How to Write an eBook for Personal Branding and Thought Leadership
Storytelling Content Creation

How to Write an eBook for Personal Branding and Thought Leadership

You’re a freelance writer. It’s not just a job, but your identity. You’ve mastered the process of crafting compelling content for brands and publications in your area of expertise, assembled a collection of clips, and built an online portfolio to show it off.

As you scale your business and advance your career, you need to think proactively. What else can you do to improve your status as a genius storyteller? Buckle up, my friend—it’s time to learn how to write an eBook.

Why an eBook?

It’s great to build up your clips, but once your calendar is consistently full, you have to consider your personal brand as a whole. If you want to be recognized as a thought leader, becoming a published author will increase your credibility and reach. It also gives you a dedicated space to hone your voice and tone—key elements to personal branding. Author Jacquelyn Ayres explains, “Now that my books are gaining a larger audience, I speak more freely when addressing readers on my author’s page and social media. [My books] are snarky and funny and that’s definitely expected in my posts.”

eBook author Ryan Andrew Kinder is a moderator for the Reddit WritingPrompts board. After he and his fellow mods grew the community “from 10,000 to 75,000 subscribers with millions of daily visitors,” Kinder realized there was a market for a book. “So many people fell in love with writing,” he says. “The books on writing prompts already available weren’t imaginative enough. I wanted prompts that were truly unique, like what we established for our site.”

Though many writers and brands (including Skyword) offer eBooks for free permanently or for a short time, there is a profit to be made in “niches where people will spend money for information,” writes self-publishing coach Colin Dunbar. Even if you charge few or zero dollars for your eBook, you can incorporate links to “direct people to other related resources that you may be able to profit from,” Dunbar continues. These may include your portfolio, email address, and social media accounts.

Kinder capitalized on this. “I included my email address in the book itself for when people wanted to reprint sections,” he says. “People have been contacting me for permission and adding me on social media. I never used to have people randomly following me on Twitter, but now I get multiple requests a day.”

The ability to drive traffic and increase direct contact with readers makes knowing how to write an eBook great for publicizing your own work—and a marketable skill when negotiating projects with brands.

Choose Your eBook’s Content

Compiling clips is one way to go. You will have to make sure you retained rights to the work, though, as content written for a brand often becomes that brand’s property.

If that’s the case, or if you want to dive deeper and create an innovative and valuable resource, choose to write all-new content. Niche eBooks are frequently short—this one from Skyword is only 16 pages long—but some are longer, such as Kinder’s 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts, which clocks in at 111 pages. Consider what you already know about easy-to-read, snackable content from writing in the content marketing world and apply those principles.

After You Write

For a skilled writer, learning how to write an eBook isn’t difficult. However, self-publishing can seem daunting. It’s important to have a great team in your corner—those clips wouldn’t look as shiny without your editor’s input and the coding running the publisher’s website, right? The same idea applies here.

“Never skip out on getting a professional editor!” Ayres insists, because no matter how good of a writer you are, “there will always be something that wasn’t caught.” A freelance editor will comb your words for errors and provide feedback on storytelling and overall feel. You’ll also want to hire a cover designer. Kinder encourages eBook writers to “invest time and money into this, because the cover counts.”

To give your readers the most options, consider hiring a formatter after your book is edited and cover designed. “Formatters know how to set up your book for all the different eBook channels. Once your book has been formatted, you take the files and upload them to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. You then hit publish and let your nerves shoot through the roof, waiting for it to go live,” Ayres says, which “can take up to 24 hours, but [usually] no longer than twelve.”

Make Your Debut

Kinder has one big tip for anyone looking to learn how to write an eBook: “Establish your identity online before publishing. If you’re going to self-publish, you’ll have to be interactive. Chat rooms, blogging, email correspondence, you name it. Lay the foundation of your success. It may sound overwhelming, and at first it is. However, once it becomes your routine, you will start to enjoy it.”

Nothing makes me unfollow a writer faster than seeing nothing but self-promotion on their social accounts. To get the best results, says Kinder, “find every free eBook Facebook group. Use @mentions on Twitter to pages that tweet about free books. Have your family and friends reshare a link.” Also, engage potential readers in conversation and participate in discussions about your subject area.

And don’t hesitate to go beyond social. “While traditional authors have the backing of their publishers for promotion, you . . . are on your own,” Ayres says. “There are blogs that offer promotional services: cover reveals, release-day blitzes, blog tours, and various other things,” she continues. Kinder took a similar route: “I did a three-day free promotion when the eBook version first came out. There was a threefold purpose for this: to come up higher in the search results, to get my name out there, and to get reviews. My book now shows up on page one when you search for ‘writing prompts.’ I have 15 reviews. All of this makes the product more desirable.”

Thinking about how to write an eBook? Get started by joining Skyword’s community of freelance writers.

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