By Kate Taylor
I have recently launched my first ever Ebook! I feel really proud and happy with the outcome, especially as I didn’t know what I was doing when I started. I guess like most things in my life, I learn through doing. It’s not necessarily the most time or cost effective way of doing things, but no matter how I try to change I end up diving in head first and just starting. Its how I started my business Taylor + cloth and it’s definitely how I went about creating my first Ebook ‘Merry Making’.
That’s not to say there was no planning involved… there was a lot of planning. It just means that once I had decided to start, I did! That very same day in fact. And I’m not talking about diving in with zero knowledge about my chosen topic which was 'Christmas Craft’ either. Im passionate about DIY and craft and was confident that the craft projects I had come up with were fun and easy to make and would be well received by my audience. But how do you go about making an Ebook, collating all of your ideas into the one place and arranging them in a way and format that you can then sell digitally? Well let me share with you how I went about it.
Pick your topic:
Obviously this will be something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. I love craft, and Christmas is my favourite time of year by far and while I already have a craft blog where I post DIY’s for free, I felt that I had enough ideas to package up together and sell for a small fee.
I’m a list writer! I have a book where I write down all my creative ideas. This is where I made a list of all the craft and DIY projects I wanted to include in my Ebook. Not a lot of detail, just enough information and sketches to jog my memory about any given idea.
Set a launch date:
This was easy for me… I had to have it ready within 3 months for an early November launch or it would become redundant until the following Christmas. Even with my launch date set I was about a week and a half late… Better a little late than never though. Setting the launch date means you have a deadline to work towards and it allows you divide up your time, plot your milestones of when things like photography and content need to be finished, generally keeping you on track.
How do you want your Ebook to look:
As this was my first Ebook, I looked for other craft books and ebooks where I liked their use of colour, layout or graphics, or the style of photography they used. This helped me plan my layout and saved me a lot of time later on.
Where are you going to sell your Ebook:
Is your Ebook mainly text or is it picture based? This will help you decide what format your end product will be. I chose to make a PDF, downloadable ebook, mainly because I wanted to sell it directly from my website, not through Amazon or Kindle and as it is a craft/DIY Ebook the images are key to understanding how to make the projects.
What software are you going to make your Ebook on:
I chose to make my Ebook on Apple Pages. Why? I have access to it and I find it pretty intuitive to use. There are other options like Illustrator or Word, but I felt most confident that I could create what I wanted using Pages so I went with it. I was after an uncomplicated program where I could drag and drop images into place, resize them easily, set up text and heading styles and reorder the document easily. It’s also really easy to export your document to a PDF from Pages and you can choose the quality of your output, which means you don’t need to worry too much about the size of your images and the overall document until the end.
Set up your document styles:
Now you need to set up your heading and paragraph styles. I’m glad I did this first as it gave me a sense of it all coming together even though all the content wasn’t in there yet. It also gives you a really good idea about how the final product will look and for me, formatting as I go takes so much pain away at the end when you are scrambling to meet your deadline. Of course if you decide to use a graphic designer you just need to get your content in and they will take care of the rest. But I’m a bit controlling and I was time poor so I did it myself.
Outline text first:
I outlined all of my text first, breaking it into headings and subheadings in Pages. I set up my table of contents and based on my previous research of other craft books, laid out the individual pages and the content I wanted to provide on each project page. This was also really helpful as I could instantly see how much needed to be done. If I had a few spare minutes I could sit down at my computer and easily write the intro, or the thank you page. I found it much easier to jump around and fill in content rather than trying to write my Ebook from start to finish. In which case I don’t think it ever would have been completed.
Ok so while all this was going on I was also making the craft projects themselves, this was also a way of testing all of the ideas and so I could photograph the finished product for each of the projects. As I made each of the projects I also filled in all the ‘How to:’ content for each craft project.
Plan your photographs:
While I outlined the text I also decided on the general layout of my photographs even though I hadn’t taken them yet. I worked out how many images I needed total…. I knew I need a hero image for each heading as well as for each individual craft project, plus some extras to help with the ‘How to’ explanations. I also needed a cover image and a few extras that were crafty without being specific to a project necessarily. This amount of planning also meant that when it came to the photoshoot I was able to brief the photographer really well, saving us some time as we knew exactly what images we needed.
It goes without saying really… but just a quick reminder. Oh and get someone else to proofread it too. I gave mine to four different people to proofread, they all came back with different typos and ideas about how to make my Ebook easier to read and understand. I was grateful for the feedback.
How are you going to promote your Ebook once it’s finished:
This is probably the toughest part, you have finished your Ebook…. now what? My advice, don’t wait until you are finished. Start promoting it on your socials earlier rather than later. And work out who you will approach to help you with promoting your amazing Ebook; other bloggers, people in your field, magazines, local papers. Don’t be shy, give them all a free copy and pitch them your product.
It’s a lot of work, but I had so much fun making my Ebook ‘Merry Making’ and within a week of launching I was already planning my next Ebook. (insert husband rolling eyes here) It might seem daunting but if you break it down into manageable parts, you can do it. Just remember, plan and be kind to yourself.
Kate Taylor is the creative force behind Taylor + cloth, an online store where she is able to combine her passion for design and handmade homewares to her heart's content. She is passionate about all things craft and DIY and is happiest when she is creating and crafting with her 3 children or holidaying somewhere exotic with her husband. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.