Chapter 1 What's an Ebook?
An electronic book, or ebook, is anything that you write that is created in digital form. It can be a few pages or hundreds of pages. There's no accepted definition for what an ebook is. In practical terms, ebooks usually run from about 20 pages up to hundreds of pages. Some are fiction and most are non-fiction. Most ebooks are written to provide information. Many are written to tell the reader how to make money...in one way or other.
Ebooks come in different varieties depending on how they are formatted. The simpliest type of ebook is called an etext. It is made up of plain ASCII text that anyone who owns a computer can create.
Probably the most versitle type of ebook is created as an executable (.exe) file. Although versitle, the EXE format has one big flaw. They are made for PCs (computers that run the Windows operating system). Macs can run EXE files only if they have special software allowing them to run PC programs.
The most popular format for ebooks is in the Adobe PDF...portable document format. PDF files can be created from your favorite word processor or Web pages if you have the Adobe Acrobat or similar software. You can also create PFD files online.
Ebooks can also be made to appear on the Web as Web pages. Using your favorite HTML authoring software, you can publish your ebook on the Internet.
Finally, ebooks can be created to be read on one of several ebook readers. Unfortunately, the readers are not
interchangeable. If you format an ebook for one, it won't work on another.
Chapter 2 Writing An Ebook
An ebook can be anything from a pamplet to a full blown novel. It's really up to you.
If you are writing fiction, you need to create an interesting story, with strong characters and a reason why anyone would want to read your book.
Non-fiction ebooks are frequently of the how-to variety. They provide information usually in short segments. Many of today's ebooks are for get-rich-quick topics.
Once you have written your ebook...PROOFREAD it! There are definitely mistakes. Re-read it. Have others read it. Use your spell check and grammar software.
Ask others to read your ebook and get their opinions. Here's a big problem. Most people you may want to ask know you and will probably want to make you feel good. That's not good! You want people to be objective. You especially want people who are representative of the readers you expect will want to read your work. You might want to ask folks to read your ebook and ask for their views so that you can quote them. Of course, you aren't going to use a bad quote. :) Usually, you will want to ask experts in the field to provide such reviews. People who your potential readers will recognize and respect.
Chapter 3 Creating an Etext?
The easiest type of ebook to create is the etext. You can create an etext using Notepad (for Windows) or SimpleText (for Macs). All you do is save the file you create as a .txt file and you have an "etext" or ebook.
If you want to use Notepad, go to Start --> Accessories --> Notepad. You will also see a program called Wordpad...that's not the one.
Mac users will have to search for SimpeText. You probably will find several copies in your Mac. Once you find it be sure to put a copy on your desktop so that you can find it easily later on.
Unfortunately, simple ASCII text files can not be made to look very nice. You can't use colors or fonts. Another problem is the width of the column. Software such as the free Notetab helps you format your text files.
Chapter 4 The Executable Format
Executable files (for PCs) allow you to do some very nifty stuff. One advantage of the EXE format is that once your potential viewer gets the file he or she can not make changes to it.
There are two basic varieties of EXE ebooks. Some are made from Web pages (HTML files). Others are made within other programs.
In the mid-1990s, ebooks were always made from programs such as Writer's Dream or NeoBook. You could create text files and have them converted into very nicely formated chapters. And then...it came...the Web.
Once the Web came along most of these programs were abandoned by folks who liked the hypertext revolution. In response to this interest many developers created programs that could covert HTML files (Web pages) into self-contained EXE files.
Of the Web page to EXE ebook creators there are two sub-divisions. Some create completely self-contained EXE files. Others create files that require Microsoft Explorer (usualy version 4.0 or later) to be on the reader's computer. Since the vast majority of computers have the Explorer on their computers this is not usually a problem. However, some of the EXE ebook makers create their own browser like viewers that are completely self-contained. In other words, if your potential viewer doesn't even have a browser installed on his or her computer, they can still read the ebook. Webexe and Activ E-Book are examples of programs that make ebooks from HTML files.
Chapter 5 The PDF Format
The PDF format is the choice of the majority of ebook makers. The advantage of using the PDF format is that in order to read the files all you need is the free (and very widely available) Adobe Acrobat Reader. The reader comes in formats for ALL computers. If you create your files in the PDF format Mac users can read them just as easily as PC users.
In order to create a PDF file you usually create your document using your favorite word processor. You can format the text and add graphics. Once your have finished all you do is convert it to the PDF format with a click...if you have Adobe Acrobat...the program...not just the Reader. Adobe also lets you make some PDF files (free) online to give you an idea of what they will look like. Other software is also available to create PDF files. There are also some online places offering to convert your files to the PDF format.
Chapter 6 The Web Page Format
The vast popularity of the Web has made "publishing" on the Internet a possibility for just about everyone. If you are not interested in selling your work, the Web is idea since it is avaliable 24/7. If you are interested in selling your book you can also offer chapters on the Internet and then encourage your readers to buy the complete version.
To create an ebook online you need an HTML editor such as Microsoft FrontPage, Macromedia Dreamweaver or the free Netscape Composer. Each of these three programs allows you to work much like you do with your favorite word processor. As the computer geeks say...they are WYSIWYG...what you see is what you get. They are easy to learn and do a great job.
To create a web page you really only need to know how to type in words, create links (optional), and make a table (also option but very helpful) to make a neat place to put your Table of Contents.
In addition, you need a host to store your files that will make them viewable on the Web. If you have an AOL account, for example, you already have a host. With AOL (and just about all other major Internet Service Providers) you are given space to store your files that can be viewed by the rest of the world. The downside of doing this is that your address will me something like http://members.aol.com/jheffner. Unfortunately, this isn't very appealing. If you want your own domain like www.mydomain.com you can get a very inexpensive account from hosts such as Dot Easy (the least expensive that I know of) and get a domain and have it hosted online for a year for only $25.00.
If you want your online ebook to look really super...like this one...you will need another program from Mike Capstick.
It's the one that created this ebook...from a simple text file! It's called Ubooks.
Chapter 7 Ebook Readers
In addition to the Acrobat Reader (that makes it possible to read PDF files), there are other "readers" that can read material that is formated for that type of reader. For example, Microsoft has the Microsoft Book Reader. There are also readers for PDAs (like Palms). Each works well, if the material is properly formated. The PDF format is most widely used. The free Acrobat Reader is found on most computers today.
Chapter 8 Distributing and $elling Ebooks
There are several ways to distribute your ebook. You can give it away for free or sell it.
Why would I want to give it away? Good question. The reason is that some folks want to provide information and aren't interested in making a profit. That's great!
For those who do want to make a profit off their work...that's great, too. :)
One way to distribute your ebook directly is to create your own Web site. If you go to Dot Easy you can create one for only $25.00 per year. For those who expect a lot of interest you can explore other hosts for your site such as Powweb.
You can also make your ebook available to other sites such as ZD Net and other places where you can download software. [Ebooks are thought of as software.] Some will provide your software, I mean ebook, for free and some may charge you.
You might also give your ebook away...literally. You can put them on a disk or CD and give them away. You can also send them to people.
If you have something that many others might be interested in buying, you can check out Booklocker to see if they will help you sell your ebook.
Those who want to sell their work on their own should be aware of methods of selling online using such services as Clickbank and Pay Pal. They can help you collect money online. Both accept credit cards. Or you can get your own bank merchant account that allows you to collect credit card payments. Yahoo provides a popular service that allows you to set up your own online store to sell your ebooks.
Chapter 9 Covers Count
Covers count when it comes to drawing attention to your ebook online. To create an appealing cover you can use a graphics program like Paint...it comes with PCs (through Start --> Accessories --> Paint). There are also special programs available, such as Ecover Generator that makes fancier looking covers.
Chapter 10 Promoting Your Ebook
OK, you're all set. You have your ebook online. You wait for the orders to come in and...nothing happens! Why? Because you have kept your ebook a secret. Folks don't know about it unless you tell them.
If you have a Web site you must get it known through search engines and in other ways. Go to Self-Promotion to find out how to spread the word to search engines. You should also check into discussion lists that are on the topic of your ebook and start posting messages...not promoting your ebook, but on the subject of the ebook. Gradually, you become known as an expert. Then, you can use a signature in your posts that includes a mention of your ebook.
Learn how to create a press release. Start by sending it out your local newspaper. They always want to know about special things going on. As an ebook author, they may consider you special enough to have an article written about you.
Chapter 11 Resources
Adobe created the PDF format. You can get the free Reader and find out how to create PDFs online...for free...by going to their site.
Dot Easy is a host that will allow you to register your own domain (i.e. www.mydomain.com) and host if for one year...all for only $25.00.
To make a fancy cover for your ebook try this one.
You can make an EXE file using NeoBook.
Notetab is a text editor that allows you to format ASCII text easily.
Self-Promotion helps you submit your site to search engines.
Ubooks is the program that created this ebook from a single text file. Nifty!
Make EXE files out of HTML (Web pages) using WebExe.