Wrapping up this series of articles about staying employed while unemployed, I want to get started on the fundamentals of writing and publishing your own e-book about your area of arts and crafts. This whole shebang started off with an article about hiring employers targeting the unemployed as being unemployable - kind of a Catch-22.
In my experience, many self-employed businesses start out as a part time venture. This is especially true of arts and crafts businesses. If you have a part-time business that you operate seriously, you'll always have something to fall back on if encountering issues with your full-time job. And if you're a full-time arts and crafts business owner or just operate your business part-time, you have valuable knowledge that hobbyists may be interested in learning about via your e-book.
Cash In on Your Experience by Self-Publishing
I discussed in a prior article that in the past vanity publishing, which is where you pay someone to publish your book, was somewhat of a joke. However, with the proliferation of e-readers, it has become quite acceptable to by-pass the normal publishing house routine and just get your own book out there.
Like starting a new business, putting together a well organized and informative book is not exactly a walk on the beach. However, since you are writing about a topic in which you have a great deal of knowledge and hopefully passion, painting in the broad strokes to get started writing your manuscript - AKA coming up with a table of contents should be quite easy.
Picking a Topic
I'm not going to go into all the hoopla of figuring out what you want to write about. Just settle on a topic relating to your area of arts or crafts you are familiar with, about which you can come up with a roughly 50,000 manuscript. More about the importance of word count in my next article.
Your topic could be instructional, could be educational. For example, you could write a book on how to make beaded necklaces or you could write about the history of beaded necklaces - which by the way goes back to pre-historic times!
You could try and gauge interest in your subject using a Google ranking tool or check Amazon's top 100 books. However, I think it's best to write about something you are knowledgeable about and have a passion for. I know this kind of flies in the face of my advice about creating a craft business for your market, but for a first self-publishing attempt, it's best to go with what you know.
Understanding the Importance of the Table of Contents
Having a structured table of contents keeps you from losing focus and helps maintain forward progress. I've written six books in the last six years. There is no way I could have maintained that level of productivity without having a fully developed table of contents (TOC) for each book prior to actually writing them. And, when working with a publisher, having a solid table of contents isn't an option. Contractually the publisher has to approve your TOC before you proceed with the work.
Using Word for Your Table of Contents
You'll find out more about WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) not being applicable when publishing for e-readers in my next articles. For now, it's important to realize that the best way to format your TOC is to use automatic features in a word processing program such as Word (or any other that you are comfortable using).
Microsoft has tutorials on how to use various versions of Word (this one discusses using Microsoft Word 2010 to create your TOC. Keep it simple and use the option to create a TOC automatically if at all possible.
Using Your TOC to Manage Word Count
It's important to stay within a certain number of pages. For your first attempt, I recommend keeping it to under 150 pages - and price the book accordingly.
As a good rule of thumb, each header in your TOC usually equals one page. That does vary based on images.
My next articles discusses two great resources to help you in your self-publishing extravaganza. One is free, the other costs less than $15.