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How to Complete your eBook Masterpiece – Even if you HATE Writing

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

In the last month I’ve talked a lot about affiliate marketing.  So let’s shift focus and discuss the other way I make an online income – Selling eBooks.

Affiliate marketing is an excellent business model.  But I’ve found that offering an information product is how you make the real money. Currently I only have a single eBook offer.   Yet this product nets me an average of $3,000 to $4,000 of income each month. The best part is I only work an hour each week on this site. So this money is almost 100% passive income.

In the last month you’ve heard me mention that I’m working on a massive eBook: Affiliate Marketing Without the Bulls**t

{Update: I’ve completed this project and you can find it here.}

Creating this product has been a grueling experience.  It seems like it’s getting harder every day to find the motivation to write.  Fortunately the end is in sight and I think it’ll be done by early May.

I feel that many folks have trouble with the process of writing an eBook.  So in today’s post, I’d like to walk you through how to complete an eBook…without going crazy in the process.

Basically this is a crash course for non-writers on how to start and finish a lengthy information product.

Step #1: Research eBook Ideas

 

Writing an eBook - ResearchingThere’s been a lot written about picking a niche for an eBook.  Some gurus will tell you to create a “me to” product that’s similar to what’s currently selling.

Others recommend looking at “problem keywords” and writing an eBook that provides a solution.

And some tell you to look at the questions people ask in forums.

These are all great ideas.  Yet they don’t tell you the whole story.

Your goal is to create a successful eBook.  That’s why it’s important to write a product that will sell.

I recommend the following to get started:

Pick a Narrow Niche

A successful eBook provides a laser-targeted solution to a major problem.  You create it by identifying a niche market and solving a common problem that people experience.

That’s why it’s important to identify a narrow niche.  As an example, here are a bunch of ideas within four broad market categories:

#1 Health- Muscle gain, fat loss, raw food diet, low-impact exercise, reduce stress, natural ways to lose weight, and how to thin or tone certain body parts (thighs, stomach, arms).

#2 Wealth- Passive income, debt, retirement, investing, forex, how to start a business, employment, time management, and Internet marketing related business (ie: blogging, affiliate marketing, social media, etc).

#3 Relationships- Dating tips for men, dating tips for women, break-ups, divorce, sexuality, parenting, social skills development, marriage, and long-term relationships.

#4 Passions- This is a pretty broad niche.  Here you concentrate on hobbies and activities that people enjoy on a regular basis.  They include things like golf, gaming, gardening, cooking, and surfing.

Now I’m about to tell you something that will make or break your success with an eBook.  I recommend you read the following paragraph a few times. In fact, write it down on a piece of paper and stick it on your computer.  (It’s really that important.)

Focus on markets where people experience multiple problems. Your ultimate goal is to create a catalog of information products that target subthemes within a niche.

Before writing an eBook, I recommend asking this simple question:

“Can I think of FIVE or more eBook ideas within this market?”

You don’t necessarily have to create these products yourself.  In fact, you can promote some of them on the backend through affiliate marketing.  This question is important because it helps you focus on markets that provide a long-term source of revenue.

Research a Niche Market

To be honest, researching a niche market is a pretty involved process.  That’s why I recommend reading this post: How to Research an Internet Marketing Niche: THE Ultimate Blueprint.  This is the perfect place to start if you’re having trouble finding a responsive niche.

On the other hand if you’re pressed for time, use these two tools for generating eBook ideas:

1. Review the Clickbank Marketplace

Go to the Clickbank Marketplace and research the products that in a niche market where you have interest.

I recommend using the top 50 in each sub-category that’s applicable.  Find products that look promising.  And then record the following information in an Excel Spreadsheet:

a)      The URL of the product

b)      The general theme or topic

c)       A few notes about why you like this product

This research gives you an idea of what’s selling in the marketplace.  Just look for gaps in information.  See if you can add anything to what’s currently offered in the marketplace.

2. Review the Top Niche Specific Forum

Forums are a great place to find what people want.  They’re filled with people asking questions and looking for help  All you have to do is see what people want and write an eBook that provides a solution.

To get started, go to Google and type: [your major keyword] + forum

So if I wanted to find something about Internet marketing, I would type “Internet marketing forum.”

Simple right?

Find a forum that’s filled with active users who answer questions and give responses.  Once you locate it, write down the most popular topics. In all likelihood, these will be problems that many people experience.

Go through each section and write down any idea that looks promising. Don’t censor yourself.  Sure some ideas won’t pan out.  What’s important is you’re identifying hot topics that could lead to the perfect eBook idea.

 

Step 2: Pick the eBook Topic

Deciding on the topic for your eBook is another crucial step.  If it’s not done properly you’ll end up wasting a lot of valuable time.

It’s one thing to create an information product.  It’s another to have something that people want to buy.  That’s why it’s important to research the market to see if people are willing to buy your product.

Here are five questions that help identify a winning eBook idea:

Question # 1- What does the keyword research tell you?

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the value of keyword research.  I agree that this is an important step for getting a rough estimate of a market.  But it’s not the only way to measure the profit-potential of a product.  You can create an excellent product even if it doesn’t have a lot of keywords.

There’s a lot of ways to do a keyword search.  You can do a simple search with Google Adwords and look for topics that have (at least) 10,000 TOTAL searches per month.  That’s the combined total of all keywords related to this topic.

Also you can use a sophisticated tool like Market Samurai which identifies hot niches that don’t have a lot of competition.

I recommend removing any eBook ideas that don’t have at least a 10,000 total searches per month for all related keywords.  For the ones remaining, you can move on to the next question.

Question #2- What do your readers think?

Once you’ve eliminated a few ideas, talk to your potential customers.  If you’re a blogger, set up a poll to see what information they want to learn.  Or if you have an email list, send out a message and ask for their feedback (this is something I just did with my affiliate list.)

Another trick is to post a simple question in popular forum.  Simply ask people what challenge they commonly experience with this topic.

Lots of responses = Good eBook idea.

What if you don’t have a list, blog, OR forum?

You create a PPC (Pay per Click) campaign and set up a simple poll.  When people click the link they’ll be given a few chooses of what you want to create.

Yes you’ll have to spend money.   But it’s not a waste.  It’s a way to know what a market wants.  In my opinion, I’d rather spend a few bucks than waste months creating a product nobody wants.

Question # 3: Is it unique or another “me too” product?

There are two types of eBooks.  The first is a completely unique idea that hasn’t been tried before.  The other is a “me too” product that’s in a proven market.

Let’s talk about both…

Unique products are an excellent way to jump into an over-saturated market.  You’ll solve a problem that doesn’t have too much competition.  This is definitely a great way to carve out a sub-niche within a major market.

The problem with a unique product is it’s riskier than a proven winner.  There might be a reason that nobody has written an eBook around this topic – Because it doesn’t sell!

Now let’s talk about “me too” products.  The best thing about them is there’s a demand for this kind of information.

Lots of similar products = People making money.

The tricky part is to figure out who is having success.

There’s a big downside to a “me too” product.  When you’re in a crowded marketplace, it’s hard to stand out.

The key to a “me too” product is to have a unique selling position.  Maybe you’ve stumbled upon an interesting twist or found a different way of doing things.  Perhaps you even know something that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

No matter what though, this eBook MUST stand out from the crowd of products in a marketplace.

Question #4: Do you have expert knowledge or can you find it?

Many gurus say you get expert knowledge by reading a few books.

Many gurus are wrong.

EBooks are about offering value.  The reader should complete your product and be armed with a strategic blueprint for solving their problem.  This kind of information doesn’t come from regurgitating a few books.  It comes from being in the niche and knowing how to provide a real, genuine solution.

The good news is there’s a little trick if you DON’T have expert knowledge…

You can make a product by interviewing people who ARE experts.  If you go this route, identify and go after the genuine authorities in your niche.  Just make sure you get a lot of information that’s useful to the customer.

This shouldn’t one of those boring, fluff interviews with no value.    It should be a complete brain dump of what lies within an expert’s mind.

Become a professional torturer whose goal is to grill experts in a niche and get them to give up all the goods.  J

Question #5:  Are there related problems to this product?

This is another biggie.  The final question you ask yourself is – Are there five or more related products I can promote?  A great place to find an answer is the Clickbank Marketplace.

My advice is to make sure that you have a couple of proven products that you promote as an affiliate.   OR there are ideas you can use to add more eBooks to your mini-empire!

Step 3: Write the eBook Rough Draft

 

Once you’ve decided on a topic, it’s time to create the rough draft.  Here’s how to do this…

Form an Outline First

Frustration at Writing an eBookMy system is a little different from others.  I prefer to make an outline before doing research.  That way you’ll know what needs to included in the eBook.

Start by listing 5 to 10 major questions people have about your subject.  Then put them into a logical, step-by-step order.  This gives you the framework of what needs to be added.

Give Rough Answers

Under each question, brainstorm a few answers.  At this point, it doesn’t matter if these are grammatically correct responses.  The key here is to not censure yourself or worry about what you’re writing.  Simply do a brain-dump of ideas under each category.

If you get stuck, use the Internet as a research tool.  Don’t plagiarize the articles you find.  Instead use this content to think of additional topics to cover.

Don’t Rush the Writing Process

A quality eBook should be the crème-de-la-crème of what lurks in the grey matter between your ears.  You want to answer every possible question and give people a real, working solution to their problems.

My point is to take each question and answer it in a thorough manner.  At first, don’t worry about grammar or the quality of the content.  Just write down anything that pops in your head about that particular question.  This is useful because you’ll associate one thought with another, which helps trigger information you might have initially overlooked.

Again, I can’t overemphasize the importance of writing your notes without a filter.  Sure some things will sound silly.  But this will help you become more creative and inventive with your writing.

Now… when it comes to research I recommend doing it only if you get stuck on a particular point.  This product is about how you would solve a problem…Not what somebody else would do.  Generally, I’ll review a few products on this topic to get an idea of what’s discussed.  But the final product is 100% of my own work.

Locate the Perfect Workspace

Designate a specific location to write your eBook.  This is important because it creates a proper “writing mindset.”  You want to train your mind to automatically write when sitting in this location.  It’s kind of like when a professional athlete first steps onto a field of competition…he (or she) knows it’s game time!

A dedicated workspace doesn’t have to be in your home.  In fact, most of my first information product was written in a local Starbuck’s Coffeehouse.  Every day I would grab my cup of tea and crank out 2,000 to 3,000 words.  In just a month, the first draft was completed.

Another thing I recommend is to remove all clutter and distractions from this workspace.  So do the following:

  • Switch off your Internet access
  • Turn off your phone
  • Tell your family to not disturb you
  • Remove any objects or images that interrupt your train of thought

It’s extremely important to have a workspace that allows you to concentrate only on writing.

Set Daily Goals

As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Unfortunately a lot of people forget this and give up when faced with the daunting task of writing a lengthy information product.

So with that in mind, let me give you another quote, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

The best way to complete an eBook is to set a goal for each day.  It might be a set amount of time or a minimum word length.  The important thing is to dedicate a period each day where you write your eBook.    (For instance, I use my iPhone to manage the time I spend writing my eBook.)

What I recommend is this.  Pick a specific time for writing.  This could be early in the morning, at night, or during your lunch-break at your ‘real job.’  This is another way to train your brain to quickly get into “work mode” while writing.

Furthermore, challenging yourself while writing.  Instead of setting just a time or word goal, combine the two.  So if you can write 1,000 words in an hour, try to increase this to 1,500 words.  I’ve found this turns the writing process into a fun game.

As an example, the following is a snapshot of my daily writing log for my 2nd draft.  I usually dedicate two “working blocks” to this task (1 ½ hours).  And I try to average 1,500 words for these two tasks.  Sometimes I’ll do less.  But often I’ll write a lot more than that!

Tracking Daily Writing of an eBook

Use Stream of Consciousness Writing

Now that you’ve set up dedicated time/location, you’ll sit down and write.  For some people, writing comes naturally.  Others have trouble with writer’s block.  If you’re in the latter category, then I recommend doing what I call “Stream of Consciousness Writing.”

During a first draft, simply write whatever pops in your head.  Just take each question/problem in your outline and write whatever you think is relevant to this topic.  Don’t edit yourself.  Just keep typing till you run out of ideas.

If you get stuck, here are a few things you could include:

  • Provide step-by-step instructions
  • Tell personal stories or anecdotes
  • Give a definition or explain a concept
  • Provide lists or bullet points
  • Show images demonstrating a concept

Again write whatever pops in your head.  If you get stuck on one section, just skip it and come back later.  The important thing is to type without interruption. This habit helps you push past those moments where you can’t think of what to say next.

Step 4: Complete the Final Draft of the eBook

Often the hardest part of the eBook process is completing the final draft.  This is the time when many folks second guess themselves and think the product is not quite good enough.

My advice is simple.  Make sure you’ve create a quality product that solves a problem.  And be sure it’s easy to follow.  That’s all you really need.

With that said, here are few pointers for putting the finishing touches on a rough draft:

 

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

I like the quote from Ernest Hemingway, “Write drunk, edit sober.”

I’m not suggesting you get half-crocked while writing an eBook.  But it’s useful to never filter a concept or idea during the first draft.  Type the first draft without editing it.

Once the rough draft is completed, leave it alone for a few days.

Then come back and carefully go through it.

The 2nd draft is where you’ll do the hard work.  You’ll change around sentences and paragraphs.  Flesh out incomplete thoughts.  And fix grammar/spelling mistakes.

For me, editing is the most challenging step in this entire process.  It’s easy to bang out a rough draft; full of incomplete thoughts.  But it’s whole other ballgame to take these notes and turn them into a polished eBook.

Editing will take at least a few weeks to complete.

With my Affiliate Marketing without the Bulls**t eBook, it’s taking me 9 weeks to finish this version (almost done.)

All I can recommend is to take baby steps and dedicate a little bit of time each day to work on this task.

The 3rd (and Final) Version

After completing the 2nd version, I like to take another few days before reviewing the finished eBook.

With the third edit, you’ll check it the eBook for grammar, spelling, and overall readability.  I’ll admit that I often make mistakes in this area.  But I do my best to ensure my eBook is easy to read and follows a step-by-step format.

A great trick is to read the eBook out loud and fix anything that sounds funny.  This is a great way to catch those mistakes you might have overlooked.

The Non-Writer’s Guide to Completing an eBook

There you have it!

A step-by-step guide for completing a massive eBook project.

Writing isn’t one of my natural talents.  Yet I’ve managed to create one successful information product and I’m done with the second.  I think that’s pretty strong evidence that even a non-writer can complete a massive eBook.

As the saying goes – “If I can do it, so can YOU!”

So today I want to issue a challenge.  Dedicate (at least) a half hour each day to work on an eBook.  It doesn’t matter if you only write 500 words.  The important thing is you’re working on a project that produces a long-tem source of revenue.

Get started today!

Take Action. Get Results.




P.S. Struggling with your Kindle books? Don't know how to get started on Amazon? Looking to generate an additional stream of income?

If so, click here to grab "Kindle Publishing Checklist: The 46-Step Plan for Turning an Idea into a Best-Selling Book"


{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

paul wolfe

Steve

Great post. After being written off a while back by the ‘gurus’ the humble old eBook seems to be making something of a comeback! Creating eBooks (emphasis on the plural) is a great way to differentiate you from your competitors too – especially if you can create quality eBooks. Most people are daunted by the thought of writing 50 or 60 pages – and to do it multiple times makes them cringe.

But if you do it, you’ll create some serious leverage for your business and some serious respect too!

Paul

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Steve Scott

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The news of my ebooks death has been greatly exaggerated” I think most of the “gurus” who said it simply had their own agendas. I have never really seen any long and significant dip in my ebook sales.

Sure some months are down and some months are up but no, “pattern” to it.

Probably 90% of sales comes from what you do before and after release too. Anyone who writes an ebook and just posts it on his site and throws it on clickbank, will probably say, “I had no sales…ebooks are dead”

It takes some semi aggressive marketing. Creating tools for your affiliates that make sure THEY make money. Of course, making connections and getting those affiliates in the first place.

It is a long process. In fact I would say, at least partially, the year I have spent building this blog was a partial effort aimed at the Ebook.

Of course a lot more on this stuff coming in future Monday posts… :)

You are right though…it is also part of a process that feed off of each other. You build authority to help your ebook then after it is realeased a good eBook helps you to build authority.

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Brankica@Blogging for beginners

OK, I have read one of your free e-books that deals with the same matter and I am not sure if it was this long :)

As I said on Twitter, you are my e-book guru, lol. These are really great ideas and I love how you are always mentioning niches. That is where the money is, I believe. I make more money with niche sites that I can ever think making with anything else.

I just have a question I had in my head for awhile now. I know that e-books have a kind of a expiry date, meaning, they sell a year and then the sales go down. That is when you have to shoot out another product. I say this as a general talk. Anyway, I was wondering how long have you been selling your book that makes you $3.000+ every month?

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Steve Scott

Brankica- I released it on December of 2008. So I guess 2 -1/4 years. It definitely made a lot of sales during the product launch. But since then it’s been a steady income because:

1) I made sure the ebook was evergreen (ie: The content would be relevant no matter WHEN somebody read it.

2) I built a large affiliate program. It’s hard work, but definitely worth it.

Hope this helps!

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Andreas

This is a great blog post, however I also have problems writing (I don’t want to use the word ‘hate’ here) and steps 3 and 4 provide the real problems.

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Steve Scott

Hate is a strong word, true. Sometimes I even “like” writing. But certainly not all the time. Like anything the important part is making it a habit. Chew off little pieces every day. Day in- Day Out. Once writing becomes a “habit” it doesn’t necessarily become “easier” but you become ready to do that piece every day…feel like it or not.

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Robert Dempsey@Internet Marketing Strategies

Another super chunky post Steve and pure awesome. This in of itself could be an ebook.

A week ago I added an ebook (PLR content) to one of my affiliate sites and added it at the end of an autoresponder. Currently my free report on the site ties into the eBook. I’m getting a niche number of daily opt-ins, and have some PPC going to it. My autoresponder takes about two weeks to complete (3 days apart as a test) so we’ll see if if makes sales and how much I need to update it and test.

I’m also looking for more ebooks that I can purchase or have someone write (better in this case for this site) and put my pen name on. I’ll add that to the autoresponder once it’s ready as well.

Thanks for the tips on how to do it myself for my other niches. I’ll be sure to put them into practice.

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Steve Scott

Robert sounds like you have a real plan and workable system going on. Like I have said before, I have been a little personally leery of PPC, because i havent been good at it. But I know some people can really make it work. You must certainly be one of those.

I think the 3 day separation should work the best for you. But testing it is, “aces”! Just make sure any PLR stuff you put under your brand is really quality. Which I am sure you do! :)

Heck depending on niche, maybe you could edit and roll something like Murrays PLR articles on a topic into a cohesive ebook, with only a bit of editing and writing text to “flow” between the topics.

At least there you know you have quality.

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Robert Dempsey@Internet Marketing Strategies

Steve my man I’m ahead of you with that. You know how I do :)

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Steve Scott

for sure!!!

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TrafficColeman

Passion..this is what enlighten me to start a new ebook or not..if passion not behind it..then its not worth doing for me.

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

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Steve Scott

For sure….you need to have passion for any niche you are in to begin with. In fact I have always believed that if you do not feel you have enough passion for a niche to write 3 decent posts to that niche for the next 3 years…you should not be in it to begin with :)

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Dahlia Valentine @ That Internet Marketing Thing

Hey Steve… First off, for 2 weeks I couldn’t remember the phrase “unique selling proposition,” and it was eating me up inside. Just read this post and bam… USP. Somebody get me some ginko!

Now on to the real reason for my visit… I am so on the e-book bandwagon right now. My BIG LIST of Amazon Products has been trickling in orders to my PayPal account almost every day. Sure, I had a huge rush when I initially launched — but I can definitely appreciate the day-to-day orders too. It’s nice having a blog that’s profitable after a good month of steady blogging.

And I agree with Question #5. You can easily grab some extra dollars by having a few Clickbank products on your thank you page. I think 2-3 backend products is optimum as you don’t want to have too many options.

Looking forward to your latest title!
Dahlia

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Steve Scott

Dahlia, Glad i got the ESP to give you the phrase for USP :)

For sure there is so many reasons to wirte a good ebook. Both through actual sales if you can get a really good hook and quality product and for use as a strong lead-magnet.

It is ultimately all about how much value you can pack in and give away. To really write something quality it takes a whole lotta effort. But it can be so worth it!

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Eugene @ Lifestyle Design

I’m liking your outline idea. To write the outline BEFORE the research. I’ve done that before and it seems to work out better. That way your research is focused on answering questions rather than scanning the entire internet for relevant material.

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Steve Scott

That is definitely one piece that the effectiveness would vary from person to person. I thin it works great though. You can always add to your outline if you find you missed something important.

It works great for me and i am glad it works well for you too

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Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

As always, information packed quality post. On topic for me, as I have an ebook being slowly put together. This has given me the nudge to get on with it.

I actually enjoy writing but have been busy with other projects, so now will try your method of allocating set times each day to get more done.

I did my table of contents first and have some articles already written. Now to finish the product and see how it is received. And looking forward to when yours in ready for us too Steve.

Patricia Perth Australia

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Steve Scott

It is good to hear you are chipping away at your ebook. that can be a good way to go about it. I think sometimes the product is far better when it is done slow and steady rather than in a feverish few weeks.

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Gabi@Top Running Tips

Hey Steve!

Dude, whenever you hit my inbox I drop what I’m doing and come over to check it out and as usual you did not disappoint! From your post it’s obvious that you’ve done a lot of hard slog I’m happy for you that the end is in sight and I’m pretty sure your no BS book will be rocking.

I have found a lot of value in how you approach your writing log and daily goals surrounding writing, I love writing but need to streamline more because I can be a little distraced at times!

Just a quick question about Question #4; how would you approach an expert in a particular field for an interview? Let’s say I’d like to interview Bart Yasso (he’s one of my hero’s!) Have any ideas on how to connect with an expert?

As always, Thanks Steve! :)

Reply

Steve Scott

Gabi,
First of all thanks for all the kind things you said. :) I am glad you are getting good value from it all.

Good question! The Shortt answer i would say is networking. Something I am “ok” at but I could be better.

Longer answer: first of all I just happened to have read a post on problogger which your question immediately brought to mind. It immediately brought to my mind the “hustle” it takes to get some of the big boys.

Here is the link in case you havent seen it: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/03/29/how-a-tiny-blog-landed-guy-kawasaki-and-copyblogger/

Now specifics: I would of course first try to make sure the guy at least “sort of knows my name. Get on his twitter/facebook and make sure to engage. RT his stuff with @histwitter try to engage him in this fashion with some questions…Rah rah comments. Just get your name in his periphery.

I checked out his blog and it seems it is just a twitter stream (only a quick look) but if he has a blog get on there and do the same thing. (intelligent questions and comments)

Finally once you think you have an idea he might have heard your @twitter name and maybe has replied a few times go to his blog and engage him in a dialog. (there is a “contact button”)
Be pleasant but firm I have a blog and my readers would like(shows it is reaching more than you) ….. I have read your book and you are one of my heroes (a quick jab at ego) ….I know you are a busy man but if i could get 15 minutes of your time for an interview (skype or replies to typed out questions I would guess)

Those are just some rough ideas, but keep it quick, polite and don’t give up. Give the guy a few weeks to answer. If he doesn’t… try again.

It is not always the early bird that gets the worm…sometimes it is the most persistent

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Gabi@Top Running Tips

Steve,

Thanks for the link. He actually followed me on Twitter a while and I reciprocated. You give some really clever ideas to ‘get into his periphery’ – thanks again!

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Joe@Yachtcharter Holland

nice tips… but I still think that if you don’t like what you’re writing about, you can’t create a masterpiece… you can create an ebook, but not a masterpiece. you have to get really involved in order to create a masterpiece;)

Reply

Steve Scott

No doubt, you may get by without having a passion for “writing” but you certainly need a passion for the “topic” as well as great knowledge.

Like I said in part of the article

“Many gurus say you get expert knowledge by reading a few books. Many gurus are wrong. EBooks are about offering value. ”

So I agree, you have to have passion, you have to have a lot of knowledge and you have to back up that knowledge with more research. For any decent ebook you have to have something to talk about.

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mark@niche idea

This is great Steve, but what if you start out crazy?

Just kidding ;)

This might be one of the most useful posts I have seen in a while. In particular, your analysis of unique vs. “me too” products was spot on, IMO. There needs to be something about your product that makes people want it. It is likely that they have already decided that they want a solution – you need to make them want yours.

Also, your idea of related products. This concept is one that I have been using for niche sites. I have started a few that were really focused, but that it made sense to leave some space (not literally, of course) for other products in the future. I think this is best for the long term potential of a site.

I really like the idea of doing the outline first, which allows you to stay with the idea of problem solving and to avoid getting caught up in the details. Of course, I do have a couple of questions.

When you do your outlines, do you use any mind-mapping tools?
Also, do you ever have anyone else read through your outline or draft?
Finally, do you plan to include ideas that you can later write about elsewhere (such as a blog or another ebook)?

Have a great day!

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Steve Scott

Thanks for the nice words Mark, lets take your couple questions one at a time

1. In a few strange ways I am a Luddite. One of those ways is “brainstorming”. I have tried many of the mind mapping tools out there. I can see the potential. I can see how useful they can be.

But they aren’t for me.

Not that i do not mind map and brainstorm, I just do it the old fashioned way. My tools are pad, pen and whiteboard. I will shoot the occasional ideas to my brother or other people I know to tell me if I am going off base, but it is mostly just sitting quietly jotting and crossing out on my pad.

2. In draft stage… not really. Between 2nd and 3rd draft I will have someone go over it. and after I am done with 3rd draft I will certainly have someone read it over as a final “typo” check. (it is hard to see your own -sometimes glaring- mistakes)

3. Yes. Even the ebook I am writing now I have had little pieces (in different forms) elsewhere. In both this niche and my other I find there is so much that -could- be talked about if i did NOTHING but write eBooks full time I would never run out of things to say.

But generally, if I “exhaust” a topic in an ebook I will not cycle back to it very much. I have said what I want to say on that topic. But something I just “touch on” is fair game.

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Jimi Jones

Ok, you’ve got a great series going here… “Monster Mondays”, that’s what these first of the week post represent. Not to take away from the other awesomeness, but these Monday posts have been killers. :-)

To add on to Paul’s comment above about ebooks having long ago played out, I never really understood that line of thinking. Books (print and electronic) will be a necessity of life as long as mankind walks the earth. Plus, some of the best have yet to be written. As technology and live evolves, someone will have to write about it to help others.

I still think that information products is a very viable business model and ebooks are a great tool.

Great post!

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Steve Scott

Haha… Monster Mondays… I like that. I love alliteration. Thanks for the kind words. I do work pretty hard on Mondays posts to make them something extra special. Not that I “dial in” Wed and the roundup, but I do try to make sure the mondays ones are really vibrant and talk about things people can use. (and hopefully havent been beaten to death)

As a reader, as well as a person who does try to write these eBooks, I certainly hope they are far far away from being played out.

I guess it could be possible that the young people of today want everything in video and do not enjoy the “written word” but on a much deeper level than just “sales” I really hope that isn’t true

Thanks for dropping by Jimi!

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Jake@Bani online

hehehe… if only it were that easy:) I guess everybody was a new york time best seller… but it’s harder than you make it sound… I actually struggled for two weeks to write 10 pages… and they’re faaaaar away from being a mastepiece:D

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Justin Dupre

You got many great points here.. I don’t think you go so wrong with health, wealth and relationship niches. Great tips on how to get rid of all clutter and distractions from workspace.. phone and internet is best to avoid when working.

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Steve Scott

Justin, Yeah those are all tried and true killer niches. The only way you could really go wrong is find scope out an area that is overly competitive with a topic that does not have a USP

Thanks for dropping by.

Have a great week

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Sheila Atwood

Steve,

I picked up two tips here that were very valuable. 1. Narrow down you niche. I have a tendency to want to cover everything. 2. Turning off the rest of the world. There always seems to be something else that pulls my attention. You know those things that seem more important.

You may want some one else to do your final edit. An outside view can often pick up errors we over look with out realizing it.

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Steve Scott

For sure. At very least someone should edit for typos. Even giving it time and reading out loud you can miss somethings.. Good point!

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Alex@Jocuri

Great post again, Steve, I can see that your posts are getting longer and longer, but they don’t lack in value.

I am pretty sure that I won’t get to right an ebook any time soon (because of my innate laziness) but you are really a guru mate, you can do a seminary about this subject any time in my opinion, which can be a great side income if you think about it.

Now, about the post, I think that most difficult thing when writing a book about a researched keyword is how to find the information. Because people are usually looking it on forums, because they can’t find it somewhere else, and the question is how can you find those answers without paying yourself for other ebooks are other kind of research material.

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Steve Scott

Yes keywords researh is very important. Not just for the book writing but also for the marketing ..which is a big part of it, and can make it the difference from selling a few dozen copies to a few thousand

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Murray Lunn

Steve, buddy, you’ve really outdone yourself on this one.

I love writing but I found a wealth of information in this specifically related to the actual research aspect of creating an ebook product. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for ebooks on my other niche sites and I think I’ve finally begun to narrow down the focus of what I’d like to offer. My list, at this time, is just over 1,600 people. The site pulls in nearly 25k unique visitors a month. Rather than focusing on some of my other projects I simply need to work on what’s working now.

I think, during my trip, I’ll set a daily writing goal for creating an ebook for the niche. I’m willing to invest in knowledge from others – spending $100 for a well written chapter from someone highly respected is well worth the investment in my book especially if it’s a bit out of my league.

This is powerful stuff here man; thanks for that motivation. Time to get focused.

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Steve Scott

1600 ain’t bad, that is a nice place to start getting some real activity from a list. Certainly with a nice eBook to up the ante you should be able to sky0rocket the subscribers too!

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Peter Joseph

I’ve found it best to space your writing over a certain period of time. When i started writing my book i made sure that i wrote two pages worth of text (with no formatting) every single day and i would stay up until I’d gotten it done.
Set the goals and grueling tasks should slowly become habit, you get used to doing it eventually :)

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Steve Scott

Peter,

Yup! That is a great strategy. A little bit at a time..and give it time. It is important, like you said, that you do have *some* sort of daily quota, though

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Edwin

Nice tips, this is the perfect guide for anyone to lazy to put their full effort in an ebook and still see awesome results.

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Steve Scott

Edwin, actually this method will still take a lot of effort. Creating a solid eBook will never be an “easy” task but the “slowly working on it” divides the labor in a fruitful and methodical way. rather than feverishly working on it for a work and then burning out with it incomplete

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Matthew Needham

Steve, this surprises me that you have writers block, especially the number of well written, thoughtful articles you write on this site. Or are they all down to Melissa?!

I do share your pain though. I’m writing my own book at the moment. It is so hard. I bought a great little book on the recommendation of Tim Ferriss called Bird by Bird – http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Some-Instructions-Writing-Life/dp/0385480016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301668289&sr=8-1 (non affiliate link). It’s really aimed at those writing fiction and stories, but it has some great tips to overcome writers block and having a structure.

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Peggy Baron

Steve, Steve, Steve!
I’m a little late to the party but I want to say this is an epic post! I like how much detail you put in about picking the topic because that makes a big difference between making sales and wasting time.

Having written several ebooks I can say doing an outline first is so important. I tried my first ebook without it and spent lots of extra time “fixing” it in the editing phase. What a nightmare.

Also, I used to get bogged down because instead of just going with the writing flow, I’d think, “Oh, that spot calls for a graphic or a tip box!” and then off I’d go to Graphicsland. Now I just put a colored asterisk in the spots as I’m writing so I can keep writing.

Thanks,
Peggy

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Mouh

Thanks for the detailed post. : o)

There is an important thing I want to mention. When writing, we go through two processes: the creating process and the editing process. These two processes must be done separately. What most people do is writing and stopping to correct themselves. I used to do that in years gone by. It was not helpful at all. It only made me nervous and I failed to come up with something of value.

I don’t correct myself now. I do freewriting. I don’t stop even when I make flagrant mistakes (like “I will visit Steve’s blog yesterday”). I always like to think of myself as an architect. Architects design buildings, but they don’t build them. Construction workers do that. It is the same for writers. The writer’s main job is to come up with ideas, not to edit them. The one who edits is an editor, not a writer.

I have seen better results since I stopped writing and correcting at the same time. I just want to say that those who want to write eBooks must take one step at a time. Don’t try to be jack of all trade (master of none). Both the quality of your ideas and your writing will be bad. Separate the writing and editing processes to increase the quality of your eBook.

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Steve Scott

Mouh,

I agree. I write in stages. First time through is almost unreadable. It is all ideas, thoughts, and snippets as they fall from my mind. Each successive edit fills in detail and is like panning for gold. It is sifting out the chaff and leaving only what is good and pure.

A good writer need to also be a good editor, but like you point out, they are two different steps and should be treated at such. They are approaching the topic from two completely different angles.

Thanks for the great extra info

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Andrew Walker

I love writing but I always find it hard to make some e-book. I have already made the draft but when it comes to the realization I always get stuck. Your tips seem wonderful. It’s very detail and clear. I will definitely implement it.

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danika

This is so true, I have just finished my 1st ever ebook and it feels so rewarding. I think that its fair to say that if you are writing and on with it then the experience is fun but making a start is always the hard part. Even making a start for the second or third time, just go sit down and start typing, its the best advice in the world!

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Steve Scott

Danika,

You are right. It CAN be fun. It can also be a pain. Writing an ebook usually involves some of both. Like you said, the very best tip is to follow Nike… Just do it!

It is not as ‘hard” as people might imagine.

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Kristine Banks@Bread Machine Comparison

I have hit the blank page syndrome several times and it can cause a lot of procrastination. The way I’ve overcome it is to plan my ebooks in stages, starting with chapter names. Then I add 5 or 6 bullets in each chapter, then add 2 to 4 bullets under each of the original bullets so that I end up with a detailed plan. Then all I need to do is to write anything from a few lines to a few paragraphs for each sub-bullet. It seems to almost write itself at this point.

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Steve Scott

Kristine,

A lot of successful ebook writing is about planning. That and good editing. The way you describe is great. As you say… it can write itself when you properly plan things out.

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Jenny

I take a very different approach to what most people here suggest. I only create ebooks on topics that I am expert and because of that I just start typing I am almost dumping the useful stuff in my head on the screen.

After I have a mass rambling on the screen I break it up into chapters ad from there I revisit each one and give them structure and more focus in some areas.

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Alice Isabell

This is a great post, Steve. Passion is really needed in creating an e-book, if you have a passion then you really create an amazing e-book. A very detailed post. Thanks for the tips on how to do other niches for myself.

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Fred Tracy

I finally got around to writing my e-book, and this guide is excellent. I particularly like the part about having a set amount of work that you’ll achieve each day, and having a table of contents beforehand.

Do you know of any software we should use to create our e-book?

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Steve Scott

Fred,

Congrats for knocking out your ebook. That is awesome.

Nope No particular tools for writing ebooks. At least not off the top of my head. Things like productively, pind map planning and things like that can help. But in the end it is you and a keyboard and a text editor. (I use good old Microsoft word, but I am sure there are tons of others just as good.)

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