I admit it. I love publishing ebooks, whitepapers and online guides. Blog posts are great, but sometimes when you want to go more in-depth it requires a different format.
In the past year I've helped create and publish seven different ebooks, an online course, and I just finished the first issue of our free digital magazine “The Best and Next in Education“.
What I've learned is that there are a variety of ways to self-publish, and depending on your end goal for the product, you should choose each option carefully.
Here are five of my favorite tools for self-publishing, and the best uses for each.
1. Liberio Liber.io just came onto the market but I am ecstatic about what Cat Noone and company have done here. The premise is so simple: Write in Google Drive and immediately export your files to a variety of different ebook formats (ePub etc). If you are a Google junkie (like me) this may be the way to go because all of your content is already living in Google Drive. Also, it takes the hard work out of formatting for ePub and other digital publishing formats. If you want to have a variety of digital downloading options this is the perfect way to go.
[callout]I've updated this article as Liberio has shut down. If you grab a copy of my 178 things (below) you'll see lots more options for editing ebooks and creating them.[/callout]
Draft is where I usually do all of my writing. Nate Kontny has created (in my mind) the best pure tool for writing online. I wrote about the great features here, but for publishing here is what you need to know.
Anything you create in Draft can be immediately exported to a PDF, ePub, or Mobi (Kindle) file. This is immensely helpful. However, Draft uses “Markdown” to format…so if you aren't familiar with Markdown and want to add a lot of links and other specific formatting you may want to use another site. That being said, Draft can also immediately publish a folder to an online website, so it's potential for publishing is some of the best online. (Note from Vicki: See my Beginner's Simple Guide to Markdown to get started.)
3. iBooks Author
I used iBooks Author for my latest ebook, “Teach Above the Test” and my upcoming book for teachers who want to be tutors. If you have a Mac, iBooks author is an awesome tool for creating and publishing content. It will also help you make your content look nice…rather than just plain.
iBooks Author comes with some pre-built templates, but you can also download more from a variety of places around the web (like Book Palette). It's ease of use in formatting (especially with pictures) surpasses most of these other tools, but you can really only export it to an iBooks format or PDF.
I like LeanPub a lot. So much that we've used it for most of our free ebooks over at Education Is My Life. The clean and free platform allows you to set up a landing page for your book/guide, collect sign-ups, and publish your content in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats.
The best thing about LeanPub is it's features for pricing. You can sell your work right on their site, and also let people choose how much they'd like to pay. Another bonus is that if you want to change the content later (or update the book) it will automatically send an update out to the people who downloaded your book before.
5. PowerPoint (or Keynote)
What??? Yes, that's right. You can use PowerPoint or Keynote to create an ebook. In fact, some of the most read ebooks online have been created out of PowerPoint. James Clear used PPT to create his “Transform Your Habits” guide and it's been downloaded over 20,000 times!
You probably already know how to use these tools to format your text, add pictures etc. The last part is exporting it to a PDF file for easy reading online and on a mobile device. It may not be the “prettiest” formatting but you can do a lot for free with each of these programs. A great way to start out with your first self-published piece.
Each of the tools I recommended here are free. However, there are many other tools out there that are great but you need to pay. My recommendation is start with a free tool to self-publish your first piece. Make it easy and get it out to the world. After that, you can explore, some different options.
If you are looking for some more in depth guidance on publishing an ebook or guide, feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to help!
Everyone has something they can teach the world. Don't hold it back from us, put it out there and help someone out with your knowledge!
Bio: A.J. Juliani is a K-12 Technology Staff Developer, and author of two books: “Teach Above The Test” and the upcoming “Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom”. He is also the founder the new (free) digital magazine for educators, “The Best and Next in Education”.
Note from editor: Be sure to check the rights for books published in various platforms. Some (most notably iBooks Author) make it harder to move your book to other platforms because of restrictive licensing so educate yourself on that before you publish. Many thanks to AJ for such an awesome guide. ;-) Vicki
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