The only place I’ve really announced this was on my fitness Instagram, soooo if you didn’t know yet, I recently published my first ebook!
It’s called How to Win Your First Bodybuilding Competition: A Guide for Bikini and Figure Athletes and it’s available for $2.99 on Amazon. I’m
a real boy an author!
I didn’t have any expectations about what it would be like to have something published and available for sale, so I was surprised at how accomplished and proud I felt when I was finally able to share the listing with my friends and family. Even though it’s “just” an ebook, I feel very professional and legit for having written it.
So if you have a seedling of a book in your brain, but don’t know where to begin in getting it published, here’s how I did it.
How long did it take to complete my ebook?
It’s hard to say just how long the book took me to write, because while I did write much of it from scratch, I also incorporated snippets from blog posts I’ve written over the past year and a half.
But from the time I started copy/pasting old blog posts and editing them to when the book was available for purchase, it was probably 3-4 months. If I had worked on it more than just intermittently, it probably would have taken me about a month of dedicated work.
After I had written everything but not formatted it yet, I asked a couple of fellow competitors/friends to read it over and let me know what they thought. The time this took is also included in my estimate above, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it because getting another set of eyes on your work is crucial.
What tools did I use to write my ebook?
Since I hadn’t done anything like this before, I did a good amount of research and tried a few different writing tools. Here are the ones I ultimately liked the most and would recommend:
A plain old notebook: I do the bulk of my writing for life and work on the computer, but sometimes when I’m stuck and need a spark, I write a few sentence fragments down in a real notebook with a real pen. I typically only write a couple of sentences before I’m ready to take it back to the computer. (It’s kind of like how when you can’t sleep, sometimes switching to the couch helps. Or maybe that’s just me…)
Jer’s Novel Writer: Unfortunately only available for Mac, this is a simple and free tool (with paid upgrade option) that makes it easy to format your writing into chapters and sections.
As you can see above, on the right side of the editor, it lists your chapters/sections in a convenient outline format. You can easily jump to a section of your book by clicking on the name of the section you want to go to.
While I ultimately finished writing and formatting my ebook in Microsoft Word, Jer’s Novel Writer really helped me figure out how to communicate my points in an organized way, so I’d recommend it to other first time ebook writers.
Microsoft Word: Once I had written the ebook, I exported it to Word to do the formatting. Read below for more information on that.
How did I format my ebook?
While you can certainly just convert your document to a PDF and sell it that way, I wanted to sell mine on Amazon for Kindle.
For chapter linking and page turning to work correctly on an e-reader, there are very specific formatting guidelines to follow. Happily, they can be handled easily in Word using the Styles pane and the Table of Contents feature.
Once I’d transferred my work to Word, all I had to do was highlight headings and use the styles pane to turn them into H1, H2, H3, etc.
Basically anything you want readers to be able to navigate to easily on an ebook reader, you need to format with the Styles pane. In general, chapter titles will be H1, subsections within the chapters will be H2, and so on.
Even the title page can be formatted with styles: on the page shown above I formatted the title, subtitle, and my name using the Title, Subtitle, and Personal Name choices from that right hand panel.
You can check to see if your formatting looks right by going to the References menu and choosing Table of Contents. As you make changes, make sure to refresh the table of contents by clicking Update Table.
After formatting your whole book, save it as a webpage (.htm) file.
Tip: For detailed instructions on formatting your ebook in Microsoft Word, check out this blog post at Rock the Deadline. I found it very useful!
How did I design my ebook cover?
It’s nothing amazing and will definitely be changed down the line (it’s easy to upload a new one on the Amazon publishing platform), but I designed it using Picmonkey. Picmonkey is an online photo editing and design tool and it’s very easy to use. I made my cover by setting the template to be 8.5×11 inches, then importing a photo of myself from a photoshoot and adding text on top.
If you don’t want to design your own, use your network to find someone to make one for you! Some great places to look for help: virtual assistant Facebook groups, blogging Facebook groups, or Upwork.com.
How did I decide on the price of my ebook?
My ebook is quite short at just 40 pages, so I did some simple online research to find out how to price a short ebook. I also looked at other similar ebooks and priced mine to compete with them.
I priced my book at $2.99. $2.99 is a very popular choice because it’s cheap but not free, and is at the edge of Amazon’s royalty threshold, earning you 70% of the sales revenue rather than 30%.
How did I make my ebook available for sale on Amazon?
Once I had saved my document as a .htm file and created the cover separately, I created an author account at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site.
After you input payment information you can upload your files. The system even checks your book for potential spelling errors. It takes about 24 hours for the book to be approved and listed for sale, and you’ll receive an email once it is. And that’s it!
Best of luck to you as you write your first ebook, and please feel free to email me with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org