meaning to write an ebook, and this article could not have come at a better time!

    The questions in the “Evaluate your approach” section would really help me define my audience and create the Table of Contents fr my book.

    Also, I was leaning towards Kindle so far, but would definitely check out Smashwords too since they help with iBooks and Nook.

    Thanks a ton!

  3. chris says:

    The biggest hurdle I found was TIME. There are so many people saying “you can create your ebook in 30 days.” Maybe if you don’t have a job and you devote every moment of your time.

    I just published my first ebook (at over 330 pages at a respectable font size) and it took six months of solid time. I’d expected two months. HA!

    Follow Paul’s recommendations but make your deadline “within the next year, six-month, etc.” Focus on getting it right, not getting it done.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Exactly. Rushing the process will only equate to poor work. That whole 30 days thing is applicable to a few, but in my opinion, I can write the contents of the eBook in 30 days, sure, but editing it will probably take a few months.

  4. Ryan Hanley says:

    Paul,

    I’ve written a small eBook.. ~30 pages that is more of a guide. But I made so many of the mistakes that you outlined above… I speak from experience that if you don’t follow almost to a T the items you outlined above which I would agree are pretty spot on then you’re going to struggle selling and getting found.

    My personal opinion is that endorsements and guest blog post opportunities from social influencers within your target market are the key to pushing sales…

    …the whole Social Validation issue.

    Thanks and good luck brother…

    Ryan H.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Hey Ryan, thanks a lot man. Good thing about eBook is that you can always go back and rewrite/edit it to your desire. Definitely guest posting is one by far — if not the best — strategy ever implanted in the online world — blogging, business, marketing, etc.

  5. There is a great deal of value in this post.

    I am currently looking at KDP, which seems to be the most logical choice.

    If I could just get two weeks off of work to focus…

    • Paul Jun says:

      Be sure to weigh your options with KDP.

      I’ve noticed, from personal experience, that people do not borrow succinct, non-fiction books. I’ve heard from somewhere (sorry I can’t remember where I read this), that most borrow fiction books. But, however, the 5 day promotion has allowed me to exceed many downloads and new readership to my blog. So, yes, there will be sacrifice, but as is life.

      Good luck with your eBook, John. An hour a day is really all you need, then work up from there.

  6. Long says:

    I have considered writing an e-book to help cement my blog as an authority site. However, in my niche, there is already a lot of content for readers to find.

    I have two major hurdles to deal with. One is figuring out how to differentiate myself and stand out to readers. The other is making time between the hours of working full-time and maintaining my blog.

    All great tips and things to consider before tackling the project. Thanks.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Sure, there will be topics that it seems many have covered, but really think on your idea and something great will come up — something unique from your life experiences, knowledge, and methodology.

      Definitely working full-time and balancing that with writing is tough, but start somewhere. An hour a day. Heck, even 30 minutes. Do it on your break, early in the A.M, or at night.

      Good luck, Long, let me know how things go.

  7. the #1 immediately got my attention. Do not take into consideration too much what others are doing. Make your strategy and believe in it

  8. Dwayne@TWC says:

    I’ve always wanted to write an ebook based on my blog but I was looking at releasing it on the 1 year anniversary. I’ve still got some time until then but this definitely helps me set up my approach.

    • Paul Jun says:

      You could use this time brainstorming ideas, identifying your target audience, etc. Take it a day at a time, and slowly, the idea will manifest. You’ll look back a few months from then and laugh at how quickly you developed an eBook.

      Good luck, Dwayne.

  9. Jani says:

    Technology has made e-books more accessible and acceptable. E-books seem to be more popular with the younger generation. I think that people who are 30 years an up, still go with traditional printed material. Great advice on getting an e-book going. I often like to read political blogs and will one day write an e-book.

    • Sean says:

      Be interesting if there are any statistics out there. You’d think that mainly youngsters would go for e-books, but my wife, her friends, and even my Mom (in her 70′s) use kindle.

  10. Finding your own voice is the difference between success and failure Paul. Stop imitating and start creating from within. Develop your own writing style and prosper. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Monisima says:

    So much helpful information here that I don’t know where to begin! Thank you for this post, it is a great way to start learning about how to write ebooks:)

  12. I gave my first eBook away from free (no opt in, nothing) and I’m bummed by that missed opportunity. My second eBook was for sale, but I think the price was too high. Now it’s obsolete with all the changes to various social networking sites.

    I’m now working on my third eBook; I’ll be using it as an opt in freebie for one of my blogs. I’m also working on a group project with other blogs. My goal is to eventually start selling eBooks, but I’m not there yet.

    Thanks for the details; you’ve given me a lot to think about.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Well, as long as you learned and experimented, then when the time actually comes, I’m sure you’ll be more than prepared.

      You can start selling eBooks right now — just need to find your target audience, what it is they need to learn and how you can fix their problem by being resourceful.

      Wish you the best, Kim

  13. wade says:

    Finding your target audience and what they want is probably the hardest thing to do. Nobody can predict what the masses do these days! Lol! I guess that’s why they Google keyword tool exists.

    • Paul Jun says:

      Definitely. You can also get great feedback from simply listening in on other blogs, writers, and even your own audience.

  14. Some great tips.

  15. Tomas says:

    This is a great post. I especially liked the list of things to do when launching an eBook. I will use it when I launch my eBook. Thank you Paul.

  16. Jo Harrison says:

    Thanks for the great post, I work with authors and this is the sort of information they are always asking me, I will definitely be sharing this with them all.

  17. Julie says:

    I love your insight almost as much as I love my Kindle. I really liked your comment, “You are in control of this outcome.” That’s true of life as well as publishing e-books.

    I’ve ghost authored a few ebooks, as well as traditional books, and your words are spoken true. If you want to do anything, you’ve got to ignore your inner critic. Thank you for such great advice and the bonus of being able to download your ebook. I can’t wait to read it.

  18. Marcie says:

    Jun, thank you so much for this. I am currently completing my eBook and this information helped me tremendously.