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How to Make a FREE E-Book

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If you’ve been on the ‘Net for two minutes, the first thing you learn is there are plenty of e-books available for you to read. Everybody and their sister has written e-books on the best way to Market, HTML tutorials, etc. and are offering them free. Why?

Because they are an excellent vehicle to bring visitors to your web site, create instant credibility and tout your products in a nonintrusive way. The bottom line here folks is the bottom line. Free ebooks, if done right, will bring you income.

Now this article is not going to do anything but tell you the simple way to create an e book. I believe in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) philosophy. Everybody thinks there is some special authoring tool you are supposed to buy or use, some magical way you are supposed to format (i.e., PDF, RTF, XML, etc.) — well, I’m here to tell you it’s a matter of choice. Whose choice?

Yours, of course. You’re writing the dang thing. True, you have to take your readers into consideration if you are selling your ebooks but since this article is about free electronic books, I am going to talk about the easiest format to create it. Use HTML.

What’s that you say? HTML is for creating web pages — well listen clueless — it’s also used for creating ebooks. You have to have some type of viewer so why not use the one most people have. Yes that’s right, a browser which everybody either got when they bought their system or else they got ripped off.

By creating your ebook in HTML, you are not going to spend any money. Get it? Free means free both to the reader and you – the writer. Now it’s not as hard as you think. It is definitely easier than a web page. All you need to know is a few basic things.

Use a text editor – I use EditPad which you can download here because it allows me to have loads of files open at the same time. You can also use Notepad or WordPad depending on the length. If you have Windows 95 or 98, Click on Start, go up to Programs, Accessories then over to Notepad or WordPad and click.

Note: I am showing you this method because why write your e-book in a word processor when you are going to convert it to HTML. Save yourself a step. Remember this book is free and is not going to be put in any other format.

Mac users, you are on your own – I know nothing related to Macs other than they have something called SimpleText.

[Readers, feel free to try any of the following freeware for Macs:
AOLPress
BBEditLite
EMIL -Ed.
]

Put the following in the blank part of either text editor you’ve selected:


Don’t put anything in your body tag if you want a white background with a black text. Since I hate staring at a white screen for any length of time because my eyes grow tired, I use the following:

It is a muted blue/green background with a dark blue text. You of course can put any color you wish as your background and text color. I don’t use a .jpg or .gif for the background because I only want one file people have to download and open or one HTML file I can send to Mac users via email.

Next, I put the following in so the browser knows I want my book to have margins on the right and left side no matter what size monitor the person is using. I’ve been told by someone who owns a Rocket ebook, this table looks good on it also. Not having one, I have to take their word for it.

cellspacing="0">

After this, it’s a piece of cake. I write using Basic HTML codes — you know the ones:

for Headers with the “x” changed from 1-6 to change size. One being the largest font and 6 being the smallest. Actually, I only use from h1 through h4. The rest I’ve found are too hard to read.

tells the browser how I want my text to be aligned. I normally use

for my paragraphs on a nonfiction e-book because with the table width I use, the margins are justified and I like this look. I absolutely loathe ragged edges. But, again this is a personal choice.

Don’t forget to put your ending code

in because with the Open eBook Standard, which will more than likely be implemented, requires you end or close all your codes. So you might as well get used to writing for it now and save yourself the agony of putting them in at some future date.

And, I usually like my text in the following fonts:

But this is a personal choice and you can change it to whatever you want. Specifying more than one font means your e-book will be seen in most browsers the way you intended. If the user does not have the first font, they will more than likely have the second or third choice and sans-serif just tells the browser to use a generic font that isn’t fancy.

Now you are ready to write your e-book. Just make sure when you start new paragraphs, you put in the

codes and your ending

codes. After you’re finished, don’t forget to put in:

because a nested table was used and if you don’t put in the required amount of ending codes, the Netscape browser won’t show your wonderful pearls of wisdom. Finally you finish off with:


Hopefully while writing your e-book, you’ve been saving it. If not click on File, Save As, put your file name in and make sure you use the .html extension.

Every now and again, you will want to check how your e-book will look in your browser. It’s a lot easier to catch mistakes in it than looking at your text editor. To see an example of what the code above looks like, Click Here.

Finally, you can zip up this html file by using a free zip program at Braxio.com or by clicking here.

where you will find some more zip programs. Most Mac users can extract files from a zip program and if they can’t, you can always send them your free e-book via email if it’s only one HTML file.

So there you have it, all the technical “know-how” you need to create your free e-book.

Judith Tramayne-Barth’s site is http://www.agoodread.com which has free books, articles and link pages you’ll love. She also writes excellent “how-to” books.

How to Make a FREE E-Book
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