MF 422 : Writing series: how to create a short form ebook (part 1 of 2)
Updated: Apr 14
Today, I cover how to translate a skill or expertise you have or have previously documented into another medium: a short form ebook. Part 1 of 2. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
A different kind of book (and a great way to get started)
Rethinking the way we look at books
Over the past several years, I've covered many aspects of writing a book. In 2019, I covered the building blocks to writing your first book, including avenues to publication. Last year, I had several conversations with authors from many backgrounds and across different genres to supplement that knowledge base. However, writing a book isn't easy and is an endeavor that can be filled with a lot of starts and stops. If you've experienced these obstacles and more, and still want to write your first book, consider an alternative to traditional long form content.
As covered on MF 421, my dad loves to teach students the art of sewing and other skills related to the fashion industry. He has a popular YouTube channel where he instructs viewers on the most fundamental techniques and skills that professional tailors use.
A few weeks ago, we started looking at some of his video tutorials with an eye towards translating them into written form to reach a new audience.
Finding the right platform
Initially, I looked at Etsy after discovering that it allows creators to sell digital products, including lists, planners, calendars, and guides. Unfortunately, we ran into a couple of technical issues and are awaiting a reply back to see if we can get them sorted out. So, for now, it's not an avenue that I can share much feedback on. However, if you search around on Etsy, you'll find plenty of sellers that specialize in digital content on a number of different topics and categories.
Another avenue we briefly considered was selling it direct to consumer via our own website, hosting the content on a server, and setting up a paywall. This is another way you can sell your own ebook or other content, though it requires a bit more legwork.
In the end, we decided to go with a more familiar route: Amazon KDP, Amazon's self-publishing platform that I've used to publish several books. Unlike my prior books, these would be short (less than 20 pages), practical guides based on pre-existing content. The books would not involve a lot of text but more steps or bullet points with pictures to teach the reader who could learn the techniques with practice. This ruled out doing paperback versions as KDP requires a minimum of 24 pages. However, if we published this exclusively as a Kindle ebook, then we could make it as short or as long as we wanted.
Gathering the pieces of the ebook
First, I knew that these ebooks would be very visual, requiring lots of pictures to guide the reader. We started with a simple tutorial that teaches a fundamental skill: sewing or repairing a garment button. We reviewed the video tutorial, which is less than seven minutes, and initially, I tried to screen capture images directly from the video itself. Unfortunately, back then, we didn't use super HD or 1080 resolution, both of which were not readily available options. The screen captures were too fuzzy for a book.
So, we took an hour or two and my dad recreated the steps of the tutorial while I took photos from my phone.
Next, I rewatched the video and together, we broke down the steps into "chapters" with bullet points to break it down even further to easy-to-follow steps. I captured as much of the information as possible while preserving the details and tone of the video. I drafted these onto a Word doc and organized them accordingly.
Afterward, I downloaded a KDP paperback template to transpose the text to. Although, we were not publishing a paperback edition, the template was helpful in formatting the different parts of the book, including the front matter, back matter, and the content in between (for more on this, check out the writing a book miniseries).
Next week, I'll cover the final steps in formatting and compiling the ebook, including integrating the photos. I'll also talk about a helpful platform I used to finalize the ebook and publish it onto KDP.
In the meantime, if you have pre-existing content that you would like to translate into an ebook start with the steps above. Alternately, you may have a skill or expertise that you want to publish into one or a series of short ebooks. Write down the steps as "chapters" and break it down into simple, easy-to-follow bullet points.
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