While it is easy to get your e-book made and published, there are a number of things to consider before the production process. These include details of your e-book such as what format it will be, where you plan to sell and promote it, who is your target audience, and other important factors that affect your e-book’s success.
Which is the best format for eBooks?
PDF (Portable Document Format)
The most common ebook format is the PDF. Go to any website offering a free ebook, and you’d usually get the freebie in PDF form. Most computers and even mobile devices can open PDF files with a pre-installed PDF reader, so it’s the most user-friendly format you can have for an e-book.
Originally used by the Mobipocket e-reader, the .mobi format is now used by more popular e-book readers, including Amazon Kindle and the Kindle apps for iOs and Android devices. This format is visually appealling, as it gives readers similar behaviors to physical books, such as swiping to turn a page and earmarking a page.
The .epub format is similar to .mobi, but it’s a free, open-source standard for e-book publishing. Because of this, almost all e-readers support .epub including Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iBooks and Google Books.
iBook (Apple iBooks)
This is an exclusive format for all e-books sold on the Apple iBooks store. It is built using the EPUB standard, but adds restrictions so it can only be sold and consumed within the Apple iBooks realm. Because of this, iBook formats are incompatible with readers which can read the standard .epub format.
Once you are familiar with these formats, you can now decide which one you want to have for your e-book. If you plan on selling it on Amazon, then the .epub format is the best option.
If you’re making a quick e-book that you want to offer for free on your website, then it’s best to make it as a PDF. Ultimately, you need to think about which format might work best for your target audience.
Making your e-book
Once you know what kind of format you want for your e-book, you’re now ready to begin its production. There are two ways to do this: creating it with a software you can use independently or without connecting to the Internet, or creating it with a web-based app.
Web-based e-book apps tend to have simpler, user-friendly features as opposed to offline software which are mostly used for designing graphically intense content. If you’re looking to create a quick e-book without breaking the bank, there are lots of free online software available.
On the other hand, if you have a budget to spend on software for creating a professional e-book, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for a more advanced tool.
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Web-based apps and WordPress plugins to create an eBook
Pressbooks looks a lot like WordPress, but it’s run from an entirely different site. If you’re familiar with WordPress, then you shouldn’t have a hard time figuring out how everything works.
You can add and edit chapters, change or add sections, and so on. Remember that Pressbooks is free to use, but to remove the watermark that will show on the e-book, you need to upgrade to a paid version (starts with a one-time payment of $19.99).
2. Beacon (WordPress plugin)
Beacon is a plugin for WordPress that turns your blog posts into e-books. You can choose which articles to include or filter them by category.
The plugin converts blog posts into HTML5 or PDF format. Layout features are also included and you can design the ebook cover from within the Beacon dashboard. This plugin is free to use and requires a free account at beacon.by.
3. Google Docs
A simple way of writing and converting content into PDF online for free is by using Google Docs. Type in your content and have all the Google Fonts available for you to choose from all inside the Google Docs window. It syncs with your Google Drive account, so you can work on it from any device as long as you’re online.
Similar to Papyrus but with a dated interface, Zinepal also allows you to turn blog posts into content for your e-book. You can also start from scratch.
Just note that the free account will put a Zinepal link on the bottom of each page of your book. A Zinepal Pro account starts at $5 for a single e-book without the Zinepal branding and other added features like publishing to Scribd.
PublishXpress is an online conversion tool that takes DJVU, DOCX, TXT HTML, RTF and PDF files and converts them into MOBI and EPUB. This is perfect if you already have your e-book ready and just want to turn it into both MOBI and EPUB so it can be available to other e-book readers. The service is free, but watch out for any imperfections in your converted text.
Desktop tools to write/create an eBook
6. Open Office
While Microsoft Word is commonly used, Open Office is completely free to use and it converts .doc to .pdf without having to pay a single cent. Since it’s very similar to Word, you’ll be typing your content and be done in no time. When you’re done writing and proofing your content, simply click on File>Export to PDF and you’re done.
If you’re familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite, using InDesign should be easier for you. Otherwise, you may need to go through some tutorials before using this tool. InDesign is a more advanced method of creating an e-book and it’s mostly if you want the graphics and all style elements in your e-book look polished and professional.
To download and use InDesign, you need to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud plans. Single software subscription for InDesign starts at $19.99/month, paid annually or $29.99/month, paid monthly.
8. Kindle Gen
Kindle Gen is a command line app for converting HTML or any other e-book source into the Kindle e-book format (for selling on Amazon). If you’re familiar with using the command window, then this tool is not that difficult.
In addition, there is a ReadMe file that comes with complete instructions for converting files into KPF (Kindle Package Format). To use a more user-friendly tool, download Kindle Previewer in addition to Kindle Gen, and you can convert other e-book formats into Kindle in an easier interface.