So you’ve taken two big first steps. You’ve decided to write an e-book and you’ve chosen your topic. That’s good progress! Don’t believe me? Try publishing an e-book without doing those two things. Next up — you’ll need to do research for your e-book.
Do You Need To Do Research For Your E-Book?
If the topic of your e-book is something you know inside and out, you may not feel that you need to learn anything before you write it. But research may help you when it comes to deciding what exactly to write about and how to present it.
Amazon can help you there. You may have already been on Amazon to try to decide if there’s a market for your e-book topic. Now, go back and figure out what the most successful Amazon books have to say about your topic.
Here’s what you do. Search your topic to get the list of books that deal with it. Filter the raw results to display only those books that have four- or five-star reviews.
On the left side of the book description, above the image of the book, you’ll see a link that says “look inside” with an arrow pointing downward to the book. Click on the link. You’ll get a view of the first few pages of the book.
And what will be in the first few pages? Why, the table of contents, of course. As a reader, you’ll look at the table of contents because you’ll want to know what the book covers. But as a writer, you’ll want to look at it because it will tell you what readers want to know.
You see, if a large number of readers have bought this book and have given it a good review, you can pretty much expect that those readers have learned what they wanted to learn by reading it. And when you write your e-book, you’re all about giving the reader what she wants.
Make a note of the topics outlined in the Table of Contents of several books. You will see a pattern emerge. Use this pattern to write the Table of Contents for your own e-book. This will give you a great outline to corral the abundant knowledge you already have about the topic.
But isn’t this plagiarism?
I am not for a minute advising you to plagiarize anyone’s work. I want you to do your own writing. But you can look at someone else’s work objectively to observe how they became successful. Then, armed with that knowledge, you write your own Table of Contents and create your own content to complete your e-book.
But what if you really don’t know all that much about your topic?
If you don’t know all that much about your topic, it’s still a great idea to start as I described above by assessing what other successful books on your topic have included in their Table of Contents. And then go ahead and write your own Table of Contents.
But you may not be able to fill in the content off the top of your head. So you’ll need go a little further to do research for your e-book.
In that case, you can still do it all on the internet. Just be sure to rely on reputable sources and think through what you read critically and objectively.
Sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora can be very helpful. Since they are question-and-answer sites, you can gain a lot of insight about your target audience just by seeing what their troubles are. Conveniently, you can find the answer on the same page!
When possible, make a real-life evaluation of the responses you get on those sites. For example, I was recently Googling what to do if you need to stretch a new pair of shoes a bit to make them fit better. I followed the advice I found on Yahoo Answers and it worked! Make the effort to follow the advice before you include it in your e-book.
If you’ve chosen your topic well, it will be fun to do research for your e-book. If the topic interests you, you’ll like learning about it. No matter what your experiences were in school with research papers, you can have fun researching your topic. Just keep an optimistic attitude and keep focused on how much you like your topic.
So what’s your story? Have you ever done research for an e-book? And if not, would you take a different approach from mine? Let me hear from you in the comments.