Simple way to Make E-Books
Making an ebook to sell (successfully) is a whole other ball game. You need to step up the quality and that means professional looking design, graphics and layout. Then you need to think about how to get people to buy it, how to price it, how customers will pay for it, how to deliver it…the list goes on. It is too much to cover in one post, so I am not covering this in this post.
I’ve made two ebooks that I give away as mail list sign up incentives on my blog, RecipeTin Eats. You can download copies of them here:
HOW TO MAKE AN EBOOK
1. Choose an app to create the ebook
2. Do a test run with the chosen app
3. Design or buy a template for your ebook
4. Writing the ebook & file logistics
5. Promoting the ebook as a free giveaway
6. Getting the ebook to readers
1. CHOOSE AN APP TO CREATE YOUR EBOOK
For an easy way to make ebooks, I recommend Pages (Mac) and Powerpoint (Windows and Mac). These two apps tick the following boxes which are important to factor in when creating an ebook:
- Quality of images
- File size without compromising image quality
- Ease of creating and adjusting layouts
- Ease of editing text
Pages is the Mac equivalent of Word for Windows. Powerpoint is available for both Windows and Mac.
Mac has a presentation app called Keynote which may be suitable – I personally never clicked with this app.
Other apps you could use include the following. I’ve shared my thoughts on each of them.
a) InDesign – this is the Adobe software that is used by graphic designers to design cookbooks, magazines etc. If you want to go “all the way”, you will need to invest the time to learn how to use InDesign, or hire a professional. I can tell you that I have spent a good chunk of time on InDesign and found it even less intuitive than Photoshop i.e.. Difficult to use because it is so powerful and has so many functions.
b) Word (Windows and Mac) – this is what I used to make the first free ebook I made. It’s fantastic from a word processing point of view (i.e. ease of editing text – don’t underestimate how much of that you will need to do) but terrible from a layout and design point of view. If you are happy to have an ebook that looks more like a report than a cookbook, then Word is a good option for you.
The other thing I had an issue with was file size. My first ebook made with Word was 39MB for a 33 page ebook with a photo on almost every page. My second ebook made with Powerpoint was 16MB for 38 pages. For both, I reduced the image sizes before inserting them into the document.
c) Keynote – as commented above, this is the Mac equivalent of Powerpoint. Traditionally it is used to make presentations. I never got comfortable using this so I am not sure how convenient it is for ebooks. But in theory, it should work as well as Powerpoint.
Photoshop isn’t practical to use for ebooks because each page would need to be a different file.
2. TEST YOUR CHOSEN APP
This is an important step. Different apps work differently on different operating systems, Mac vs PC etc. So before you go an create your entire ebook in an app, only to find that the file size is 60MB for a 20 page book, do a test run!
Here’s what I do:
- Create a 1 page document. Don’t worry about layout and design details, but at least get the orientation right (landscape or portrait)
- Do a mock up of a recipe. Write out the recipe, including hyperlinks to your blog or other URL’s (if you are planning to have them in your ebook) and put the photo in.
- Now save the document as a PDF and check the file size.
- Consider how many pages your ebook is going to be. Now multiply that by the file size. How big is the file? What file size is too big? My first ebook made with Word was 39MB for a 33 page ebook with a photo on almost every page. I was not happy with this file size but I didn’t have the energy to remake the book in another app. My second ebook made with Powerpoint was 16MB for 38 pages. I was happy with this file size.
- Are you happy with the image quality?
NOTE: You will need to play around with the image size vs quality vs document size and find the right balance for you because the quality of everyone’s photos will differ. I reduced my images to 1,000px wide before inserting them into Powerpoint. This provided the right file size / image quality balance for me.
3. EBOOK DESIGN
I designed the cover and layout of both my ebooks myself. For a freebie, I could not justify paying a designer and I did not know where on earth I could find e-cookbook templates for Word or Powerpoint.
All I did was go onto the Apple iBooks Store and Amazon kindle store. I browsed cookbooks and found ones that I thought were laid out cleanly, easy to read and were simple to replicate. Then I recreated simplified versions of them to use as my ebook template.
This is the layout I used for the 15 Minute Meals cookbook I created in Word. This was created using tables which I found really tedious and difficult to use (because not every recipe is the same length!). I created one template and used that for every recipe.