Table of Contents
- The Content
- The Layout
- Cover Design
- Converting to the e-Book Format
- Distribution Logistics
- Pricing Your e-Book
- Promotion and Marketing
- You’re Ready!
However, as romantic as it sounds, creating an e-book that actually does the job of reaching your entire audience without the backing of a popular publication, is no cakewalk. It can be quite overwhelming to play the role of an author, editor and publicist, among a lot many other roles. You can be left grasping at the straws if you are not organized and have no clarity on how to go about the entire process.
The purpose of creating an e-book can be multifold. You can be a brand seeking thought leadership in your niche. You could be a well-known blogger in a domain who wants to aggregate his content into a book for wider reach. You could be an online marketplace, looking for more sales and conversion via your e-book content.
The best thing about e-books is that they are easy to create, do not need a lot of resources and are extremely cost-friendly, providing significant returns on investment.
Ahead, let’s break down the intricacies of creating an e-book, end-to-end.
You have to keep in mind that you are not the first individual to write an e-book and publish it. There are a million of e-books already floating around and for yours to stand out, the content needs to be absolutely unique, even if you are going for a commonly written about domain.
If you are using your previously written blog posts for your e-book, make sure you go through them again and look for possibilities to make it better. There is a difference between the content that goes on a blog and the one that goes in a book. Delete repeated passages or rewrite the ones that seem outdated.
Your writing style should be easily relatable, easy to read by the audience and should offer something to the readers that they can’t get anywhere else.
In other words, you can’t write just anything random and call it an e-book.
This is one of the most important parts of your e-book and will define how user-friendly and easy to read your content is. When you are fussing over the formatting, it would do well to keep in mind the following aspects.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Even if you are using a proofreading software, make sure you yourself go over the text and ensure there are no spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and repetition of words, among other things.
- Tabs and spacebars, while work absolutely fine in your writing software, do not work as intended when converted to the e-book format. Therefore, remember to use the alignment tools rather than tabs for paragraphs and images.
- Curb the urge to use fancy, not readily available fonts. Use the standard ones that are majorly present in e-book readers so that there are no alterations in output.
- Insert page breaks between chapters and major sections to improve reader’s experience.
- Do not use text styles for headings. Use a style sheet so that the e-book reader is able to pick up the common heading styles.
The rules for placing images and illustrations are a little different from the ones you abide by for online articles and print copies. Here are a few points to remember while using images in your e-book.
- Do not resize the images within the word document. Use an external editor and then insert the final edited images in the document.
- Use .jpg and .png as image formats preferably.
- Usually, the e-book reader layout does not support text flowing around an image. Therefore, you should insert the image after the paragraph, center aligned.
- Your images don’t have to be of printable quality, but they shouldn’t get pixelated either when the size is enlarged.
One of the most generic confusion that writers have while creating their document is whether they should follow the standard layout or the fixed layout. First, let’s see what’s the difference between the two.
Generally, in ePub format, standard layout keeps the text flowing real-time, and the font size and style can be adjusted as per the readers’ preference. There are no fixed page numbers since the amount of text that can fit in a page depends on the font size and style chosen by the reader.
Most e-books follow the standard layout since it’s highly user friendly and has been adopted by major e-book reader devices like Kindle.
Fixed layout is, literally, all fixed. There can be no adjustments in the font size or style on user’s device. The content and the images will not change according to the reader’s settings, while they may be able to zoom in and out.
The fixed layout is reasonable to use if the e-book contains too many graphics or illustrations and the quality stands to get diminished if the settings are changed.
Yes, a book is judged by its cover, indeed, no matter how old school it sounds. The first thing that readers look at when they come across your e-book is the cover, and if that does not appeal to their senses, that’s it for converting them into your customers. If you can attract the readers by your cover, that’ll increase their attention span enough to check out what’s inside your e-book.
When designing your e-book cover, you can avail of some excellent, easy-to-use online tools, or go the professional way and hire a graphic designer, assuming, of course, that you are not one yourself. A well-designed professional cover says a lot about the book and the author as well.
Let’s check out some of the ways you can design your own e-book cover.
One of the most user-friendly online design tools in the market, Canva, has become immensely popular among the DIY communicators, who do not want to hand over the reigns to someone else. Canva has a plethora of templates for you to choose from, which you can ultimately customize to your content and objective.
Maximum images are available for free, however, even the ones that are priced will not harm your budget.
More suitable for experienced designers, you can create beautiful cover designs through these popular designing softwares. They are a little expensive, but the quality they generate is well worth the investment.
If you are a novice, though, using Adobe is not recommended, considering the time it will take to get trained in using the software.
If you are not a designer, and using the above tools or any other design tool is not working out for you, it’s best to hire a professional designer to create an awesome cover for you. You can refer to websites like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer and more, that feature a host of freelancers looking for jobs just like this. You can find the one that’s the most suitable for your budget and go forward.
It’s always better to have a high quality, hard-to-not-notice design by a professional for your e-book, rather than a mediocre, unappealing design for the sake of saving a few dollars.
Once you are done with the formatting, proofreading, designing the cover and everything else that’s even remotely related to the interiors of your e-book, you need to convert your document into the final e-book format.
For wider reach and readability, it’s wise to convert your Word document to several formats, so that readers can access it depending on the type of device they are reading on. The main formats you should finally convert your e-book to are PDF, ePub and Mobi. All 3 formats are widely downloaded by readers all over.
While converting, make sure that all the style settings remain the same after the conversion. The final format is how the readers will see your book; ensure there are no discrepancies or alignment issues. Do trials on different devices before finally releasing your e-book.
There are a lot of tools through which you can convert your e-book. Some writing applications also offer the option to export to e-book, ePub or PDF format. For example, Apple’s Mac allows its users to directly export to ePub format via Pages. A lot of online tools like Calibre offer a more integrated conversion service, albeit a little more complicated than usual conversions.
If you thought creating the e-book was a cumbersome task, you are not going to like what’s coming.
Choosing the medium of distribution, primarily, decides the success of your e-book (assuming that the content is top-notch and utterly brilliant). Again, there are plenty of options to choose from, mainly segregated into self-distribution or taking a professional route.
Being your own distributor is inciting, mainly because you get to keep every last buck of the cash that flows in. Yet, it’s as tedious as it can be because you are doing everything yourself.
How do you be your own distributor, though?
There are online portals that provide the scope of selling downloadable products like white papers and e-books. You need to setup your online marketplace, hosted on a portal like Magento or WordPress, and then you can start selling. The only charge is the payment processing fees that the portals take besides the domain registration and hosting fees.
To make things simpler, you can also avail the service of e-commerce stores like Shopify, though they can seem very expensive if you are not selling at a certain volume.
The disadvantage of being your distributor is that you don’t have the credibility as a seller if you are a first-time author. People might hesitate to buy from your website, but, they’ll feel more confident in buying the same book from a reliable portal like Amazon. Henceforth, go for self-distribution if you have the authority and the recognition already established so that you have a ready audience base to sell to.
If you, like most other writers, want to be free of the complexities of distribution, going for a third-party distributor is the right option. A distributor also offers a variety of services, like converting your document to the right format, providing some publicity, as well as taking care of your sales and downloads, for a commission on every e-book sold.
There are several distributors available in the industry at present. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Amazon has a gigantic customer base, and using it as your distributor gives you access to it. Kindle Direct Publishing is increasingly gaining recognition due to its seamless process and brand identity.
KDP takes around 24-48 hours to include your e-book in their store, while publishing takes hardly minutes. It also lets you print paperbacks, at the same cost. Amazon, as a distributor, does not provide you an ISBN. You need to obtain it on your own.
The commission charges are varied as per the geographical area, however, as an author, you get to keep approximately 70% of the sales in most cases. You also retain the rights to your e-book and can make any modifications to it any time you want.
Amazon also offers a premium package in the name of KDP Select, wherein you can earn higher royalties, reach a wider audience, and avail of various promotional activities to increase sales. However, as a KDP Select member, you have to be exclusive to Amazon, and cannot distribute your book via any other portal, including your own blog.
As a distributor and publisher, Lulu provides authors a host of services. Its Classic package provides access to its in-house professionals and design team that help with the cover design, layout, and the overall formatting. The package also includes the availability of your e-book in paperback format.
On Lulu, you can also opt for their all-inclusive publicity services, which do everything for you right from your ISBN registration to promoting your press release, setting up your website as the author, social media marketing and other myriad marketing activities.
If you opt for exclusive distribution through Lulu, you can keep 90% of the sales after the first 99 cents. If you choose to distribute on other platforms as well, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others, the cut goes down a long way.
The most important, and attractive, aspect of distributing through BookBaby is that they take zero commission and you, the author, get to keep 100% of the net sales. It does charge a relatively hefty $99 conversion fee though.
The complete self-publishing package, priced at $1,499, offers an all-inclusive solution to all your publishing woes. It provides e-book conversion and worldwide distribution, professional cover design, ISBN for the paperback as well as the e-book. To top it all, it also provides 25 custom-printed books.
You can also upload your book on BookShop, the marketplace of BookBaby and engage in direct-to-reader sales.
BookBaby has one of the widest distribution networks, which includes iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Amazon KDP, KDP Select (recently introduced), Kobo and a lot more.
Pricing is always a sensitive variable. Keep it too low and people will question the quality. Keep it too high and it will be out of reach for most.
How do you, then, decide the optimum price of your e-book?
The price you choose for you e-book depends on a lot of factors — the investment you put in, the genre your content belongs to, your target readers, the royalty you are expecting to receive. Yes, the royalty percentages vary according to the price of your e-book.
Book giveaways were a trend recently, but giving away your book for free isn’t the best choice if you have spent a certain amount on its creation.
If you are a new author, pricing your e-book at the lower end of the scale can turn the tables for you since most readers indulge in impulse buys and low prices appeal to them. If you are an established author, you would want to cash in on your previous success and price your next book higher. Although, this might turn either way.
The best part about publishing an e-book is that prices don’t have to be fixed. You can fix it by trial and error method, testing out different prices and analyzing the response for each before settling on one price.
You have created your e-book, taken care of every single detail in formatting, chosen your distribution network, set the price, and it is finally out there.
What’s next? Is your work finished?
Absolutely not. Yes, your masterpiece is out there. But who knows that? Only you, or others as well? As the final piece of the puzzle, your entire exercise would go in vain if you do not market and promote your book to your prospective readers.
As a self-publisher, you have to bear all the efforts. Your distributor might help, and if you have taken the relevant package, then your job will be a lot less hard. However, the onus of your book’s success still remains on you and how well you are able to capitalize on your resources.
Let’s check out a few ideas on how you, as an independent author, can widen the reach of your e-book without breaking the bank.
Social media is a boon for authors looking for high engagement with their readers on a budget. Your social media profiles provide ample opportunities for you to promote your e-book among related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Post on a daily basis about topics related to your book’s domain. Uploading interesting and engaging snippets from your e-book can also serve in piquing the curiosity of readers and urge them to download/buy your e-book. Remember to space out your posts and not be pushy.
You can also create a short video covering the book and promote on your handles, along with some paid promotion. Social media sites like Facebook serve as a cost-effective means to promote to a highly targeted customer base on a low budget.
This is the first task you should tick off after creating your e-book. Once your content is picked up by external media sites and blogs, they’ll want to have a source to get all the information. Your website should include everything that they might want to know about your book as well as you, as an author.
There are a lot of free online PR sites through which you can broadcast your press release. Create a solid press statement for the launch of your e-book and disseminate it through these portals.
Authoring guest blog posts on other blogs can go a long way in establishing your credibility and expertise in the domain.
Reach out to some prominent bloggers in your domain and ask them to do a review of your book. Most of these bloggers will agree to do a free review in return for some copies of your e-book. The more your content and story is out there, the better it will fare in search results.
These are just a few ways through which you can promote your e-book while keeping the costs to the minimum. Depending on your industry and genre, you’ll be able to figure out a lot more.
That’s it! You are ready to launch your first e-book, or your second, if the first one didn’t garner much success. The difference now is that you know exactly how to make it work.
Remember to be organized in the chaos. Being an independent author can be utterly overwhelming since you have to take care of everything on your own. But if done with patience and clarity, there is no reason why you can’t create a fantastic e-book that your readers will love!