Summary of a 8-Hour Ebook Creation

Ebook Creation Step by Step

Back in 2007 I decided to see how long it would take me, from start to finish, to publish an ebook based on existing content I had. It took under eight hours total. Nowadays I can do the same process even more quickly. Here is a step by step description of how I put together an ebook in one evening, as a test of the process.

Creating the Ebook
At 7pm I was working on updating my Sangria Recipes pages and decided they would make a great selection for an ebook test. I had over 50 sangria recipes at the time, plus appetizer suggestions and more. As far as I knew there weren't any sangria cookbooks at the time to compete with me. I decided to see how long it took to create the ebook version.

I opened up InDesign, a page layout software package. I could have opened up Word - they really do the same thing. In modern times I would just use Word. I had my internet browser open in one window and my layout software open in another. I cut and paste the recipes one at a time from my website into InDesign. I started each recipe on its own new page. I tagged each title as a "title". That would make the titles show up in the table of contents. In about an hour I had all of the content pasted into my book. My book base was complete.

I tracked down an image out of my own personal image library and created a cover in PhotoShop. Really it just meant I took the image and added some text to the top. Always make a pretty cover - people really do judge a book by its cover. If you aren't good with graphics, just hire someone from Fiverr.com or Freelancer.com. The few dollars you spend will be well worth it. In my case I'm reasonably good with graphics. I felt my cover was quite adequate. I pasted it into InDesign (I was making a PDF ebook, not an EPUB / MOBI style) as the first page and moved on.

Next I decided that I wanted each chapter start area (for example the "Fruity Sangrias" chapter) to have an intro set of paragraphs. I wrote an intro page for each chapter start. Once that was done, the book was done!

I saved that book as a PDF.

Loading the Ebook
At 10pm I was now ready to start making the ebook available to the public. Since this book was intended for my WineIntro site I loaded my ebook onto that site and created a few pages talking about the ebook and what it offers. That is my Sangria Recipes Ebook page.

I created a "buy" button quite easily at PayPal.com - they have that whole process automated. Note I did write special code in ASP so that the buyer can instantly get the ebook mailed to them. If you're going to have your ebook on your own personal site, you can choose to mail it manually to the person when you get the PayPal alert. Just make a note on your PayPal landing page that it might be a day or two before they receive their ebook. If you really want to learn how to code in ASP, to have your website instantly email them the PDF they've bought, I do offer an Learn to Make ASP Shopping Carts ebook :)

Publicizing the Ebook
Now that I had an ebook sales page set up, I added links to this new ebook sales page from all of my sangria pages. This provided free publicity for my new ebook. Note that publicity is CRITICAL for an ebook to sell well. If you have zero pages on sangria recipes and then load an ebook on sangria recipes, and never market it, it's unlikely that readers will ever find it. However, if you have 50+ pages on sangria recipes, and are the #1 result in google for sangria recipes, then it's likely that lots of people who enjoy sangria recipes will find those pages and therefore your ebook.

It's wise to offer information for free on your site - to draw in visitors - and then to offer them an ebook version once they're there. Believe me, they will gladly pay the few dollars to get the PDF version to print and use. If you try to sell an ebook of "hidden content" - first, nobody will ever find that ebook to want to buy it. Second, they could not trust that the content is any good. They can't "flip through it" like they would in a bookstore.

By 12:30am the ebook was now live and fully functional. Lots of sangria pages linked to it. I'd done a test purchase from the live site and the ebook was properly emailed to me once the payment went through. I was now ready to move on to getting this ebook on Amazon.

Ebooks and Amazon
At the time of this test I used the MobiPocket system to make my Kindle-friendly ebook. That system no longer exists :). The concept of what I did is the same, though. I took my source file and turned it into a MOBI Kindle file. The software I use now to do that process is CALIBRE and SIGIL - both free. With about five minutes of effort, my original file was now saved as a MOBI file.

I logged onto the Kindle publishing system to publish my new MOBI file.

Put in your title, description, price, and so on.

Voila! It's published! It'll now take up to 72 hours to go live in the Kindle system, but it's on its way!

Ending time: 2:43am

Total time elapsed is just under 8 hours, but I admit to taking breaks in there, getting some food and so on :) Plus for this particular test I had to reinstall software on my new computer. I can now do this whole process from start to finish in about an hour.

The real key for ebooks is to write the content over time, doing the research and getting feedback from visitors. That way when it comes time to create the ebook everything is sitting there waiting for you, already reviewed, already commented on by visitors, and ready to compile.

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