Book hacking with Evernote

Book hacking with Evernote

by Olga Tsubiks

It is challenging to write long-form content, such as a long blog post, research paper or guide. It is even more difficult to write a non-fiction book. But Evernote makes it so much easier – as soon as you get to know all the Evernote tricks and the correct order for using them.

I want to share my strategy for writing books in a very short time, using Evernote. You will get here the exact ‘recipe’ for saving time and reducing information overload that I used to write my own content.

Step 1 Research the right way

Book hacking with Evernote

Download the Evernote Clipper Google Chrome add-on and prepare your Evernote email. You can find the latter in Help > Account settings > Email notes to.

Create a Notebook and name it "Research"; set it as a default notebook by right clicking and selecting "set as default".

Create a note called "Outline". Write a rough outline of your future book – just the title and subtitle of each chapter is sufficient.


Google online articles and retrieve those that are relevant for your book. DO NOT read the articles – simply go through them and assess each article's relevancy to the topic, and quality. If you think the article would be useful, click on the elephant's head in your tool bar to add it to your Notebook.

Some articles, especially blogs, have an “Email to a friend” button. Click this button and copy and paste your Evernote email to email it to your Notebook.

Evernote Clipper is  a nice way to capture content on the web. If the email option is available, it might be just a little bit faster and more accurate to collect the content this way. Note: if you are using Evernote Basic, you may find there’s a limit to how many emails you can send to your Notebook. Once you reach that limit, you can either upgrade to Evernote Premium or continue using the free Evernote Clipper.

Collect about 30-40 articles for each chapter of your book. Collect as few images as possible; unless the images are useful, they will simply take up space.

Why save articles to Evernote? If you just bookmark the articles or save the link, they may not be there when you return. The website may be deleted, or your article may have been moved.

So why shouldn’t you read the articles? Generally you can guess the content from the headline and by simply scanning through it. Avoid getting tired from reading lots of articles and getting overloaded with unrelated information, by simply saving them and keeping them on your computer to access  at a later stage (and in a smart way).

Step 2 Processing and organizing

Book hacking with Evernote

Let's say you are planning on writing 10 chapters. By now, you've collected 300-400 articles. That's overwhelming! What do you do now?

Don’t panic – here is the hack. Go back to the Outline of your book, which you created earlier. What key ideas would each chapter include? Write down as many content keywords as possible for each chapter and idea. Include plural forms and synonyms of your keywords.

Make sure that each chapter includes unique keywords. You don't want your chapters to overlap; if they have the same keywords, it probably makes sense to combine them into a single chapter.

Go to Tags in Evernote. Click on New Tag and add two types of tags:

  1. Chapter titles

  2. Keywords

​Processing and organizing

Use Evernote's search bar to search through your notes. Copy and paste each keyword from the Outline onto the search bar. Tag articles that contain keywords with a chapter title tag and a keyword tag.

Later, when you go through all your keywords, most of your articles will be tagged. If some articles are left without a tag, they are probably not related to your book. You can still look though them if you want. It is your call. But remember to prioritize the articles that actually include tags.

Step 3 Drafting and writing chapter by chapter

Book hacking with Evernote

​Get a good night’s sleep or take a break, have a good meal, or otherwise prepare for working away quietly for a few hours, without distraction. If you have Evernote Premium, you will be able to access your notes offline, so Internet access is optional.

Drafting the first chapter

Look though your outline. What do you feel like writing about first? Select a chapter and click on the corresponding tag under Tags; all the notes that are related to this chapter will show up.

Go back to your Outline and organize into a mind map all the keywords that you used to tag articles. You can either do this in your Outline notes or, if you have an iPad, you can use Penultimate.


Ready? Read all the articles relevant to the keyword that's first on your mind map. Pause for a bit. Think about what you've just read. Create a new Note. Name it Chapter 1 (or any other number if you are not doing this in order). Write down some key points. How can you improve on the content that you've just read? Is there something the author’s missed? Write down your ideas.

Now turn on audio-recording by clicking on the little microphone button. Imagine that your first reader is sitting right in front of you. They want to know all about the things that you are going to write about in this chapter. How would you explain everything you've just read about to them? How would you introduce your own ideas? Click “record” and start speaking.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this, bring in a real friend (or your dog), someone who could be your potential reader, and explain everything to him or her while recording it.

Why audio instead of writing? We type a lot slower than we speak – in fact, 3-4 times slower. If you speak the script out loud, especially to a person, your head will be clearer, and you will be focused on your message rather than on grammar, word choice, and sentence structure.

Repeat this for all the keywords on your list. Once you are done with the first chapter, continue on to the next, and the next, until you are finished. Depending on the length and topic of your book, this could  take you anywhere between 2 and 12 hours.

Step 4 Transcribing and editing

Book hacking with Evernote

Transcribe all your audio notes to written notes. You can do this yourself or hire a professional transcriber. Hiring someone to transcribe the audio content will definitely save you time. Try using or


Read through your transcribed notes, editing and modifying as you go. Copy and paste all your notes into a single file. The first draft of your book is now in your hands!


Hopefully you will be able to speed up the process of writing a book using this recipe. In my experience, this method speeds things up  by 300%. It also helps you to focus on your message, rather than on content writing.


If you are new to Evernote, give it a try. It is free to use. If you would like to go unlimited and try Evernote Premium, please use my special link here. I don't get paid by Evernote to promote their services, but it would mean a lot to me to know that someone has decided to use Evernote after reading my article. These guys are doing an amazing job at improving people's productivity!