How to Publish eBooks

Five Methods:Decide Your RouteBefore You PublishFormattingAfter You PublisheBook Help

Have you written a book that you would like to publish or have available in eBook format? This tutorial will walk you through the process of preparing a manuscript for epublishing, formatting the manuscript and following up once your eBook is done. This information is useful whether you are a seasoned author with rights to independently ePublish your previous works or whether you are an author trying to self-publish your first book. Read below to get started.

Method 1
Decide Your Route

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    Go with self-publishing. If you want to maximize your cut of sales, maintain absolute creative control, or participate in non-traditional copyright structures, self-publishing an eBook might be right for you.
    • This route is much more difficult than it sounds. It will require you to do all of your own marketing and editing, as well as deal with sellers. Though it will allow you more control, it is significantly more work.
    • Creative Commons licenses are useful for those planning on self-publishing. This will give you a template for the legalese to protect your work, as well as providing the freedom to decide how tightly you wish to control the work.
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    Go with a traditional publisher. You may not want to deal with publishing your eBook on your own. You may not have time to devote to marketing, design, editing, or the formatting of an eBook. There is nothing wrong with this. If self-publishing sounds too complicated, you can find a traditional publisher to produce and sell your eBook.
    • Keep in mind that a traditional publisher will take a larger cut from your book sales and will often exert a certain level of control over the content and copyright.
    • Publishers will often be reluctant to take new authors. If you want to, get an agent who will help find a publisher for you and advocate for the quality of your work. An agent will also help you negotiate a good contract.

Method 2
Before You Publish

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    Edit your book. Editing is one of the most important aspects of publishing your book. A poorly edited book will not attract readers, reviewers, or potential publishers. Editing gives your eBook a professional appearance and makes it more pleasant to read.
    • Fix all grammar and spelling issues. Too many grammar and spelling problems can render a text unreadable. Use a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs to find spelling and basic grammar mistakes. The programs are not, however, a replacement for human eyes. They can only detect spelling errors for words that do not exist. If you have simply typed the wrong their/there/they’re, the computer will probably not catch it. Grammar errors are much the same.
    • Read it. Read the book yourself, all the way though. This will help you catch grammar and spelling mistakes but it can also give you a better sense of how the book fits together as a whole. Look for scenes which don’t work next to each other, characters who seem to change personality from one chapter to the next, or major changes in writing style. Since authors usually write their books over long periods of time and rarely write them straight through, it can lead to pieces of story that don’t fit next to each other.
    • Read it aloud. Once you have read the text all the way through, one of the best editing methods is to read the text aloud. This will keep your brain from auto-correcting missing words, incorrect words, grammar and spelling errors. It can also alert you to unnatural-sounding dialogue.
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    Have someone proof it. Have a fellow writer read it through, from beginning to end. They will be able to look at it from a writer’s standpoint, looking for weaknesses in structure, characterization, and word choice. This works best if it is a neutral party, but an objective friend can work just as well.
    • Have someone read it that normally reads books in the same genre. Only someone who reads similar books will really be able to appreciate your book. They will help you determine if you have written it in such a way that it reaches its intended audience and connects with them.
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    Hire an editor. If you don’t have the ability or the resources to edit the book yourself, you can hire an editor. There are a large number of freelance editors. Choose one who is reputable and reliable. If you are trying to do this cheaply, you can contact the English department at your local university and advertise for an editor. Students in the subject will be attempting to build a resume and will appreciate the opportunity and the money but their quality of work may not be as high.
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    Use an eBook aggregator. If you don’t want to deal with editing or publishing an eBook, you can use an eBook aggregator service, which will do these things for you. Beware, however. This will not only be expensive but there is also a great deal of opportunity for you and your work to be taken advantage of. Use reputable services and don’t sign on to anything that makes you uncomfortable.
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    Decide your device. Before you begin formatting your eBook, you will need to decide which device or devices you want it to be available on. You can make it available on all ereaders to maximize your audience or you can have it only available on one and take advantage of programs offered by companies like Amazon when you make your book exclusive.
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    Decide your distributor. Once you have decided the device or devices, you will need to decide your distributor. Where do you want your eBook sold? You can make it available on websites like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Google Play. You can also have it on lesser known eBook distributors or on its own website entirely.[1]
    • If you sell the book on it’s own website, you will gain a larger cut of the profits but miss out on a larger audience and marketing tools.
    • Again, certain distributors offer incentives to keep your book exclusive to their service. Investigate these programs to help you make your decision.
    • Kindle Direct Publishing: this is Amazon’s distribution service.
    • Smashwords: this service publishes to most major booksellers, with the exception of Kindle.
    • Nook Press: this is Barnes and Noble’s distribution service.
    • Lulu: this service is notable for distributing eBooks to the Apple store, an otherwise complicated process.

Method 3

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    Understand how ereaders work. It is important to understand how ereaders work and how text displays on the screen. In understanding what is expected, you will know how your own eBook should look when you are done with formatting.
    • To get an idea of what eBooks look like, get or borrow an ereader. Look at eBooks and notice how you can interact with them and change them.
    • It is important to know that there are no “pages” in eBooks like there are in traditional books. eBooks are designed so that the text is fluid, able to resize at any time. You cannot format the book with set pages or page numbers in mind.
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    Learn and use HTML. Ereaders work by converting the text of your book to HTML, the same technical language which is used to make web pages. HTML is, essentially, a formatting language. It tells a computer how text and images should appear, regardless of the device or screen size. You will need to learn basic HTML skills in order to format your eBook so that it displays correctly on all devices.[2] Namely, you will need to know how to use tags (specific words placed in angle brackets) which correlate with the normal formatting found in word processors.
    • Tags almost always come in pairs: an opening tag and a closing tag. The opening tag will contain a word in a set of brackets and a closing tag will contain the same word but it will be preceded by a forward slash. Contained between the tags will be all of the text that you want to take on the type of formatting indicated by the tag. In other words, all text in a sentence that you want to be in italics will need to be sandwiched between italics tags.
    • Certain characters to not render well in HTML, especially if they are auto-formatted by programs like Word, and will need to be changed or directly encoded in order to display properly in your eBook. These characters include quotation marks, apostrophes, and ellipses. Use your text editor’s search function to manually replace these or replace them with HTML specific code. For example, to ensure that ellipses are always encoded properly (regardless of device) replace them with “&hellip”.
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    Know your tags. There are a number of tags you will need to know in order to correctly format your text. There are, of course, an enormous number of HTML tags but here are some examples of the most relevant and basic for the purpose of creating eBooks:
    • <strong>text</strong> will create bold text.
    • <em>text</em> will create italicized text.
    • <p>text</p> will turn the text into a paragraph.
    • Another important HTML tag is the image tag, which works a little differently than the tags above. You will need to include the address of the image, the way a web address or file on your computer is listed. You will also need to add a basic description, such as “cover”, so that the publishing program will know what it is for. The image tag is formatted like this: <img src=“image address.jpg” alt=“description” />
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    Size your text. As discussed above, the size of text in an eBook is fluid. Readers can adjust the size, making it bigger or smaller, according to their needs and preference. This means that you cannot use normal “point” font sizes, like what is used in a word processor. Instead, you will use HTML and a relative sized system of measurement for text. The best unit of measurement to use is called “em”.
    • The size 1em will be the basic size. 2em will then be the next size up and so on. Labeling your text in this way will allow your text to change size relatively, so that when the reader changes the text size it will stay proportional and remain readable.
    • Indentations will also be sized in the same way. What that size is, however, is completely up to you.
    • These em’s can also be in half steps (example: 1.5, 2.5, etc.). Use the half steps if you cannot get the look you want using the normal sizes.
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    Create an HTML page. Once you have done all of the text formatting, you will need to create an actual HTML file, with proper coding, to place the text in. This will need to be set up with all of the normal tags associated with a basic HTML page, such as <html>, <body>, etc. You can read about how to set up a basic HTML page here or you can use the included template.
    • Your HTML page will also need to include a style section. This will help format all of the text in your eBook and keep it looking consistent. You can read about this online or simply use and modify the included template.
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    Format for EPUB and MOBI. The easiest and cheapest software to use to create an eBook in these formats is Calibre. It is available for free. Be sure that you are downloading it from a reputable source, however.
    • Begin by opening the program. Click “Add Books” and then the HTML file that you have created.
    • Highlight your book in the list and press “Edit metadata”. This will allow you to change the author name (Author Sort - last name, first name format), product description/flap copy/synopsis (Comments), as well as add a cover image, ISBN number, publisher info, etc. Be sure to save all of this data by pressing "OK".
    • Now, select convert books. Select the format you would like it to be in from the drop-down menu. EPUB and MOBI will cover the largest number of ereaders.
    • Next you will want to format the Table of Contents. If you have followed the template included in this tutorial, this will be very simple. There are, of course, other ways to encode the Table of Contents as well. You can use whatever method is best for you. If you have followed the template, you will now go to the field labeled “Level 1 TOC” and input the following code: //h:p[re:test(@class, "chapter", "i")]
    • After the Table of Contents is formatted, go to “Epub Output”. In the left toolbar, look for "Preserve Cover Aspect Ratio” and be sure that it is checked.
    • Click "OK", let the program work, and when it is done you can save your eBook file. Now you are done!
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    Format from Word. There are a number of eBook publishing services that work from raw Word files. The most common is Smashwords. In order to properly format a Word document for epublishing, you will need to go back through the document as manually re-enter all of the automatic formatting (such as indents and capitalization). This will ensure that everything displays correctly once it has been converted to HTML.

Method 4
After You Publish

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    Set a good price point. If an eBook is too expensive, you are unlikely to sell many copies. If it is too cheap, you will see only minimal profits. A good, middle-of-the-road price will probably be around $2.99. [3]
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    Promote your book. Promoting your book is crucial to making profit. The internet is a big place and there are many authors taking advantage of the new ease with which books can be published. If you want to get noticed, you’re going to have to do an excellent job of promoting your book.
    • Make use of social media and blogs. Find popular blogs which cover books in your genre and give them a review copy. Spread word about your book release through websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Most importantly, interact with your customers and fans and encourage them to spread the word.
    • Advertise your book. You can advertise your book as well, either within the website you have chosen to sell it on or across the web. Use an advertising service or contact individual websites and blogs about advertising. Be sure that any website you advertise on is going to reach the right audience for you.

eBook Help

Sample E Book Outline

Sample E Book Excerpt


  • Have a great cover. The old adage is an adage for a reason. People often judge books by their cover. Have a professional looking cover if you want to help your book sell. You can do this yourself, if you have extensive design experience and the proper tools, or you can hire someone to do it for you. Many publishing services will also offer cover design, at a price.
  • Have a great title. No one wants to read a book that sounds boring. Have an exciting title that draws attention and curiosity. You also want to be sure that your title fits with what your book is about. People will not be happy about buying a book entitled “Best Cheesecake Recipes” only to get a vampire romance novel.
  • Find your niche. You will have an easier time selling your book if you find a niche market. Find out what is popular and what is not. Create something unique and quality that appeals to your niche market and it will sell in no time.


  • Watch out for people trying to take advantage of you. There are lots of fake companies that will take your money or your book rights if you aren’t careful. Research every company you decide to work with before giving them anything.
  • Don’t set your expectations too high. The publishing world is very competitive and people rarely get famous, especially overnight. Even if your book is the next great American novel, it may not sell well if people don’t hear about it or luck just isn’t on your side. Many classic authors were not known or appreciated in their lifetimes. Don’t take it personally or let it get you down.

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Categories: Publishing