“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I can still hear you, ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi, even though I’m hundreds of miles into my ebook journey.

As I’ve learned, an ebook demands a lolapalooza investment of time and expertise. If you too have dreamed about writing a nonfiction book, your first step is to determine whether you’re prepared for the long haul and sore feet.

ebook journeyIf you are planning to self-publish, you will have to take on many of the editorial and publicity responsibilities once assumed by traditional publishers. So in addition to having the expertise to base your book on, you’ll need to assess other skills. Although many of these can be outsourced, budget constraints and quality control may encourage to handle some yourself. Besides, the more you know, the better you can evaluate and work with service providers.

Depending on your comfort with writing and the learning preference of your market, you may decide to abandon the book in favor of another medium or approach. You may decide it’s not worth the time. Or, map in hand and suitcase packed, you may be raring to go.

Here are the questions to ask yourself. I’m using them to create an assessment tool for smart people who are ready to move from dreaming to planning their book.

Note that I said “smart” people. People who are intelligent enough to have the expertise to write a book know that they can’t accomplish it in one of those “write-your-book-this-weekend” sessions that too many wannabes are falling for.


What are you an expert in?

Who would be interested in learning about this?

Which specific aspect or angle of your expertise would most appeal to them?

How would they prefer to absorb that knowledge?

  • Paperback
  • E-reader
  • Video
  • Online course
  • Website
  • Other

What would you suggest as a working title?

What is the competition? How can you do it better?

Why do you want to publish a book? You can pick more than one, but you should prioritize.

  • Money
  • Reputation
  • Marketing tool
  • Help specific individuals
  • Save the world
  • Share your specialized knowledge
  • Other

Do you have existing content that could be edited or repurposed for the book? What form is it in?

  • Blog posts
  • Academic papers
  • Curriculum
  • Other

How do you best express your ideas?

  • Writing
  • Talking
  • Visually
  • Other

Describe your networks, including

  • Organizations you’re active in
  • Social media sites
  • Well-connected people you know
  • Other places you could find people who would know people who might be interested in your book.

Do you have experience with type and print production?

Are you familiar with Mobi, ePub or other e-book formatting tools?

Do you have skill in design, photography, video production, webinars, e-learning or other areas that can help you produce or promote your book?

If you have dreamed about publishing a book, what has prevented you from doing it? Include psychological, family, time and all other hurdles.

How are you prepared to overcome these obstacles?

What kinds of outside help do you expect to need most?

Do you have an adequate budget for these activities?

How much time could you devote to the book in a typical week?

Do you have additional chunks of time available, for example a teacher with the summer off?

If you’d like to discuss these questions, shoot me an email with your phone number and suggested times to call for a free consultation.

If you’re already on the journey, please add questions that you asked yourself or wished you had asked.

Thanks for the photo, Salendron.

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Assessment tool for smart ebook planners

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