Self-publish a basic eBook: the quick and dirty recipe

medium_4826939037Someone in one of my communities on Google Plus just asked me how to go about self-publishing a simple eBook as cheaply and quickly as possible, and I thought rather than write her a long answer on there, I should share how I do it as an article here on HTWB.

It’s really easy – trust me, if I can figure it out, anyone can. So here goes…

Essential ingredients:

A blog or site of your own, ideally WordPress
Your original material (poems, articles, whatever you want to publish)

Method for the document:

Set up a Word document with 3.5 cms margins all around.
Choose either Arial or Times New Roman font, 14 point at least.
Type up (or cut and paste) your material neatly and tidily into this format.

Create a cover page by using large type for the title (you can use illustrations and create and buy in a custom design, but this is a basic eBook!)
Add your name and whatever else you want beneath that
Change the font colors if you want to brighten it up
Make a hard page break (Control + return)

Next page should contain your copyright information, e.g.
First published worldwide 20XX
© Copyright (your name) 20XX
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or retransmitted by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Also include here any copyright notices you need to write in, if you have used an image for the cover
Hard page break

Next page: dedication (if you want to dedicate it to someone, otherwise skip this)
Hard page break

Next page: introduction (a nice way to say hello, but keep it tight – people don’t want to wade through a long preamble, they want to get to what you have to say)
Hard page break

Next page: contents (you can set this up initially but will need to go back and put the page numbers in afterwards. Don’t forget…)
Hard page break

Next page: start your main material here
Run it all the way through, then go back to where you started laying it in
Scroll down though and adjust the text so you get as few “widows and orphans” (single words or lines at the top or bottom of the page) as possible
Be sure to put in a hard page break at the end of each page

…Go back to the contents page and put in the page numbers for each item on there!

Spellcheck. Grammar check. Done.

Converting to the PDF

If you’re using Microsoft Office like I do you may well find that you can create a PDF on your print menu. Click “print” and see if that comes up; if it does, follow the instructions.
If it doesn’t, download Adobe Acrobat Reader
Follow the instructions here – or Google “how to create a PDF” and find an answer which most closely resembles the equipment/software you’re using.

Book cover - BSW newMaking a cover to promote the eBook

Go back to the front page of your original Word document.
Make sure you’re happy with the way it looks. This one on the right here was perfectly good enough for this early version of one of my most popular eBooks – all home-made, except for the image which was a CC copyright-free.
Add in a picture if you want (if you import the image make sure you comply with its copyright requirements.)
Print it out.
Scan it.
Open the scan in your Microsoft Picture Manager (if your system is 2010 or older – Microsoft didn’t put it into Office 13 but if you have that and want to reinstall Picture Manager, this tutorial shows you how.)
Adjust the colors, size, etc (Edit Pictures, sidebar menus)
Save it so you can upload it later to your site.
Use it to promote your eBook!

On your (WordPress) blogsite

Create a page for your eBook
Write some sparkling text about it
Upload the cover image and place it appropriately
Tell people what you want them to do next (e.g. sign up for your newsletter and you’ll send them the eBook for free)

Selling your eBook

You need a PayPal account to make this work
The really simple way is to tell people to put X amount in your PayPal account and you will send them the PDF of your eBook as soon as PayPal tell you they have the money. However people understandably can feel a little nervous of this if they don’t know you. So you’re better off to…

Sell it with E-Junkie

There are other companies that offer you this facility but I use E-Junkie because it’s straightforward enough for me and my little brain to understand.
This way you…
Go to the E-Junkie website and have a good look around
Their instructions are pretty clear, so follow them
Ideally you need a PayPal account as this will make the process simpler
Once you have the E-Junkie account, upload your eBook according to the instructions
Choose the price you want to ask for it
Download the HTML code they show you and insert it into the eBook’s page on your WP site, using the “text” screen, not “visual”
If you have any problems here, drop me a note in the box in the right sidebar >>>>>!

Please be reminded that there are loads and loads of more elaborate ways to create, publish and sell eBooks. Most if not all of them are a lot fancier and more complicated than this method of mine. Some are brilliant, some are just full of toy-toys you don’t really need.

So if all you’re after is a quick and dirty recipe, you’ve got it!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc




  1. Is it really that easy Suze? You made it seem so simple!

    • It really is that easy, Lynn! However the end result is not what you’d called polished or fancy in any way. If you want something like that there are plenty of “experts” out there who will take your money in return for a more elaborate job. It’s also quite simple to publish an eBook straight to Kindle. I haven’t done that yet (myself, as most of my own books are not self-published) but in the autumn I’ll research that in detail and share my experiences in here.