How to Write, Make and Publish Your First E-Book in 4 Steps

by Dr. Alison Chen ND | Follow on Twitter

An e-book could be your first step to building a life-long customer.

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GETTING AN AUDIENCE TO TRUST YOU is the most important part to your business. But without an audience to sell to – you can’t make a profit. The opposite is also true that once you have an audience you’ll need something to sell, so how do you know which to start with?

Why not do both? — Build an audience while developing a niche product to sell with your first e-book. <– Click to Tweet.

Your first e-book should be an introduction to who you are and what you specialize in. It will most likely be free or at a minimal cost. Make the e-book relevant to your services so that an “up-sell” is a no brainer.

To make a successful e-book you need it to look good, be easy to read, easy to access and give the reader something of value, immediately.

Don’t keep them in suspense hoping that they will buy your next product. Give your reader value. Give your reader so much value that it would be silly if they didn’t purchase what came next. Give them something that will help them even if they decide not to buy right away.

A lead is a lead. They may not buy in 1 week or even 1 year, but if your content is consistent and of value, you will become their “go-to” for information on that topic. You become the expert, which will increase your readership, referrals and income.

The two most important parts of building your work is CONSISTENCY and VALUE (Tweetable). Give both of these and you will be well on your way.

Creating your e-book is not difficult but it requires work. A little everyday. Take on the following steps one at a time. Avoid jumping ahead and feeling overwhelmed by all the “other stuff”. To create an e-book, the most important are steps #1-4, the rest are ways to maximize exposure on your platform and build your email list.

**I’ll use my free e-book, “Seven Days to Sexy” (7DS) as an example throughout this post. I’ll refer to specific systems and programs that are familiar to me. If you use other platforms or software adjust accordingly. There are YouTube videos for everything you need to know. At the end of this article I’ll summarize all the programs I use and a link to download or purchase them with my referral link (please use them so I can make a little passive income… I’ll tell you more about how you can too, later on).

Step 1: What to Write?

“How-to” manuals work fine, but if this is the first entry point into your brand, you want the reader to feel like they know you, trust you and understand your mission. You want your first impression to blow them away so that they become life-long readers and supporters. Especially when it comes to “online health”, the reader needs to feel a personal connection in order to build rapport. There is far too much information out there, you need to set yourself apart.

Here are the criteria for your writing the “body” of your e-book:

  1. Pick a topic in your niche – if you haven’t thought about this, spend a good few days (if not weeks) brainstorming what it is you want to be known as the expert for. It can be a specific population or disease condition or a combination of both. Pick something you love, can relate to and have lots of valuable information to share.
    For example, 20-40 year old women wanting to lose 10 lbs.
  2. Tell an origin story – Every great superhero has a story that captivates their audience into caring about who they are. Write your own origin story about your upbringing, struggles and how you over came them. This will let your audience in on who you are and why you’re passionate about this topic. Here’s a snippet from my 7DS e-book.

    An origin story talks about where you came from and why you are passionate about this topic.

    An origin story talks about where you came from and why you are passionate about this topic. Click here to enlarge the text.

  3. Say who the e-book is for and who it isn’t for – filter out anyone not in your focus niche. They will likely have different expectations and therefore not have as much success with the e-book or product. These people are often the ones that will send you a million emails, not be satisfied with the product and cause you the most headache. Be honest, even if it means not making a sale. The reader will appreciate the honesty and if you can refer them to someone more suited to their needs you will still be identified as the expert in their mind.
    For example, this e-book is not a quick-fix weight loss scheme. I’ll be honest, you will have to take action on the information in this course to have success. Health is a journey of self-worth and practice. I’m here to help, but you’ve got to implement the steps.
  4. How will your e-book help the reader? Lay out clearly what the reader can expect from your information and the amount of dedication and time for them to be successful. If you can, make a checklist or daily assignments to break up the work into manageable pieces.
    For example, in this 7-day e-course you will receive 1 email per day with a 5-minute challenge to take on. Each day will focus on a different foundation to health:

    Click here to enlarge the text.

    Click here to enlarge the text.

  5. Lay out the steps in an easy and understandable way – You want your audience to be successful. Avoid confusing them or making things too difficult. What you think is common sense may be a life changing revelation for others. Offer simple steps that a lay person can understand and do with relative ease. If your reader is more advanced, this is where your “up-sell” will take it to the next level.
    For example, my “Seven Days to Sexy” (7DS) is an introductory course for my 6-week program called, “Strong & Sexy in 6“. They both follow the same foundations to health topics but the SS6 program is expanded with more resources and support.
  6. Give value and immediate benefits with your information – You don’t need to spill all the beans (that’s for the up-sell), but you do need to give the reader something to take away. They should get a major benefit from your e-book that will turn them into life-long customers.
    For example, the 7DS course is a stand alone product. It doesn’t require any other tools or services to give value and benefit to the reader. If the reader has found value and wants to continue their work, they will then purchase the SS6 program.
  7. A call to action – Ask the reader to DO something. It could be to book an appointment with you, buy your next product, like your Facebook page, sign-up for an online course, share with a friend, etc. Don’t be scared to give an actionable piece and sell. They are there because they are interested in your work and want more information. Offer it to them and leave them wanting more. Each time you get them to opt-in for something else you are earning their trust and building your reputation in their eyes.
  8. How long should it be? – As short as possible and as long as necessary. Quality and simplicity are key. Typically, an e-book is anywhere from 5000-50,000 words. I recommend starting out with an outline, then filling in the blanks. After all your sections have been filled in, go over it and remove as much redundancy as possible. Take out extra “filler words” that don’t add to your message. For example:

    “This e-book is a very incredible book that explains how you can lose fat in 7-days and feel more confident about how you look.”


    “This 7-day e-book will have you losing fat and feeling more confident.”

  9. How do I start writing? – if you’re the type that gets overwhelmed quickly or starts many project without actually finishing any of them, you need a system. Especially when taking on larger projects with multiple steps the work can quickly become daunting.
    Jonathan Goodman has been a mentor of mine who gives out lots of free material that is of great value. One of my favorite works of his is on breaking down steps to take on big projects, “Procrastination is Opportunity’s Natural Assassin“. I highly recommend you read it and implement his work.

Step 2: The Checklist

The “checklist” are the items to include when putting your e-book together after the written material is finished. Don’t waste your time formatting and editing your work until all your information is written. You will inevitably make multiple changes as you go and it’s easy to get distracted by making your e-book “look good” instead of getting the writing finished.

“Done is better than perfect.” <– Tweetable

This is just a guide to building an e-book. Feel free to get creative and add your own flare. Just remember that most people are more comfortable with simple and easy-to-follow material, you don’t want to scare off your reader before they get to your work.

I recommend using a simple Word Doc to format your e-book because it’s easy to save as a .pdf and upload it your your website once the entire document is finalized. Here is the checklist:

  1. Cover page -a nicely designed image relevant to your topic or niche with your name and a catchy title that concisely explains what the e-book is about and what problem it solves. You can also add a subtitle or tag line if it’s necessary to complete the description.
    I use Photoshop but most basic photo editors can add text to an image. Make sure the image quality is good enough to expand to 8.5″ x 11″. Watch the video in Step 3 (below) to see how to create your cover image and 3D book with Photoshop.
    Your cover photo should be saved as a .jpg and inserted as page 1 of your Word document. Format the image as a “wrap text” option (box or inline), then stretch the image to fit the entire page. (watch the VIDEO below on “How to import your cover image and stretch onto Word Doc then save as a .pdf”)
  2. Content page – most e-books are 5000-50,000 words long. If your e-book is on the longer end you will probably need a page of contents to help guide the reader to the areas of their interest and to give an outline of what to expect.
  3. Intro page (optional) – this can be a personal message to your audience thanking them for downloading your e-book and asking that they share your work and not plagiarize it as their own. You can also set the stage for your origin story or provide instructions on how to best use the e-book for success.
  4. Page # – add in page numbers at the bottom of the page, you can “hide on page one” to make sure your footer doesn’t show up over your cover page.
  5. Logo, e-book name and contact – each page should have either a header or footer with your name/website address and e-book name/logo. You don’t need to make this fancy. For example:

    Each page should include the name of your e-book, your website and page number.

    Each page should include the name of your e-book, your name or website and page number.

  6. Color themes consistency – pick 1-2 colors as your theme colors. Your call to action, call out boxes and links should be one color, then you can choose a title/ subtitle color if you wish.
  7. Format – double check that the margins, font, size (at least 12 pt or greater), and heading formats remain consistent throughout your document.
  8. Images, captions and attributions – make sure you are using your own images, paid stock images, or have permission to use another person’s images.
  9. Links – when you add in hyperlinks into your Word documents they will remain in place as a .pdf document except with Mac computers. I have a Mac and so I get my non-Mac friends to save my Word doc for me as a .pdf first
  10. Final proof read and edits – before you are ready to launch your e-book have a final read over your work. Remember, as concise as possible while being able to express your concepts thoroughly. You may also want to have someone who is not in your field to have a read over the document as well.
  11. Save as a PDF – saving your Word doc as a .pdf is a piece of cake. Go to FILE then “save as”. Under FORMAT, instead of using .doc or .docx, save your file as PDF.
  12. Share – you’re done the critical steps. Now you can share the .pdf file as is, or link it on your website (step 4), or create a squeeze page (step 5). I recommend getting an email address in exchange for the e-book unless you plan to sell it on a platform like amazon kindle or clickbank. Either way, you will want to create a 3D e-book image to go along with your marketing (step 3).

Step 3: Making a 3D E-Book Image

I use Photoshop to create my 3D e-book image, but you can also go on and pay someone $5 to do it for you. Photoshop can be expensive since it’s no longer a one-time fee, rather a monthly cost.

However, if you are truly interested in getting into the online world and marketing more of your own products, you will NEED to be proficient withPphotoshop (not an expert, but get to know the basics). It took me 1 weekend to get comfortable with the basics of Photoshop. The process of making my own images for my first product launch was challenging but I am now much more efficient.

For example, how cool is this collage image I made for my “Strong & Sexy in 6” program sale’s page?

I made all of my own images for my first product launch using Photoshop.

I made all of my own images for my first product launch using Photoshop.

In the long run, learning Photoshop will save you time and lots of money if you can do the basic tasks. It eliminates the back and forth with your graphic designer, which can hold up product launches and work efficiency. I literally went on YouTube and only needed this one video to understand the basics, “How to Get Started With Adobe Photoshop CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do“.

Watch this video below of me making a cover image and 3D e-book from scratch. When saving your final 3D image, use a .png to hide the background and create a seamless integration with your website background. Feel free to use my e-book as a template for your upright image or download one online that fits your needs.

Step 4: Put Your E-Book Online

Post your e-book online to your website or make a squeeze page with a system like Optimize Press. A squeeze page allows you to integrate your email marketing system (ie. Aweber, MailChimp, IContact, InfusionSoft, GetResponse, etc.) before giving the reader access to your e-book. Read more in Step 5.

You can also “hide” your e-book on a unique page (ie. with a url, shown in the video below) or send the .pdf file manually to your reader via email once they’ve submitted their email information to you.

NOTE: a url is the web address that is unique to each page. You can protect it with a membership function, but often it’s not worth it. You can customize a url on your site or with a WordPress plug-in called “PrettyLink” or shorten them with sites like “Bitly“.

I prefer to have 1 single download page (aka “welcome page”) for all my free give-away materials, which the reader has access to after they opt-in with their email address for my e-letters.

Step 5 goes into setting up a squeeze page and follow-up pages after an email opt-in. For now, let’s see how to save your .pdf document as a url using WordPress. The benefits of sharing a url is that the reader doesn’t need to download a file (but has the option to) and you can hyperlink it to any text, image or button. The reader will be able to read the e-book on any browser with the url link.

  1. Log into your wordpress backend (
  2. On the left-hand side open up your MEDIA page and “Add New”
  3. “Select file” and upload your .pdf
  4. Click on the .pdf box to open it and copy the url address
  5. I recommend saving this link in a document for easy retrieval later on
  6. Enter the url into a new webpage and make sure it looks the way you want it to
  7. If any formatting is off, it probably happened in the process of saving your document as a .pdf, so open the .pdf file to double check and adjust if necessary.

Watch this quick video to see how you can upload your .pdf file into WordPress to create a url link:

Step 5 (BONUS): Squeeze Page and Follow-up Pages

  1. Squeeze page for email opt-ins: A squeeze page is a page on your website that is dedicated to collecting (or “squeezing”) a reader’s email address in return for a product. In this case, it’s your e-book.For the 6 Elements of a Squeeze Page make sure to read Jon’s article. You can also see an example of my “Seven Days to Sexy” squeeze page below. Jon and I both use OptimizePress with our WordPress platform and link them with Aweber, an email marketing service.

    This is what people see before they scroll down on my squeeze page for my free 7DS e-book.

    This is what people see before they scroll down on my squeeze page for my free 7DS e-book.

  2. Thank you page: The moment a person enters their email address, they should be re-directed immediately to your “Thank you page”. This is NOT the page where you give them the gift (ie. your e-book), but where you thank them for signing up and to do 1 more thing… confirm their email address in their email inbox (and save your email to their contact list). Offering a quick 15 second video can help navigate people to do this easily and quickly.In Canada, CanSpam requires a “double opt-in” for the consumer’s safety. The first opt-in is them signing up on your squeeze page. The second opt-in requires them going into their email inbox and confirming that they want to subscribe to your newsletters. Without this second opt-in, the reader’s email won’t be added to your list and they won’t receive your updates, so this step is very important. Here’s my “thank you page”, which was also created with OptimizePress:

    A "thank you page" tells your reader how to confirm their second opt-in via their email inbox. This is critical step to properly collecting emails.

    A “thank you page” tells your reader how to confirm their second opt-in via their email inbox. This is critical step to properly collecting emails.

  3. Email confirmation: At the bottom of my thank you page, I give written out instructions on how to confirm their email address. This is a critical step to finalize the collection of an email address for your email marketing service.
    Make sure you don’t confuse the reader by having other non-relevant steps (ie. like me on Facebook). You want them to focus on only 1 task, confirming their email subscription.

    Give clear and simple instructions on how your reader can confirm their double opt-in. Don't forget this step or else their email address won't be captured for your email marketing service.

    Give clear and simple instructions on how your reader can confirm their double opt-in. Don’t forget this step or else their email address won’t be captured for your email marketing service.

  4. Welcome/ download page: After the reader has confirmed their email address, immediately re-direct them to your “welcome page”. This is the page where they can download your free e-book and any other freebies. I like to use this page to put all of my “ethical bribes” so that it is in a concise place that I can easily update and keep track of. You may want to have several welcome pages, one for each product or distinct interest group. It’s up to you. This too can be made with OptimizePress or on a separate page on your website.You can use your e-book url (see Step 4) to link to text, an image or a button for the viewer to download your product. Feel free to add in a welcome video to introduce yourself, welcome your reader and to let them know what they can expect from your e-book, newsletters and future products.

    A "welcome/ download page" is where your viewer can download their online products after confirming their email opt-in. Here, I linked my free 7DS e-book to the purple button and gave a quick video introduction.

    A “welcome/ download page” is where your viewer can download their online products after confirming their email opt-in. Here, I linked my free 7DS e-book to the purple button and gave a quick video introduction.

Step 6: email opt-in sequence (optional)

Automating your emails is an art. It can provide freedom to focus on big projects, while never neglecting your most valuable customers. Spend a weekend setting up 2-12 months worth of automated emails with your best work. It’s up to you how frequent you want to be sending your readers regular information.

Some people spend years perfecting the best language, sequence, and wording. I’m no expert, but I do know it has to sound like you are speaking directly to the reader. Email is a more intimate way to speak to your customer. They have invited you into their world and are in a particular state of mind when checking emails.

Think about when you open up your inbox. You scan the subject heading looking for pertinent messages and ones from family or old friends. The junk you toss before opening. When sending an email sequence, the first email will be the one with the most views. Make sure you captivate your audience from the get go and give them what you promised when they signed up. If you told them to expect bi-weekly emails, do just that. Don’t spam them with other offers or affiliate promotions until you’ve offered them value first.

I highly recommend reading “The Best short autoresponse sequence for sales to Passively Convert an Email Lead to Phone Call or Direct Sale” and follow the outlined first 6 email topi.

Step 7: The Up-Sell (optional)

The “up-sell” is the product or service that is related to your e-book. It should provide either more in depth or more individualized information. Your e-book should be a stand alone product that gives value but also peaks a readers interest to learn more.

Your up-sell will most likely be:

  1. a product to purchase (ie. book, program, course)
  2. an in-clinic visit (or invitation for a free 15 minutes consultation)

Your up-sell can be at the end of your e-book or email sequence, or enmeshed within the e-book. You can drop little hints about a “bonus offer” without actually asking for the sale until the end of the e-book or e-course. When you do ask for the sale, be confident and create excitement, like with a scarcity timeline. Let the reader know they have a limited amount of time before the offer or discount expires. Creating urgency isn’t a ploy to fool someone, rather a tool to get people motivated and taking action. If your reader gets genuine positive results from your e-book, it will be easy for them to want more results and to trust you as the expert.

Step 8: Ease of selling (optional)

  • Make the experience easy and rewarding. Don’t have the reader confused about what is next and where they should go. Give one sell at a time and make it as painless as possible.
    For example: “Click here to get X product” (add your link to your squeeze page to the text).
  • PS. statements at the end of a sales letter or email are a great way to summarize what you want your reader to do and why
  • Get their contact info right away, such as email opt-in, paypal deposit, phone number, or online booking system (ie. timetrade)
  • Get them to pay right away or at least a deposit to reserve their spot
  • Give them something immediately, especially if they don’t receive their “up-sell” immediately (ie. appointment, physical book). Buyer’s remorse can happen within the first few hours or even days. You want your customer excited about their purchase so they can look forward to their product or service that is in the future. Have a freebie product, e-book or worksheet for them to get started on and maintain their enthusiasm.
  • Keep track of discounts and offers by creating a spreadsheet. I’m a little neurotic when it comes to tracking urls, passwords and log-in info because my memory is not photographic. So I make sure that if I offer a discount to one group I know who and which links it applies to. After creating 20 or so squeeze and follow-up pages it can get confusing.
    My spreadsheet includes the item, page name, url, short link and a to-do list. Here’s an example of what I do:
Take a look at my excel spreadsheet for my 7DS e-course and "Strong & Sexy in 6" product up-sell.

Take a look at my excel spreadsheet for my 7DS e-course and “Strong & Sexy in 6” product up-sell.

I recommend you sign-up for my “Seven Days to Sexy” free e-course to see how my product unfolds. You can unsubscribe at any time.

List of all services mentioned.

If you do decide to use something from this post, please use my links so you can save some money and I can get a little kick back.

Once you sign-up, you can do the same for anyone you recommend to use these services and start making some passive income. Most service-based sites will have an “affiliate” page where you can sign-up to offer others discounts or passive income for promoting their services.

(Note: it’s not much, but it can accumulate over time, so set these up now and you may reap the rewards later… even when you “retire”)

These are just the ones I’ve mentioned in this article, for all the resources that my partner (Jonathan Goodman) and I use, click here.

  • Aweber – email marketing service. Your first month is FREE.
  • Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint – download for free.
  • Optimize press – a WordPress plug-in that allows you to create customized pages to insert into your website (ie. squeeze, welcome, thank you and download pages)
  • Seven Days to Sexy – download for free.
  • Photoshop – monthly fee that is worth it in the long run if you have the time and patience to learn the basics. You don’t need to be creative, there are endless templates to look for inspiration.
  • Paypal – probably the most trusted online payment service. Most customers will feel more comfortable purchasing via Paypal than most other services even with all the protection and security features in place.
  • Timetrade – a great alternative for an online booking service.
  • Amazon Kindle – sell your e-book via Amazon and get people finding your work from a larger site and avenue.
  • ClickBank – sell and promote online work from others in a similar niche.
  • – an affordable place to start. It can also be a good place to find interesting work that you can source for bigger jobs after building a relationship.
  • PrettyLink – customize url link to begin with your website address with this WordPress plug-in.
  • Bitly – shorten long url addresses to take up less character spaces, especially for Twitter.

For a more thorough breakdown of all the tools that Jon and I use, click here.

If you have yet to set up your website or blog, sign-up for theNDDC newsletter to get “Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint” and “150 Naturopathic Doctor Mistakes: and the solutions for each” today. Sign-up below.

About the Author
Dr. Alison Chen ND

Dr. Alison Chen ND graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and was the recipient of the humanitarian award. Her background in competitive gymnastics, personal training, and volunteer work in Africa gives her a well-rounded view to living well.   Since graduating Alison has traveled the world exploring different ways to think and teach about healing. She believes that education should be consumable and fun, so she created theNDDC and wrote an illustrated rhyming book about poo. Seriously, check out the poo book on Amazon here.