By the time I knocked off on Monday, I’d already received two get-rich-quick offers about writing ebooks. By the end of the week, I expect my inbox will be bursting with them. Now that everybody is getting tired of talking about Facebook, ebooks are the next big thing.

The pitches all go like this: Turn your archived content into an ebook that will rake in millions while you sleep. Get ready for your closeup with Jon Stewart.

how legends are madeIgnore that an ebook involves a lot more than pasting dusty old content into a shiny new template. Don’t think about the many months it takes to produce something primed to go head-to-head with the competition from traditional heavyweights and the coming flood from self-publishers.

Stuff my Dad says
As my Dad asked when I told him I was writing an ebook: “But why would you write a book, now that everyone with a computer can?”

After I brushed away the little-girl tears, I told myself the old coot doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Two years later, getting ready to publish the second edition, I have to concede he had a point.

Because everyone can publish a book, lots more will. So your book has to be good. Make that spectacular.

Stuff Seth Godin says
Just ask ever-bright Seth Godin who has been blogging about this for The Domino Project where many of us ebook writers are seeking advice and support.

Let me be honest and admit that my first edition, a PDF on my website, did not even keep us in groceries, in large measure because I didn’t tell many people aside from my family, friends and subscribers. I had read all the hype about quality content going viral and figured I would be discovered, much like Lana Turner in Schwab’s Drugstore.

After talking to my readers and the people who took my workshops, I realized I had missed a few things. The reason the second edition is taking so long is that I keep coming up with more. I’m taking the project much more seriously than when I dreamed of going viral. Now I’m working at it.

Sloggers and slooks
The get-rich-quick guys would tell me to stop being so fussy. They were giving bloggers the same advice a few years ago. They kept telling us to post raw and frequently, writing quality and subject expertise be damned. How many of those sloppy bloggers — I will call them sloggers — are still around?

If you’ve seen my kitchen cupboards, bookkeeping or blog typos, you know that I will never be a perfectionist. Not even close. But my book has to be my best. Not a slook.

When I tell people I’m writing an ebook, some offer to let me write theirs. No, they won’t pay me for that lost weekend, a week if it’s complex. But they’ll give me a big cut of the money they’re confident will flow in.

No thanks.

Listen to what you need to hear
It’s not that I don’t think they have enough content, some languishing on their site, the rest lodged in their brain. Because they listen to the people who tell them what they want to hear, they don’t appreciate the huge investment of time and editorial skill involved in pulling it all together. Then there’s all the money for chores they should not do on their own.

If there’s an ebook in your soul, go for it. I’m thrilled that the doors have opened. Just be prepared to pour in years of learning, months of prep time and days of worrying.

That is how legends are made. After all, the Lana Turner story turned out to be a hoax. Going viral is way harder than sneezing on people when you have a cold.

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