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Creating an ebook step-by-step

By Jeremy Steele

With the rise in eBooks, you may wonder how hard it is to put one together and sell it. The answer is, “Easier than you think.” With the increasingly commonplace ebook readers, tablets and even e-reader software for computers, you can use ebooks for everything from your welcome guide to a small group curriculum as well as the more typical book.

Whatever your purpose, the steps for creation are the same. While you can create them for primarily internal use, the internet provides a great opportunity to extend your ministry beyond your typical audience.

Here are tips, tools and techniques to help you develop an eBook with ease!

Step 1: Determine if there is a market for the book

While this may sound obvious, it is the most difficult part of the process. You wouldn't want to write the content, find someone to edit it and then discover there isn't a market. Research the needs of your community, look for fresh angles to popular categories or identify niches few have addressed.

Taboo: The Questions You Aren’t Supposed to Ask is a niche eBook. An eBook designed for someone searching for Nostradamus or the Forbidden Gospels might be successful without a large marketing effort. You will not find many offerings on those subjects in the eBook market. Investigating Christmas fits in a popular category with many prospective readers already drawn to the topic.

Step 2: Create a compelling book.

As for writing the book, you may be surprised at how much content you already have. Pastors have sermons. Sunday school teachers have lessons and research. Bloggers have previous blog posts. Look for other ways to recycle content to reach larger audiences.

Step 3: Format the manuscript.

This is a critical step. Use Word or another word-processing program to add styles to different passages.

  1. First, select the entire document and apply the “body” style.
  2. Second, select each chapter heading and apply the heading style. This will allow the eBook-generating software to auto-generate a table of contents.
  3. Third, place a page break before any chapter or part that you want to begin at the top of a new page.

Step 4: Create an attractive cover.

People do judge books by their covers – especially when they cannot pick them up and preview the contents. It is worth spending money to have a graphic designer work with you to develop a cover. You should be able to have an attractive one designed for $100 to $200.

Remember, you will compete against products that spend thousands in marketing and layout/design. You don’t have to look like HarperCollins, but getting close will help.

Step 5: Export the manuscript.

Depending on how you plan to sell the product, this may be your last step. The most universally readable file at this moment is the PDF. However, PDFs do not work well on an eBook. They appear as an image of a book page. The text can be too small or oddly laid out for an eReader screen. However, if you want to produce your eBook as a PDF, simply save the Word or other word-processing document as a PDF document.

If you want to sell the book on Amazon or view it on an eBook reader, you must complete a couple more steps to get it into a usable format. While several programs will create your eBook, Calibre is a free program that will do all the hard work of adding the cover image and creating the table of contents.

  1. Download Calibre.
  2. Use the “Add books” button to import your Word document.
  3. Select your file, click the “convert books” button and use its drag-and-drop interface to choose the options you need to add the cover and auto-generate the table of contents.
  4. Select your output format (Mobi for Amazon or EPub for everywhere else) and click “OK.”

Step 6: Distribute for free.

There are many cases where distributing for free is the best option. You could convert your welcoming pack into ebook form and give it to visitors as gifts for attending. Put the ebook(s) on inexpensive flash drives to physically hand out, email them as attachments or post them on your website.

Think of other ideas for content you could repurpose. Convert a popular sermon or blog series into ebooks and give them away.

Step 7: Distribute to sell.

Selling ebooks can be an excellent missions fundraiser or supplement a part-time salary. A platform like Squarespace lets you create your own website and provides a digital shopping cart for selling the eBbook online. If you go this route, make sure the provider allows for sales of digital goods and will automatically send the files or provide a download link. Many people prefer to have Amazon handle sales and distribution.

To use Amazon, sign up for an account (or add Kindle Direct Publishing to your existing Amazon account) and begin by adding a new title to your account.

Adding a title to Amazon’s store is simple. Upload the eBook file and cover image separately. Set the price, write the description and wait about 24 hours for approval. After that, the book is live and you can start sharing the link online.

If you price your eBook above $2.99 and agree not to sell it at a lower price anywhere else, you will receive 70 percent of the cover price of each copy sold in a check or direct deposit every month.

Step 8: Publicize your book.

All of your work will be for naught if no one knows about the book. If you need some ideas for free publicity outlets, we have a great article that will help you get publicity for pennies. While you can direct prospective buyers to the Amazon link, consider putting together a product page like this one on your site to give you control over the look, cross promote other products and highlight endorsements.