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How I Wrote a Bestselling Ebook in Less Than a Month

April and May were absolutely bonkers for me.

I went on four trips in six weeks (one a two-week trip to Florida, including Disney, which is crazy in and of itself), I had a webinar that was so successful it crashed my website, I created all my launch content for Content Intelligence Academy — oh, and I wrote a bestselling ebook.

lacy-ebook-cover-mockup

See? Crazy.

What happened was this: Sometime in April, my mentor Tara Gentile put out a call for people who might be interested in writing a book to come be in the audience for a new CreativeLive course she was going to be shooting. 

Now, I’m not going to lie: I applied for purely selfish reasons. Yes, I think Tara is awesome and I wanted to support her, but I also knew that people who had been in her audiences before had seen a definite bump in visibility. 

It was only after I was accepted to the audience that I found out the topic was about writing an ebook in a week and that I would be expected to produce a book in time for the course launch, about a month after we filmed it.  

Hooookay. Sure. No problem, right!

Just a few weeks before, at Tara’s Quiet Power Strategy Summit, she gave us all mugs with the Tina Fey quote, “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”  So that’s the plan I ran with.

May 25

I arrived in Seattle and spent the whole day at the CreativeLive studios shooting Tara’s course. It wasn’t too taxing for me; I mostly tried to have good posture for the cameras while sitting on a squashy leather couch while Tara did all the heavy lifting.  I took notes like crazy, and I participated in the hot seats to figure out how I was going to accomplish this crazy thing.

Tara and Lacy

The main crux of Tara’s system is to repurpose content you already have for the bulk of the book, so it becomes much more about compiling and editing than writing (although, you always have to write what Tara calls “bridge content” to make everything work and flow).

If you’re skeptical of this, I will tell you what one of Tara’s guest experts, Charlie Gilkey said during the course; he made the excellent point that a blog is not a very coherent way to experience your body of work. I know there’s great stuff on my blog, but it’s necessarily all kind of piecemeal and all over the place. I’ve given people a place to start in my sidebar, but they’re not going to read every post I’ve ever written.

A book is a fantastic way to pull that content together in a logical, coherent format that presents your ideas in a more complete way.

I was sold.

That night, after a delicious meal at Poppy with two of my fellow students, I went back to my hotel room, where I was able to bang out most of the “day 1” homework. I did it in a little under an hour, from my hotel bed, while watching storm chasers on the Weather Channel.

dinner at Poppy

Ok, so maybe this book thing wouldn’t be so bad after all…

June 2

I spent all day Friday touristing around Seattle with some friends, but I did get a little work done early in the morning and late in the evening. On Saturday, I was Denver bound, so I had a good hour in the airport, plus three hours on the plane to work.

By the time I got home, I was 2/3 finished with the rough draft of my book.

Pike Market

Here’s how that breaks down more or less:

• Thursday night ~1 hr
• Friday morning ~1 hr
• Friday evening ~1 hr
• Saturday airport and airplane ~ 4 hrs

Sunday I spent with my family, and then I spent a few hours the next couple of days finishing up the draft and sent it off to a copyeditor on my team on Thursday, June 2.

I had, in essence, written a book in a week.  The manuscript clocked in at just over 17,000 and had taken me about 10 hours to compile and write.

June 5

Teri, my editor, returned her first pass of the book to me and pointed out some big structural issues.  I planned to spend the next week revising, but realized that would leave me very little time to format and publish, so I shortened my timeline. 

I finished my revisions and sent the book back to Teri for a more thorough proofread around June 9, and she returned it to me within a couple of days.

I also created a Google Form to allow people to apply to be on my “launch team” to help me promote the book the first week.

June 12

After I made Teri’s edits, I started uploading the content to Pressbooks.  The process is CRAZY easy, and they even have a cool pre-made theme that looks a lot like my branding:

pressbooks

I was able to export a watermarked PDF to send to my launch team and another editor, who found some design inconsistencies I was able to fix. (Of course, Pressbooks isn’t the only tool you can use to export your manuscript to multiple formats, like .mobi for Kindle; Dr. Barbara generated a great list of other options in our Eyes Only Facebook Group

This was also about the time I gave my poor designer the task of creating the cover — “oh, and by the way, I need it in like 3 days so I can make this happen by June 20.”  (Worst client ever, here.)  But she did a fantastic job.

make a killing with content

June 14

I spent the weekend creating a landing page to sell the multimedia version of the book on my site and figuring out how to upload it to Amazon.

I also worked with my Infusionsoft guru to get a landing page and delivery/welcome sequence set up for people who come and opt-in from the Kindle version to get the companion worksheet bundle.

June 18

Finished the final edits, exported the book from Pressbooks, and uploaded it to Kindle Direct Publishing.  It said it might take up to 48 hours, but by early the next morning, I was a published author on Amazon.

amazon kdp

June 20

I announced that the book was live and asked my launch team to head over to the page and leave reviews. And Tara’s course, “How to Write and Publish an Ebook” went live. 

I also opened the shopping cart for Content Intelligence Academy with a VIP quick-decision discount — but that’s a story for another day. 

I ALSO got a massive case of food poisoning and ended up lying in bed doing not much beyond watching old episodes of Doctor Who all day while I recovered. 😛  Murphy’s Law.

June 21

I woke up and checked the stats on Amazon and was stunned to see that I’d broken the top 10 in three categories — which now makes my book a bestseller.

bestseller

I went from being like #151 in Web Marketing to #4 overnight. Which is a pretty great stroke to the old ego. As of the writing of this post, I have remained in the top 10 for the entire week post-launch.

Greater minds than mine may be able to tell you how Amazon chooses their Best Sellers, but I can tell you I had seven five-star reviews (from my launch team, mostly) and about 40 sales in the first 24 hours to achieve this. (So, clearly it’s totally doable.)

And that’s how I wrote and published a book in a little less than a month!

Seem easy?  I’m not going to lie, it kind of was. Tara’s course lays it all out for you step by step.  (That’s an affiliate link, by the way.)

My best advice? Don’t try to launch your book and a course on the same day. That was just poor choices and coincidence working against me in this case, but it dang near killed me a couple of times. So don’t be like me. 

But if writing a book is on your bucket list, I think this post PROVES how stupid easy it is to get it done — especially if you have blog content you can repurpose into a new format. 

If you’d like to read my book, you have two great options:

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2 thoughts on “How I Wrote a Bestselling Ebook in Less Than a Month

  1. Lacy: Congrats to your bestselling ebook. Could you use Pressbook for hardcover books too? I need to find a designer (tool) for my first forthcoming book on tea. I have started a crowdfunding campaign for raising funds for the illustrations (by John Cox) of the book.

    1. I’m not sure, Martin. I guess it depends how the book publisher wants the manuscript delivered (ie: as a pdf, or something else, margins, etc.). But I would certainly go poke around inside Pressbooks, because if it does, that would be crazy easy.

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