21 Dumb Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your First E-book

21 Dumb Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your First E-book

Admit it.

You’ve thought about writing an e-book.

In fact, you’ve already imagined the front cover.

You can see the main title, and underneath, your name.

And when you picture it, you feel a ripple of pride.

An e-book would be a big step up for you as a writer.

Because while blog posts are a great way to express your ideas, you can’t help feeling they’re a little, well, fleeting. Lightweight even.

Whereas an e-book is more substantial. It’s taken more seriously. It has more gravitas.

And having an e-book with your name on the front transforms you from a mere blogger into that more impressive beast – an author.

But how do you become an e-book author without falling victim to the same mistakes that sabotage the attempts of so many other bloggers?

Three Rock-Solid Reasons to Write Your First E-book

Before looking at our list of mistakes, let’s take a quick look at why writing an e-book is not just attractive to many bloggers, but also a smart move.

1) A Valuable E-book is a Powerful Sign-up Incentive for New Subscribers

Does your email list grow s-l-o-w-l-y, with perhaps one or two new subscribers each week … at best?

The truth is that readers are reluctant to hand over their email addresses – even if they love your content. So they may need a little extra nudge to sign up (you could even call it a bribe).

An e-book packed full of valuable content makes a great incentive. If you can offer free information your audience would gladly pay for, you’ll see dramatic improvements in your sign-up rates.

2) A Premium E-book Allows You to Make Some Real Money From Your Blog

When I started blogging, it took me 11 months of writing three to five posts per week to get my first AdSense check for $100.

That’s because in the real world, you need a huge blog to make any real money from advertising.

The following year, I launched an e-book that paid for me to go to the SXSW conference (flights, ticket, hotel and all) … and that e-book continues to sell for me today.

So if you’re earning pennies from ads or you’re still undecided on how to monetize your blog, know that you can make real money writing ebooks. They’ll help you transform your blog from a fun hobby into a real earner.

3) An Authoritative E-book Positions You as an Expert in Your Field

If you want to build a name for yourself in your field, an e-book is a great way to boost your credibility and authority.

By publishing on Amazon, you can appear literally alongside some of the biggest names in your industry.

In fact, you may find you get more reviews and attention than much better-known authors who are simply less web-savvy.

Why Most E-books Are Embarrassingly Bad

On the surface, writing an e-book seems relatively easy.

Lots of bloggers seem to be doing it, so how hard can it be?

But in reality, most e-books that see the light of day are horrible. Embarrassingly bad.

That’s because your average e-book author doesn’t have a clue about writing a book. And they don’t have any of the support that a traditional author would be given by their publisher.

But producing a quality e-book is almost as hard as publishing a traditional book. The basic tasks are the same. It’s just that you have to do them all yourself.

Which is why avoiding the mistakes that catch most first-time e-book authors is critically important.

Click here to get a printable, one-page cheatsheet featuring all the mistakes you absolutely must avoid when writing your first ebook.

Planning Mistakes: How to Doom Your E-book Before You Even Start Writing

Even before you start writing your e-book, you can make some crippling mistakes. I had two spectacular e-book flops due to the second mistake on this list, and many of the others have cost me valuable time.

So avoid the following dumb mistakes if you don’t want to fall at the first hurdle.

#1: Choosing a Topic You Know Little About

If you want to create a premium e-book , you can be tempted to pick a “hot topic” thinking that’s where the money is.

Likewise, when creating a sign-up bribe, you might think you need to entice readers with the latest information about an emerging topic.

And if you’re publishing on Amazon, it’s easy to think you need to target one of the most popular categories.

But picking a topic like this is a BIG mistake.

If you know little or nothing about your chosen topic, creating an e-book will be a huge amount of work. You’ll have to do a ton of research, interview experts, and perhaps even pay a real guru to get you up to speed.

How to Fix It

Write about something you actually know about – which almost certainly means tying your e-book to your blog’s core topic. You’ll not only save a ton of time on research, you’ll also have a ready-made audience for your writing.

#2: Writing the E-book Your Audience “Needs”

I’ve fallen into this trap myself (twice) and I’ve seen a heck of a lot of other bloggers do the same.

It happens when you realize there’s a topic you know your readers need, and you know you can write the perfect book that will genuinely help them.

Sounds great, but people don’t always know what they need. And your sense of what it is might not be spot-on either.

How to Fix It

Don’t give your readers what you think they need. Give them what they know they want.

How? Run a survey, and ask your readers to choose between three or four e-book topics.

(This is also a good opportunity to find out how much they’d pay, whether they’re beginners or more experienced, and what specific questions they need your help to answer.)

#3: Thinking Like a Writer, Not a Publisher

Planning isn’t just about deciding what you’re going to write and what order you’re going to write it in.

Because when you decide to create an e-book, you’re not just a writer; you’re also a publisher (and marketer).

If you don’t start thinking now about how you’ll sell your book – whether that means selling it for money or just selling the concept to your readers – you’ll run into problems later on.

How to Fix It

Draft your sales page while you’re planning your e-book. Make it sound as attractive and useful as possible (try Jon’s list of power words, and make the reader the hero of the story) … and use that pitch to drive the writing process. This will make your e-book much stronger, and will make your life much easier when you launch it.

#4: Picking Up Your Pen (or Laptop) and Starting to Write

Once your survey results are in, you might be tempted to start writing straight away.

Whoa there.

Jumping into the writing at this point will cause you serious problems within days. You’ll find yourself repeating things, or wasting time exploring ultimately unhelpful tangents.

How to Fix It

Plan your e-book before you start writing.

This means having a clear outline that has, at the very least, a title for each chapter. Yes, that might seem a bit boring, but it will make the writing stage far easier (and more fun).

This doesn’t have to mean opening a blank document and writing a linear outline. Try freeform brainstorming or mind maps or index cards as creative alternatives to help get your ideas flowing.

#5: Trying to Make Your E-book Too Valuable

With your first e-book, it’s easy to think you need to deliver the definitive e-book – the only one your audience will ever need.

If that sounds like a good plan, ask yourself this: “What will I give them next?”

Chances are, you won’t write just one e-book. You might write several in the same series, or you might create a short starter e-book for free, and then write a more advanced one to sell.

Even if your e-book is destined to be your subscriber incentive, if you give your readers everything they’ll ever need, why would they come back to your blog?

How to Fix It

Go back to your survey and determine what aspects your audience cares about the most. Focus on those. If you have lots of extra ideas, great! Keep them in a separate place and use them for your next e-book. Or explore them in a detailed blog post.

If you inadvertently miss something crucial, you’ll find out when you get feedback, and you can add a new section or chapter to address that point.

Writing Mistakes: How to Waste Time, Lose Focus and Give Up

Some bloggers love the writing part of creating an e-book; others find it hard going.

But whatever your feelings about writing, the follow mistakes can seriously curtail your progress … and may even make you give up altogether.

#6: Starting at the Beginning

Although it might be the first chapter in your book, your introduction almost certainly isn’t the place to start writing.

It’s hard to know what to include until you’ve drafted the majority of your book, and you don’t want to get bogged down at this early stage.

If you start with the introduction, you’ll often end up writing far more than you need to. And let’s be honest. No reader relishes the sight of a long introduction – they want to dive into the real content.

How to Fix It

Don’t begin with the introduction; start with your first “proper” chapter. Once you’ve drafted the rest of your book, you’ll know what needs to go in the introduction.

Also, a lot of “introductory” material can go at the back of the book – I strongly recommend having an About the Author page at the back, because it’s a great opportunity to point readers to your website, mailing list, and so on.

#7: Only Writing When You Feel Like It

Although your e-book is probably a high-priority project for you, it can be genuinely tough to carve out the time for working on it regularly.

But if you don’t write consistently, you’ll never build up any momentum. You may write for a few hours to begin with, but then end up taking weeks off … and never getting back to your e-book.

How to Fix It

You don’t have to write thousands of words at a time. One of my clients wrote a short chapter every week, without fail, and finished her e-book within a few months.

Find a consistent time each day, or several times a week, to work on your e-book. You might like to try the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes writing, 5 minute break) to use your time effectively during short writing sessions. Anyone can write for just 25 minutes.

If you know you have a problem with time management, address that now; it’ll pay off for years to come.

#8: Letting Your Inner Editor Take the Lead

If you’re writing regularly and staying focused but making slow progress, then you’re probably trying to edit while you write.

Perhaps you find yourself typing a couple of paragraphs, then changing your mind and deleting them. You might even be stopping every sentence or two to make minor tweaks.

This is a serious drain on your productivity as a writer.

How to Fix It

If you change your mind about a whole paragraph or section, leave it in as is, but jot a note to yourself about it. You may find, on re-reading, that it works perfectly well.

You might find it’s helpful to use a full-screen “no distractions” text editor. I like DarkRoom for this – as it doesn’t have those distracting red and green wiggles that your typical word processor adds when it doesn’t like a word or phrase.

#9: Quitting Just Before it Gets Easy

After you’ve been working on your e-book for weeks, perhaps months, you may find that you’ve not made the progress you’d hoped for.

Whatever the exact cause (illness, workload, etc.), you’ve hit a wall. You aren’t even halfway through the draft, and there’s a long way to go.

When you go through a patch like this, it’s quite tempting to just give up – to cut your losses, and leave that e-book draft abandoned on your computer.

But that would be a huge mistake. Because this is often a sign that things are about to get easier.

How to Fix It

Push yourself to reach the halfway point. Once you’re halfway, natural momentum kicks in, and you’ll speed up as you approach the end.

Be sure to remind yourself of your motivation for starting the e-book in the first place: what’s it going to do for you and your blog? How will it help your readers – the people who you’ve come to know and care about?

Editing Mistakes: How to Wreck a Good First Draft

Although you probably won’t spend as much time editing as you spent writing, this is the point at which your e-book really takes shape.

Editing makes the difference between a book that’s simply “okay” and a book that’s a well-polished, professional representation of you at your best.

The following mistakes will keep your e-book from becoming the masterpiece it deserves to be.

#10: Trying to Keep Up The Momentum

While it’s important to not let your e-book stall after the first draft, you don’t need to rush into editing. Some writers dive straight into the editing phase – but then they struggle to get perspective, and may quickly feel burned out.

How to Fix It

Let your e-book “sit” for at least a couple of days (and preferably a full week) before you begin reviewing and editing. That way, you’ll come to it with fresh eyes and a new perspective – you’ll be able to see what’s already good, and what needs a bit more work.

With a little distance, you’ll be able to see your work from the perspective of a reader, not a writer.

#11: Throwing Your Best Work in the Fire

Many e-book authors start their edit using the same file they used for the draft – for example, MyEbook.doc.

While that’s not always a problem, it’s seriously frustrating if you cut something you later want to put back in.

Worse, if you manage to delete, lose, or somehow corrupt that master file, all your hard work could be gone for good.

How to Fix It

For each new draft, create a new version of your file – MyEbookV2.doc, MyEbookV3.doc and so on. And create regular backups. A simple way is to email yourself a copy of the latest version from time to time.

#12: Reviewing With a Microscope, Not a Telescope

If you start your editing by looking for minor typos, you’ll miss much more significant issues.

By focusing on the micro detail, you may fail to address major problems with your book – like “Chapter 15 is way too short” or “Chapter 7 should come after Chapter 10.” These often require a bit of perspective (see Mistake #10).

How to Fix It

Read through your whole e-book, preferably in .pdf form, on paper, or on your tablet, before you begin editing.

In other words, read it in a format where you can’t easily make small changes as you go along to force yourself to concentrate on the bigger picture.

Make a note of any issues you need to fix, like chapters in the wrong order, repetitive information, tangents that need deleting, and new sections you want to add.

#13: Telling Yourself You Don’t Need an Editor

When you’ve been working away on your own for (probably) several months, seeing mistakes can be tough – from the big picture issues to the small details like missing words or misplaced apostrophes.

But many first-time e-book authors are either too inexperienced to know the value of an editor or figure it’s a luxury they can’t afford.

Even if you’re not in a position to pay for a full edit, that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

How to Fix It

Consider paying for an editor to review just the first few chapters of your e-book. Many problems the editor identifies will probably occur throughout the e-book and you can fix them yourself once you know what to look for.

Recruit volunteers to help edit: ask your readers, or members of any blogging community you belong to. Be prepared to repay the favor!

#14: Hiring the World’s Worst Proofreader

Once you’ve made any major changes and addressed the suggestions of your editors, your book is almost complete.

But before it’s ready to publish, you’ll need to do at least one complete read-through to catch any remaining typos or errors.

However, you’re probably the worst person to catch those errors.

You’ve likely become so familiar with the content and its layout that you’ll miss typos that will be obvious to someone else.

How to Fix It

If you can afford a professional proofreader, or if you have a talented friend who can help out, brilliant.

If you have to do most or all of your proofreading alone, here’s the secret: don’t proofread your e-book in the same environment that you wrote it. Try changing the font style and size and printing it out, or reading it on a tablet. You’ll be surprised at how errors stand out.

#15: Indulging Your Inner Perfectionist and Procrastinator

Quality matters, but if you’re onto your fifth proofread and you’re spending ten minutes debating whether or not a particular sentence needs a comma, you’re wasting time.

Even books from major publishing houses have mistakes from time to time. You may never have noticed this, because (like every reader) you don’t pause and scrutinize every word.

How to Fix It

Give yourself a deadline for finishing the editing phase, and accept that catching 99 percent of your mistakes is good enough.

Don’t agonize over the possibility that a typo may still be present. Readers aren’t likely to notice, and if someone does point out a particularly glaring mistake after publication, it’s simple to update your e-book.

Publishing Mistakes: How to Make Sure Your E-book’s an Instant Flop

You could create a water-tight plan, write a hugely valuable e-book, and edit it till it shines, yet if you mess up its publication, you won’t get the results you deserve.

But if you avoid the following mistakes, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of e-book success.

#16: Assuming You Know the Best Format for Your E-book Already

Even if you started out with a specific end goal in mind, be sure to review your options once you’ve finished your e-book.

An e-book that started life as a subscriber incentive might in fact make a great premium product, or serve as an authority-building book in the Kindle Store.

But if you don’t at least consider other options, you might miss out on a huge opportunity.

How to Fix It

Depending on the final destination of your e-book, a range of different publishing options are available to consider:

  • If you’re giving your e-book away as an incentive for joining your email list, then .pdf-only is simple and straightforward.
  • If you’re positioning your e-book as a premium product (e.g., at least $10), you can just create a .pdf … but you might also want to offer .epub and .mobi formats. You could also include multimedia bonus material on a password-protected webpage (e.g. audio interviews, short video tutorials).
  • If you’re publishing your e-book on major retailers’ sites, you’ll need a lower price (usually $9.99 or less) and to publish your file in the appropriate format for the store.

And don’t assume that a particular option is right for your e-book just because it’s what you’ve seen other bloggers doing.

#17: Using the First (Yawn-Inducing) Title that Comes to Mind

Just like a blog post title, an e-book title must grab attention. It’s going to be the first (and quite possibly the only) thing your potential e-book reader sees.

When I wrote my first full-length e-book, I planned to title it Writing Blog Content. That’s what it was about, after all! But it’s not exactly sexy.

A wise friend (Charlie Gilkey) jumped onto Skype with me and spent a while hashing out better titles. We eventually went with The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing … a much stronger, more compelling title (and one that led me to write a whole “Blogger’s Guide” series.)

How to Fix It

If you’ve had a working title in mind since the planning stage, now’s the time to figure out whether it’s truly good enough. You might want to ask your blog readers to vote on different titles, to find out which is the most compelling.

The same goes for the headline on your sales page — you’ll probably want to put something a bit more intriguing than just the title of your e-book. Jon’s Headline Hacks report is packed with lots of inspiration and advice.

#18: Designing Your Own Front Cover

Like it or not, everyone judges books by their covers.

Unless you’re a professional designer, creating your own cover is a hugely damaging mistake.

Your e-book will look amateurish, and readers may well be put off from buying it.

This is especially true if you’ll be selling your e-book on Amazon (or other e-retailers’ sites) where most potential readers won’t have any prior knowledge of you.

For plenty of examples of both good and bad covers, take a look at Joel Friedlander’s Monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards.

How to Fix It

If you can afford it, hire a designer. This is a crucial investment, and you’ll likely sell enough extra copies to more than pay for the designer’s work.

But if you really have to create your cover yourself, keep it simple and straightforward, and look at lots of examples of good and bad designs.

#19: Forgetting to Link Back to Your Blog

Your e-book might be a reader’s first contact with you (if they bought it from Amazon for example). And even those who downloaded your e-book from your blog might forget where they got it.

So failing to link your e-book back to your blog is a big mistake. You’re missing an opportunity to drive new subscribers to your main email list or to a separate list that tells your current e-book readers about your next book.

How to Fix It

Include a page at the back of your e-book – after “About the Author” – that lets readers know where to find you online.

Be sure to link to your subscriber landing page, to your next book’s sales page, or anywhere else online you want to send them – e.g., your social media profiles.

Also important is giving your readers an easy way to send you feedback for your book, such as a dedicated email address or a link to a contact page.

And don’t be afraid to link to relevant blog content within the body of the e-book itself.

#20: Completely Ignoring the Power of Social Proof

Even if a reader already knows you, they won’t necessarily trust that your e-book is any good until it has at least one review or testimonial.

(I’ve made this daft mistake myself: I launched the fourth in my Blogger’s Guide series in a rush, just before the birth of my first child. It never sold nearly as well as the others, and I figured that, despite my research, I’d picked a dud topic. Fast forward three years and I realise I’d failed to get a single testimonial up on the sales page. Whoops!)

Whether your e-book is available for purchase or simply a reward for new subscribers, people probably won’t trust its value unless they can see that other people have read it and found it useful.

And if you’re in a niche that’s known for having a few sleazy operators, or one where e-books are rare, then failing to provide social proof is an even bigger mistake.

How to Fix It

Be proactive — send out review copies to bloggers in your niche, and to any of your blog’s readers who’ve commented regularly or emailed you recently. Add positive reviews to your sales page and, if possible, use photos of the reviewers to boost credibility.

And if you can, send out your review copies before you launch your e-book – preferably at least a couple weeks before. This gives people a chance to read your book and get a review ready on or soon after your launch day.

#21: Acting Like Your E-book Isn’t a Big Deal

Many bloggers are uncomfortable marketing their e-books so their “launch” simply involves a new link on their blog and a couple of low-key posts on social media.

But even the best e-book will wither and die without some determined promotion.

And the truth is that if you’re not willing to market your e-book when the hard work of writing it is complete, you’ve basically wasted all that time and effort.

How to Fix It

You’re proud of your new e-book, right? So start acting like it. (If you don’t feel a swell of pride about your work then go back to the writing and editing phases until you do!)

Despite any preconceptions, you can effectively market your blog without coming across like a used car salesman.

Here’s how…

Mix up your promotional messages with lots of useful and interesting content.

If you’re giving people useful information at the same time as promoting your e-book, you’ll feel less like a pushy salesperson.

If your e-book is on Amazon, you can create some buzz by giving it away free for short periods.

If this is your first premium product, make sure you tell your existing list about it and consider offering a discount for existing subscribers.

Write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche, and direct readers to a dedicated landing page for sign-ups or for the sales page for your e-book.

You might even look into ways to do something more interesting and innovative, maybe creating videos, offering special extras, or getting readers involved.

Click here to get a printable, one-page cheatsheet featuring all the mistakes you absolutely must avoid when writing your first ebook.

When Will You Make The Leap From Blogger to Author?

Lots of mistakes are lurking out there to trip you up on the path to publishing your first e-book, but the potential rewards are great.

You can get more subscribers for your blog, more authority in your niche and even earn more money from your writing.

And now that you know the most common mistakes, you can avoid them with ease.

But of all the mistakes you can make, one trumps them all.

Not even trying.

Or telling yourself that you’ll write your e-book someday.

But you’re not going to make that mistake, right?

So grab your calendar, take a look at the next week, and choose a day to begin.

Because in just a month or two, you could easily have a finished e-book … one that could supercharge your email list, position you as an expert, or start bringing in a steady income.

When will your e-book journey begin?

About the Author: Ali Luke is author of Publishing E-Books For Dummies, and writes for Learn SEO Fast. If you’d like more help with the “plan-write-edit” process (not just for e-books!) then check out her free video training, The Writing Process for Bloggers – no opt-in required.


  1. Rob McNelis
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:44:26

    Love the survey suggestion. Although I would go one step further and make it more about engaging your audience and getting an understanding of their wants/goals. Studies show ppl lie on surveys. Great post tho!!

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:55:35

      Good suggestion, Rob. I do tend to do that in my surveys (just didn’t want to go into too much detail in the post!) Glad you liked the post!

      • Rob McNelis
        Jun 26, 2014 @ 12:05:06

        I hear ya! I hate when things are longer than needed. Thanks for being concise!

      • Robyn
        Jul 16, 2016 @ 12:23:30

        Can you write an e-book before you have a blog? If so do you have tips on this? Thank you!!

  2. Bastiaan
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:45:08

    Great post Ali!!We just wrote our first Ebook for our blog and we give it away for free. Point number 21 struck a chord with me. We aren’t promoting it enough. We think people will come to our site and download it. I realize now that we have to promote it more.

    I think we (my girlfriend and I) wrote a really good free giveaway for our site and we should be proud of it and promote it more. Thanks for the eye opener.

    We also want to write Ebooks in the future and sell them on our site. This post is really good to avoid some mistakes. We will use this post as a resource when we write our next book.

    Thanks again!


    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:57:05

      That’s fantastic on your first ebook, Bastiaan, well done! I think promotion doesn’t come naturally for many writers (it certainly doesn’t for me) and it’s something you may need to schedule in time for.

      I’ve found guest posting one of the best ways to promote my ebooks, as it gives you the chance to offer something genuinely valuable (your post!) to a large, on-topic audience.

      Best of luck with your future ebooks!

  3. M. J. Kelley
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:54:38

    There is some first rate advice here. It blows my mind how folks create a product like an e-book, but forego all the stages and considerations needed for a quality product. Thanks for these great tips.

    “Make the best quality of goods possible . . .” –Henry Ford

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:57:53

      I can understand how people get caught up in the excitement of writing/creating, and skip a few steps along the way — but as you say, quality really does matter.

  4. Raspal Seni
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:55:25

    Hi Ali,

    What a great time for a post on e-book mistakes! I’ve just done an e-book named The 50 Biggest Blogging Blunders and How to Avoid Them.

    At this time, I don’t have many blog readers, so I skipped the survey. Will have to do it for my next e-book in the series.

    Loved reading these and I’ve committed a few of these mistakes myself. We’re surely the worst editors – you don’t get a good editor for free. And you edit your own work for free, don’t you?

    Saved this post into my Evernote and will keep it handy before I do my next e-book.

    Thanks a ton for this great post. Sharing it with friends.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:00:13

      Thanks Raspal (and great to see you over here). 🙂

      Even if you don’t have many readers, a survey could still be valuable. Sometimes, small audiences are more responsive (your readers perhaps feel more special as you have more time to email them, reply to their comments, etc). You could give it a try with a very simple one-question poll — I’ve used the YOP Pol WordPress plugin for this.

      • Raspal Seni
        Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:20:03

        Thanks for the survey suggestion, and it’s thanks to Jon’s e-mail and luckily I opened it as soon as it came into my Inbox.

        I think I could have done it via e-mail since the few readers I have are good friends and many know me.

        I was thinking of putting a survey in place of a thank you page. A few questions, a poll. Is that a bad idea? One peron bought my e-book and even told me why she bought it. That made me think I could put up a poll this way. But this poll has a different goal.

  5. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:59:03

    Great post, Ali — I did #5 on my first ebook. ;-(

    The point missing here that I see e-book writers do way too often is they forget to build an audience first.

    The email I seem to get all the time is, “I’m so excited, I’ve written my first e-book and published it on Amazon, and now I’m waiting for the big bucks to roll in. So far, nothing.”

    Writers don’t understand that the magical Amazon algorithm genie is not going to send them a ton of buyers unless they already have developed an audience who knows and trusts them. That’s the hard way to sell e-books.

    The easy way is to build an audience, find out what they want to know, write that e-book, involve them in the process, and then sell it to them. But few writers want to take the time to do that.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:02:51

      Carol, what an excellent addition — thanks! (I had bloggers with an existing audience in mind when I wrote, so totally missed that one.) A blog or newsletter list can make a great testing-ground for ideas, too.

  6. Anthony
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:19:30

    Thanks for this! I’m working on my first (bylined) ebook right now and it’s helpful to have so much good advice in one place. I made mistake #4 and you’re right…within a few days I was overwhelmed and frustrated.

    I took some time to step back and get organized [I outlined using index cards.] and now I’m writing in earnest. These tips should (hopefully) keep me from writing a horrible ebook.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:30:51

      Thanks Anthony, and very best luck with your ebook. Taking a step back is often the best way forward — glad you found some new clarity, and I’m sure your ebook will be far from horrible. 🙂

  7. Lakad Dito, Lakad Doon
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:35:55

    Thanks for posting these! I’m hoping to write my first ebook this year, and your tips are going to come in handy. 🙂


    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 11:30:13

      Best of luck with your ebook, Marnie!

      • Lakad Dito, Lakad Doon
        Jun 26, 2014 @ 14:22:32

        I’m finding the hardest part to be getting over my nerves and finally putting words on the screen. Ack! But I’ll definitely be soldiering on. Thanks, Ali! 🙂

  8. Esther Litchfield-Fink
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:37:38

    Whenever I get a new blog post from Jon in my inbox I block out time in my calendar to read it, study it, check out all the links and put it into practice. AWESOME post Ali thank you for this.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 11:31:43

      Thanks Esther — so glad I could match up to Jon’s usual standards…! I always enjoy digging into BBT posts too. 🙂

  9. Paul Ramos
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 10:43:28

    Great tips NOT just for ebooks but for the whole writing process. I especially like the point about editing… leave that to the third or fourth draft

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 11:32:21

      Thanks Paul! Yes, a lot of this applies to any sort of writing (especially — but certainly not exclusively — longer projects).

  10. Harold Compton
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 11:05:12

    I’ve been writing for a blog for over a year now and was just thinking about doing an e-book and this showed up in my email. Thanks for the great advice and I’ll be sure to use it as a roadmap during the process. Will let you know how it goes.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 11:33:29

      Thanks Harold! Glad this was good timing for you. If you’ve been blogging for over a year, I’d say you’re definitely in a good position to write an ebook. Best of luck with it.

  11. Sven
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 12:06:21

    What a perfect timing, Ali 🙂 I just started to write my first eBook a few days ago and I have no doubt that you saved me a ton of time. Great article!

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:20:12

      Thanks Sven! Glad this came at the right moment for you … hope it can save you from a few pitfalls along the way. 🙂

  12. Sean
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 12:32:26

    Hi Ali,

    Can you recommend the best software, resources or tools I can use to convert my PDF e-book into an audio e-book? I have scoured the web, but can’t seem to find anything to convert a PDF into an MP3.

    Thank you.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:24:50

      Sean, frankly, I don’t know of anything. I’m not sure that any automated tool would do a sufficiently good job of turning text into audio. I’d suggest reading the ebook aloud yourself (I use Audacity, which is free, for all my audio recordings). Or if you’ve got some budget for this, you could hire a professional to do this for you.

  13. Sam Adeyinka
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 12:58:41

    Hey Mz Ali, it’s my first time stumbling on your writings and trust me this really was worth my while. Thanks for providing much value here. 🙂

    I have written close 30 ebooks, some I will be giving a while and others that will be premium.

    And this post was a life saver….I guess this days I have been lacking in promotion that I barely promote my blog post these days.

    I have saved this post on my PC and I will always use it as my reference point. I also will hit you up on twitter to get to know you and maybe steal from your great mind. 😀

    Thanks for this great share, Ali. It’s much appreciated.


    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:25:44

      Thanks Sam! I get around the internet a fair bit so you may stumble across me again before too long. 🙂

      It sounds like you have a ton of great experience already; I hope this post helps with your next 30 ebooks! And of course tweet me any time, always happy to help.

      • Sam Adeyinka
        Jul 03, 2014 @ 05:35:04

        I hope and pray so then Mz. Ali. 🙂

        Thanks a bunch for your kind compliment and I of course will hook up with you soon on Twitter. Just watch out okay.


    • Ash Lohorung
      Jun 27, 2016 @ 22:49:44

      Hi Ali,
      This is exactly what I was looking for. I am trying to publish eBook. I just subscribed to SmartBlogger as it has lots of cool blogs and have been reading quite a while now.
      Thanks for creating the blog.

  14. Dave Nordella
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 14:41:14

    Excellent post, Ali! I found so much useful information here. I bookmarked this post as a template for action and as a reference guide to the other BBT posts that you suggest.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:26:26

      Thanks so much, Dave … and enjoy your reading. 🙂

  15. Mi Muba
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 14:48:58

    All your points are very very useful and is a perfect list of things to do before writing your ebook.
    Another big mistake many writers do is they don’t understand the difference between book and an ebook and get so scholarly. Instead of helping their readers solve their long-standing problem they narrate the history of the problem and its impact on them. This way of writing an ebook never work in this age of information technology era where every new info gets stale the second day. That is why it is better to solve a problem instead of just narrating history of a topic.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post that is a perfect guide for those planning to write their first ebook.

    • Ikenna Odinaka
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 15:43:43

      Great point Muba. I agree with you. It’s about getting straight to the point, saying what need to be said and living the stage.

      I think one of the reasons most bloggers make this mistake is because they tend to equate value with quantity instead of quality.

      I made this mistake some times but I’m learning to be more cautious.

      • Ali Luke
        Jun 30, 2014 @ 09:57:56

        This is a great additional point — thanks both! I agree, I’ve definitely seen ebook authors adopt a suddenly formal/scholarly tone, which really isn’t necessary. You can write your ebook in the same style as you write your blog. And I definitely agree readers want solutions, not tons of background detail.

  16. Charlene Woodley
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 14:57:19

    Hi Ali! I just want to say thanks for the ton of information in this post. I’m bookmarking because I know that I’ll be referring to it often. I have been struggling with the mere thought of writing an e-book despite the ideas that are lurking around in my brain, so your post has really cleared some things up for me. Thanks again!


    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:27:16

      Thanks Charlene, so glad this was useful to you and that it cleared things up a bit. I know writing an ebook can seem pretty daunting, but if you take it step by step, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get to “the end”. Best of luck!

  17. Ikenna Odinaka
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 15:34:25

    Thanks Ali for this ultimate guide for writing and publishing a book. The part of promoting the book with rigour is where I have failed a lot in the past. And cost me lots of potential sales.

    But my last book got some unusual push from me.
    I’m keeping this for reference sake.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:28:18

      Thanks Ikenna! I think a lot of ebook authors struggle with promotion — I know I do. It sounds like you had a good go at it with your last book, though, and I hope you can continue that with your next one.

  18. Peggy Nolan
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 15:51:21

    Hi Ali,

    Your article is incredibly timely as I’m revising my current eBook and getting ready to create a new one. I’ll be printing this out and creating a checklist from it to use – I don’t want to skip any steps!

    Thank you,

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 26, 2014 @ 16:28:53

      Great stuff, Peggy — and what a good idea on turning this into a checklist (I should’ve thought of that!) Best of luck with the ebook revisions, and with the next ebook too.

  19. Stef Gonzaga
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 17:58:55

    Hi Ali,

    This post is just what I needed! I’ve been stopping myself way too many times from writing an ebook, afraid that I’d be creating another one of those yawn-inducing, save-it-in-my-hard-drive-to-read-later ebooks that no one would remember to open and read. I’ll be returning to this often now that I’ve got ideas to work with.

    Thank you!

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 27, 2014 @ 05:08:58

      Thanks Stef! Yes, it’s easy to be put off by some of the stuff out there (I’ve definitely got a few bad ebooks clogging up my downloads folder) — but I’m sure you could put together something really valuable for your audience.

  20. Faye
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 04:53:10

    Thanks for this – I’m almost 20% of the way through my first draft and the information here is really useful, practical stuff. Bookmarking!!

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 27, 2014 @ 05:09:20

      Brilliant, thanks Faye! And best of luck with the remaining 80%. 🙂

  21. Bryan Collins
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 05:40:51

    I enjoyed your post Ali.

    I’m on the fourth draft of an e-book at present. Some

    Three suggestions:

    Use Pickfu to A/B test titles for your book
    Use Scrivener to manage complicated writing projects. It takes the pain out of having multiple versions of an ebook on your hard-drive.
    Put a really strong CTA at the end of your e-book that directs readers to your next book or, if you don’t have one, to your email list.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 30, 2014 @ 09:59:12

      Great tips, thanks Bryan! I’m just getting to grips with Scrivener myself, and I can certainly see how it would help with ebook creation.

  22. Roger James
    Jun 28, 2014 @ 09:55:05

    Thanks Ali – I’ve got a skeleton e-book and you’ve given me some great advice to work on. Cheers.

  23. Fabienne Raphaël
    Jul 02, 2014 @ 07:39:40

    Hey Ali,

    Thanks for such great information! All these mistakes are so true and so common!

    I did mistake 15 before I finally wrote my first ebook. The idea stayed in my head for a long time (way too long!) before it finally came on paper!

    I would just like to add how the table of content is important, especially if you publish on Kindle. The reader has a chance to look at the first few pages of your ebook before he buys it. Just make sure that the link to your blog is in the first few pages and that all your chapters have attention grabbers titles. You’ll increase your number of sales.

    • Ali Luke
      Jul 07, 2014 @ 12:24:09

      Fabienne, thanks for the great addition about the table of contents — chapter titles are really important, and often neglected. Like great blog post headlines, they need to arouse curiosity and also give the reader a clear idea what to expect.

  24. Sofia
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 06:46:56

    The points mentioned in this article are true. Almost everyone will make these mistakes during their first writing. This article can really help the people who are about to write their first E-book.

  25. Jason Vitug
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 00:21:26

    I’ve written an ebook and currently have an editor looking at it and a designer doing the cover. I didn’t even think about the author page or social proof. Great points to consider once I get the first draft back. I need to work on a more robust marketing plan.

  26. IT Infrastructure Outsourcing
    Aug 21, 2014 @ 09:20:17

    Yes, you are absolutely correct. I will follow from now onwards what you mentioned in this article. Thanks.

  27. Meg Rulli
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 17:58:14

    Thanks for sharing the great advice Ali! We just launched our first ebook, so these tips really applied to what went right & what went wrong when we were developing the book…. #15 (Indulging Your Inner Perfectionist and Procrastinator) was our biggest bottleneck in launching!

  28. Katrin
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 11:34:46

    Thanks for the helpful advice in the development of E-book.

  29. Shubh
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 11:56:24

    Thnxx for sharing

  30. Londonpleasure
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 04:52:42

    Cool tips you can really use them.

  31. MaddieG
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 13:05:05

    Writers needing reviews? #Sale #reviews – #price #expires in 2 days! Use up #odd #number $Fiverr #credits! http://www.fiverr.com/s/6mq45g

  32. Joty
    Nov 24, 2014 @ 09:27:43

    thanks for the advice. I’m just starting my first e cook book. Do you think a cookbook could work?

  33. Melinda
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 03:52:09

    Good advice and should lead to a successful site.

  34. Philip Gallman
    Dec 06, 2014 @ 17:43:13

    Useful post! I too want to share!

    I read a lot on this site about the companies which are qualitatively doing their job. But I never read about a company that will do the job for you. I have my own small printing. We publish several magazines and books when we were approached by customers. But orders more and the less.

    So I had no choice and I asked for help from the professionals. Such people I did not have to search long because I have many friends who advised me marketers with which they are more than a year working together. It was the company Black and White Marketing! Main snag was that I did not know how to conduct an advertising campaign.

    They firmly took up my candidacy in the sense that the first week they studied all aspects of my small business. And only after that they started an advertising campaign. I could only agree with everything and behold a miracle! First of all, we have a site that previously we did not have. Printing for over 30 years and we do not even thought of.

    After that we started to advertise the site on the internet and we immediately got new clients, I was very pleased with this fact. Further more, they are slightly altered brand my company added creativity and minimalist and everything else remains the same. Then there was the outdoor advertising.

    On the way out I got rebirth business at a reasonable price, the number of orders increased by 300%. Black and White Marketing got their bonuses. I am very grateful to them!

  35. Lauren @ Pure Text
    Jan 18, 2015 @ 00:41:44

    This post is a monster of awesomeness–there’s so much in it. And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, you mentioned what was on the tip of my tongue: editing. Yes!

    I’m an editor and I edit ebooks. Ebook enthusiasts, come ask me for a sample. It’s so important!

    Certainly bookmarking. 🙂

  36. Saad | Walk Of Life
    Feb 07, 2015 @ 06:22:04

    I have heard so many people suggest selling an eBook but none of them has ever highlighted the blunders most people make when writing an eBook. I am planning for an eBook to be the first informational product I sell online and this certainly has helped.

    Bookmarked 😀

  37. Stevenage
    Feb 10, 2015 @ 00:19:44

    A very interesting article

  38. GazRevs
    Feb 19, 2015 @ 15:48:34

    This was a fantastic post, thank you! You’ve given me so much to think about, I’ve created a list that I’ll be sure to work through as I make my way down this eBook endeavour.

    Thanks again!

  39. sharad gupta
    Feb 25, 2015 @ 23:55:04

    Superb post .

    A detailed analysis about making a Viral E book.

    In fact I have also launched an EBook How To Make Money With Google Adsense SharadKGupta.

    I will sure implement your suggestions from now …

  40. Becky
    Feb 27, 2015 @ 13:23:02

    Wow. This is the exact information I have been looking for. There is so much quality information in your blog without all the hype that is all too common.

    Thank you. I look forward to putting together my first e-book. I’d love to help with proofreading of aspiring authors’ ebooks as part of the process of learning to do my own. I realize how easy it is to overlook typos in our own writing.

  41. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 11:40:19

    Great post, Ali!

    I totally tried to jam EVERYTHING I KNEW into my first ebook, it was over 200 pages long! And then I had no followup. Duh!

    But I’ve learned my lesson, and as my most recent one got longer and longer, I split it in half. Now, I have a sequel I can put out this summer. 😉

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 07:48:01

      Thanks Carol! Sequels are the best. 🙂 I think it’s such an easy temptation to put EVERYTHING in … but (when you step back and think about it), that’s not particularly great for you OR for your reader.

  42. Jayne
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 12:25:06

    A lot of great suggestions. I have an issue with your taking a survey of your readers though. The point of writing a book is to increase subscriptions because you have so few readers. At this point, taking a survey would be pointless for me. So, I’m left trying to guess what my reader wants.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 07:49:19

      That’s certainly one reason to write an ebook! If you can’t survey your existing readers, how about looking on Quora or Yahoo Answers to see what common questions are coming up? Or if you have even a few readers (and they’ve commented, so you have their email addresses), you could send them individual emails to ask what questions or problems they have.

  43. Mark McKnight
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 15:10:20

    I’ve been trying to write a weight loss for men ebook for about a year now. I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’m just not passionate enough about the topic. If I got a good writer to write it for using my headings, do you think it could succeed or would it not be sincere enough?

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 07:51:02

      Plenty of books are ghostwritten — I don’t see why sincerity would be a problem. You’d need someone with subject-matter knowledge, though, unless you can provide that yourself. Good luck! If you’re not already familiar with it, you might take a look at the Man vs Fat book (there’s also a website) which is — for my money, at least — a great read aimed at men wanting to lose weight.

  44. Joshua
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 15:19:05


    Wow! You’re not going to believe this. I just finished opening my Word document entitled “First E-book” that I’ve been working on for the past week when I said to myself “let’s see what’s happening at SmartBlogger” (because I have a terrible attention span) and what do I see on the home page? Yup. This article.

    Talk about timely. It’s as if the “blogging God’s” are caring for every step I take with my first E-book.

    I am going to go over this article again and make sure that the tips stick to me like glue. I guess for now the E-book will be on hold. I’ll give myself today, and part of tomorrow (I hate spelling tomorrow), to study this article so that my E-book launch kicks ass.

    Thanks for this. I really, really, really needed it.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 07:53:22

      Haha! 🙂 Glad this came at just the right moment, Joshua. (I have to confess that my attention span isn’t brilliant either … I use a whole bunch of tricks, like turning off my internet connection and setting timers, to keep me focused.)

      Best of luck with the ebook!

  45. Ayodeji Awosika
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 16:02:47

    Another great post Ali

    I’d probably add claiming your author central account, filling out your bio, and adding a photo!

    I checked out your book listings on amazon. No author account with photo and info associated with them. That’s some prime real estate you’re missing out on!

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 07:54:15

      Thanks Ahodeji! I gotta admit, that IS a dumb mistake of mine. I realised a while ago I need to get that sorted and “fill in details on Author Central” has been languishing on my to-do list for way too long… thanks for the nudge. 🙂

  46. Leonie Burmeister
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 16:10:30

    I see what Jon means in his Guest blogging task haha
    Surprising stuff

  47. St Naija
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 20:05:54

    Thank you for sharing this. I learnt so much.

    My strong suite is promotion; I could do it in my sleep.

    I will work on the points you have listed and I would be glad to help any writers who need more promotional help.

  48. jeffy
    Jun 24, 2016 @ 05:43:14

    Being new to the blogging world I feel like there is still so much to learn.

  49. Imran Soudagar
    Jun 25, 2016 @ 17:42:56


    Over the years every blogger has started to publish their e-book and as a regular blog reader, I find most of these e-books are just waste of time. They have no proper content and no proper data to share.

    I have just stopped downloading such e-books.

    Thank you.

    • Ali Luke
      Jun 28, 2016 @ 16:41:51

      I know what you mean, Imran — they can be very thin on content. Hopefully this post will help bloggers who’re putting together their first ebook to do it right! 🙂

  50. sagar vyas
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 04:13:59

    Its never an easy task to write your own eBook. And yes I bookmarked this post so that one day I can use this to create something good. Great effort Ali. Keep up the good writing.

  51. Rennie Bottali
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 01:02:00

    Great Post, Never read such good article.

  52. alexcostea
    Jun 28, 2016 @ 02:29:59

    Thank you for letting us know these crucial important beforehand. Your collection of tips is very helpful for us. I appreciate it and really like to know more if you can post more about it

  53. Bhagat Singh
    Jun 28, 2016 @ 02:43:27

    Ebooks are highly beneficial in seo as they can bring millions of users or subscribers to a business website. So these valuable points are worthy to read before writing ebook and avoid any type of later problems occurring against your ebook going viral. Good and informative content promote itself so write away some killer piece of content.

  54. Addison Cave
    Jun 28, 2016 @ 02:48:56

    It was an incredible post. As the Internet has become bigger and more productive, it can be hard to research and locate the careful data you require. Ebooks have filled this need with moment, customized data, conveyed at a cost. Distributed a digital book is much simpler than distributed a paper book, and it can pay shockingly better. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.

  55. akin
    Jun 28, 2016 @ 15:17:15

    thanks for the great information. now i know how to write ebook better

  56. Benjamin Carter-Riley
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 08:42:54

    I have written my first eBook, but I wish I would have read this post first before creating it!

    Promoting my eBook is something that I didn’t really think of doing. And to be honest, I still don’t don’t think I promote it enough!

    I like to think of eBooks as glorified blog posts (haha). The difference is that they are offline (require email opt-in), and most likely do into more detail.

    Thanks for the post Ali. If I ever write another blog post, I’ll make sure I don’t do any of these 21 mistakes! 🙂



    • Ali Luke
      Jul 12, 2016 @ 06:29:08

      Promotion is definitely crucial! The great thing about publishing online is that your ebook never goes “out of print” … you can promote it whenever you like. 🙂

  57. Josh Paiva
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 12:46:35

    Cheers from Massachusetts. Thanks for the great info. I will be using some of this info for sure with my next eBook!

  58. DNN
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 14:53:51

    As you mentioned, writing about something the blogger-publisher doesn’t know much about only creates mental burnout and less interest in staying the course if that topic is not of their immediate interest.

  59. Lineisy Kosenkova
    Jul 05, 2016 @ 03:30:27

    Very timely post — I’m in the brainstorming phase of re-formatting a lot of my online course content into a Kindle format and love your idea of creating a suite of comprehensive learning products. I do wonder about Sean’s prediction and how it translates to laying on your belly reading a book on the beach–I’ll take sand in my pages over my Kindle any day.

  60. Jennifer
    Jul 05, 2016 @ 09:41:34

    Thank you,Ali, for sharing useful information here. To avoid mistakes I am using text editor, it could be helpful. It is really challenging to find a good text editor that will suit all your needs perfectly, especially if you are looking for something cheap and good-looking. I have been searching for a few hours and came across besttexteditor.com It helped me discover ommwriter

  61. Matt Broker
    Jul 08, 2016 @ 05:04:09

    Anyone who wants to be a writer dreams of writing a book . E -book also raises the possibility of selling . But it is worth , before it falls into a vortex of dreams , to read about more technical and important . Great article!

  62. Sonia Sylart
    Jul 11, 2016 @ 22:32:09

    So much to ponder here Ali.

    I particularly like no. 11 – emailing/keeping different numbered versions, and not just several copies of the latest version. No 15 is another important one – going round in circle due to never ending editing has to stop (much easier said than done but I think I’m now getting more strict with myself).

  63. Matilda Kurtz
    Jul 12, 2016 @ 11:48:24

    Thank you for this amazing journey to publishing secrets! The only way to avoid pitfalls is to be aware of them. Probably, the point missing here is the importance of remembering about copyright protection. It is worth noting that there’s no international copyright law that will be able to protect writer’s masterpiece. And for that reason, first and foremost thing the author must do is to register a book with U.S. Copyright Office. It would be never out of place to take a few reasonable precautions against accidental copyright infringement and resort to digital help. Since almost all my writings are dedicated to scientific topics, with the view of finding out all areas that need to be cited, I rely on Unplag https://unplag.com/, a similarity detection tool, which highlights duplication and helps me not to worry about the proper formatting.

  64. Fabio Gerussi
    Jul 13, 2016 @ 10:08:11

    Very interesting and useful article.
    I will use it for my next … well my first ebook 🙂

  65. Sara Williams
    Jul 13, 2016 @ 14:04:49

    Ali Thanks for posting these! I’m hoping to write my first ebook this year, and your tips are going to come in handy. 🙂

  66. NATHAN
    Jul 23, 2016 @ 13:30:11

    Hi Ali,
    Great post. So much awesome info in here.
    I have just started to write ebooks. I find that the process get’s easier with each book. You definitely need a checklist , including in it all the points you made above.
    Plan the whole thing through before you start and you should end up with an excellent ebook.
    Thanks for sharing.