How To Outline A Profitable Ebook In Less Than An Hour

writing-ebookIt’s time to start outlining your ebook; this probably won’t take you more than an hour to do.

I’m also gonna answer the age-old question, “how long should my ebook be?”

There’s a simple answer to this question – but first, a quick update. The topic I chose for my Ebook was Blog Design & Conversions.

More specifically, “design tips and tricks to attract and convert visitors into subscribers and customers”.

The idea behind outlining is to create a path for your writing. You sometimes hear that when you outline correctly, 40-50% of the work is already done.

I’d say that’s about right.

Writing takes a lot of brain power and staying on track and being thorough in your writing can become obstacles. Outlining is the cure for these problems.

4 Important Reasons to Outline

1. It makes writing easier - Once you have an outline ready, you know what comes first, next, and last. This makes writing a piece of cake.

2. It helps your ebook have balance - A good outline helps you see where your ebook lacks substance. You can clearly see what sub-topics need more content.

3. It makes reading easier - Because you took the time to make sure the ebook has structure, it makes it easier to read and comprehend.

4. It motivates you to write - This is the first step in the writing process, so knowing that almost 50% of the work is already done, you’re more likely to sit down and write and follow the path you’ve already created.

The Outlining Format I Follow

I follow a pretty straight forward format when drafting blog posts and I’ll be using the same approach when outlining my ebook. (with a little variation)

My blog post outlines go like this:

Main Topic – Headline

Introduction Paragraph

  • Sub-Headlines

Content Paragraphs

  • Closing Sub-Headline

Closing Paragraph

As for my ebook, the only things I’m going to add to this outline are specific examples and action steps. Why do I suggest doing this? Because you want your ebook to not only teach, but motivate and get your customers to take action.

This is how they get results and this is how you get awesome testimonials.

So my ebook outline will be structured like this:

Main Topic/Title – Blog Design & Conversions

Introduction/Welcome Message – Introduce readers to the content, what they can expect and what the ebook is NOT about.

  • Section 1 – Using Design That Attract Attention

Main Headline

Sub-Topics

Examples/Action Steps

  • Section 2 – Using Design To Keep Attention

Main Headline

Sub-Topics

Examples/Action Steps

  • Section 3 – Using Design To Get Some Sort of Action

Main Headline

Sub-Topics

Examples/Action Steps

 Of course, it’s gonna be longer than this. I just wanted to give you an idea of what I was doing, so that you can follow the same structure and outline your ebook as quickly as possible.

This is the brainstorming part of the process, so I highly recommend you put in the time and effort into your outline so that the writing doesn’t become an issue later.

“But How Long Should My Ebook Be?”

how-long-should-my-ebook-be“How many pages should I expect to be writing?” – Before I answer this question, I want you to think of yourself as your customer. What if you’ve just bought an ebook for $29.95 and it was 13 pages long?

How would you feel about that? Probably not very happy.

Why?

Because for $29.95, you’d expect a lot more content and value, right? – Exactly.

Now I’m not saying that ebook length directly translate into value, because in some cases it doesn’t. You can, in fact, buy an ebook for $20, that was 192 pages in length, and get absolutely NOTHING from it.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that the content inside the ebook is what really matters – but you also don’t want to upset your customers by giving them less than expected.

So how do you know what’s “expected”?

I like to follow this simple rule. If the ebook will be given away for free, it could be however long or short you want.

If the ebook is going to be sold for more than $19.95, try to at least hit the 50 page mark to avoid any negative feedback from customers. (it also depends on your market and how much your audience is willing to pay)

  • I’ve seen 72 page guides sold at $47
  • 106 page guides sold at $39.95
  • 92 page guides sold at $97
  • and even 237 guides given away for free…

In the end, your goal shouldn’t be a page number, the goal should be to write the best content that those pages can hold.

You want people to GET RESULTS – isn’t that the whole point anyway..

What To Do Now: Write your Outline

Take an hour of your day and start writing your outline. (it really shouldn’t take you any longer than that if you follow the structure I laid out)

If you have any questions about pricing, outlining or ebook length, leave them in the comments section below – and don’t forget to Share Your Progress On Twitter..

Next week, I’ll be talking about naming your ebook. Talk to you soon..

…………………………………………………………………………….

For the complete list of articles in this series, visit the resource page:
How to Write and Sell an Ebook in 7 Weeks

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Comments

  1. says

    Hector,

    like create the business plan for a company, also for an eBook project we should create an outline.

    Have in mind before starting, the project structure, arguments, prospective of customers and the price : all these things will help us to make the job much faster …

    Good job !

  2. says

    Hey Hector,

    Absolutely loved your approach that we should focus on content and not on page numbers.

    Although I really can’t see how could we possibly sell an ebook in these days (with the boom of the Kindle on Amazon) for anything more than $9.97 I still think that pretending to be the customer can be a very nice approach to coming up with a price for our own ebook.

    I do that all the time when I have to price an offline consultation with a client and it always works flawlessly.

    Sergio

    • says

      Definitely Sergio.. I think that’s a process that we should all go through when creating our ebook – but a common mistake people make is undervaluing their products because of what the market might think…

      there’s a delicate balance to strike.. thanks for your insightful comment.

  3. says

    Really great blog post that you wrote Hector. I enjoy the outline that you have used. It’s something similar to what I have been using for awhile now and really enjoyed it.

  4. says

    Hi Hector,

    Outlining the content of eBook helps to write quickly as well as gives a reading flow to the reader. In fact, we can review the outline multiple times to make keep it in better flow (i mean outline it based on the readers expectation not just to help us in writing an eBook). For the page count, definitely i expects to have 100+ pages when i pay an eBook ! We can also fix the price based on competitors price ;)

    Thanks

    • says

      100+ pages.. wow you have very high standards I see. I would prefer less fluff and straight to the point. I write to get my readers results in as little words as possible, while covering every question that might come up.

  5. says

    I know it was simple, but I found this article so crystal clear and very inspiring.

    I wrote my entire outline as I read the article and completed it just as I finished the article. Thanks for writing this!

  6. says

    Hello Hector

    I came across your article at just the right time as I am in the process of writing my first e-book. I have lots of ideas, but am having trouble putting them all together into something that makes sense! I am now going to step back, look at the bigger picture and follow your advice.

    Thanks

  7. says

    I just wanted to share with you,
    that this site had an important share in the process of writing my first eBook!

    Thank you for helping me!

  8. says

    Thanks for that ressource. I want to write my first ebook but it seems like a heck of a job to me. It’s true that to follow a plan will makes this way much easier. Not only am I adding this right now to my todo list, but I will also start it right after!

  9. Juanita Mary says

    Hi Hector!
    Great article; my question is – is having a ‘table-of contents’ also part of the E book? So for example; cover page, then a table of contents, then a preface (opening paragraph) and so forth.

    I am so excited to get started on my 1st E Book, thank you so much for putting this informative info out there for us to learn! :)
    Juanita Mary

  10. says

    You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the article you write.

    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like
    you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
    All the time follow your heart.