Guide to e-book writing and publishing for starters

Writing an e-book is becoming a rather popular to-do list item. It almost seems like anyone can do it… And yes, probably anyone CAN. However, there’s still a lot of hard work included. If you’ve decided to take on this adventure, prepare yourself to successfully create and sell your own e-book with this guide.


There definitely are quite many benefits of publishing an e-book and you might’ve decided to do that for a variety of reasons.

For example, a free e-book can be a great way to grow your mailing list and show your expertise to your audience. A paid e-book can be a great source of passive income and bring in additional revenue.

In this article, I have shared my own e-book writing experience, starting from the idea to practical tips on how to make it happen!

If you haven’t quite decided whether to create an e-book or work on any other digital product, here are some of the best ideas for your first e-product!


Guide to publishing your first e-book

Guide to e-book writing and publishing for starters

In this e-book writing guide, you will find all the basics one should know BEFORE start working on the e-book. If you’re a complete newbie in this process then this article is the right one for you! I’ll guide you through everything you should know from the preparation until the final result.


PHASE #1: Preparation

The preparation phase was short and ended way too quickly for me.

I did some overall research about how to write an e-book but was pretty confident about my skills to do that. It’s… just writing, right? And I was so wrong about it all!

I didn’t make the research – what do my audience want? And actually – at that point, I had no real audience. I didn’t have the smallest idea of how does my ideal reader look like and where to find one. Do I need to search or they will come along? And it was my biggest mistake.

Here are some things I wish I did before starting:

STEP #1: Define your ideal reader

This is the first step to a successful e-product. Before starting to work towards your goals and your ideal audience (whether it’s your reader, your future client or investor…) – you need to define one!

If you’re writing an e-book then you already have some background in whatever you’re doing. What are your ideal clients? Are you looking forward to getting more of those? Do you want to work in another direction? What’s the audience you enjoy working with and want to interact with more? Go for it!

STEP #2: Do field research

Field research is necessary for any experience level, any topic and literally any kind of a product. After all, you should educate yourself not only about the topic itself but also about what others might be doing in the field, what people are really interested in.

So where to start? I’d say go with Pinterest. That’s the place where average today’s reader is stopping by once in a while and you can see what topics people read about. Write in a search tool what you’re going to write about and see what’s already there.

  • What’s the value you can add up?
  • What are the things people are most interested in?

Afterward, when initial research is done, get back to good old Google and do it once again. You might not only stumble upon new ideas that you never thought about but also – learn something new yourself!

Additionally, reading books or watching TedX talks could also work in your favor!

STEP #3: Think about design

This is an important part of the preparation phase – to know how your book will look like when it’s finished. It will be easier to group content and write without much editing later (okay, there will be a lot of it anyway…).

I had no idea how my design will look. Since I’m a designer myself, I decided that I’ll just go with the flow whenever my book will be ready – will do what’ll be working the best. My mistake!

The design is a crucial part of your e-book. Let’s be honest, there are some really great things we could’ve read along the way, but we closed the book just because it was uncomfortable to read and didn’t look tempting to continue.

  • Think about how many chapters you will have?
  • How will you divide some special information, for example, some interesting facts or quotes?
  • Will your design will be minimalistic or bold and bright? You can get some inspiration from my article Use design to make people buy.


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PHASE #2 E-book writing

The actual e-book writing process, obviously, is the most crucial part of the process.

There are several questions you should consider when it comes to how your e-book will be written.

STEP #4: Make the decision about the tools you’ll be using

This includes two things – ideas and writing part. I’d suggest using Evernote for your initial ideas and some text outlines. It’s a great tool that can be used anywhere – on your phone when inspiration kicks in, on your computer, an app or not. You can open a new Word document to write down all your ideas or use phone notes (or desktop notes).

Then there are various tools that can be used for everything: ideas, outlines, writing, editing. For example, Scrivener. You can organize your notes, comment and write footnotes for your text, edit and easily oversee everything you’ve prepared. Ommwriter offers a distraction-free environment to write in – no Facebook messages, no e-mails or notifications! And there are more tools like this one, you just have to choose.

STEP #5: Outline your content

Before writing, manage to write down all your ideas, all of your chapters in the correct order, everything you’ve willing (or might be willing!) to include in your e-book.

This will help you to stay tuned and not to think about everything that pops into your mind!

STEP #6: Schedule your writing sessions

Not a secret that most of the books that have been started never get to the finish. Why so? Because of a variety of reasons. People lose their interest, they don’t have time and they haven’t defined their goals.

Most of the books that have been started never get to the finish. Click To Tweet

Therefore go the road less traveled – define your goals and schedule your writing sessions! Whether you’ve decided to write your e-book in a month or in a year, you should get clear about when you’ll be doing it. After work, in the evenings? Weekends?

Also – set the place to do that! It will help you get your mind going every time you’ll get to that spot.

STEP #7: Make sure to have some time for editing and reviewing the book you’ve written! 

First of all, my biggest suggestion is to use Grammarly while writing your e-book (or even your blog posts). Even if it’s just the beginning, Grammarly will save tons of your time. It’s for FREE and it will show you the mistakes in your text. The basic (free) version shows all you might need!

It shows not only your mistakes but also suggested edits! It’s AMAZING and my blog posts would be absolutely terrible without it. It doesn’t even matter either you’re a native English speaker or not. It’s a must-have!

Once everything is written: I’d suggest to you to take some time off and get back to it after a week or so (more, if possible). That’s a great way to see your mistakes! You give your mind some time to rest and it’s not working in the same mode.

You can re-read everything and see whether it’s still working for you. Maybe there’s some phrase that’s used without a context just because you were thinking about your dinner plans at that point.

Take some time off once your book is written. That's a great way to see your mistakes! Click To Tweet

Besides that, you should give your e-book for someone else to read through. That can be your best friend or your mother. A paid editor also is an option, but not always a necessary one!


PHASE #3 Design

As mentioned before, the design is a crucial part of your e-book.

If possible, you should add up some of your branding elements, so everyone who sees it knows – that’s yours! But that’s not the most important part.

If you’ve decided to work on this with a designer, you can definitely go for it. But if you’re willing to get through it yourself, here’s a little help!

STEP #8: Text layout

If you have written a book, but you’re willing to add more design elements within it, you should use Adobe Indesign for this. It’s a program where you can create your layout in whatever way you want, choose your paper size, add blank pages, add design elements and later on get it all as .pdf or e-book format. Other than that text layout also can be done in Microsoft Word and previously mentioned writing tools.

STEP #9: Cover design

The most popular choice for non-designers for e-book cover is Canva. It’s an app where you can choose a photo and adjust the text to it in a variety of styles and do some other simple graphic design manipulations.

It’s perfect to create a simple and eye-catching e-book cover. If you’re going for another choice, you can use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator for this. Or hire a designer. But there’s no harm in keeping your e-book cover simple and “hand-made”!

STEP #10: Additional design elements

You have to think about a variety of other design elements: how will your second page look like? What’ll be on the back cover? How will you establish quotes and/or facts? How will you start chapters?

For this, I’d suggest taking a look at other e-books. Some of them are keeping it simple – using bold or italic text styling, layout, and some simple colors. Other e-books have more complicated graphics that you can inspire yourself from!

Keep in mind that not everything that looks complicated and “fancy” actually is so hard to make.


PHASE #4: E-book publishing

I wrote my e-book in Word, designed it in InDesign (creating additional elements in Photoshop) and published it in .pdf form for my newsletter readers/sign-ups. It all worked for me like a charm!

But you might be willing to sell your e-book and that’s the road I haven’t been on.

You can do it all yourself – get your e-book on Amazon or Kindle, but here are some helpers, if you’re looking for any: Pronoun (e-book publishing service including editing and design), BookBaby (e-book publishing service with a variety of packages for your needs).


Before you go…

Here are some other articles you might find useful:

11 Replies to “Guide to e-book writing and publishing for starters”

  1. Suzi Whitford says: February 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Pinning this for later when I have time again to write an ebook! Great post, thank you!

    1. ieva says: February 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      I’m happy you find it useful, Suzi!


  2. Lucie says: September 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Amazing post! I am going to write my first e-book and I am little scared but this post really helped me. Definitely pinning for later! Thank you 🙂

    Have a nice day

    1. ieva says: January 3, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Great to hear that you’ve found this post useful! Thank you for sharing & have the best luck in writing your own e-book 🙂


  3. Atul Kumar Sharma says: September 10, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I’m going to write an ebook. Looking for some experiences from the experienced ebook writers.
    Your post inspired me. Thank you


    1. ieva says: January 3, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Amazing, Atul! I hope you’ll succeed in your e-book writing process 🙂


  4. Britty says: January 2, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    This was very helpful! I took notes and I plan to put this to use! Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. ieva says: January 3, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Thank you for sharing, Britty! I hope this post will help you to get where you’re going 🙂


  5. ebooks2go says: June 19, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Useful Article, thanks for sharing. Great info. …..

  6. Kiki Hendarsyah says: January 18, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Nice post & easy to understand..

    1. Ieva Laicane says: January 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks for your kind feedback! I’m happy you found it enjoyable.

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