How to write an ebook: 21 stupid mistakes to avoid in 2019

Do you want to learn how to write an ebook like a pro? It's not just what you do, but what you DON'T do that can make or break your work.


You thought about writing an ebook.

In fact, you've already imagined the cover.

You can see the main title and, below, your name.

And when you imagine it, you feel a wave of pride.

An ebook would be a big step forward for you as a writer.

Because while blog posts are a great way to express your ideas, you can't help but feel a little, well, fleeting.Lightweight too.

But an ebook?This is more substantial.It is taken more seriously.It has more gravitas.

And having an ebook with your name on the front turns you from a simple blogger to that most impressive beast: an author.

But how do you become an ebook author without falling victim to the same mistakes that sabotage the attempts of so many other bloggers?

How to write an ebook: 21 stupid mistakes to avoid

Why Most Ebooks Are Embarrassing

On the surface, writing an ebook seems relatively easy.

Many bloggers seem to do this, so how hard can it be?

But in reality, most ebooks that see the light of day are horrible.Embarrassingly bad.

This is because your average ebook author has no idea how to write an ebook.They can't afford to hire a ghostwriter and they don't have the support system that a traditional publisher would give their publisher when writing a book.

They do their best, but they don't know what they don't know.

The good news?We can learn from their mistakes.In this post, we'll show you the common mishaps authors first make of it when writing an ebook.

In other words:

Do you want to write an ebook like a pro?Avoid these 21 common mistakes:

1. Choosing a topic you don't know much about

If you want to create a premium ebook, you may be tempted to choose a "hot topic" thinking that's where the money is.

Similarly, when creating a subscription bribe, you may think you need to attract readers with the latest information on an emerging topic.

And if you're using Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it's easy to think you'll have to target one of the most popular categories.

But choosing a topic like this is a BIG mistake.

If you know little or nothing about the chosen topic, creating an e-book will be a huge amount of work. You'll have to do a lot of research, interview experts, and maybe even pay a real guru to catch up.

What to do instead

Write something you actually know – which almost certainly means tying your ebook to the main topic of your blog.Not only will you save a lot of time researching, but you'll also have an audience ready for your writing.

2. Writing the Ebook Your audience "needs"

I fell into this trap (twice) and saw a lot of other bloggers doing the same.

It happens when you realize that there is a topic your readers need and you know that you can write the perfect book that will really help them.

It sounds great, but people don't always know what they need.And your sense of what is may not even be perfect.

What to do instead

Don't give your readers what you think they need.Give them what they know they want.

As?Run a survey and ask your readers to choose from three or four ebook topics.

(This is also a good opportunity to find out how much they would pay, whether they are beginners or more experienced, and what specific questions they need your help to answer.)

3. Think like a writer, not a publisher

Planning is not just about deciding what to write and in what order you will write it.

Because when you decide to create an ebook, you're not just a writer; You are also a publisher (and marketer).You have to write and publish.

If you don't start thinking now about how you're going to sell your book, whether that means selling it for money or simply selling the concept to your readers, you'll run into problems later.

What to do instead

Design your sales page as you plan your ebook.Make it look as attractive and helpful as possible (try Jon's list of powerful words and make the reader the hero of the story)… And use that tone to guide the writing process.This will make your ebook much stronger and make your life much easier when you launch it.

4. Grab your pen (or laptop) and start writing

Once you've entered your survey results, you might be tempted to start writing immediately.

Whoa there.

Jumping into writing at this point will cause you serious problems.You'll find yourself repeating things or wasting time ultimately exploring unnecessary bribes.

What to do instead

Plan your ebook before you start writing.

This means having a clear profile that has at least one title for each chapter.Yes, it might sound a bit boring, but it will make the writing stage much easier (and more fun).

This doesn't have to mean opening a blank document and writing a linear outline.Try freeform brainstorming, mind maps, or fact sheets as creative alternatives to help you get your ebook ideas flowing.

5. Try to make your ebook too valuable

With your first ebook, it's easy to think you'll have to deliver the ultimate ebook, the only one your audience will ever need.

If that sounds like a good idea, ask yourself, "What will I give them next?"

Chances are you won't write a single ebook.You could write several in the same series or create a short free starter e-book, then write a more advanced one to sell.

Even if your ebook is meant to be your incentive for subscribers, if you give your readers everything they'll need, why should they come back to your blog?

What to do instead

Go back to your survey and determine what is most important to your audience.Focus on those.If you have a lot of extra ideas, great!Keep them in a separate place and use them for your next ebook.Or explore them in a detailed blog post.

If you inadvertently miss something crucial, you'll find out when you get feedback, and you can add a new section or chapter to address that point.

6. From the beginning

While it may be the first chapter of your book, your introduction is almost certainly not the place to start writing.

It's hard to know what to include until you've written most of your book and want to get bogged down at this early stage.

If you start with the introduction, you will often end up writing much more than necessary. And let's be honest.No reader appreciates the sight of a long introduction: they want to immerse themselves in the real content.

What to do instead

Do not start with the introduction; Start with your first "correct" chapter.After writing the rest of your book, you'll know what needs to go in the introduction.

Also, a lot of "introductory" material can be posted on the back of the book – I highly recommend having an About Author page on the back, because it's a great opportunity to direct readers to your website, mailing list, and so on.

7. Write only when you feel like it

Although your ebook is probably a priority project for you, it can be really hard to carve out the time to work on it regularly.

But if you don't write consistently, you'll never increase momentum. You could write for a few hours at first, but then end up taking weeks off… and never go back to your ebook.

What to do instead

You don't have to write thousands of words at once.One of my clients wrote a short chapter every week, without fail, and finished his ebook in a few months.

Find a consistent schedule every day, or several times a week, to work on your ebook. You could try the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of writing, 5 minutes of break) to use your time effectively during short writing sessions.Anyone can write for just 25 minutes.

If you know you have a problem with time management, fix it now; It will pay off for years to come.

8. Allow your internal editor to take the initiative

If you're writing regularly and staying focused but making slow progress, you're probably trying to edit as you write.

Maybe you find yourself writing a couple of paragraphs, then changing your mind and deleting them.You could also interrupt each sentence or two to make small changes.

This is a major problem for your productivity as a writer.

What to do instead

If you change your mind about an entire paragraph or section, leave it as it is, but write a note about it.You may discover, by rereading, that it works perfectly.

You may find it useful to use a full-screen text editor "without distractions." I like Dark Room for this – as it doesn't have those distracting swaying reds and greens that your typical word processor adds when they don't like a word or phrase.

9. Quitting just before becomes easy

After working on your ebook for weeks, maybe months, you may find that you haven't made the progress you hoped for.

Whatever the exact cause (illness, workload, etc.), You hit a wall.You're not even halfway through the draft and there's still a long way to go.

When going through a patch like this, it's quite tempting to let it go – to reduce losses and leave that abandoned ebook draft on your computer.

But that would be a big mistake.Because this is often a sign that things are about to get easier.

What to do instead

Push yourself to reach the point halfway. Once halfway, natural momentum takes over and you accelerate as you approach the end.

Be sure to remind yourself of your motivation to start the ebook in the first place: what will it do for you and your blog?How will it help your readers, the people you have come to know and care about?

10. Trying to keep up

While it's important not to interrupt your ebook after the first draft, there's no need to rush to edit it.Some writers dive straight into the editing stage, but then struggle to get perspective and can quickly feel exhausted.

What to do instead

Let your eBook "sit" for at least a couple of days (and preferably a whole week) before you start reviewing and editing.In this way, you will get there with new eyes and a new perspective: you will be able to see what is already good and what requires a little more work.

With a small distance, you will be able to see your work from the perspective of a reader, not a writer.

Back to top

11. Throwing your best job into the fire

Many ebook authors start editing using the same file that you used for your draft, such as MyEbook.doc. While this isn't always a problem, it's seriously frustrating if you cut something you'd later want to reinsert.

Worse, if you manage to delete, lose or somehow corrupt that main file, all your hard work could go forever.

What to do instead

For each new draft, create a new version of your file – MyEbookV2.doc, MyEbookV3.doc and so on.And create regular backups.An easy way is to send you a copy of the latest version from time to time.

12. Review with a microscope, not a telescope

If you start editing by looking for minor typos, you'll miss out on much more significant issues.

By focusing on micro detail, you may fail to address the major problems in your book — such as "Chapter 15 is too short" or "Chapter 7 should come after chapter 10." These often require some perspective (see Error No. 10).

What to do instead

Read the entire ebook, preferably in .pdf format, on paper or tablet, before starting editing.

In other words, read it in a format where you can't easily make small changes as you go along to force yourself to focus on the larger image.

Take note of all the issues you need to solve, such as chapters in the wrong order, repetitive information, bribes that need to be deleted, and new sections you want to add.

13. Tell you you don't need an editor

When you're working alone for (probably) several months, seeing mistakes can be difficult – from big picture issues to small details like missing words or misplaced apostrophes.

But many first-time ebook authors are too inexperienced to know the value of a publisher or understand that it's a luxury they can't afford.

Even if you're not able to pay for a full change, that doesn't mean you have to go it alone.

What to do instead

Consider paying for a publisher to review only the first few chapters of your ebook.Many issues identified by the publisher likely occur throughout the ebook, and you can fix them yourself once you know what to look for.

Recruit volunteers for editing: Ask your readers or members of any blogging community you belong to.Get ready to refund the favor!

14. Hiring the world's worst proofreader

After making major changes and responding to suggestions from your editors, the book is almost complete.

But before it's ready to publish, you'll need to do at least a full read-through to detect any typos or remaining errors.

However, you're probably the worst person to catch those mistakes.

You've probably become so familiar with the content and its layout that you'll miss typos that will be obvious to someone else.

What to do instead

If you can afford a professional proofreader or if you have a talented friend who can help you, brilliant.

If you have to do most or all of the proofreading yourself, here's the secret: don't re-read your ebook in the same environment where you wrote it.Try changing the font style and size and printing or reading it on a tablet.You will be surprised by how errors stand out.

15. Grant your inner perfectionist and procrastinator

Quality is important, but if you're on fifth proofreading and you're spending ten minutes debating whether or not a certain sentence needs a comma, you're wasting time.

Even the books of the main publishing houses have errors from time to time.You may never have noticed, because (like any reader) you don't pause and scrutinize every word.

What to do instead

Give yourself a deadline to finish the editing phase and accept that catching 99% of your mistakes is good enough.

Don't worry about the possibility that a typo may still be present.Readers are likely not to notice, and if someone points out a particularly noticeable error after publishing, it's easy to update your ebook.

16. Assuming you already know the best format for your ebook

Even if you started with a specific end goal in mind, be sure to review your options once you've finished the ebook.

An e-book that began life as an incentive for subscribers could in fact become a high-quality product, or serve as a book to build authority in the Kindle Store.

But if you don't at least consider other options, you could miss a huge opportunity.

What to do instead

Depending on the final destination of your e-book, there are several e-book formats available to consider:

  • If you're giving away your e-book as an incentive to subscribe to your email list, then .pdf-only is simple and straightforward.
  • If you're positioning your ebook as a premium product (say, at least $10), you can simply create a .pdf… But you may also want to offer .epub and .mobi formats.You can also include bonus multimedia material on a password-protected web page (e.g. audio interviews, short video tutorials).
  • If you're publishing your ebook on major retailer sites, you'll need a lower price (usually $9.99 or less) and publish your file in the appropriate store format.

And don't assume that a particular option is right for your eBook just because it's what you've seen other bloggers do.

17. Using the first (yawning) title that comes to mind

Just like the title of a blog post, an ebook title needs to grab attention.It will be the first (and most likely only) thing your potential ebook reader will see.

When I wrote my first full e-book, I planned to title it Writing Blog Content.That's what it was all about, after all!But it's not exactly sexy.

A wise friend (Charlie Gilkey) jumped on Skype with me and spent a while ripping off better headlines.We finally went with The Blogger's Guide to Effective Writing… A much stronger and more compelling title.

What to do instead

If you have a working title in mind right from the planning stage, now is the time to figure out if it's really good enough.You could ask your blog readers to vote for different titles.

The same goes for the headline on your sales page – you'll probably want to put something a little more intriguing than just your e-book title.

Jon Headline Hacks' report is full of inspiration and advice.

18. Design your own cover

Like it or not, everyone judges books by their covers.

Unless you're a professional designer, creating your own cover is an extremely damaging mistake.

Your ebook will look amateurish, and readers may be put off from buying it.

This is especially true if you're going to sell your ebook on Amazon (or other e-retail sites) where most potential readers won't have any prior knowledge of you.

For many examples of good and bad covers, check out Joel Friedlander's monthly e-book cover design awards.

What to do instead

If you can afford it, hire a designer.This is a crucial investment, and you'll likely sell enough extra copies to more than pay for the designer's work.

But if you really have to create your own cover, keep it simple and straightforward and look at lots of examples of good and bad projects.

19. Forgetting to go back to your blog

Your ebook could be a reader's first contact with you.And even those who downloaded your ebook from your blog may forget where they got it.

So failing to reconnect your ebook to your blog is a big mistake.You're missing an opportunity to direct new subscribers to your primary email list or to a separate list that informs your current ebook readers about your next book.

What to do instead

Include a page on the back of your ebook, after "About the Author," which lets readers know where to find you online.

Be sure to link to your subscriber's landing page, the sale page of your next book, or any other online part you want to send them, such as your social media profiles.

It's also important to give your readers an easy way to send feedback for your ebook, such as a dedicated email address or a link to a contact page.

And don't be afraid to link to relevant blog content within the body of the ebook itself.

20. Completely ignoring the power of social proof

Even if a reader already knows you, they won't necessarily trust your eBook to be valid until they have at least one review or testimonial.

Whether your ebook is available for purchase or simply a premium for new subscribers, people probably won't trust its value unless they can see that other people have read it and found it useful.

And if you're in a niche known to have some seedy operators, or one where ebooks are rare, failing to provide social proof is an even bigger mistake.

What to do instead

Be proactive: Send review copies to bloggers in your niche and to all readers of your blog who have commented regularly or emailed you recently.Add positive reviews to your sales page and, if possible, use reviewer photos to increase credibility.

And if you can, submit your review copies before launching your e-book – preferably at least a couple of weeks beforeThis gives people the chance to read your book and get a review ready or right after launch day.

21. Acting like your ebook is not a big deal

Many bloggers don't feel comfortable marketing their e-books, so their "launch" simply involves a new link on their blog and a couple of clear posts on social media.

But even the best ebook will wither and die without a certain promotion.

And the truth is, if you're not willing to market your ebook when the hard writing work is complete, you've basically wasted all that time and effort.

What to do instead

You're proud of your new ebook, right?So start behaving like this.(If you don't feel proud of your work, go back to the writing and editing stages until you do!)

Despite any preconceptions, you can effectively market your blog without running into a used car seller.

Here's how…

Mix your promotional messages with lots of useful and interesting content.

If you're providing people with useful information at the same time as promoting your ebook, you'll feel less like an intrusive seller.

If your ebook is on Amazon, you can create some buzz by giving it away for free for short periods.

If this is your first premium product, be sure to tell your existing list about it and consider offering a discount for existing subscribers.

Write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche and direct readers to a dedicated landing page for signups or for your ebook's sales page.

You could also look for ways to do something more interesting and innovative, perhaps creating videos, offering special extras, or engaging readers.

Writing an ebook doesn't have to be a dream

Many mistakes lurk out there to stumble upon the path of publishing your first ebook, but the potential rewards are great.

You can get more subscribers for your blog, more authority in your niche, and even earn more money from your writing.

And now that you know the most common mistakes, you can easily avoid them.

But of all the mistakes you can make, one surpasses them all: I don't even try.

Or tell you that one day you will write your own ebook .

But you won't make that mistake, right?

Now you know how to write an ebook.Grab your calendar, take a look at the next week, and pick a day to get started.

Because in just a month or two, you could easily have a finished ebook… One that could boost your email list, position you as an expert, or start earning a steady income.

When will the ebook journey begin?