By Thomas Clifford published June 14, 2011

4 Steps to Publish an E-Book: Tap into Your Existing Articles

Has this ever happened to you?

You run around looking for your car keys.
You could’ve sworn you just saw them right there on the counter.
But now they’re gone.

Then you hear that familiar jingle.
You slide your hand into your pocket.
Tada!

Your keys were right under your nose the whole time.
Chances are your e–book is sitting right under your nose, too!
If you’ve been writing articles and other forms of content for even a short while, you probably have untapped content just waiting to be repurposed into an e-book that is unique, valuable and shareable.

Repurposing content is simply taking existing content and using it in another way.

If you have a few published articles (or even a few rough drafts), you can repurpose them into an e-book for your customers, prospects, blog readers and other potential subscribers. But how?

How do you create a free e-book?

Once you realize how simple it is to create an e-book, you’ll wish you’d have published one sooner. It takes only four simple steps:

  1. Discover a common theme.
  2. Write an introduction.
  3. Hire a professional proofreader.
  4. Create a cover page.

1) Discover a common theme.
Go through your existing articles and find three, four or five articles with a common theme. You’ll probably find that a few topics naturally pertain to your area of expertise.

If you have three to five articles, you’re in great shape. The articles may be used “as is” or you may need to finesse the intro’s and outro’s  to flow seamlessly. If you have more than five articles, you can publish them; however, you should think about choosing the top five that best fit your theme.

2) Write an introduction.

Once you’ve found a theme and compiled the articles, it’s time to write an introduction. It doesn’t matter if it’s short or long, just remember to include why you published your e-book in the first place. Think of the introduction as your back story: Use it to take the reader behind the scenes of the creation of your e-book.

In addition, you can choose to end your introduction with a call to action for the reader.

3) Hire a professional proofreader.

Now that you’ve assembled your e-book into one document, it’s time to have it proofread. Proofreading catches common grammatical mistakes and ensures that the multiple articles flow together smoothly to form one cohesive e-book.

Your best bet is to have a professional read your e-book. Take your pick from the many professional proofreading services offered online. The many benefits you’ll receive by hiring a professional proofreading service far outweigh its small cost.

If you’d rather not use a professional proofreading service, ask a friend or colleague to proofread your e-book.

The bottom line is that another set of eyes needs to check your work. You may be surprised by what those eyes find!

4) Create a cover page.

If you want to spice up your e-book, add a cover page. If you’re a Mac user, Pages offers several creative solutions for a cover page. If you’re a PC user or prefer Microsoft Word, a few neat options in Word can help you create a cover page. In the Word toolbar, click “Insert,” select “Document Elements” and choose “Cover Page.” You’ll see several templates to choose from to get you started.

Once you’re done, save the file as a PDF.

What if you can’t find a common theme among your articles?

You might struggle to find something that your articles have in common. What if there just doesn’t seem to be one idea that ties your articles together?

Try this: Create a “toolbox” of solutions that solves a variety of common challenges by grouping them under one “roof.”

I ran into this problem when I published my e-book “5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier.”

I had written five articles loosely related to improving one’s writing skills, but they didn’t solve just one problem; they provided five solutions to three different problems. What to do? I created a “toolbox,” or a mini-manual, for solving different writing challenges and put it under one “roof.” Problem solved.


Summary
Writing a free e-book for your audience is a lot easier than you think. You don’t have to start from scratch. Review your articles (or potential ideas and drafts) to see what interesting content you can offer your audience.

With a little creative digging, you just might find your next e-book sitting right under your nose!

What are your thoughts?

  • Share with us your tips on how you created an e-book.
  • What resources did you use to streamline the production process?
  • Did you start from scratch or did you pull together existing content?
  • What would you do differently from the first time?

We’d love to know what’s working for you.

Author: Thomas Clifford

Thomas Clifford is a B2B content marketing writer and certified copywriter. He helps companies generate and nurture high quality leads through eNewsletters, blog articles and free special download reports. Tom has 25 years under his belt as an award-winning B2B filmmaker. He's produced hundreds of marketing-branding films and brings his street-level interviewing experience to every project. Tom is featured in the book “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business." He has also written dozens of articles as an “Expert Blogger” for FastCompany.com. You can follow Tom on Twitter at @ThomasClifford. His blog, "Humanizing Business Communications," is packed with new media business communication tips and writing strategies. His eBook "5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier" is free to new subscribers.

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