Writing an ebook is the easiest way to get started as an author. Self-publishing an ebook allows you to write and produce your own digital work, with little cost to you except for your time.

You can publish your work instantly on any number of ebook sites — including giants like Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, and B&N Nook.  

It can be overwhelming to even think about committing the time and energy to produce a work of extensive length. The key is in breaking your book project down into small pieces and taking it one step at a time.

What follows are five tips on how to write an ebook for beginners.

 Tip #1: Decide Your “Why” for Writing Your Ebook

Selling ebooks likely won’t make you a fortune. However, you can use them to help increase your earnings if you know your reason for writing them, such as:

To become a leader — Sharing your knowledge in a well-written nonfiction book can give you instant expert status. The author credential can open the door to speaking gigs, teaching positions, radio and TV interviews, and more.

To build a fan base — Share your love of storytelling by creating your own series of fiction in fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, or other genres. As you build your fan base and publish more books, your earnings also will increase.

To create an empire — You can write some books and commission others on popular topics. The publishing empire model works best if you’re interested in nonfiction and how-to books.

Once you know why you’re writing, you can start the prewriting work.

Tip #2: Research Your Idea

What type of book will be popular with your audience? It’s easier than ever to find out what will likely sell — whether you decide to write fiction or nonfiction.

If you’re an aspiring fiction writer, browse your category on Amazon. In a few clicks, you’ll get the top 100 books in romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, and more.

In nonfiction, you can dig to more granular levels — for example, if your category is marketing, you can look in subcategories like psychology, economics, marketing and sales, and leadership.

What topics or themes come up again and again? What’s popular right now? Which topic could you take on and add your own unique perspective or creative spin?

Making sure you’ve chosen a popular topic that’s likely to sell is a vital step in learning how to write an ebook for beginners.

Tip #3: Mind Map Your Ideas for Your Book

Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, a quick creative brainstorm can help you get your ideas together. You can mind map your fiction story’s plot points, or use a mind map to plot out the key points for your nonfiction book.

To mind map, take a piece of paper and write your main concept in the middle of your page; from it, draw branches out to related concepts or ideas for your story.

After a while, it might start to look like a sun or a collection of branches. Let all your ideas flow without self-criticism.

Tip #4: Write Your Table of Contents Before You Start Writing

Staring at a blank page can be discouraging for even the most disciplined writers. But if you start your book by writing the table of contents, you can automatically eliminate the blank page blues.

Plotting out the order and topic for each chapter gives you a clear idea of what needs to be filled in for each section or chapter, so there’s no room for writer’s block.

For your nonfiction book, think about each chapter heading as its own title. Keep your audience in mind and think about what they want to know.

For a fiction book, look at your mind map and see what parts of your story need to be told in which particular order. Will each chapter’s story follow sequentially, or will there be any flashbacks or flash forwards?

Tip #5: Prioritize Your Ebook-Writing Time

You don’t have to spend years writing your ebook if you stick with a writing schedule.

For example, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) is an annual writing challenge held in November, where participants write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Hundreds of people have met this challenge successfully by breaking down the work into daily word quotas.

If you’re writing every day, this means 1,667 words. If you know you can write that amount in two hours per day, you then can schedule a two-hour, uninterrupted writing block in the morning or the evening.

When you finish the draft, celebrate your victory… by taking a break! Put it away for a few days before editing. By then, you’ll see clearly to edit with precision.

By following the steps in this article and learning how to write an ebook for beginners, you’ll be an official author before you know it.