Everyone’s writing ebooks. It’s an easy way to get information products out quickly to prospects and customers. They’re also a great way to add backend links to other products, services or promotions you may have. In this post I’ll show you how to format an ebook for easy reading and proper delivery to your customers. Giving your readers a good ebook experience is good business. The more value you give them the more you will receive in sales.
Get The Right Tools
Microsoft Word is the standard for developing ebooks, but it’s just as easy to use free tools such as Open Office or Google Docs. Select the software that’s right for you and open a new document. If you’re in the U.S., set the page to a standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. If your reader prints out your ebook this is the paper they will most likely have in their printer. Many people will be reading your epic onscreen, so you’ll also want to use a screen-friendly font, such as Arial, Verdana or Trebuchet MS. A 12-point font for text is usually a good choice.
There’s lots of debate on this, but I believe a well-designed cover leads to more sales. Even though customers are just buying electrons, you want to create the image of a tangible product in their mind’s eye. I’ve hired designers for ebook covers and also used software called Cover Action Pro to do them myself in Photoshop. Either is a good option. You’ll want to create several images of the ebook cover; one for your website sales page, a thumbnail image for the shopping cart, and a full size image for the ebook cover itself. You’ll add the full-size cover to the ebook file when you create the final PDF version.
The first written page of your ebook should be a title page featuring your book’s title, author credit and copyright info. Center your title about halfway down the page and make it a larger font than your author and copyright details.
I’m no lawyer, but it’s a good idea to include a disclaimer at the start of your ebook. We live in a sue-happy world, so protect yourself with a short disclaimer holding you and your business harmless against any claims.
Table of Contents
A neatly formatted, clickable table of contents makes it easy for readers to quickly find the information they’re most interested in.
Header and Footer
Use your word processor’s header and footer features to add a professional polish to your pages. Put the title of your ebook in the header. Use the footer to restate your copyright details, post a link to your website, and insert page numbers.
Headlines and Subheads
Just like a blog, many of your readers will be viewing your ebook onscreen. So write your copy for easy scanning with liberal use of headlines, subheads, and bullet points. Try to create a natural pathway for the eyes. Draw your reader in so they’ll read all or most of your text.
Keep your paragraphs short at a max of 5-6 lines each. This will be easier on readers’ eyes and give them a periodic rest as they work through your content. Also try to keep paragraphs together on the page so there’s no widows or orphans (words or short lines left dangling at the top or bottom of the page
Ideally, see if you can get a friend to proofread your content before you create your final PDF. It’s always better to have a second set of eyes on any written material. It’ll be new to them too close to you by the time you’ve written and re-written stuff a few times over. If you can’t find anyone to help you, step away from the file for a day or at least a few hours to refresh your eyes.
Make sure you do a spell check and test your table of contents link. Next, do a print preview and scroll up and down the entire document to see how it looks overall. This is a good way to catch widows, orphans, or funky page breaks. Finally, print the document out to make sure everything looks good. Now you’re ready to package your product into a final PDF.
Create Your PDF
The best option for creating a web optimized PDF file is Adobe Acrobat, but it’s expensive. Don’t just save your MS Word document as a PDF. That’s not good enough, because the file will probably be too big to download quickly. If you can’t afford Acrobat, here are some other options you can use to create your PDF file:
Ready To Market
Do a final proof of your PDF file before uploading it to your shopping cart or website. Taking these steps will ensure your final product is as professional as possible. And giving your customers a high-value user experience will likely lead to positive word of mouth and more sales in the long run.