Chad Hetherington

eBooks are an important part of the content marketing arsenal. They provide a design-forward deep dive into a topic of your choice and make a great gated asset.

By bringing together high-quality writing and strong design sensibilities, you can create an eBook that acts as a centerpiece for your next marketing campaign. This is everything you need to know to make your next eBook your best.

How to Write an eBook in 10 Steps

eBooks, while often short and sweet in the world of content marketing, take time and brain power to produce. A thoughtfully written and designed eBook doesn’t come overnight but can give you a good night’s rest when you finally publish and distribute something you’re proud of.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the 10 most important steps to work through before, during and after the production of your eBook.

1. Define Your Objectives and Goals

eBooks are effective at helping you achieve a variety of different goals, the most popular of which tends to be generating leads — at least in content marketing. So if that’s what you’re after, great! But, these handy little assets are also excellent for search engine optimization, increasing brand awareness and authority, and are even useful as digestible educational resources.

Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve, you may consider producing any of the following in an eBook file format:

  • Customer success story.
  • Product or service reveal.
  • Comprehensive and complete guide.
  • A re-purposed blog post.

These few examples are by no means the limits of an eBook in content marketing. So long as you stick to eBook creation best practices (more on those later), you have some wiggle room to get creative.

Whatever your goals are, make sure you define them from the start as they may influence the tone of the copy and even the design of the finished product.

2. Choose a Compelling Topic (or Come Up With a Compelling Angle)

You know what you want to achieve, which now begs the question: How are you going to achieve it? And we don’t mean “by writing an eBook.” That much is obvious. Instead, what is the eBook going to be about?

Choosing a topic can be challenging because the truth of the matter is that not all marketing content is inherently compelling. While some topics are more interesting than others by default, sometimes the best business move means you’re stuck with not-so-alluring subject matter. But! That’s where the fun, creative challenge comes in.

If you’re having trouble getting excited about your eBook, make it your mission to transform a less-than-compelling topic into an irresistible one.

3. Research Your Target Audience

Armed with your goals and topic, it’s time to dig into the who of it all. Who is the eBook for? Your audience, yes — but who specifically? The more you can hone in on a particular persona or demographic and speak directly to them, the better.

When researching your target audience, aim to answer questions such as:

  • What problems do they have?
  • How are they trying to solve the problem?
  • What industry are they a part of?

If you’re in a rut trying to pin down a persona, check out this in-depth blog that offers real-life examples of target audiences.

4. Research Your Topic

Continuing with the research, you’ll need to build a robust understanding of your chosen topic in order to write about it. Of course, you may already be an expert on your chosen subject matter (we call that a subject matter expert, or SME for short), but additional research has never hurt anybody.

Plus, this is a great opportunity to peruse other eBooks in your chosen niche, whether they were penned by competitors or someone else entirely. This can instill inspiration, give you fresh new ideas and even teach you what not to do if you come across an example you don’t like.

5. Create an Outline

Onto one of the most important steps of this process: building the outline. This step isn’t about coming out of the gate with a glorious eBook copy — it’s about the framework. The real creative work comes a bit later, during the dedicated writing process.

When creating an outline for your eBook, break it down page by page. Essentially, you want to determine however many pages you’d like (or need) to have in the final product and treat each as its own miniature outline.

Each page should have a key message or takeaway and, ideally, some sort of statistic or fact to support it. At the end, put them all together and you’ve got a solid eBook structure to build upon.

6. Write – But Not Too Much

Perhaps the most difficult part of this workflow: writing. It can be a daunting task. Luckily for you, (if you’re abiding by these recommended steps), you’ve already done a considerable amount of the heavy lifting.

Once you’ve arrived here, at step number 6, it’s time to start putting all that research to work. There’s no need to write eBook content directly into a template at this point unless that’s how you prefer to work, of course. A regular old Google Doc or Microsoft Word document should do you fine. Plus, doing the bulk of your writing and editing here makes it a bit easier to refine. Plugging everything into the template afterward is the easy part.

In general, we recommend keeping each page of your eBook between 125 and 150 words. No more, no less. After all, graphic design is a major component of any content marketing eBook and will help support the copy. Whether a short eBook or long, it all depends on your topic and how much detail you’re looking to cover.

If you need a recommendation, aim for something between 6 and 12 pages. That’s a pretty safe bet. Anything longer, or that requires more copy than what you can squeeze into this range, starts creeping into whitepaper territory. Anything less, you might be looking for an infographic or product sheet.

7. Edit, Edit, Edit the Copy

We know that it can be tough to squeeze everything you want to say into the recommended 125-150 per-page word count. Initially, you may write too much and need to trim the fat before designing.

That’s why it’s important to have a dedicated editing phase that will help you extract the most important and relevant points from your eBook content to fit these parameters while still being valuable to a potential reader.

8. Design It…

The bread and butter of a successful eBook is graphic design. Consistency with your brand, imagery that supports the copy and design that guides the reader’s eye should be the main goal of the design process. Using a platform like Adobe InDesign is a fairly popular option for creating marketing eBooks. However, if you don’t fancy yourself a graphic designer, you can always hire a professional to whip your eBook into an exciting shape.

Whether you’re designing it or not, make sure to set the tone with a compelling eBook cover page and carry that design throughout the rest of the product.

9. Distribute It…

In between designing and distributing, you might expect a step for eBook publishing and/or choosing a publishing platform. While that’s necessary for other kinds of eBooks, such as narrative works of fiction penned by authors, most content marketing products are delivered as a simple PDF eBook.

So, for our intents and purposes, we’re moving straight to distribution. One tried and true way of distributing your eBook is to set up a dedicated landing page. This way, you can take advantage of SEO to attract more potential readers. Include a summary of the content of the eBook, such as any key findings, messages or takeaways, and embed a form for users to fill out to gain access to the product.

10. Market It!

There’s a bit of a matrix here: Your eBook is meant to be an asset to support your content marketing efforts, but you have to market the book itself, too. This is best done through popular channels such as email marketing, social media and paid advertising.

If you’ve found yourself in a creative rhythm after finishing your eBook, though, producing a webinar or video to promote it are both great options as well.

How to Use an eBook in Your Content Marketing Strategy

An eBook can be an important gated asset, requiring readers to give your brand an email address in return for a download.

In review, creating a dedicated landing page for your new eBook followed by a robust marketing strategy via email, social and paid advertising to get it in front of more people is your best bet.

eBooks can also serve a purely informational role, building your brand’s visibility and authority on a topic rather than gathering contact information. If that’s the case with your new eBook, it could live directly on your site, be embedded in a blog post or offered with no strings attached in your next newsletter.

See some examples of the most compelling B2B eBooks.

Best Practices for Writing an eBook

Following the steps outlined above should set you up for eBook content creation success, but there are a few best practices worth reiterating that are essentially non-negotiables when it comes to eBook writing.

Writing an eBook depends on:

  • Creating a solid outline in advance.
  • Limiting content length to leave room for graphics.
  • Focusing on ease of reading while still conveying the message.

Writing, while challenging, is only half the battle in eBook creation. The graphics should support the overall message, whether through diagrams/graphs/tables or just compelling brand imagery.

Try It for Yourself: Download Our Template

There are quite a few eBook templates out there, but Brafton offers free templates for eBooks and white papers — so you can take the lead on creating whichever kind of content is best for your brand and message without having to worry about formatting.

When you’re ready to get started, scroll back to the top of this list and work through each step in order. Afterward, download our free template and get creative! You’ll be well on your way to a successful eBook in no time.