Feature | How to write an eBook

How to Write, Produce, Publish and Sell an eBook on a $5 Budget – Part 1


Do you visit websites and see the great looking ebooks people offering in return for your contact details and wonder how to create one for your own site? In this post, I want to share with you the process I followed to create my own eBook, on a shoestring budget of only $5.

Why you need an eBook

Well, you don’t need an eBook but here are some reasons you might want an eBook:

  • to demonstrate your expertise to potential customers
  • to incentivize people to give you their contact details
  • to give your audience a sense of what you know and your style
  • to offer a low-risk, low-cost way for your community to experience your products or services
  • to leverage work you’ve already done (more on this later)
  • to earn a little extra income on the side
  • to give back to your community (if offering a free eBook)
  • for the fun of creating a book – even if it is an electronic one!

I’m sure you can think of a whole lot more reasons.  Leave me a comment and let me know why you want/have an eBook.


Where to start

You know you’d like to create an eBook for any or all of the above reasons but the problem is, where to start?  What will you write about? What do you know about to be able to write enough content for an eBook? These are good questions and I suspect a lot of people get stuck at this point and talk themselves out of writing anything.

The negative little voices probably start saying things like:

  • I can’t think of anything to write about
  • Everything has already been said on the topic I know about
  • I’m not very good at writing
  • I don’t have time to write an eBook
  • No one will be interested in what I’ve got to say about [insert your topic]
These thoughts are normal and even the most talented authors go through this sort of self-doubt.  You’ve just got to get over it.  Take a chance, get started.  So what if your first attempt isn’t a best seller, you’ll have learnt some things along the way and you can do it better next time.


What to write your eBook about

Obviously it needs to be something of interest to your community and your target market.  I help people who are interested in starting a business so I wrote my eBook – How to Start a Business – 5 Steps to Save you Time and Money.  I wanted the eBook to provide a good overview of the main steps involved, provide some tips from my own experience and some great resources I’ve found and used.

Research the topic before you write the book to see what else is in the market.  Although I found other eBooks and websites sharing information about starting a business, many of them focused on one specific step.  I decided to bring everything together in one place.

If you write about something you know a lot about, you’ll find it much easier.  The words will flow and you will be able to produce it quickly because you won’t have to do lots of research.

Try to make your content “evergreen” if possible.  These means don’t write content that will be quickly out of date.  You don’t want to have to rewrite your eBook to keep it up to date with the latest changes.


Where to physically write your eBook

You’ve decided to write an eBook, you know what you’re going to write about but what people get stuck on is where to physically write it!  This might seem obvious but I have talked to people who have a great idea but haven’t done anything with it because they don’t know the ‘mechanics’ involved.

The easiest way is to just write your eBook as a document.  Use whatever software you normally use to write a document; Microsoft Word, Pages, Open Office etc.  Use what you’re used to.  Now is not the time to learn a new software package.  I recommend that you just start writing.  Don’t worry about format, layout, editing and production – you can do all of that later.  Just write.

If you have a Blog, you might already have content that you can re-purpose.  Have a look through all of your posts and choose your best ones, most popular or those that you thought deserved more attention and pull them together as the starting point for your eBook.  Even though this content already exists on your Blog, pulling it together into an eBook makes it easier for your readers to access.


How to produce your eBook

Once you’ve finished writing, collating or curating your content, the next thing to do is think about what you want your eBook to look like and how to actually produce the finished product.

You want your eBook to be visually appealing to your readers.  Here’s some tips:

  • Add some colour
  • Use headlines and fonts
  • Don’t     be     afraid    of    white     space
  • Add some graphics 🙂 😉 😛

Give your eBook a memorable title.  You could make it something catchy, something funny or as I did just tell readers what they’ll get “How to Start a Business – 5 Steps to Save you Time & Money”.

Design your cover.  This can be quite tricky and frustrating.  I recommend you take a look at “e-Book Evolution – Cover Recipe Book” from Sticky eBooks – it’s free.  It describes exactly how to create covers using Open Office (which you can easily apply to Word or Pages).  You can also outsource this.  I used fiverr.com to design my cover and convert it to a 3D image for, yes $5!

Check your eBook for spelling mistakes and poor grammar.  Remember to write the content for your audience.  It doesn’t need to be grammatically perfect and you can write it to reflect your own style but it needs to be professional.  If grammar isn’t your strong point, then engage an editor to review it for you.

Once you’re happy with the look of your eBook, simply convert it to a PDF document and voilá, you have created an eBook!

Watch out for Part 2, which I’ll post on Friday, where I’ll share with you:

  • How and where to publish your eBook
  • How much to charge for your eBook
  • How to let people know about your eBook
  • How to leverage your eBook

ebook - How to Start a Business

Do you offer an eBook to your community?  If so, leave a comment with a link to your site so we can check it out.

What do you look for in an eBook?

What’ the best eBook (free or paid) you’ve come across?


Please share this offer with others who may be interested in learning how to start a business. You can also call me if you need more advice.

*Editor’s Note: This post has been updated on August 2020 for accuracy.

  • Jen Brown
    Posted at 22:23h, 10 August Reply

    A great post Suellen. Thank you for sharing your insights.

    I look for an eBook which is packed full of practical & ‘easy to apply’ tips, tricks & tools I can use immediately to achieve my desired outcome. The best I have come across to date has been Annabel Candy’s “Succesful Blogging in 12 Steps”. Mind you, I haven’t yet had an opportunity to read yours (which I’m sure will be another fav!)

    I have had producing an eBook on my list to things to do for a while. But like most new things (and most people I suspect), I have pushed it down the ‘to do’ list on the basis that it required a ‘learning process’ and there were other things on my “to do” that would produce a more immediate outcome.

    Time to get my thinking cap on, decide on a subject & not let those pesky voices stand in my way 🙂


    • Suellen Hughes
      Posted at 10:09h, 12 August Reply

      Hi Jen,

      Annabel’s eBook is great. In fact, I love it so much that I’m an affiliate. In fact, I think I may have recommended it to you!

      I like practical eBooks too. I like to read, learn and apply.

      The reason I wrote these two posts is because I know there are people like you who have great content to share but the task of putting it into an eBook gets pushed down the “to do” list because to they don’t know how to actually make it happen. I hope the posts have been helpful to your “learning process” and look forward to reading your eBook.


    • Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging
      Posted at 11:18h, 12 August Reply

      Hi Jen, Mwah! So happy to hear that and thank you for the lovely shout out:)

  • Sally Foley-Lewis
    Posted at 10:31h, 12 August Reply

    Love the point about keeping the content ‘evergreen’!

    For some things I’d be keen to try fiverr and elance… and I’ve heard they are great so long as you do your research and provide very clear briefs. Worth it for $5! (Apparently fiverr was started by an Aussie, is that right?)

    … looking forward to reading part 2!

    Sally | Fast Tracking Manager Productivity

    • Suellen Hughes
      Posted at 17:22h, 12 August Reply

      Hi Sally,

      I’ve had lots of success with fiverr, one failure and one refund due to the person having too much work! My advice is to pay attention to the ratings and reviews and then when you find someone good – stick with them and send them more work. It’s only $5 a gig so why not splurge and pay $50 for 10 gigs! No idea Fiverr.com was started by an Aussie (Oi, Oi, Oi)

      I did put a proposal out on elance for my other business and had some good responses but ended up not going with them as found a resource elsewhere.

      Thanks for dropping by

  • Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging
    Posted at 11:37h, 12 August Reply

    Hi Suellen, this is such a useful post. It’s always easy to throw things into the too hard basket so great to see you making it easy for people and giving them practical solutions they can use.

    I spent a lot more than $5 on my Successful Blogging ebook but I believe that’s a different case because I wanted to create a premium product with a reasonably high price, not a free ebook.

    I spent money on hiring a professional editor, and a graphic designer who did the cover and the inside layout.

    The investment has been worth it because I have a product I’m proud of and can confidently share with anyone and know it will reflect well on me and I know it represents excellent value for readers too because it can save (and make) them thousands of dollars.

    Having said that the cover for your ebook looks professional too. I’m highly impressed:) (You should redo the image of it on the right hand column though as it’s been shrunk badly and looks blurred.)

    Pat Flynn on smart passive income has a great ebook on how to create an ebook too:)

    I reckon all business people should have one. It’s a great way to showcase your expertise.

    • Suellen Hughes
      Posted at 17:42h, 12 August Reply

      Thanks Annabel. As you know there is a lot of content available but I found a lot of it assumes a base level of knowledge which isn’t always the case. My aim was to share how simple and easy it is to do even on a teeny tiny budget.

      Your eBook Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps (affiliate link) is a cracker and I refer to it over and over so your investment is certainly appreciated 🙂 I hope your investment has provided you with a good financial return as well as an emotional one 🙂

      Thanks for letting me know about the image in my sidebar. It looks fine on my browser but a good pointer that it’s worth checking out how it looks on a few different browsers. Will get onto that.

      Thanks also for the reminder about Pat Flynn's eBook – just checked and I have it in my iBooks library – will have another read.

      Thanks for your “expert” comment 🙂

  • Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    Posted at 00:12h, 13 August Reply

    Thanks for the beginners guide to e-book production –
    I’m about to start on a new series on my blog, which I hope to then put together as an e-book, so this is excellent timing 🙂

    (PS Image on the right looks fine in Chrome!)

    • Suellen Hughes
      Posted at 21:48h, 14 August Reply

      Hi Linda,

      I’d love to see an eBook you put together based on your blogs and fabulous Journey Jottings maps. That would be a visual treat – like a Coffee Table eBook!

      Hope it comes to fruition!

  • Suellen Hughes
    Posted at 17:43h, 21 August Reply

    Thanks Robin.

  • Oma Edoja
    Posted at 22:10h, 22 August Reply

    Great tips, Suellen. Thanks!

    Here’s what I look for in an ebook: Relevance, brevity ( I know I won’t read it if it’s too long! I prefer under 30 pages. For me, less is more!), visual appeal and readability. By the last two I mean it must be easy on the eye and I should be able to understand it without having to consult a dictionary! If I download an ebook and the pages look stuffed with text and images, with garish colours, I’ll immediately delete it!

    My very first ebook, available on my website, is: 12 Reasons Women Business Owners Struggle to Get Clients. I wrote it because I help female entrepreneurs overcome their marketing challenges and get steady clients. You can find it at http://getcleargetknowngetclients.com.

    Thanks again, Suellen!

    Warm regards,

    Oma Edoja

    • Suellen Hughes
      Posted at 14:24h, 23 August Reply

      Hi Oma,

      Thanks for sharing your views and well done on your ebook. The title is certainly enticing 😉 Are you able to share just one reason with us here?
      I will drop over and have a look at your website.


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