A Complete Guide to Creating an Excellent E-Book
First of all, let’s try to answer a simple question: What is an ebook? Actually, it is a website hidden in a box which appears in a great variety of formats, flavors, and aims at satisfying the most hypercritical reader.
It is an overwhelming process that requires thorough attention and a great deal of talent. Only imagine all the constituent activities of creating an e-book! You have to find an interesting content, design it, and format accordingly so that the readers could see a professionally arranged document that is appealing and readable. Remember that modern content marketing cannot exist without lead generation! It means that a good e-book makes a significant part of all inbound marketing programs oriented at success!
Content upgrades have achieved such a high level nowadays that the reader providing his or her email address expects to receive something that rocks. A loyal fan will be grateful for an interesting weekly newsletter and sign up to the email list just to get a piece of exciting content from you. However, you can easily turn your casual readers into subscribers and boost your email list if you think outside the box and use different types of content upgrades including an e-book.
So, we invite you to an amazing trip through all ins and outs of e-book creation! You worry, don’t you? It’s understandable, but let’s try to make the whole story clear and interesting. It is as black as it is painted!
How to Create an e-Book?
Actually, there are four main approaches to creating e-Books:
- Creating them from scratch;
- Using e-Pub format for the already existing page layout or word-processing application;
- Making use of online services or conversion applications;
- Finding a good designer.
What makes these methods different? Definitely, their price, time required, and the quality of the output. Thus, you should decide what expenses you can incur, how much control over the process you want to have, and how long it may take you to get what you need. Choose the road taking into account all pros and cons and you will be in a win-win situation.
Step 1: Choose a Topic
Do not make a common mistake! Keep in mind that a great e-book always generates leads and will never be confused with the choice of topic. So, your aim is to assist your sales team. How can you do that? You better choose a topic which will serve as a bridge between downloading an e-book and contacting a representative of your sales team.
Focus on the right topic! Try to open up a conversation with your reader which will lead to sales. Come up with new ideas, make use of the previous blog topics which were popular among the readers, use the blog topic generator – do anything which can help you demonstrate your creativity and achieve the set aims!
Here you can find some topics which might give you a hint where to go with your e-book:
Twenty (30, 40, …) Best Practices for Architecture (Chemistry, Food Industry, etc.)
An Introduction to the Industry
Learn from the Insights of Others: Experts Share Their Views on…
Ten (Twenty, a Hundred …) Common Questions about …
Keep your eyes and ears open to observe what is happening around you. Spend some time searching for popular topics online, do research on what people prefer to buy nowadays – and the idea will come up! If you choose the topic relevant to sales and make the title appealing and intriguing, you will find the first key to the door which leads to success with your e-book.
Step 2: Give an Outline to the Content
Draw the reader to the contents of your e-book with a catching introduction. You will make their reading much easier if you give them answers to the following questions at once: What will the e-book be about? How will the reader benefit from reading?
Do not think that a good e-book can be just a series of blog posts presented in a chain. Even if each chapter sounds as an individual story in a blog post, make sure that the flow of ideas is smooth. As soon as you have selected a topic relevant to your sales, focus on how to address the following aspects:
- effective design;
- promotion and generating leads.
Do not try to impress the readers with the number of pages in the e-book. Actually, the length of an e-book does not determine its worth. Follow a golden rule: stop when you feel that you have ensured effective education of your readers on the selected topic. You should decide how many pages that requires. It can be a ten-page volume or a huge e-book of fifty pages! Choose the length you consider to be the most appropriate.
Step 3: Work on the Language
Try to use simple and clear language to convey all the points. Sophisticated phrases are not a good way to educate the readers. You want people to understand what you intend to tell them and react accordingly; so, do not make the matters too complicated. Be clear and persuasive. Use important keywords in the title to show the ultimate value of your offer to the readers. Use formatting techniques that can make your language even more vivid:
- bold text;
- change of font size;
- bulleted lists;
When you draw the readers’ attention to certain points, you should emphasize the importance of ideas and help the readers remember the most essential points.
Step 4: Make the Design Bright and Catching
It is convenient to download a nice e-book template in InDesign or PowerPoint. Typically, the templates have one or several pages, but you can easily create additional pages just duplicating the previous slides. Use the customizable format for all the chapters and impress the readers with your own design. Besides, note that your choice of colors is also very important!
Step 5: Optimize Your e-Book for Generating Leads and Promotion
Place appropriate call-to-action visual objects or links for the visitors to click and get to a page which will guarantee further engagement with your company. CTAs can lead to other offers, product pages, or registration pages. If you choose the option Insert >> Hyperlink, you can easily hyperlink the calls-to-action.
Step 6: Promote and Track Your e-Book
Use your landing page with the marketing channels for the promotion of your e-book via advertising on the website, featuring links on the landing page, advertizing the e-book via a blog, or writing a new blog article. You can also publish social media posts with links to your e-book. Don’t forget to make use of the share buttons to increase your social presence.
Effective marketing analytics will help you to measure the success of the e-book and get an insight into its popularity among the readers, the number of people who converted the e-book into leads, and the number of people who became your business customers.
How to Publish an e-Book?
Which steps have you already taken before you finally got to know how to publish an e-book?
- You have definitely done research on your topic, and you know everything about your target audience.
- You have chosen an appropriate editing program.
- You have worked a lot on the content of your e-book.
- You have proofread and edited it carefully.
- You have added excellent images and impressive graphics.
- You are ready to upload it for promotion.
Don’t let the challenges put you off! It is easy to make use of the guidelines and turn laying out an e-book into an exciting activity. There are various tools which allow you to arrange your e-books in PDF format; however, we will tell you about those which are the most effective.
This web-based app uses the blog posts to create e-books. It is a great option. Actually, using Hubspot or WordPress, you can even ensure automatic import of the posts. However, if you don’t, it is not a problem. The app allows copy-pasting the content.
Choose the theme that you like and customize the fonts, images, colors, and layout to get the result you need. It will take you some time, but personalized look of an e-book is worth it. It is convenient to make the changes in the panel for settings as the updates will be applied to the whole book. Note that consistency of the design is important.
For a Mac computer, it is recommendable to install Pages, a word processor which can be obtained from the App Store. Creating a new document, you can start either with the template of a digital book from the Miscellaneous section template or an e-book template created on other websites. Make certain tweaks for the personalization of the design similar to the one you have on your website. Besides, make use of the style options for the paragraphs highlighting the text and using the format panel placed on the right.
InDesign is a great option for those who use the subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud as one can get complete control over all layout aspects. It might take you some time to get used to the software; however, the online tutorials can help you a lot.
How Much Does It Cost to Publish an e-Book?
First of all, view the cost of an e-book publishing not as a cost, but as a valuable investment. There is no better asset which can earn you money in a long-term perspective.
Still, it is clear that you worry about the actual expenditures you are going to make to realize your idea of an e-book. Thus, the question is: how much does it cost to publish an e-book?
Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords and other platforms experience an actual explosion of the activity of numerous writers who are striving to create, publish, and promote e-books for about $1000. If you can afford covering high marketing costs and have a large budget on your e-book, the costs can go as high as $10,000.
So, what is the actual breakdown of the self-publishing costs? This info will be especially valuable for those who are budget-conscious but eager to try this challenge.
If you feel that your enthusiasm and creativity allow you to make a book yourself, there are no limits. Invest your time, efforts, and insignificant amount of money and try Amazon, for instance. Ask yourself: how much are you interested in your e-book? How much do you want to earn with your book? Do not try to save at the cost of quality. This approach always leads to losses, not wins. Remember that quality sells.
First of all, let’s have a look at a sample budget keeping in mind that you are not limited in your wishes. Spend as much money as you can, but have a look at the sample reasonable budget just to be aware of pricing:
For instance, is the design of a book cover worth solid investments? Do we judge the book by its cover? Yes, we always do although it contradicts a famous saying. People will decide whether they want to pay for your e-book judging from its cover design. Use the outsourcing and find a good designer who can do the job for you. There are reputable websites which offer the services of creating covers, formatting content, and addressing all other issues as they have experienced experts in e-book publishing. For instance, Writology.com always hires only the best professionals.
How to Save on the e-Book Costs: Useful Hints
Self-publishing can be either cheap or expensive depending on how you let it. Here are the most valuable tips on how you can save on your e-book costs.
Tip No. 1: Try Saving Money on Formatting
Using Scrivener as a tool, you can not only write and organize your manuscript, but also avoid excessive formatting costs. Search for a bundle of templates which will save you the costs needed for outsourcing. The process can take more time than expected, but it is very economical.
Tip No. 2: Expand the List of Your Email Subscribers
You can save thousands of dollars if you build up the list instead of spending that money on promotion. Your fans will wait for the next e-book release and leave reviews which will also add to your leads. Thus, increase your ranking and drive your sales instead of wasting money on advertising.
Tip No. 3: The Book Should Be Really Great!
You even can’t imagine how much this obvious tip can save you. The higher the quality of your book is, the more money you save on editing and further expenses. If you offer an excellent e-book, your fans will ensure your promotion. They will spread the word and build up your email list for self-promotion of your next books. It sounds amazing, isn’t it?
You can make a difference in the modern world of self-publishing and e-books turning your dream into reality within just a few months! And that gives us a new question:
How Long Does It Take to Create an e-Book?
Do you think it is possible to get a well-crafted e-book within, let’s say, a month from now? Does it sound impossible for you? Well, actually, it is not.
Have you ever heard about NaNoWriMo? It is a novel writing project for international participants that takes place every November. More than 200,000 people all over the globe take an obligation to write 50,000 words during thirty or thirty-one days. If they manage, why can’t you?
So, let’s analyze if you will have enough time.
Day 1 – Day 2
You pick a specific topic and decide on a solid idea to use.
Day 3 – Day 4
You make up an outline using a mind-mapping technique, creating connections, writing lists, and studying other e-books for inspiration. It is also good if at this stage you decide on the pattern of your chapters and the structure you would like to have.
Day 5 – Day 25
It is the time for actual writing. Estimate the number of pages you want to have in your e-book and make a breakdown for each day. It sounds not challenging to produce 1,000 words per day, right? If you set a goal and exert efforts to follow your commitment, it will give you no space for dragging on.
How can you speed up?
- Choose your most productive time of the day.
- Make sure there are no distractions around.
- Set a 30-minute timer and stay on task without any breaks.
- Never stop writing.
- Do editing only after the actual writing is done.
Day 26 – Day 28
Look at your e-book from a different angle, redraft it, and print it out to find where the flow is bad, where you have certain omissions, or which material you have duplicated by mistake. Fix the obvious mistakes and add the missing points.
Day 29 – Day 30
It is time for final changes! Make your e-book professional checking every comma, word, and sentence. Look out for misspellings, confusing phrases, and missing words.
Look at the calendar! You managed to write a good e-book just within a month! Give yourself a motivational boost, make a commitment, and start right away! Nevertheless, it is a challenge, and typically, it takes more time for an e-book to appear.
How to Make an e-Book Cover?
It is one of the greatest challenges to make an e-book cover that can guide the readers and give them a hint about the strategic, visual, and emotional character of the whole piece of writing. A professionally looking cover is not a luxury element, but a must-have for any published e-book as you have to persuade the readers to learn more about your product and services. Even the best content over the globe will not be accepted in a positive way if the cover is shoddy.
Cover Design Tools
This free tool allows the e-book makers to design the quality cover visually. It ensures that you can get the required results and leave the lasting impression on the readers.
2. Quick 3D Cover
This software has fascinating features for designing covers free of change in its trial version with further paid upgrade.
3. Free Ebook Cover Creator
This free tool requires following easy steps to obtain the planned results. You can just upload a cover flat image, choose the background color and let the cover creator proceed.
This application allows creating e-books using audio, HTML, image, and video files. It can use a set of HTML pages to create an exe file; thus, the readers just run the executable file and access the e-book easily.
This software delivers e-books with only a few clicks. Amazing professional quality products are easily accessible and impressive.
Here are the guidelines for making your e-book cover efficient and impressive.
1. Don’t forget that the covers of printed books and e-books are absolutely different.
If a reader cannot decipher the words on the cover, his/her curiosity will never arise. The only feelings will be disappointment and irritation. If the book does not give an insight into the content with its cover, it is a complete failure. Make sure that the cover gives sufficient information for the readers who, in fact, do not need to click on any other pages.
2. Feel inspired and inspire others
Designing an e-book cover requires inspiration. It is recommended to look through hundreds and thousands of covers and then come up with the idea of a new one. Browse the websites and portfolios of first-rate e-book cover designers and then open up the page of bestsellers in the required category to see what sells the best.
Design your cover keeping in mind all the features that you liked in the books of other authors and designers. Mind coloring, style of images, empty space, and information placed on the cover. Learn from those covers which managed to grab your attention.
3. Size is important!
Take into account such aspects as resolution, file size, and ratio dimensions. It is not an easy matter, but you can find all the relevant details on how to optimize the cover to the required platforms on the publishing sites. For instance, according to the size recommendations given by Amazon, the cover has to be 2,820 or more pixels wide. A skinny look requires the dimension of 820×4500 pixels, while a 6×9 proportion implies having 3200×4800 pixels. If you look through the top-selling Amazon e-books, you will see that the preferable size now is 6×9 (1:1.5), while thinner books look a bit outdated. As for the resolution, accommodation of the print versions requires a resolution of 300 dpi or larger; it is still possible to downsize the cover if needed.
4. Mind the Images!
First and foremost, avoid cliché images! Seeing the same pictures on several covers, the reader will choose none. Stock photos are recognizable at first sight for those who are interested, and you need to attract those people, not to push them away. Try not to look an amateur; so, if you are not sure that you have sufficient skills in Photoshop, don’t edit the images too much.
Then, try to appeal to the readers’ imagination instead of giving them the answer to all the questions with the obvious images. Instead, create a needed image in the mind of people, motivate them to interpret the pictures, portray the feelings instead of the objects.
Besides, you should realize that getting the images for free is economical, but useless. Bad-quality pictures downloaded from the Internet do not work. Nevertheless, you can afford some fee to buy good images and get all commercial rights on iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, Corbis, or other similar websites. Read the terms and conditions of those websites carefully to check on the number of copies you can make and the applications allowed.
4. Graphics and typography matter
Note: commercial use of the font requires having special rights!
5. Don’t make the cover look sophisticated and complicated
Use simplicity and minimalism as a key. Generate curiosity with some hidden signs. Simple clean covers work, and you will see it yourself.
6. A pro can help if needed
It may happen that no matter how hard you try, the cover does not look right. Then just do not waste time and seek the help of a professional designer who knows how to resolve all the issues and will save you hours of useless tiring work.
All in all, take the design of the e-book cover seriously.
How to Make an e-Book Table of Contents?
Note that any e-book requires a well-written table of contents. You should definitely know how to make an e-book table of contents effective for two reasons:
- Your readers need to know about the structure of your e-book;
- It is important to allow your readers to access the required parts of e-book immediately.
The EPUB2 and MOBI/KF8 e-books may have either NCX table of contents or the HTML table of contents, with one extra option of NAV used for replacing EPUB2 NCX. It is not possible to access NCX on MOBI e-books; however, Kindle devices require it to navigate the sections. Referencing the table of contents may differ in various e-reading devices. For instance, in Kindle devices, the menu has the option of the HTML table of contents, while in iBooks, clicking on the icon of table of contents, you get to the NCX representation. Adobe Digital Editions, in their turn, have the left pane NCX.
Where to place table of contents?
If the table of contents is made like an HTLM within the e-book, the NAV and NCX are inserted as metadata. The HTML table of contents is typically placed after the copyright page and the dedication before the preface, acknowledgements, epigraph, introduction, and the first chapter. In some cases, it is moved to the end, but it is not recommended. For NAV and NCX, placement does not play a serious role because it is metadata.
Clickable elements in the table of contents simply take the readers to the e-book chapter or page they need. It is important to be careful with details and use both headings and subheadings. For example, if the e-book has ten chapters, they would also include chapter subheads with minor sections of the levels 1, 2, and 3.
Using Word for your e-book, you can try the Smashwords Style Guide for inserting hyperlinks and bookmarks in word documents. However, the Word automatic conversion will make it impossible to create different levels of the table of contents. The users of Sigil and Calibre can apply various tools to create NCX and HTML tables of contents. Do not forget about the convenience of your readers. So, add more spacing between the entries as they may not finger the right one touching their smartphones or tablets. Besides, do not forget to remove underlining of the hyperlinks in the table of contents to make the document visually pleasing or leave them in the default blue color for the Kindle devices. Also, cross referencing is useful, and some publishers turn every heading of the chapters into hyperlinks to the table of contents.
Secrets of Really Successful Tables of Contents
All marketing e-books use a table of contents as one of the most important elements as the readers typically look through the first several pages to skim the headers afterwards and flip through the book paying attention to the visuals and graphs. In general, they may read only one fifth of the book, and that is an optimistic percentage.
Actually, one of the wisest investments in creating an e-book is hiring a specialized company that can handle the task to add a table of contents. They can conceptualize the e-book layout and make it both creative and convenient. An effective table of contents is compelling as it engages the users.
1. Invest in Careful Planning
Your e-book should rock. So, consider the way of readers’ interaction with the book pages as it sets the tone and stage for the whole product. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Care about the functionality and address the needs of each of the readers.
You may ask yourself:
- Would I read the book online?
- Would I find this topic interesting?
- Would I click on the sections one by one?
2. Invest in Earnings
It sounds wise to invest in professional design as there is a huge difference between the e-books compiled by amateurs and the ones produced by experts. The readers will feel the difference from the first touch. Stumbling upon the asset, the target group will find a professional and visually pleasing e-book online that like a magnet captures their attention and leads to sales.
A table of contents is not the element that can be overlooked; just invest in careful planning and earning and make your e-book useful for the readers.
Professionalism and Expertise as the Keys to Success
One of the most time-efficient, productive, and efficient options is to hire an e-book designing company to handle the task. It is not an option acceptable for everyone; however, such websites as Writology.com and others have already established their high standing among others and proved that they can cope with the tasks of different levels of complexity.
Here are the reasons why it is recommendable to apply to such companies:
- availability of complex elements of design, such as drop capitals, sidebars, variety of images, tables, and endnotes;
- presence of non-Latin letters and symbols;
- need of the complex headers of the chapters;
- adding such enhancements as video and audio tracks;
- desire to make the e-book design superior but not having enough knowledge how to make an e-book perfect, etc.
Obviously, using the services of a company requires extra costs, but it is worth it when you get a perfect product in time which is ready for use and able to earn you more money. Try it right away and you will see whether it works for your e-book project!