If you’re building an online business, chances are you’ll need to create a simple PDF ebook at some point. And yes, you could outsource it, or buy fancy software. But wouldn’t you agree that some of the very best ebooks get straight to the point, and offer you the answers to your questions with out the hype or drama?
A clean ebook (like a clean simple website) doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Today we’re looking at free resources (many you may already have installed on your computer) to help you create a simple pdf styled ebook.
Whether you’re using a Mac of PC, chances are you already have Word, Pages, Powerpoint or Keynote already installed. All of these programs will create clean simple PDF style ebooks with ease. If you don’t have these products, check out Open Office as an excellent free alternative.
Create your document with graphics, header footer, Header 1,2,3, lists and insert a quote box here and there. When it looks good enough (not perfect) go to File > Save as > and choose PDF from the drop down menu.
Much like Microsoft word, you can create and edit inside Open Office (free open source software) and then File > Export as PDF
Create your document and then choose Print > to PDF
Layout your content on slides (like you would for a powerpoint presentation), and include hyperlinks, images, key points then go to File > Save as PDF
To create a PDF file that will be viewed only onscreen (not as a printed hardcopy), choose Share > Export and chose PDF as the file format.
For Mac or PC. Although not completely free, but it works for 30 uses – not a 30 day trial – usually long enough to complete a full project. Most often Scrivener is used for writing large books, Scrivener helps you gather all of your notes in one place and put the book together in an organized way. You can then use the Compile feature to save as a PDF or most of the other digital formats (like epub)
includes simplified versions of Word and Powerpoint – Follow the same steps as you would in a desktop version, but instead of “Save as PDF” you’ll choose File > Print > Print to PDF
(Same steps in Powerpoint & Word on Skydrive)
Google Docs or Presentations
Sometimes the formatting gets a bit tricky with Google Docs when you save as a PDF, but it’s worth giving a try with a simple 1 or 2 page document to see if it will work for your project
PDFEscape as a completely free account where you can upload your word documents or create one from scratch (I recommend uploading an existing Word Doc, working in a browser can be tempermental). This is a great tool to use for creating fillable PDF’s too
Looking for Topic Ideas?
Not sure what to write about? Obviously the best solution would be to ask your ideal customer what she or he would like to learn from you. But sometimes that’s not an option. Here are a few other suggestions to get you started.
- Go to Quora or Yahoo Answers and search for your main topic and read the questions people are asking. Your book could answer groups of questions you’ve found, or answer one big question people are asking.
- Join groups on Facebook & Linked In and listen to what people are discussing. Listen for the painpoints & what they’re challenged with. If you have a true solution to their problem, use that topic as inspiration for your book
Putting Your Content Together:
Pen and paper can be handy for putting together your ebook content, but if you gravitate towards aps and cloud options consider the ones below. Most of them have iphone or android aps as well.
- Evernote – great for organizing many things in life, including notes you might be collecting for your next ebook. Tag, clip things from the web or forward things from your email account to be added later.
- Onenote – Onenote can be used in the same way as Evernote. Including phone aps and tagging to keep everything in one place. Onenote is packaged with other Microsoft programs (“free” if you already have it installed)
- Mindmeister – Use Mindmeister to gather your ideas and create a mindmap outline of your ebook
- Freeemind – Same as Mindmeister for building out your ideas in a mindmap
- Trello – great for organizing all kinds of big and little projects. Create a Trello board for your ebook and add in all the steps you want to complete, along with topics and title ideas
- Remember the Milk – use it in a similar way to Trello to keep your thoughts organized.
- TeuxDeux – TeuxDeux is a popular “to do list” and can be used to keep your thoughts organized and help you stay on task.
- Asana – usually used for managing small teams, but it can also work really well for projects for solo-teams. Create a new project and enter in tasks and due dates and start checking things off.
- Dragon Naturally Dictation for iphone (I believe it’s still free) – speak your book into your recorder and edit it later
Creating Covers and Graphics
After you’ve created your ebook you’ll want to create an image that will represent the ebook / report. It might be easier to have one designed on Fiverr.com for $5. But if you’re up for creating one yourself, here are some free tools that will help.
Gimp – An alternative to Adobe Photoshop
Microsoft Paint.net (with the PSD plugin added) – this is my current “go to” plugin & if I can’t edit it in Paint.net then I know it’s time for me to hire an expert who can really take it to the next level.
Scribus – the best way to explain this is “an open source version of InDesign”. Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.
MyEcoverMaker.com has a few free options or one creation downloads of $4.95
So, there we have it! Tools and resources you can use to create your very own simple ebook. What will you create? And, let us know in the comments below what I missed from this list? Do you have a great free resource that helped you create your ebook / ereport?
Featured photo credit: Maria Elena via flickr.com