Six Steps to Self-Publishing Without Writing a Word (Almost)

The market for e-books is currently booming. Small businesses can benefit a lot by publishing their own e-books. Don’t worry – our how-to-create e-books process won’t be expensive or involve even a second of writing. (Well maybe a few seconds, minutes, but not much.) 

Self-publishing is as old as publishing itself. In the past, a small number of publishing companies used to dominate the book market (including e-books) but since Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in early 2008, the e-book market has been opened up to anyone interested in sharing valuable information. Recently, Quartz investigated the growing e-book market and discovered that established publishers in the USA weren’t doing great in the market. e-book sales of self-published writers are booming in America and the rest of the world.

What does this mean for marketers?

All this demand tells them that it’s the perfect time for small businesses to become self-published authors.

How to Create E-Books for Small Business Marketing – Our how-to post shows you how to create e-books for cheap. E-books are a great way to cultivate customer relationships based on value. Click To Tweet

How to Create E-books

With our six-step how-to-create e-books technique, any small business can create an attractive e-book and afford to be super-flexible about its pricing. This approach will allow you to produce e-books quickly and with hardly any effort.

Step 1 – Create an Outline 

Write an outline about your product, service, or any other information you want to share in the e-book. Make sure this document contains headlines, subheads, and a brief description of what you want to communicate. 

What are the concepts your e-book wants to convey? Jot down five to six basic concepts. Under these headings, write five to six short paragraphs explaining these concepts or ideas. For instance, an e-book entitled “Winning Digital Customers” will consist of sub-topics like how to improve your customers’ digital experience, common challenges you may face with online customers, etc. Under these sub-topics, there’ll be detailed guidelines. For instance, “best ways to address the common challenges businesses face with online customers.” 

So, you have 5-6 major concepts (sub/topics).

Under these concepts, you have 5-6 more bullet points (action items). 

A total of 25 items topics to speak about. 

Bear in mind, you don’t need to write these paragraphs in the basic draft. Just a couple of lines that’ll keep you on track for the next step. 

Step 2 – Talk and Record 

Use the outline as your guide and record yourself talking about each item on the document.

Think closely about the topics in the draft document. Experts of particular fields won’t have any trouble speaking their minds on specified topics and you are an expert in your field. The draft will keep you from straying off-topic. If you spend one and a half minutes speaking on each sub-topic, you’ll have anywhere between 37.5 minutes to 45 minutes of recorded content. If that content is transcribed to text, you’ll get at least 50 pages worth of reading material. That’s the average length of the best-selling self-published e-book on Amazon. 

Silence everything, put your phone in airplane mode, get close to the microphone, do a few trials, and start recording. Don’t read off the draft – talk as if you’re giving a presentation in front of an audience. The objective is to speak as much as possible about each topic and sub-topic within two to five minutes. Does the teacher ever take on too many topics in one class? No, and neither should you. Explain each topic in detail, use examples, and try to be as concise and clear as possible. 

Step 3 – Transcribe the Recordings

Send the recordings to a transcription service like

You have 45 minutes of valuable content in your hands. It’s time to get the audio transcribed. Google Docs offers a free audio recording transcribing service. This feature doesn’t produce high-quality results (the speech-to-text algorithm is weak) but it’s a good platform for practice. 

For professional-grade transcribing, we recommend using services like This company doesn’t offer free transcribing but their services are the best in the market. For as little as $1 per minute transcribed, you can get a spelling/grammar error-free document containing timestamps, labeled speaker names, and no verbatim speech (‘uh’, ‘like’, etc.). 

Rev’s human operators combined with their Natural Language Processing algorithms create pristine and succinct transcripts. With these transcripts, it’s easy to tell the best story possible. Authors are essentially hosting a podcast on their own and having that content put to text. is an easy way to get past writing blocks. In fact, it lets you get past writing altogether. 

Step 4 – Receive, But Don’t Read the Transcriptions 

Get an editor/proofreaders involved.

You will need help from grammar experts (proofreaders) to ensure your e-book draft is error-free and reads well. Websites like offer human proofreaders who can convert the transcript into a document that’s easy to read. You can also use Upwork to find editors and proofreaders. If you send the draft to an SEO expert, even better. e-books full of keywords are easier to find using Google search. Have these third-party experts create the first draft. Don’t expect to spend more than $50 on these services. 

Review and Adjust the Edited Copy.

Read the resulting document. If you still aren’t pleased with the document, send it to a professional editor. Most freelance e-book editors work for $20-$30 per hour. To edit a 45-60-minute-long document, they’ll charge $40 – $50. Do an edit of your own as well. Make sure the content published is accurate, useful, and informational. Receive the final edited version of the transcript. 

The e-book is slowly coming into existence.

Step 5 – Give the Final Copy to a Designer for the Front and Back Covers, and Text Treatment

Now the final copy is ready to be converted into a downloadable resource. Look at some of the best-selling e-books on Amazon – they all have appealing designs, images, charts, etc. Your e-book must contain a cover and a call to action.

Section Covers (Optional)

It’s important for marketers who use e-books as vital parts of their content strategies to establish easily identifiable brand styles. Take this consistent approach while deciding your e-book’s design. Ask a designer for a professional-looking design. You want to reuse this design for your next e-book, so choose carefully.

Although content is the key contributing factor to any publication’s value, the effect that images have on readers cannot be denied. On the internet, people judge e-books by their covers all the time. Here are some visual elements that can make your long-form content look appealing: 

  • Visually appealing covers
  • Words clarifying the intended audience (for instance, an e-book on physical fitness should feature those two words on the cover) 
  • Author Page with social media links
  • Table of Contents
  • Text treatment – headlines, subheads, paragraphs, font selection, and weights
  • Social Sharing Buttons; e-books can include share buttons for most major social media platforms

Take good note of the design elements. For the next e-book, you will want to use the same fonts, sizes, color schemes, border styles, etc. The long-term aim should be to implement a consistent branding style in all of your marketing materials. Don’t forget to ensure the e-book file is compatible with tabs, mobiles, and other e-reading devices!

Photos and Illustrations (optional)

If you plan to sell your e-book on Amazon’s Kindle Store, you’ll have to conform to certain format-related requirements. The Kindle store prefers e-books with simple designs, limited illustrations, and formatting. Consider these details before deciding whether or not you should add illustrations.

If you plan to use your e-book in your marketing efforts, more on this later, then images will boost the e-book’s appeal.

Don’t forget to end the e-book with a Call to Action. Mention your website or social media profile. Tell your readers what you want them to do.

Step 6 – Publish the E-book

Now you have options.

Do you want to sell your e-book?  

It’s understandable why so many self-publishing authors choose Amazon’s Kindle Direct Self-Publishing platform. It currently holds 67% of the worldwide e-book market share so making your content exclusive to that platform is definitely worth it. You can even qualify for their KDP Select program which allows authors to freely promote their products to Kindle subscribers (members of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service).

However, in many countries like Germany or Australia, Amazon’s command over the e-book market isn’t as strong as it is in the UK or the US. So, choosing to avoid Amazon exclusivity is an equally promising option. Platforms like Barnes & Noble Press, Google Play Books, or iBooks (Apple) don’t offer as many marketing perks as Amazon. But not all e-book readers frequent Amazon. So, diversifying your e-book publishing options is certainly a good strategy.

We would suggest analyzing the performance of the e-book on all the top platforms. Then, give exclusivity to the platform that attracts the greatest number of readers for your e-book. 

Pro Tip

A light version of this approach can be used to create blog posts and/or long-form articles for web pages.

If selling the book through traditional channels isn’t your objective, how can you use it within digital marketing?

Read on for the answer…

How to Create E-books – A Powerful Weapon in the World of Digital Marketing

how to create e-books


Parts of your transcripts can be edited and used as blog posts. Remember the “Winning Digital Customers” e-book example? Why not take out certain sub-topics from this e-book, load the content up with keywords, and publish it as a blog on your business website? You can even conclude the blog by redirecting readers to the e-book’s download link. A CTA for such a blog post should read something like – “To read more, get the complete e-book!”

E-books are Lead Magnets

Every reader of your e-book is a potential lead. Use the perceived value as a mid-funnel microtransaction; your email for this valuable e-book.

E-books as Part of the Marketing Funnel

By adding call-to-actions at the end of your e-book, you can propel readers further down the marketing funnel. As long as the call-to-actions are relevant to everything discussed in the e-book, users are guaranteed to click on them. Hopefully, they’ll make the purchases you suggest. 

E-books as Offers 

“Book a call with us and we’ll send you this 60-page e-book.” – who wouldn’t be attracted to such an offering? E-books can be used as amazing free or low-cost offerings for prospects.

E-books as Products

You aren’t going to sell the ebook through a traditional channel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. An e-book can be a product that’s sold in your online store. It can also be used as an order bump in a sales funnel. It can be used as a product in a conversion campaign, which can often pay for the media or go a long way toward paying for the media. Imagine that! Media is paid for by the revenue generated by the e-book and you gain a qualified, warm prospect.

E-books as Rewards

The fourth relationship marketing principle says “Good customers expect to be rewarded.” Your e-book is a fine way to say thank you. Give a copy to your best customers. Bring value to the relationship that goes beyond transactional benefits.

Create a White Label Version of the E-book

Why not allow resellers to insert their branding details into your e-book? You’ll receive a percentage of their sales. Plus, the resellers’ readers get exposed to your brand without you putting in any effort. It’s a win-win! We’ve had small business marketing consultants ask us if they can co-branded our e-book, Journey to Success: Digital Marketing for Small Business Owners.

Share E-book Contact on Other Channels

You can record yourself reading the e-book for podcasts, social media videos, etc. e-books give authors a stamp of authority. Readers realize that the author is a “legit” source of information. Users who listen to your podcasts or watch your marketing videos on the internet can find your e-book and get exposed to your brand. 

Give Audio and Video Presentations

Record yourself giving presentations based on the information in the e-book. At the end of the presentations, direct viewers/listeners to your website or ask them to download or purchase the e-book. 

Create Presentation Slides

Use the e-book outline you created in step one to create presentation slides. You can also out source this to a contractor on Upwork. With your outline and the finished e-book, a freelancer who specializes in presentation slides can produce a high quality presentation quickly (inexpensively).

Conclusion – How to Create E-Books

The long-threatened digital storm is upon us. To be successful, businesses have to improve their customers’ digital experiences. Giving them e-books for cheap or for free is a great way of establishing a brand presence. Plus, creators get to cultivate relationships based on value with their target audiences. Using modern technology and internet-based resources, anyone with a book idea can become a self-publisher. The investment is small (usually less than $750) and the ROI is high. E-books provide returns, both monetary and non-monetary, that far exceed the investment required to create them.

This six-step how-to-create e-books technique offers small businesses the perfect way to add value to marketing efforts.

Author: James Hipkin

Author: James Hipkin

James brings over 40 years of professional sales, marketing, and marketing consultation services to the table. Serving global brands along with small businesses, Hipkin leads a highly-skilled team of full-time developers, producers, content specialists, and project managers who are committed to your success.
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