How To Create Your Own E-book For Free
Any aspiring writer wishing to gain attention through the medium of the Internet is up against it. Displaying information about yourself and your writing skills is one thing, but being able to offer something unique to your audience can be a valuable tactic to raising your head above the crowd.
I’m talking about e-books; designing and publishing them at no cost, but for maximum marketing value. This is not as hard as you might think and it is also a great deal of fun. You need not spend any additional money in the way of computer softwarel; in fact, almost everything you need is readily available on your PC or the Internet.
- personal computer
- word processor application
- connection to the Internet
Wait! I hear you yell. Surely that cannot be it? Well – yes it is, other than the imagination and creativity for the books content, you need nothing more than a really nice cup of tea and a comfortable chair.
There are certain things you might want to consider when creating your e-book.
Decide on the content
As a writer, you probably have a good idea what your e-book is going to be about. Maybe it’s already written; a novel perhaps, a biography, technical manual or poetry chapbook. Whatever it is, it can be published for free and get you much needed attention.
Your content will be written and entered into your word processor as normal. Most people today use MS Word, which is perfect for laying out your story, poems, diagrams or anything you want your book to be about.
Decide if you want to include artwork/photography
Some manuscripts, such as technical guides, demand you include diagrams or images as part of the package. However, if you are working on a series of short stories or poems, try to visualise the prose/poetry in your mind as you read it. Note the images that come to mind and then work out if it is possible to create that image on paper as art or in photographic form.
Perhaps a field trip with a simple digital camera will suffice, or maybe your artistic talent spans the world of watercolours or sketching. These images can be scanned into your computer later and used on the page to enhance and bring your words to life.
For my free chapbook, Brick by Brick, I associated all my poems with photographs I took for the project and it proved to be a great mix. Check it out for yourself at www.colingalbraith.co.uk.
Prepare the layout
It is wise to keep a close eye on the size of your book as you prepare it. An e-book that is too small may deter your audience if they think it lacks any substance or worthwhile investment of time. Similarly, if it is too large, people will be put off from downloading it altogether.
A good all round size would be around 1 Megabyte for a chapbook or story book. This would allow you in the region of 20 pages each with colour photographs and a fully coloured front cover.
People will expect a full-length novel to be larger in size, but there will probably be fewer images in a textual book. Remember, images and graphics take up a lot of space on a computer, so use them wisely.
Prepare your e-book as you would any normal manuscript. Insert the images where you feel they will benefit text and think up new ways of displaying them within the pages, such as at angles or faded into the background.
Most traditional books come with page numbers centre-bottom and so should your e-book. It allows readers to locate where they left off, or if you have a content page, find the information /text they need. Insert these using your word processor’s page setup facility.
Also to be considered are page headers. Standards dictate you can have none or some, but I usually prefer to have the author’s name in small italics in the top-left of the page and the title of the book top-right.
Design a cover
Your e-book will require a title. If it is a novel then you have probably spent many months deciding on the right one. If it is a collection of work or a manual, then it is important to get the title correct so it will appeal to your readership. The reasons for putting your e-book together in the first place may provide a clue as to what name to go with, bit it must be catchy.
It is up to you if you wish to install artwork or photography on your cover – or indeed none at all. If you use a photograph, be sure to take it in a higher resolution so when it is enlarged to fit the page, you do not lose any granularity.
Add the details
There are a few sections that should be considered for insertion into your e-book. These will ultimately add to the overall page count, but will also make your e-book that little bit more professional.
I would recommend the following sections be inserted where applicable. They can be inserted in any order, on the same page or individually. The only section I would recommend is never omitted is the copyright details – for obvious reasons.
This should be inserted at the start of the book before the readers have read the text.
Copyright © 200x "Author name" All rights reserved.
During the course of writing your e-book you may wish to thank anyone who has helped along the way. You can include interviewees, research aides or inspirations and if you are married, your long-suffering spouse.
If you wish to dedicate your e-book to someone in your life, then give him or her a full page to themselves. That is, providing you mean it.
It is debateable whether this is required for anything other than manuals or selections of amalgamated work, so this one is purely a matter of personal taste or actual requirements.
You’ve created an e-book – well done! So why not tell the world who you are? Use this section to include a short biography of yourself, your previous works, where and when they were published, your website, email address and if you are feeling really confident, a nicely taken, sophisticated photograph. You can be as witty or dull as you like, but this would be an opportunity missed if you don’t tell your readers who you are. They might just want to write to you to tell you how much you inspired them to write the best seller you always dreamed about.
Create the PDF file
When you have your content ready and laid out as you want it – not forgetting some intense proofreading sessions – then you are good to go. All that remains is to create the e-book.
Your e-book will be produced as a PDF file (Portable Document Format). Most electronic display devices have the ability to view PDF files, which is why they are so accessible and widely used. You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files, and most bundled PC’s already has this installed. If yours does not, simply download a free copy from:
There are several ways to create a PDF file from your manuscript. You can purchase one of several desktop publishing software packages direct from Adobe, which will cost you a small fortune, or you may use one of several online methods to upload your manuscript and have it automatically converted for free.
Here are some popular examples:
Publish and Promote
Congratulations – you’ve created an e-book and it feels great! The only thing missing now, are people to read it. There are a number of ways to get your work out there and to get it seen.
Get your e-book uploaded to a Web site
Use your own Web site, if you have one.
Upload it to a free web service such as Geocities or Yahoo, create a catchy URL and tell the world.
Use free Web space if you ISP offers it by building a simple site with their templates.
Find a sympathetic friend to upload it to their Web site.
Speak to your local library/book shop – they might just want to help.
Contact your local newspapers – they could offer it from their site as part of a competition.
Become a member of forums, if you aren’t already, and tell people about it and show them the link to the host website to get a free copy.
Print off leaflets on your computer advertising your e-book and where people can get a copy on the Internet.
Put a small classified ad in your local newspaper.
Submit the website to search engines.
Tell people! Word of mouth is the oldest and best way around.