By Rob Davis
Back in the day, you only had to assume one role; that of a writer. Editors, proofreaders and publishers were those big agencies that would print your book and ship them to booksellers around the world, charging you hefty royalties in the process.
However, the tide shifted on September 28th, 2011 with the release of Amazon Kindle, which ushered in a new era of self-publishing and ebooks (although the latter had been around for quite a while now). Freelance ebook writers also found roots here, helping people who couldn’t write for themselves get published.
Despite it being just nine years since the launch, the world of self-published ebooks is ever-evolving and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. This can be seen from the revenue ebooks generate worldwide, which stands at $15.7 billion as of 2020 with a whopping 1.02 billion readers; each reading an average of 12 books per year.
Neither figure seems to be slowing down, let alone stopping growing anytime soon. The revenue of books sold was expected to rise by 6.2% year-on-year, while the number of ebook readers would have seen a whopping 8% year-on-year growth, if not for the coronavirus. That would have been more than 8 million readers every year!
The following graph shows how the global pandemic and the lockdown that followed increased the number of visits to ebook selling platforms from 1.34 billion to 1.51 billion between January and March 2020 – a significant increase unlike any the industry had seen before.
And as the number of new authors and readers grows, so does the need for a new ebook writing strategy, should you want to move up to the ‘best-seller’ rank.
Devising an Ebook Writing Strategy for 2020
- Conduct relevant research
- Start Writing
- Hook Your Readers
- Show readers a pain and then address it
- Put yourself in readers’ shoes
- Create an interesting title
- Get your ebook written
- Edit your ebook 2020 style
- Publish and Market with the times
- Self-publish or via agent
- Promote your ebook
Okay, this part hasn’t changed much – you still need to do a lot of research.
“The backbone of any best-selling book has always been research – from the time of Jane Austin and Charles Dickens all the way to today’s ebooks.”
Whether you’re writing an ebook on your own accord or asking someone to write it for you, you need to conduct some research about your niche. In 2020, the idea shouldn’t be to look for a new topic – there are books about everything these days. A unique perspective on something in your niche is what you need.
In today’s world, villains are revered and heroes booed, sad endings are considered more interesting and happy endings considered ‘clichés’. Plan your story accordingly if you’re writing fiction.
Educational ebooks, on the other hand, are a bit trickier. We live in the Information Age and everything is evolving rapidly.
From healthcare ebooks to those on information technology, philosophy, or even things as old and stagnant as the laws of physics, everything is being researched on more, and new information is coming to light. This risks rendering your book obsolete rather quickly, so you need to incorporate elements in the book that would ensure that the ebook remains relevant for years to come.
If this is your second ebook, it’s important to note that you gain more credibility if you stick to a certain niche and aren’t all over the place. However, bold moves are what differentiate you from the crowd, so if you think you’re comfortable with it, you’re welcome to change niches.
In 2020, people don’t remember writers because of their niche but because of how well they write. If you think you have a good ebook idea but can’t put it on paper in a compelling fashion, a little help can go a long way. That’s where freelance ebook writing services come into play.
Hooking the Readers
Not too long ago, the hook used to be printed at the back of a book. A short introduction that could reel the reader in and grab their attention, tempting them to delve deeper. Now however, with the ability to get a refund easily and the little preview Amazon and even Google allows readers, they have a lot more material to go through.
In 2020, you need more than just a paragraph to hook your readers in. It’s the first 15 or 30 pages, or perhaps the introduction and first chapter that you need to write impeccably to hook your readers.
When working on the hooks, take three things into consideration:
- Your target audience
- Find out what they’re looking for
- Trending news and how you can provide something that warrants an ebook instead of a blog
Writing a hook is easier than it seems and the extended sample length for your readers means that you get a bigger canvas to paint your picture. Ask any ebook writer, the more space you have to write, the better you’ll be able to explain your object.
Here are seven different types of hooks that every ebook writer has in their arsenal:
Perfect for educational ebooks, here you start out with a question about your subject – one that preferably can’t be answered right away. It should be able to prompt your readers to go further in search of the answer.
This works for fiction and non-fiction ebooks alike. The idea is to write a paragraph, sentence, or even a phrase that makes a claim about the subject of the book that is either very controversial or assertive.
You just need to be careful that the statement isn’t unpleasant to particular group. This is one major problem in 2020 that you should be cautious about.
Fact and Statistic Hook
This works better on a documentary, autobiography, or other non-fictional ebooks better than on fictional books, but there’s nothing stopping you from using it in fiction ebooks.
If you are quoting facts and statistics in your eBook, make sure that those are accurate and the most recent. Also, give proper reference to the stats added.
Metaphor or Simile Hook
Perfect for every type of ebook, these metaphors can connect your protagonist, story, or subject with something else – perhaps the plot itself. However, we would advise that you don’t use the age-old ‘dream sequence’ as a hook.
It’s not as catchy since the late 90’s and early 2000’s, where every writer out there had the same idea and wore out the prospect.
Fictional ebooks are stories themselves, but you can also use a short story to connect the readers to your subject line in non-fictional and educational ebooks as well. Just make sure you don’t do the same when writing a whitepaper or an ebook targeting professionals ONLY.
And make sure the story is relevant to your subject, else you risk the ebook stretching on for no reason.
This is a basic hook where you write a vivid description of your ebook’s setting and make it attractive for your readers. You can explain your subject here just as Mark Twain did in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).
A quote is a good hook mostly for non-fiction books, however, this type of hook is starting to wear away, just as the ‘dream sequence’ did. Everyone is using them and now, the idea has started to put off some readers.
The idea behind it means well, though. You use the words of one of the legends to give your ideology a boost, along with piquing their interest. However, just make sure you quote the right person who is linked with what you’re writing.
Quoting Vlad, the Impaler for an ebook about Nuclear Physics isn’t just misplaced but also inappropriate.
Show Readers a Pain and a Solution – Preferably Their Own Pain
In 2020, the core idea behind any introductory paragraph or chapter should be to reel in readers instead of setting up your book. Of course, you can set the premise while hooking the readers – as you should – but you can also start off dead in the center of your story (sort of like a sneak peek).
And what better way to hook an audience than something that they can relate to; especially pain points they’ve been suffering from. No matter the subject of your ebook, address their point in some of the first lines in your book and they’ll definitely be intrigued to buy it.
Put Yourself in the Reader’s Shoes
Engagement, when it comes to ebooks, goes hand in hand with perspective. And nothing gives ebook writers perspective like standing in your reader’s shoes for a while. Try to figure out which style, words, and information they might be looking for and what you’re presenting.
Some factors to consider include:
- Figure out the industry
- Whether your target audience is well-versed in the subject or you’re targeting laymen
- What sort of value would you expect from a book if you had to buy one
- How would you like that value to be provided to you
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and asking questions like this will help you set your ebook’s tone better.
Treating experts in the industry like children won’t be engaging enough, but using jargon and complex case studies right off the bat with people who are just starting off would put off those readers.
For example, what if we started going over the basics in this article? We’re sure that if you’re reading this article, you’re an expert writer yourself – perhaps writing your own book or looking to get one written from ghost writers. Or a freelance ebook writer who just wants to stay up to date with trends, right?
Addressing the basics of SEO, how to write introductions etc. would end up ruining your immersion. An ebook works the same way. Keep it engaging, keep it immersive.
Create an Interesting Title and Cover Page
One of the first things that has always caught the attention of readers is the title and cover. While there is a chance that a reader will pick up a physical book and read through it or give it a chance, with ebooks that chance gets very limited.
On the internet, the average attention span of users is around 3–4 seconds, less than that of a goldfish. As readers browse through their Kindle store, they only read through your ebook’s name, look at its cover and decide whether it looks interesting or not.
Even a terrible ebook – let’s not name names – gets considered for a while and even sells if it has a compelling title and cover. Yes, the proceeds might end up being refunded, but it is a teaching moment nonetheless.
The best ebooks out there might not get sold just because of the lack of a good cover or title.
In 2020, it is important to reel your audience with a good title and cover. Once you’ve finished your ebook, scrap your working title and think long and hard about what you’ll call it. Jot down ideas (at least 7 or 8), and then start thinning out the herd one after another until you’re left with just the one.
Ask others what they think about your chosen title and then set it.
As for the cover, if you’re a designer, well and good. If not, don’t settle for anything less and go the extra mile to get a good one designed. Ask professionals to design it for you. Most ebook writing services have a dedicated design department that focuses just on book covers and formatting. You can ask them for help.
Get Your Ebook Written
Now comes the most important bit; writing your ebook.
This a lengthy process and nothing short of a grind. However, the grind is well worth it in the long run, offering rewards and incentives out the wazoo. Not everyone can be like Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote his first Sherlock Holmes book in just 3 weeks.
JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in five years, so you can imagine her frustration and resolve to get everything right. Ebooks are just as hard, if not harder. Take 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James, for example. It took her around a year and a half to complete the first book!
The legendary George R. R. Martin is a live example of this as he is yet to complete any more Game of Thrones books. In 2020, there are a lot of distractions to keep you from writing. Here are a few steps you can take to tackle that issue:
Create an Outline and Stick to It
Begin with the end in mind. This piece of advice may seem unorthodox, but it isn’t just applicable to fiction writers but also to non-fiction ebook writers. Finding the perfect ending can be hard, and that is where most writers flail.
If you have the ending in mind before the beginning or simply get an idea of what the ending would be like in the middle of chapter 3 of your book, write the ending – or just an abstract. Then shape the rest of your ebook accordingly. Of course, you can make changes to the ending when you actually get there.
This will give you a general outline of what your ebook would look like. Once you have that outline, don’t make any unnecessary changes unless they’re very dire.
If you’re having trouble, don’t worry; it’s completely natural. Wait a day or two for the writer’s block to pass and then start again. It should be easier now that you have an outline in hand. However, if the problem persists, you can also hire ghost ebook writers who specialize in writing ebooks.
Writing the First Draft
Now that you have your outline ready, research completed, and a compelling ending, it’s time to fill in the blanks. Take the book whichever direction it goes (while following the guidelines). The audience of 2020 is very picky, but now is not the time to worry about that. This is the first draft and it might not even see the light of day, so go crazy. It’s your world, do with it as you please.
Don’t shy away from making changes, delve into the depth, introduce new characters, write side-stories for each character, discard plotlines, introduce and unwind loops, or do whatever you want. Here are some ebook writing tips that you might want to keep in mind:
- Set a word count before starting out. That’s a mistake that could lead you to write the beast that is War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Don’t try competing with Russian literature on the first go (wink, wink). While there is no rule of thumb when it comes to how long your ebook book should be, there are guidelines:
|Children’s Books (non-illustrative)||5,000-20,000|
|Long Fiction/Short Novel||60,000-80,000|
- Set deadlines and reward yourself if you stick to them. This also includes setting aside a few hours in the day just for writing. If you can’t write, just keep the manuscript open in front of you during the same hours.
- Get feedback as you complete each chapter.
Editing Your Ebook – Using the Right Tools
Once you’re done writing, it’s time to edit your ebook. We highly recommend either having someone else edit your ebook for you or giving yourself a break from the manuscript before editing. It’s fine to remove the extra bits from your novel before taking a break, but do not start editing right after you finish writing.
Take a break, else you risk missing out on mistakes. A fresh perspective is needed to edit work, which is why a third-party fares much better here. If you don’t have anyone else or simply don’t want to wait, you can either use online tools to proofread the entire ebook quickly or hire professionals.
Here are some of the best proofreading candidates for your ebook that you can use (some of them for free) to proofread it quickly. A quick disclaimer, though. Give your book a read after having it go through these tools. No matter how efficient, how feature-rich, they simply can’t beat an experienced human editor.
The Hemingway App is a wonderful, colorful, ebook writing tool with a web-interface to help you improve your ebook. It’s a free tool that looks to writers like yourself and freelance ebook writers to tackle the nuances of English language. From breaking down complex sentences to grammar and overused words, it can help you correct it all.
After running your content through Hemmingway, your content will be error-free, engaging, and more readable.
Grammarly, the Robin of Hemmingway (Batman) is yet another best free tool to have in your arsenal. Unlike Hemmingway, Grammarly takes a more straightforward approach and offers add-ons for your browser and Microsoft Word, even with the free version.
However, you might miss out on some features if you’re using the free version; which is why we have it in second place. The tool, apart from helping you fix grammar issues, spelling, punctuation syntax and sentence structure, also helps identify plagiarism to some extent.
Another easy-to-use proofreading tool – one that is also preferred by professional editors – is WordRake. It is compatible with Microsoft Word and has an add-on, so that you don’t have to go around copy/pasting or uploading your content anywhere.
You can also download an add-on for Outlook to craft better emails, but that is outside the scope of this article.
WordRake, apart from the same spellcheck and grammar issues, focuses on making sure your content is streamlined and more engaging.
Publishing and Marketing Your Ebook
And now comes the fun part; publishing and marketing your ebook – taking it across the finish line. Here, you get to really spread your wings and have fun with the marketing. Though, maybe not so much if you’re publishing a non-fiction, serious ebook for professionals.
Whatever the case may be, some effort on this part can help you become a bestselling author in no time. And no efforts here could end up leaving your book high and dry.
Submit to Agents or Self Publish
Once the ebook is complete, i.e. the content has been edited and proofread, a compelling cover has been designed, the book has been formatted and compiled according to your publishing platform’s requirements, it’s time to introduce it to the world.
However, before you do that, there is a decision that needs to be made; go the conventional route and find an agent or publisher or self-publish?
In 2020, self-publishing has found much more appeal compared to going to a publisher, waiting for their approval, and sharing royalties with them. When you publish an ebook on your own, you get to decide everything; from the price all the way to what to show as a sample. You also get to keep a bigger chunk of the royalties from each sale since there are lower costs involved.
Self-publishing is also quicker and the way to go, since there is now a bigger audience of ebooks than that of print media. A survey conducted in 2017 ad published in December 2019 showed that only 28% readers only read print-books, while the rest were open to reading an ebook.
Once you’ve decided which way to go, it’s time to promote your book. If you’re going the traditional route and willing to wait a few months before your book sees the light of day, you shouldn’t worry about this part. The publishing agency will take care of that part.
If, however, you’re going the self-publishing route, you’re going to have to put in some effort. The idea here is to introduce your book to as many people as possible to promote your work of art.
A large number of ebook publishing platforms have followed Amazon Kindle’s example of hosting. This includes iBooks, Google Books, Kindle Select, SmashWords, NOOK Press, and so much more. Whichever you choose, you will have to conduct relevant SEO on your ebook’s description, title and more.
Just make sure you keep Google’s latest 2020 core update in mind, where it wants you to E.A.T. i.e., focus on providing value to readers via Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
When marketing your book, it’s important to use keywords, yes, but don’t seek validation just in the eyes of search engines. One of the most influential aspects towards helping readers make their minds are customer reviews. That’s how they judge whether a book is worth their time or not.
So, yes, try to appease search engines before launch, but never sacrifice on reader satisfaction. Remain active on social media, be on top of customer reviews, write blogs, design banners, and do your part.
The world has gone and gotten itself in a hurry in the 21st century. Individuals looking to keep up in the realm of digital marketing would find it hard with so many agencies competing on the other end. If you think you’re overwhelmed at any point, there is no shame in asking professionals for help.
While the gist of writing a book has remained the same over the decades, there are minor adjustments that need to be made if you’re a veteran in the industry. However, these changes might make a big difference for people who are just looking to enter the industry. It’s all about developing the correct ebook writing strategy!
If you think our guide on how to develop the perfect ebook writing strategy helped you or that we missed something important, let us know down in the comments!
An enthusiastic reader and a Sr. Editor, Rob Davis has inspired his team of book writers at Ghost eBook Writers to tell stories and craft comprehensive ebooks through thorough research and artistic writer’s integrity.