Most of us are busy. Although we might realize the benefit to our business of writing and publishing an ebook, we may feel we simply don’t have the time to write a book, especially if we are already producing a lot of content, for instance on a blog or in a newsletter.
I can think of seven types of short books you can write fast—especially by blogging them—and turn them into ebooks. (See my recent post on The Future of Ink for details on how and why to blog a business-boosting book.)
Short ebooks can be anywhere from 15 to 100 manuscript pages in length. The completed book might be between 4,000-35,000 words long. We are not talking about your magnum opus. This is, indeed a short book you write fast.
Create a content plan for you short ebook, and then don’t make more work for yourself than necessary. Keep your chapters short. Don’t write more than necessary. Blog your book, or write it as if you were blogging it; sit down each day and write 500 words. Then make each chapter 1,500-2,500 words long, for example. Each chapter will consist of 3-5 blog posts (each averaging 500 words). If you have 10 chapters, you’ll end up with a 15,000-25,000 word book.
Let’s take a look at the six types of short books you might consider writing or blogging.
A tip book features a list of 10-101 tips. Normally, you find one per page, but some tip books offer just long lists of tips with many per page. Each tip might be just a sentence long or you can include a paragraph or two of explanation. This determines how many are included on the page.
Writing a tip book is pretty simple. Just compose a list of tips about something you know a lot about or that your customers or clients ask you about frequently.
- Can you tell prospective clients 20 ways to manage employees?
- Do you know 30 ways to save money on taxes?
- Can you think of 100 ways to generate more business leads?
If so, you’re an expert on that topic and can write a tip book.
Writing or blogging a tip book will only take you as long as the number of tips (or steps or ways) you choose to include. Fifty tips, 50 days—unless you write or blog more posts per day or more tips per post.
If you can write a list, you can write a list book. Simply create a list of 10-101 things your clients or customers need to know on a subject and write a short informative essay to go with each item on your list. Or just write a list and publish it like Barbara Ann Kipfer did this with her book, 14,000 Things To Be Happy About or Scott Edelstein did with 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published.
Consider the numerous things you know about your business, industry, product, or service.
- What do your clients want to know about this?
- What information could you put on a list that would benefit your customers?
- How many ways or things do you know that you can provide to add value to other people’s lives?
Then sit down and make that list. Next, flesh it out with just a bit of content for each item—a paragraph or two or three. You can do this with one short writing session a day or a blog post a day. Before you know it, your list book will be written.
Find enough quotations to fill a short book—25-50—on a theme that relates to your particular area of expertise. Then add your own words to someone else’s famous words. In other words (excuse the pun), elaborate upon the sentiments of those more well-known than you by relating what you think they meant, what they mean to you, why you chose them, or how your customers or clients can use them to further themselves or their businesses.
Quotations are inspirational, and inspiration continues sell well even in the business world. Although this type of book requires that you do some research to find the quotations, you can still write the rest of the content off the top of your head and share your own expertise. In this way you increase your authority—fast—with a short book. Also, this is an easy type of book to blog! And these blog posts often get shared.
Most of the books I edit or coach people to write fall into the prescriptive nonfiction category. This means they offer guidance or direction on a particular topic. They might provide 10 steps for better business practices, or 8 ways to better parenting or a guide to getting published, for example. The authors might be experts—or have interviewed experts—on how to lose weight, build a better solar home or get more business leads, for instance. If you can think of a topic, passion or interest, someone is an expert on it—maybe you.
These types of books are also called how-to books. Some examples of how-to books you could write include:
- a handbook (The Dog Owner’s Handbook)
- a guide book (A Guide to Setting up a Blog or 10 Ways to Help Your ADHD Child)
- a rule book (18 Rules for a Perfect Marriage)
- a step book (18 Steps to Writing a Business Plan)
Just write down the steps, rules or ways—whatever how-to information—you want to include, and begin writing your advice. Offer your prescription to cure whatever ails your customers or clients.
Too busy to write your own book content? Solicit content from other experts. Ask 10-25 experts to contribute a chapter to your book. (Again, these could even be guest blog posts that you later put into an ebook.) Make sure all the chapters relate to one topic; in fact, plan out the content for the book, then ask the appropriate experts to contribute to your book. Give each of them:
- A specific topic
- A specific word count
- A deadline
- A request for rights to publish their work in your book
You will then add an introduction and a conclusion and a chapter of your own.
One Big Idea
Do you use one central idea for your business? Or is there a “big idea” you’d love to get across to potential customers and clients or to the world at large—an idea you think would catapult you and your business to success? Take that one idea and write about it in a short book.
Explain your idea in a concise fashion. Then explore it further using:
- case studies
- other evidence
Break your idea down into subheadings rather than chapters. You might include an introduction and conclusion. Then blog it or write it!
This ends up reading like a manifesto a long article. Thus, it can feel less intimidating to some people.
Q & A Book
Last, but not least, you can compile a question and answer book. This book is exactly what it sounds like: a book of your customers’ or clients’ more common questions answered by you. Again, this is easy to write or blog in short bits—one question with an answer per day. A client of mine came up with 10 questions prospective clients most commonly ask; he actually discovered he had already answered most of these questions on his blog already and was, therefore, able to repurpose existing blog posts for a good portion of his book. He wrote the remaining portion. You can easily do this from scratch as well.
By employing one of these seven short-book structures, you’ll write or blog your book fast. You’ll then be ready to get it edited, have a cover designed, and convert it into an ebook format. Before you know it, you’ll be using your ebook (and maybe even a printed book, too) to promote yourself and your business.
Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz) says
Nina, what great tips! Although fiction is typically my personal shtick, at the urging of my hubz I have been considering putting together a book of the nature you describe herein. I have bookmarked (haha) this page for reference. TY for putting together this short list of excellent advice! 🙂
Michael D. Massie says
Love, love, love this post! Your book is next on my read list, Nina… and you’re on my Google Reader shortlist now as well. I’m sure I’ll be mining your blogs and book for ideas and guidance as I write my next book (or blog it!)
Nina Amir says
Thanks so much, Michael! Let me know what you think of my book once you read it! And if you blog a book, add it to my list to the site as you do so…and write a post for me about your experience!