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How to Create a Free eBook

Hopefully you have already downloaded, read and enjoyed my recent ebook So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer: A Newbie’s Motivational Guide to Online Freelance Writing (boy that’s a mouthful).NJFM-ebook

When I was putting the book together I ran into a huge bout of writer’s block. I wasn’t blocked because of the subject matter. I found my writers block happened because I was undergoing an internal conflict over charging a fee for the book. Once I decided to give the book away for free my writing Mojo came back. Within 20 to 30 minutes of making the decision, the words started to flow again.

After making the decision, it took me about 3 to 4 days to write, format and compile. It’s a good thing I earn money from other sources because giving books away for free is not the way to riches.

The Book Content

I’ve been giving away free information on how to earn money online as a freelance writer for over two years. If you have enough spare time to go through the NJFM blog, you’ll find the information that I’ve included in my ebook lives somewhere on the blog. Some of the info is worded differently, while other parts are not (I took some of my older posts from 2008 and placed it into the ebook).

Open OfficeAll I had to do was organize the content and the book was done. Of course there was a lot of editing, but that goes without saying.

The eBook Creation Software

The software I used to create the book cost me a whopping $0. I download it from OpenOffice.org, installed it on my computer and began playing around with it. Yes, it takes a little getting used to, but if you can create a blog, figure out how to use Facebook and use Microsoft Office products you can figure out OpenOffice.

Wait, let me rephrase that. Even if you don’t know how to use Facebook (as I don’t) or create a blog, you can get the hang of OpenOffice.

Creating the eBook Cover

Once the book was done, all that was left was creating an ebook cover image to place on my website. I combed the internet and found a EzineFirewebsite that allowed me to create ebook covers for free. They’re not the most attractive covers in the world, but they do the job.

The name of the website is EzineFire. Although you can create a free ebook cover, the site has its quirks. If you choose to upload your own photo, the photo dimensions should be 350 pixels wide by 400 pixels in height. Additionally, if you don’t get it right the first few times (5 times in my case), you have a limited amount of disc space for uploaded images, so get it right quick.

I didn’t know there was a space limitation so I kept uploading revised images until I received a fatal error. I tried again the next day and after two tries I got the fatal error again. Eventually, I gave up and copied the last ebook cover generated by Ezinefire and pasted it into my image editing software. I modified the image a bit and used it as my ebook cover.

Don’t Give it Away

Just because I created an ebook and gave it away for free, I’m not telling you to do the same. I had a hard time convincing myself to charge for something that I gave away for free on a daily (or not so daily) basis. Maybe one day I’ll work on something that’s not here on the NJFM blog and I’ll charge for it. Until then, keep an eye out for my next free ebook (the next time you’ll have to be a newsletter subscriber to get it). 😉

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Kidgas August 14, 2010, 7:13 am

    Felicia,
    Thanks so much for this information. I bookmarked this page so that when I get ready to write an ebook, I can use this post as a ready source of reference. Needless to say, I am also going to go and download the ebook now also. Thanks again for this great reference.

  • Grandma August 14, 2010, 9:46 am

    I just posted your ad for the free ebook on the landing page of two of my websites that deal with writing. We should all do this and spread this free ebook around.

    • Felicia August 14, 2010, 11:00 am

      Thanks, Grandma. 🙂

      @Beelisa: Regarding your first question, I suggest you take a look at the book first. Regarding your other questions, yes.

  • Beelissa August 14, 2010, 10:15 am

    Felicia,

    I’d be interested to find out if there are ways to use the ebook to draw traffic to your site?

    Besides the decision of whether or not to charge, if you do charge you then have to decide *what* to charge. I’ve seen all kinds of prices for different eBooks across the Internet. From less than $10 to way more than most hardcover books. Did you think about that at all? or do any research on what others are charging?

    I downloaded the book but haven’t had time to read it yet. I love OpenOffice, it’s good for much more than creating eBooks.

  • Laura August 14, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Bookmarked and thanks! So many people ask how to create an ebook and even more wonder how to do so for free. I’ll definitely recommend this post the next time I encounter the question.

  • Deanna August 15, 2010, 2:01 am

    Felicia,
    I just read your book and found it an excellent resource for anyone who wants to earn money as a freelance writer. I also think it is wonderful that you are giving the book away for free. Kudos to you!

  • Crystal August 15, 2010, 10:02 am

    Thanks Felicia! While reading your most informative ebook, I wondered how you created it – and now my question has been answered. I’ve toyed with the idea of an ebook myself but didn’t know where to start. I’m not yet a fan of OpenOffice but think that may be about to change. And thanks for the heads-up on the EzineFire upload limitation – really good to know ahead of time. Great post, as usual!

  • Mandy August 16, 2010, 9:40 am

    Felicia, thanks for the e-book and all the (tons of) work you do on NJFM! You are a motivating role model for us.

    Although I have had it downloaded for awhile (thanks to a previous NJFM post), I just started using Open Office regularly. A couple of my textbroker articles had some silly spelling and grammar errors that Google docs and Firefox missed. The main reason is that I am trying to write more quickly and the self-editing suffers a little as I make more typos. There is an extension for openoffice writer that I had to download to cover the grammar. But it works pretty good. Openoffice seems to have a lot of the functionality of MSOffice, so I am pretty excited to dive into it.

    Thanks for ebook and blazing the trail of residual writing!

    • Felicia August 16, 2010, 9:47 am

      Mandy, thanks for the heads up.

      I’ll search for the plugin. I can always use additional spelling and grammar help.

  • Joann Snell August 21, 2010, 3:23 am

    Great article! Sorry to hear you had trouble with the ecover software.

  • Sharon August 21, 2010, 1:37 pm

    Girlfriend, where do you get this wonderful energy? Send some this way!

  • prerna August 22, 2010, 9:25 pm

    Hi Felicia,
    I’ve read and reread the ebook and I truly wish I had it around when I was starting out, but then I had NJFM, so I guess I’m ok:-)
    Thank you for pointing out Open Office and Ezine Fire. I really could have used these when I did my first eBook (which now is turning into a print book) but I can use them for my second one.

    • Felicia August 23, 2010, 7:29 am

      Prerna, congrats on your print book. That’s very exciting!

  • Grandma August 23, 2010, 7:48 am

    Perna, please tell us a little more about your ebook. What is it about and how did you get it into print? Are you self publishing or was it picked up by a regular print publishing house?

  • Maria (WriterGig) August 23, 2010, 2:53 pm

    Congrats on finishing your ebook, Felicia!

    Sometimes free ebooks can be more lucrative than those that sell for $10 or $25 or more … within the book, affiliate links and links to your posts that promote affiliate products can generate a great passive income.

  • Kim McLendon September 1, 2010, 12:02 am

    Thanks so much for the e-book and your wonderful site. ATM it feels like some kind of godsend. I have been researching making money on line and had almost given up. Almost everything I saw was either a scam or an obvious non money maker. I had given up for the most part, when I sort of stumbled on your site as a result of following links from one of your articles.

    I am in a fairly desperate financial situation, and I have to start making some money ASAP, and a real income by next summer. I am accustomed to working at home, and have been self employed most of my life. I have a background in graphics, logo design, publishing, article writing and copy writing… I have been running a small town full service advertising agency since the early 1980’s. Almost all my work has been local or regional. In the early 90’s I was working 60 hours a week out of my home. That’s billable time and doesn’t include coffee breaks. Unfortunately the local economy has been bad for so long, my computer graphics skills and software are downright antiquated, but I can still write. I have been told over and over on line I write well, and I was shocked at the irony of a local college using my publications to teach from. It was an expensive private college too… so it was a real shocker for me. I have no formal training in journalism, and could only afford community college, so I do not have a bachelors.

    Of course right now I am wasting a lot of time looking for jobs which aren’t there, and wringing my hand wondering what to do. I am eager to start working, but I want to learn some more from your site first. I know the ropes of being self employed, but I am wondering what things would be best to generate some money fast, and still build towards residual income. Finding your site… well I am like a kid in a candy store and don’t know what to try first. I have a mind like a shotgun, ideas fly out in all directions, and I need to narrow my choices and come up with a plan… any advice on where to start… you have presented so many exciting ideas, and just when I was fresh out.

    Thanks so very much!

    Kim

  • Crystal September 1, 2010, 11:15 am

    Kim – I just started making money writing online a little over a year ago (thanks Felicia and NJFM!) so my experience is limited. For immediate income, I’ve had good luck with Textbroker and Demand Studios. TB usually has a lot of assignments at levels 2-4, and if you achieve level 5 (I didn’t), the pay increases dramatically. I make at least triple the income at DS as I did at TB so I’m concentrating my efforts there now. I highly recommend both these sites despite the intermittent CE nightmares at DS. At this point, my residual earnings are pretty dismal so I’ll let others address that subject.

  • Amy Young September 1, 2010, 12:13 pm

    You made a great ebook. It was really useful. I liked the part about understanding how to get the most out of your passive income articles.

  • Kim McLendon September 1, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Thanks Crystal I appreciate your reply a lot. I think this site is great, and you all have sparked my hope again. Things are very dismal in the physical world of print, business and advertising, but the cyber realm does offer more than I ever knew.

  • cadebe September 3, 2010, 4:28 pm

    Once again, you have inspired me! Thank you, Felicia, for sharing the knowledge you have gained.

  • Kathy Gleason October 22, 2010, 4:10 pm

    Hi there! First off, just wanted to tell you I downloaded your ebook when it first came out and loved it! I had a technical question though, if you have a minute to explain. I also have written an eBook using Open Souce, and made and saved my cover with ezinefire. (Thanks so much for those tips, by the way.) This may be a ridiculous question, but I’ve been fiddling witht his all afternoon and for the life of me can’t figure out how to set the cover in place. I’ve looked on both websites and searched the web and can’t find out how to attach the cover to the document. If you have a sec, could you explain how you did that. I apologise in advance if it’s something really simple I’m missing. Thanks! Kathy

    • Felicia October 23, 2010, 5:20 am

      Kathy, I’m not sure if I’m understanding your question. Are you looking for a cover page on the actual ebook?

      If that’s the case, when I created my ebook, I inserted a blank page as the first page. After I found a photo I wanted to use, I placed it on the front page as my ebook cover. Hope I that helps.

  • Kathy Gleason October 23, 2010, 8:01 am

    Felicia, thank you for taking the time to respond to me, and I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. My eyes were a bit crossed from staring at the computer all afternoon. 🙂 Okay, so here’s what I mean… I created an cover with ezinefire. At the end, when the cover was generated, the site directs you to right click on the cover and “save as”. I wasn’t sure what to save it as, so I saved it in both “photos” and “documents.” I had left the front page of my document blank in anticipation of wanting to put a cover on, so I went to that blank page and tried to insert the picture there. But I can only get it to come up as a small picture, not a full-length page. I tried dragging the edges and a ton of other things, and it remains a small pic. Does that make sense? I guess what I was wondering is how did you get your cover to look more like a full page cover rather than a small image on the page? I’m sorry to bother you with this, thanks for your patience. Kathy

  • Kathy Gleason October 23, 2010, 8:09 am

    Oops, I just went back and looked at your cover again and I think I see what you did, the pic is in the middle of the page and you put your title on it manually, right? And you just used the cover generated by ezinefire on your blog, not as the actual first page of the book. Okay, I think I’ve got it now. Sorry about that, and thanks for trying to help me out.

    • Felicia October 23, 2010, 8:34 am

      I had to refresh my memory to remember what I did. But you’re right, I did it manually. I think I had the same issue as you had and opted for a work around.

  • Beelissa October 23, 2010, 9:16 am

    Kathy,

    The problem you are having has to do with the resolution of the image, in all probability. I’m not familiar with ezinefire, but it sounds like it makes an image suitable for showing on the web, but not large enough for the cover of a full-size page. Felicia’s idea is one work-around. Another would be to use another image editor and create a larger image. You can always make a large image smaller, but you can’t always make a small image larger. Some programs won’t let you make it bigger if the resolution will make it look blurry at that size, and others will, but, like I said, it will look blurry.

    Another thing that factors in is that computer screens are generally somewhere between 70 and 96 pixels per inch, but printers are 300. So that’s why an image can look fine on your computer but then be really small when you put it on a page meant to be printed.

    I have lots of experience creating and editing images, if you have any questions.

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