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Lessons Learned from Designing an eBook

Lessons learned from designing my own ebook. Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow. from DesignYourOwnBlog.com

Lessons learned from designing my own ebook. Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow. from DesignYourOwnBlog.com
Now that it’s been almost a month since the launch of my latest eBook, Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Tricks to Make Your Blog Glow, I thought I’d share with you some things I learned from the creation process.

This post contains affiliate links marked by a (*) which means that at no cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through my link. I appreciate your support always and you can read my full disclosure here.

Give Yourself a Lot More Time than You Think to Get it Done

Back in September I started the free 30 Day Just Ship It Challenge* and one of the first tasks is to pick a launch date. Knowing that it would probably take me a little longer than 30 days, I initially gave myself a deadline of early November. I figured that would be enough time to get it all done.

Well, my launch date was December 30th and even then I was cramming to get it all done!

What took so long?
Besides the fact that I kept changing my mind on what to write exactly, there are essentially five phases you have to consider:

  1. Writing the rough draft
  2. Editing that draft (at least once, if not more)
  3. Designing the cover
  4. Creating a landing page
  5. Formatting the book with proper layouts, font sizes, images, etc.

Phase 5 was by far the longest for me. But that’s mostly because I’m a designer and I wanted it to be perfect. Your eBook might be more text and less images and therefore may make Phase 5 the quickest part for you.

Decide if You Want Portrait or Landscape

I prefer to work in landscape because I like to align things side by side in my eBooks and the wider width allows for more of that. But if your eBook is read more like a book with lots of text, then you’ll definitely want to opt for a portrait version because that will make your line-lengths shorter, thus easier to read.

Design Your Cover in Canva

I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the cover of my eBook and I mostly did it all in Canva for $1! I bought the image of the girl from Canva. It would have been free, had I used one of my own photos.

Lessons learned from designing an eBook while creating Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Fixes to Make Your Blog Glow. An ebook by DesignYourOwnBlog.com

I used the custom dimensions option when creating a new project in Canva and set it to 1024 × 768. Or use 768 x 1024 if your eBook will be laid out in portrait.

Keep the design consistent with your branding, at least the colors. It doesn’t have to completely mimic your blog only because your blog design can change. Your book design probably won’t after you release it. So you have a little leeway on this. You’ll notice my eBook uses a teal/aqua color and Open Sans font, both used in my blog. But it ties in with my branding because it has a soft, feminine design that matches what my blog is all about.

Full disclosure: I saved my layout without text and brought it into Photoshop* to finalize it, but only because I wanted to use a font that wasn’t available in Canva. Again, that’s me being the designer. Hopefully you’re not as picky as I am and can get through this phase more quickly.

Making the 3D Cover

Once I designed my flat cover, I went in search of a 3D template I could use to superimpose the cover on so that it actually looks like a book. I’ll tell you right now, it’s almost impossible to find landscape book cover templates! Why is this?? They are almost all portrait. So that’s something to consider too.

I searched all around Creative Market* for some and finally did find this one* that I thought was perfect because it still has that flat design look.

Carry the Colors and Fonts From Your Cover into the Rest of the eBook

I used the script from my title in the chapter titles, etc. I decided to keep a simple easy to read font for my text (Open Sans) and this is the same font I use for body copy in my blog. The same color and font rules apply for the book as do for your blog.

Decide What Program You’d Like to Use to Layout the eBook

There are multiple options for this and I will admit, I haven’t tried most of them, but in my research this is what I discovered:

iBooks Author (free app for Mac)
I hear this is super easy to use and they have nice looking templates that save you from creating your own. The only problem is that you can only save your eBook as a PDF and/or sell it on iTunes. According to the terms, you cannot create a Kindle version, so it’s something to consider should you wish to offer your eBook on Amazon in the future.

Keynote (Mac) or PowerPoint (PC or Mac)
I used PowerPoint to create both my eBooks. I just figured it was the easiest for me because I had used it before. I researched how to create a template (master slide) so that I could add certain things that would appear on every page only once: pagination and copyright. I then created a couple of different layouts that I used throughout the eBook.

I still had some issues with the templates so just beware that you may fight with it a bit like I did.

Word
I hear that people create their eBooks in Word, but I would advise against it. First Word can be a huge pain to lay things out correctly. Second, it may or may not convert well into a PDF.

Here are some other programs you can consider.

Final Format

I opted to just go with a PDF. I didn’t want to bother with Amazon or the iTunes bookstore. In the future, I may reconsider but for now, that was all I wanted to offer. You’ll want to take this into consideration before deciding which program to use.

Research eBook Layouts

If you’re anything like me, you have a gazillion eBooks saved on your hard drive somewhere. Open up each one and take a second look at the ones that catch your eye. How are they laid out? How much text is on each page? What kinds of images are being used and how big (or small) are they?

You Must Have a Landing Page

I created my eBook landing page using a free WordPress plugin called Parallax Gravity Lite. Be warned though that you’ll need to know CSS to really customize it. I hear a lot about LeadPages these days so it’s worth checking out. Or you can just create a new page in your blog.

Ready to Write Your Own eBook?

If you know you’ve been wanting to write an eBook, but have been worried about where to start and how to do it, may I recommend to you a super awesome course that will walk you through the entire process of creating an eBook from conception to launch and even post-launch?

Then you MUST check out BookBoss: Write + Launch a Profitable eBook in 90 Days or Less* and get in on the special launch pricing now! Read my review here.

Over to You!

Have you ever written an eBook? Do you plan to? Got questions about my process? I’m all ears! Share in the comments below.

And won’t you please share this with anyone you know who’s thinking about writing an eBook? Click on a handy button below.

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45 Comments

  • Caroline says:

    Ha ha Marianne! I laughed out loud with your first point. Why *do* things always take longer than we think.

    I also like your little disclosure about finishing off the cover in Photoshop. Canva is great BUT it does have some limitations – well, it is free after all.

    Well done for creating the book.

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks Caroline and glad I could make you laugh! Yep, free does have it’s limitations, although I might have been able to complete the task with PicMonkey as it allows you use the fonts from your system too. I didn’t try it though. I rely too much on Photoshop!

  • Krystal says:

    Thank you for this post Marianne. I do hope to publish an ebook one day and this information will sure come in handy! Pinning.. 🙂

  • Michaela says:

    Hi Marianne What a lovely blog you have! Great point about keeping your design consistent but not needing it to mimic your blog. What I do when designing is I always keep a brand style guide close and my brand words (3 to 4 words that describe the core message of my brand) As I design I ask myself, does this design communicate what my brand stands for? This way I’m always sure that my design stays inline with my brand.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Michaela, thanks for stopping by, I can’t wait to see your shop when it opens!

      Yes you are absolutely right about the brand style guide. I had one, but I have been in the process of transitioning to a new design bit by bit and don’t have an updated one yet. Shame on me!

  • Sage advice, Marianne. I always thought other people used fancy-schmancy programmes for their ebooks – glad you used PowerPoint too !
    Razwana Wahid recently posted…How the F@!K did you do it, Sally Mercedes (and was there wine?)My Profile

  • Cristina says:

    The e-book looks great, Marianne, and great tips too! I would also recommend InDesign for layouting — being a huge control freak, I like that the program gives me full control over everything 🙂
    Cristina recently posted…Free typefaces for commercial useMy Profile

  • Allyssa says:

    Giving myself enough time is a tip I definitely wish I knew before I set out to write my ebook. I figured I’d just choose a launch date and that’d be enough motivation to complete it. Nope. Didn’t work that way. Between other projects and wanting to get the book perfect, it’s taking a lot longer than expected!
    Allyssa recently posted…Tips for Keeping Your Site Backed UpMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Oh Allyssa, I should have written this sooner haha!
      Yes throwing a date out there doesn’t magically make it happen unfortunately. It has to be realistic somewhat. I can’t wait to see your book when it’s done, I bet it’ll be gorgeous!

  • Jennifer K says:

    Thanks for this post. I love your eBook and feel these step will help me create my own.
    Jennifer K recently posted…How To Avoid Pinterest Link FailureMy Profile

  • Toyin says:

    Wow! You are so dedicated! I will definitely come back here if I ever decide to write an ebook.
    Toyin recently posted…BBQ Turkey FlatbreadMy Profile

  • PJ Reece says:

    Marianne… I’m counting down to designing my new eBook: “STORY STRUCTURE EXPEDITION: Journey to the Heart of a Story.” I would rather not waste my limited patience on page layout and design. Did you ever consider outsourcing the job? And is there someone you can recommend? Btw… I’m going to save this link to my “Publishing” file. Thanks.
    PJ Reece recently posted…If You Hate Story StructureMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi PJ, I didn’t consider it since I am a designer and love that kind of stuff! If you prefer not to create a design yourself, you can either use a template in iBooks Author or do a search for eBook templates + the program you’d like to use.

      You might also consider looking for a freelance graphic designer. There are tons on Etsy and Creative Market.

      Hope that helps a bit!

  • YogiZoli says:

    hey there, congrats on finishing your first book! I think it’s a LOT harder than most people think, I feel what you felt, laughed laud, it took longer indeed. But: the first is the hardest! As soon as you go through the process all your following books are going to be a lot easier. Looking forward to read them!

  • John Wheeler says:

    Thank you for these tips Marianne, I just finished writing my E-book and working the cover. These are very helpful to me, it is actually my guide in creating my E-book cover.

  • Marianne, I so needed this information. I am completing my ebook and especially wanted a great Landing Page, and did not know about the plugin from WordPress – I am totally going to be using this plugin. Thank you for this post.
    Kristine Manley recently posted…12 Scriptures Concerning ChildrenMy Profile

  • Randolph Hoover says:

    Just pick a good concept regarding the artwork and it’ll be fine. Because of this post I was influenced with trying Indesign out and so far it it’s going good. I like the usability and the features of the application.

  • kayla says:

    Thanks for this lovely lady!
    I’m currently researching and planning my first ebook, so this was extremely helpful 🙂 🙂

    • Marianne says:

      How awesome Kayla, I’m so glad this was helpful to you! Let me know if you have any questions during the process and please let me know when it’s out! 🙂

  • Claire says:

    Very informative post, thanks for sharing your insights! eBooks have changed the way we read books and it is important to stay updated with tips like these.

  • Thanks for posting this! I just finished writing my eBook and was trying to figure out a launch strategy. I will be checking out the emails and Periscope. This felt like amazingly good timing- thank you!!! I am so excited to learn from you

  • Sounds like a no-brainer eh? I’m off to give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing Marianne 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m just starting to research info on starting my own ebook. I’ve got to say, these are some of the best tips I’ve found!

  • liz says:

    I have content for 2 e-books complete, but am totally stumped on the what next for getting it published. Thanks for this great advice! So glad I stumbled across this post on Pinterest!

  • Hi Buddy..
    Thanks for sharing your valuable experience .I really appreciate the way you put up your thoughts in front of us.It is of extreme importance. I’m just starting to research info on starting my own ebook. I’ve got to say, these are some of the best tips.
    I’m a newbie blogger, so I can learn a lot from you!This blog has tremendous of knowledge and it is perfect for those who have just started in this field.I will certainly be putting these tips to use. I’ve struggled with what fonts look good together.
    Thanks for sharing! I will look forward for information.
    Have a nice day..
    Regards:
    Andrew M. Hill

  • I love Canva as it allows you to do design without needing too much of the techie stuff as I am not an expert on graphics.

    • Marianne says:

      Yes Trisha, Canva is the best for that! That’s what I used for my book cover and I am using it now as we speak to create presentation slides and I love it!

  • zoyoyayep says:

    I always try to follow your blog for better design lessons. Another good tutorial for better design and development. Thanks!

  • It’s the first time that i visit your blog and i’m in love Marianne! Thanks for the content too.

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