Note: For my most current advice on writing and selling your ebooks, check out my guide eBooks The Smart Way (Editor’s Note 09/2015).
As I’ve mentioned before, making money online doesn’t happen overnight. I think that is well reflected in how many posts it’s going to take me to finish my eBook series—but I just wanted to thank you again for the great comments and encouragement for me to continue.
One quick thing I’d like to mention is that yesterday I was featured in an article on examiner.com by Jerrie Dean, who I actually met through the forums on eHow.com. Again, this is a great reminder of how important it is to connect with other people, as many new opportunities will inevitably arise as a result. Jerrie, if you are reading this, thanks again for the opportunity to share my story.
So far, we’ve covered the following:
- Part 1—Why I chose to go with an eBook rather than a hard copy version.
- Part 2—How to Get Started after you have an idea about what you want to write about.
- Part 3—Important things your eBook you should include.
Today, I’m going to go over how I turned my book in Word into a PDF that was ready to sell. I know there are a lot of other formats that you can distribute to people, and probably more secure ones too, but I’ll go over why I chose a PDF and why you shouldn’t worry about people stealing or giving away your information for free.
Also, I’ve received a lot of questions and emails about marketing and testing and all that jazz. Let me assure you, I’ll go over as much as possible in the next week or two, so bear with me and stay tuned!
Different eBook Formats
There are over 50 eBook file types you can convert your Word file to. If you don’t believe me, you can check them all out here on wikipedia. Know that some those on the list are dead and some are specialized for just a few mobile devices. The most popular ones are:
- AZW: Amazon
- MOBI: MobiPocket
- LIT: Microsoft
- PNPd: Palm eReader
- BBeB: Sony
- PDF: Adobe
I should add, you may or may not know about the Kindle, which is Amazon.com’s portable eBook reader. It’s fairly popular among eBook readers. To make your eBook compatable with the kindle, you’ll have to go through amazon.com itself. I did not go this route (and I’ll tell you why in a second), but if you’re interested, you can read more about how to do this here.
I chose to go with a PDF format.
The Power of the PDF
I like love the PDF format. Why? Because I’m very familiar with it and most of you probably are too. In order for someone to read a PDF file, all they need is a PDF reader (usually from Adobe), which can be downloaded for free onto anyone’s computer.
I’m speaking from my experience in the industry I was writing my eBook about, but I knew for sure that all of the architects and design/construction professionals (who were hopefully going to be my customers) used PDFs for everything and were comfortable with that format, and they would be less likely to read a book that was geared for just the Kindle or a Sony Reader.
Also, documents from a PDF are easily printable and there are a lot of cool things you can do with a PDF to make the user experience a little better while going through your eBook.
Anyways, you can see some of the cool things you can do:
- You can set the eBook to always open on the front page and in an optimal size.
- You can have a navigation sidebar (bookmark area) where users can jump to and from any section they want. I thought this would be especially helpful for my customers since my guide was a study guide that had many sections to memorize.
- The bookmark area can be hierarchical to create easy-to-navigate drop down menus.
- You can set it up so you can have buttons that go to certain pages or print certain pages.
- You could create forms and embed tools and calculators and cool stuff like that.
- And I’m sure there are thousands of other things, both useful and not, that you could do to enhance the reader experience with a PDF.
I’m not an expert, but I did find out how to do most of these things by performing random Google searches. A lot of the information can be found on PlanetPDF.com as well. Pretty much anything you can think of is possible nowadays, and if you can’t find out how to do something, you can always pay someone a little bit of money to do it for you via elance or odesk.com.
All of the above things are done with Adobe, not in Word. Let me step back for a second.
The Conversion from Word to PDF
This took about a minute to do. If you have the capability of “saving as a PDF”, or “printing to PDF” (which is the same thing), that’s all you have to do. When you do this, you’ll want to make sure your Word document is proof-read, edited and all ready to go. Please do this, because it’s a lot easier to edit a Word file.
If you have (or can get) Adobe Acrobat Professional, that would be the best way to go because then you’ll be able to easily do any of the features that I mentioned above. I actually used my computer at my old office (during lunch, of course), to convert the Word file into a working PDF format.
After it’s converted, that’s when you sync the page numbers, put in all the bookmarks and navigation things, the print icons, etc., and then once you’re satisfied you’ll have to save it once you know it’s all ready to go.
If you don’t have Acrobat Professional, and don’t really need all of that fancy stuff going on with your eBook, you can always convert it using a free online “Word to PDF” file conversion service. I don’t have any experience using any of these, but there are definitely a lot to choose from, which I’m sure work just fine.
Ok, so I’m sure you might be wondering “what’s stopping people from giving away your eBook to others for free?” (aka. piracy) The honest answer is—not all that much. With a PDF format, as far as I know, there is very little you can do—which kind of sucks.
It’s funny because I got an email the other day that said, “Hey Pat, thanks for your eBook, it’s super helpful. My friend gave it to me after she passed, and I have a really quick question for you…” I was like…really?
But I can’t get mad, because I knew it was going to happen. It’s like the music, dvd or movie industry: there’s always going to be a few (million) people who burn illegal copies or download pirated music, but that doesn’t stop movies from making millions of dollars or music artists from succeeding. There are still a lot of honest people out there. I know, because they’ve supported me too.
There are a few security precautions you can do to possibly reduce the occurrence. With an Adobe PDF, you can set a password up to access the document, but this is pretty annoying to all of your loyal customers who were honest and paid you, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
I do recommend, however, that you set it up so that the document can’t be changed or edited, or any part of the text copied. You can also set it up so readers can’t print it, but again, it depends on what kind of eBook you’re writing. Mine in particular had exercises that required writing, so of course I had to allow them to print it out. All of these settings can be done
One last thing you should include in your eBook, which I’ve seen in a few eBooks before, is just to simply put a page in there that explains how hard you worked on your eBook (which is probably the truth), and how you would appreciate it if the customer didn’t give away free copies and you would and just ask that they would continue to support your cause. For the most part, this works.
Maybe PDF security is something I lack a little knowledge about, so I’m really interested in hearing what you have to say. Or, if you’ve had experience writing eBooks too, what have you done to “secure” your product?
Ready for Sale
So, that’s basically it! A Word document that is converted into a PDF, decorated with some features, and booyah…you have a product that’s ready for sale.
In my next post, I’m going to show you how to take your product and make it available to your customers. I use a couple of websites to make this happen so that payments and delivery of my eBook is automatic, so make sure you check that out later on. Then, I’ll get into some tips and tricks to improve your sales online.
Thanks for sticking with me! Cheers!