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How to make an eBook

Updated on February 26, 2014

How to make an eBook in just a few steps

I've had a lot of success with eBook publishing and I get asked a lot about the mechanics. Here's my version--your mileage may vary!

It's worth noting that since I originally wrote this lens, the web has changed. There are now far far more users and dramatically more ebooks, blogs, tweets and more to choose from.

But that doesn't change a simple truth: thoughtful, permanent content is still worth something. It's still true that some people (and some people is what you seek, not all people) will be moved to connect or change or take action because you took the time to write an ebook.

It's free, no one needs you to give permission and it's generous.

It's just a few steps - And they're all free

  • Write something worth reading!
  • Put it into Word or a similar word processor.
  • Change your page layout to wide.
  • Even better, change your page size to eight inches wide and six inches high.
  • Use a legible font for the body copy. Times is fine, but boring. Don't use something fancy.
  • Use a headline font with bravado!
  • Now, if you have a Mac, just choose, "print to PDF".
  • If you don't have a Mac, go buy one and repeat the previous step, or, if you must, figure out how to do that step with a PC or a Commodore 64 or whatever it is you're using. [Easy tip: visit http://www.openoffice.org/ it's free and has print to PDF built in].
  • Your eBook is now basic, but done.
  • If you open it in Adobe Acrobat (not the Reader, but the for sale version) you can add hyperlinks. Recommended.

Copyright and distribution

Now that you've got a PDF, what to do with it? First question is: copyright. If you live in the US or the EU and you do nothing, then your work is automatically covered by copyright. You can cover your bases by clearly stating this and by indicating your website so people can find you.

I recommend you consider a creative commons license, because it makes it more likely your idea will spread. Why? Because you leave no doubt about your intent and because no one needs to ask. They can just email it or post it.

See below for the link to the Creative Commons site where you can choose the license that works for you.

How to distribute? If you have a blog, post it. If you know people with a blog, ask them to post it. Make it clear in the eBook itself that you want people to post or email (which is a good reason to make sure that the size of the PDF is less than 2 megs... otherwise, it's hard to mail.)

I didn't go over the point of the exercise yet, but I think it's obvious: if your ideas spread, you win. So, if you write something that people want to spread, if you make it easy to spread, and if you benefit from the spreading, then you've won.

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