Want to publish a beautiful e-book? Here’s the process I used.
Have you ever considered writing and publishing your own e-book?
Writing an e-book can be a really great way to build your authority in your niche and to test out your ideas in a less production-intensive way than a full online course.
It can also be a great freebie to offer your audience, which is exactly the reason I’ve written my e-book, The Whole 9 Yards of Online Teaching. If you haven’t already, then you simply must get it – just pop your email address in the box below and I’ll send you a copy.
I had such fun creating the e-book that I’d like to share some tips and tricks that I learnt in the process, and I hope that you’ll feel inspired and equipped to create an e-book of your own.
Writing the e-book
First, I had to write the content for the book.
I started off writing the e-book in Word, and I forced myself to focus on the written content, rather than worrying about design initially. Focussing on one type of task at a time helped me to get some good momentum; otherwise I find I get overwhelmed and side-tracked if I’m trying to do research, writing, design, photograph searching, and more – all at the same time!
One of the resources that came in very useful was Krista Dickson’s Perfect Opt-In Freebie Guide. If you’re looking to create any kind of opt-in freebie, then I’d recommend you head on over to Blog Beautifully and sign up to get your own Opt-In Freebie Guide.
I started my e-book as a “guide”, but when I hit the 20-page mark, I decided it qualified as an e-book! When I get going, I can really write a lot – my problem is getting things published, but that’s a story for another day...
This time, I allowed myself to just write. And sheesh, I LOVED talking about building an online teaching business! In fact, I had to remove pages and pages of content, which I’ll be publishing as blog posts soon.
I decided that I wanted to do a step-by-step process, to help course creators, like you, get an idea of the kinds of things they’d need to do to be excellent online teachers and to start or grow their online teaching business. In amongst all the teaching stuff (which is my passion!), I covered some of the business and marketing aspects involved in building a teaching business. At first, I wrote down seven steps, but once I started writing, I did some adjustments, splitting some steps and consolidating others.
In the end I had nine steps, which helped me to come up with the title. I had been experimenting with other titles and metaphors – a ladder, stepping stones, and even a hopscotch grid – but when I had settled on my nine steps, I was high-fiving myself with the title: The Whole 9 Yards of Online Teaching.
Having the steps gave me a nice structure to plan out my work and to keep myself motivated – each time I finished a step, I excitedly handed it to my husband to read!
I was planning to add a few worksheets at the end of each step, but in the end, I had to cut those out too. Although I had some very useful worksheets for the first few steps, the later steps didn’t lend themselves to a written worksheet – at this point it was all about getting stuck in with designing and developing the course.
By the end of this process, I had a manuscript of sorts. It was now ready for some desk top publishing and graphic design. Enter the DaringTwo Pink and Gold Template…
Using the DaringTwo template
I’d had my eye on the e-book templates (set up in PowerPoint or Keynote) from Alisha at DaringTwo, but to be honest, I consider myself a bit of a PowerPoint fundi when it comes to using the program for graphic design, so I thought I’d put together my own design.
But then I came to my senses!
A DaringTwo template is $25, and it would have taken me more than a week to set up my own template. The thought, “time is money” came to mind. And PowerPoint fundi though I am ;) I’m confident that my attempt wouldn’t have looked near as pretty as the result I got with the DaringTwo template.
And if you need one more reason to try out a DaringTwo template, you can get 20% off your DaringTwo purchases by using the coupon code: TEACHERTOO.
So I bought the template and started looking through the folder, and I immediately realised that this was money well-spent. There’s a quick guide to get you started with installing the fonts you’ll need for the template. Then there’s a sample e-book in PDF, which is very useful to see what is possible and what you’re aiming for. There’s also a quick tutorial that will guide you through how to use the template, with clear step-by-step instructions and short animated GIFs illustrating what you’ll see on your screen.
Want to know what it was like using the template? Well, here are some tips and tricks I can share.
First of all, when you open the template, make sure to do a “Save As”, or to make a copy of the original template.
Then, I could not resist getting stuck in straight away and designing the front cover of my e-book. It wasn’t the final version I used, but wow, it was motivating to take the first step!
Using the template is very easy. All you need to do is to input your content into the placeholders that are on the slide. So, click on an image icon to add your own image (which gets auto-cropped to fit the overall layout), or click inside of a text placeholder to share your great words with the world!
Buzzing in the excitement of creating my cover, I set to work at adding the next pages of my e-book.
There are about 16 different Page Layouts in the template: for example, there’s a layout for the cover, for a quote, for text and an image, for text in columns, and so on. So depending on what kind of content you need to add next, you will choose a Layout. I did this by inserting a New Slide and choosing the layout from the dropdown. (Just a note here, Alisha doesn’t recommend using the New Slide option, but rather recommends copying and pasting slides. She says that you can’t see some of the elements using the New Slide option, but I didn’t have any problem with this – it may be an issue on other templates though).
Alisha has set up these Page Layouts in the Slide Master. It’s so beautifully neat and organised!
When I needed to do a design tweak that I wanted to be carried through on all my slides, I opened up Slide Master view and did the design tweak there. For example, I decided to use a different script font, so I went through all the Layouts in the Slide Master and changed the relevant text placeholder boxes to the new font. Then, any new slide I added would have the new font.
Also in the Slide Master, I made a copy of one of the original Layouts and tweaked it slightly so that it could become a unique section header page for each of my “nine yards”.
I also changed the size of the placeholders (generally bigger) and the font (generally smaller) to accommodate my wordiness! However, I have to say that I tried not to stray from the “design vision” of the template – it is really so pretty that I didn’t want to mess too much with it! Instead of trying to squeeze words onto a page, I rather spread the content across two pages, which is visually more pleasing, and a better instructional design practice.
Getting into the layout rhythm
Back in Normal View (click the red X in Slide Master View), I continued adding pages. I chose a Layout based on how much text I needed to accommodate, and then I copied the text from the Word document and pasted it into the text placeholder in PowerPoint.
I got into a lovely rhythm, because I could focus on design only. And most of the design work had been done by the template, so I was really just focussing on layout! I was very grateful that I had done all the writing before this phase, as it would have been a very muddled process otherwise!
All in all, I loved using the template – each page looked so pretty, which meant I just wanted to go and create the next one! A very motivating process! And for someone who is guilty of having folders full of blog post drafts, putting together this e-book helped to give me the momentum I needed to “close the deal” and get the book finished and ready to deliver.
Haute Stock images
The template that I chose was quite image-heavy, and I planned on using some of my favourite free stock photo sites like Pixabay and Unsplash to find relevant photographs. But as much as I love these sites and continue to use them, they are a terrible time-suck for me. I find that I can really go down a rabbit hole looking for photos… It’s a problem, really!
But luckily my birthday was coming up… So onto my wish list went a Haute Stock subscription. And what an awesome gift it was (and still continues to be)!
There’s a lot to love about Haute Stock. The quality of the photographs is impeccable. They look so professional, and they fit the design aesthetic of the DaringTwo template like a glove.
The photos also come in collections, so there are different variations and layouts of the same core elements and setting, which makes for a consistent look. The photographs are also set in a variety of orientations – horizontal, vertical, square and hero, so if I had a spot for a vertical photograph, it was as easy as finding a vertical photograph in the collection I liked.
In fact, it was even easier than that, because in addition to the Search functionality, I could use Haute Stock’s handy little Filter feature. You can filter by orientation, and by color, which really speeds up the process of finding the perfect photograph. And you can even filter “people” or “no people” and “tech” or “no tech”, which came in surprisingly handy!
I’ll admit that Haute Stock is more of a nice-to-have (or beautiful-to-have!) than an essential. I could have totally used free stock images if I’d had to, but the premium package did come with so many benefits. I’m also planning on maximising my subscription by using the images for my social media, blog posts and even my own online course.
If you do decide to signup for a Haute Stock subscription, then I have a little tip to share. The photographs are supplied in crisp hi-res, which means they look impeccable, but also means that they are large file sizes. So please learn from my mistake and downscale the photographs that you download before you put them into the PowerPoint presentation (for some reason I only thought of this at the end of my process, which left me slightly aghast that my presentation was over 90MB!). There is an option to compress all the images in your PowerPoint presentation, but when I tried this, it resized some of my images, so my recommendation would be to reduce the file size of your images before you insert them in your e-book.
Getting the e-book ready for publication
I saved the e-book as a PDF, and after downscaling my images, I sent it off to a few "trusted advisors" to read and comment on. I implemented their feedback and then published my final e-book to PDF.
I have also since optimised the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat, in order to reduce the file size even further. This has reduced the quality of the photographs ever so slightly, but only the most picky eagle eyes might notice it! :)
I used My E-cover Maker to make the 3D version of the book's cover. I love this, as it make the e-book more "real", and makes it clear to my website visitors that they'll be getting a big book's-worth of value - 64 pages of it, in fact!
Finally, I put signup forms at relevant places on my website, which I set up through ConvertKit (affiliate link). When someone requests the e-book, then they'll get an email with a download link.
When is your publication date?
So, there you have it. I hope this post will inspire you to create an e-book of your own, where you teach your knowledge, skills and experience to the world! (Or your audience, at least!)
And if you need some more direction on creating your e-book, then make sure you download your very own copy of The Whole 9 Yards of Online Teaching. There are tons of tips and some pretty in-depth information on how you can use your knowledge and skills to create an e-book, an online course, and a whole online teaching business.