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How to Publish an Ebook Series – Part 2: Getting Started

How to Publish an Ebook Series – Part 2: Getting Started

By Pat Flynn on

Note: For my most current advice on writing and selling your ebooks, check out my guide eBooks The Smart Way (Editor’s Note 09/2015).

I know that when I read a “series” of posts on other people’s blogs, it can be a drag at times, usually because the information is really specific and can sometimes be a bore. I can’t guarantee that all of the material I write in this eBook series will be super interesting, but I guarantee that it’s super important. I want you to succeed like I did, and so I’m going to go through everything from the start.

I want to keep you motivated, so check this out: Since I published my own eBook 5 months ago, I’ve grossed over $82,000 in sales. Here’s a screenshot to prove it:

So there are over 6 billion people in this world, and I’ve only sold something to 2600 of them, which is more than enough income for me to live comfortably on. That’s a very small percentage, in a very small niche, in a very large world. There’s got to be something that you can create that a small part of the world will pay for. Just keep on reading, and I’m sure the ideas will flow.

Moving on…


In my last post, I went through my thought process about why I chose to write an eBook as opposed to a hard copy. Here are my responses to some of your questions since:

  • Why Not Publish Both a Hard Cover and an Electronic eBook? My choice to sell only an electronic book is based on a couple of reasons. One, I did not want to deal with having inventory. Having inventory means having to process orders myself and deal with shipping and possibly losing items. Secondly, the electronic book was an instant download, meaning that when the customer pays for the item, he or she gets an email sent to them automatically and they can have the item on their computer within a minute. A hard copy would mean shipping time, even if it was print-on-demand. For those studying for the exam, they want the material as soon as possible, and it’s my educated guess that they could care less about how the information gets to them, as long as they have it. Also, the electronic book could is printable, so if they really wanted a hard copy, they could print it out themselves.
  • What Are Your Thoughts about eBook Piracy? I’m going to dedicate a good chunk of this series to this subject, so look out for my full answer later on. In short, it’s gonna happen, but there are some things that you can do to mitigate piracy of your eBook.
  • How Did you Turn your eBook into an Audio Guide? I’ll get to this after the eBook section is completed, I promise.

Keep the questions coming, because I want to make sure I don’t skip over anything important you might be wondering about.

How to Get Started

Honestly, when I started writing my eBook, I had no idea how I was going to format it, market it, sell it, deliver it, and even collect cash for it if it even sold. All I knew that I had to start writing. I’ve mentioned this before, but every day you don’t have something online to sell is a day of potential income you’re missing out on.

First Things First: Plan it Out

One of the earliest posts on The Smart Passive Income Blog was about how I used Mind Maps to organize my ideas and the creation of my eBook. This step is VERY important. You must write down your ideas and by using a mind map, you’re able to easily organize them, see the flow between ideas, and follow-through and easily perform the next and most important step: creating an outline.

Think of the outline as your future table of contents. For my LEED study guide, mine was broken down into different hierarchical parts. You can use sections, parts, chapters, whatever breakdown you think is appropriate for you. Here is the beginning of my outline/table of contents from my eBook:

  • Introduction to LEED
    • Section 1: What is LEED?
    • Section 2: What is a LEED AP?
    • Section 3: How to Become a LEED AP
      • Part 1: What is the Exam Like?
      • Part 2: Which LEED Exam Track is Best for You?
      • Part 3: Signing Up for the Exam
    • Section 4: Exam Material Breakdown
      • Part 1: Prerequisites and Credits
      • Part 2: The LEED Certification Process

Of course, the order was different when I first wrote this down, but I used the time before I started writing to figure out the order I wanted everything to be presented. The order of the material you present can MAKE or BREAK your success.

Think about what makes sense for your specific material. To best do this, imagine you don’t know anything about what you’re writing about. How would you, as a totally brand new person to the subject, best learn and benefit from it.

The Tools You Need To Start Writing

To start publishing your book, all you need is a word processor. I’m pretty sure we all have one, so that means you can get started today! I prefer Microsoft Word because it easily converts to other formats which you can use to format your eBook right before it’s ready to sell. Don’t worry about that right now, you can always figure out how to get your text into the right format later no matter which program you use. For now, just know that all you need is a word processor and your writing skills.

If you’re worried about your writing skills, don’t. Just write how you normally write, and you can always hire someone to edit/transpose your text into correct grammar later.

How to Start Writing

Getting started is the most difficult part. What do you say? Where do you begin?

Most books begin with some kind of introduction or preface, but if you’re having trouble starting with that, you can skip to another section that you feel more comfortable with.

One of the best tips I ever received was to write and save your eBook in sections (based on your outline). This way, each part of your outline is basically like it’s own article or blog post. Once you finish a “post”, cross it off, and then you will see exactly what else you have left to write. This is how it can be really easy to keep your book in order while you write out of order. At the end when you’ve finish all of your “posts”, you can then format each of the text in your files into a larger, “final product” file.

So, your file names might look like this, but it’s up to you really (from example above):

  • 0-Introduction.doc
  • 01-WhatisLEED.doc
  • 02-WhatisaLEEDAP.doc
  • 03-HowtoBecomeLEEDAP.doc
  • 031-WhatisExamLike.doc

…and so on. The numbers in the front are so that they show up in order in your windows explorer or finder. It may be a smart idea to create all of the file names first from your outline, just so you get them out of the way. If you know some sections are tiny, you can combine them if you prefer.

Again, start with the sections that you know you can bust out right away, and worry about the parts or sections you’re not quite to sure about or that may need more research later. Just having part of your book done will motivate you to finish the rest even more.

Up Next

In the next installment of the “How to Publish an eBook Series”, I’ll go over the sections of the actual eBook that are important to include and how I formatted the document file into a file that was ready for sale. Until then!

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