Ebook basics for beginners.

An eBook, or electronic book, is a document designed specifically to be read on a computer or mobile device. There’s no set word or page count for writing in the eBook format — it can be anything from 10 pages to as long as a dictionary.

What is an eBook?

An eBook is essentially a digital version of a book. Ebooks are fixed documents, so even though they’re digital, eBooks remain complete and unchanging upon publication. They might have new editions now and then, but like traditional books, once the text is in place, it stays. Like printed books, eBook content can cover any genre of fiction or nonfiction. Anything that could be published as a traditional book can also be published as an eBook. Ebooks can be read on virtually any device — desktops, tablets, eReaders like Kindle, and smartphones.

The benefits of eBooks.

Publishing an eBook is much more accessible than publishing a book through a traditional publisher. For new authors, finding a publisher is no small feat. But even if you’re hoping to self-publish, the cost of printing can be prohibitive. If you decide to write an eBook, you could afford to distribute it for free as a marketing tool. And if you’re selling your eBook, your profit margins will be much higher than if you had published your book traditionally. Learning how to write an eBook can be the perfect way to break into the market.

An eBook is an accessible way for writers to get their content into the world, but it’s also much easier for readers to access. Instead of ordering a book and waiting days for it to arrive, a reader can download, open, and begin reading the eBook within minutes. Thanks to relatively little friction, a reader might be more likely to read an eBook than a physical copy of the same book. This also means that marketing your eBook is not as expensive as marketing a physical book might be.

Because eBooks can be distributed widely and efficiently, they are a popular form of content marketing. An eBook lets companies go into detail about how their product or service works and why it solves problems. It’s a great way to show off in-depth information and use cases, all of which can be important to lead generation — i.e., creating interest and buzz for a product or service that can eventually lead to a sale. Ebooks in schools are great for supplemental information, not to mention they're also easy for readers to access and take with them anywhere they go and are eco-friendly.

So whether you’re trying to market a new online course you’ve created, or you’re looking for a way to make yourself known as an author, writing an eBook might just be your perfect first step.

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Understanding the eBook format.

Ebook formatting includes the visual layout of your eBook, and making sure your eBook looks clean and professional can do a lot to give it credibility in the eyes of your readers. More often than not, the pages of your eBooks will be formatted to look like those in printed books. This helps readers feel the same familiarity and trust they feel reading a printed book. You can find eBook templates to help you achieve a professional look. Formatting your eBook doesn’t stop at visual design, though. Since this is a digital publication, you’ll need to consider which file format to use.

Common eBook formats.

The file format you choose for your eBook will determine how easily your readers can access it. While there are countless different formats you could use, many eBooks are created in these common formats:


You’re probably most familiar with this file format, since it is extremely popular for eBooks as well as other publications. When you format your eBook as a PDF, each page of your eBook remains static across all devices. Because there will always be the same amount of words per page, the risk of distortion is eliminated. Since those words might be relatively small on a small screen, PDF-formatted eBooks are easier to read on computer screens. A PDF can also be easier to distribute because it’s simple to compress and therefore takes up less space on your readers’ devices. PDF stands for “Portable Document Format.”


You might also be familiar with EPUB, since it is another popular format for eBooks. EPUB book pages have reflowable text, so they automatically reformat themselves to include fewer words per page on a smaller screen. Though EPUB might make your eBook easier to read on a small device like a cell phone, there is the risk that something could go awry with the dynamic formatting. Many different eBook readers allow readers to access EPUB. EPUB stands for “Electronic Publication.”


MOBI was the name for Amazon’s eBook file format. Now, it is called AZW3. While the AZW3 format was designed specifically for eBooks, it can only be viewed in Amazon’s apps. It does, however, come with the features that Amazon has in its reader apps, and it does support copyright protection measures (DRM) like PDF and EPUB do. AZW3 is also called Kindle Format 8, or KF8.

While EPUB and AZW3 are great formats for apps like Kindle, PDF allows readers across any device to access the same book. Publishing an eBook in the PDF format can help lend credibility to your book, since it looks just like something that should be in print. PDF also supports multimedia that you may want to include in your eBook. It also has highlighting and annotation capabilities for your readers. If you need to, it's simple to learn how to convert EPUB to PDF and reach a larger audience.

How to create an eBook.

For beginners and successful eBook creators alike, the first step of creating your own eBook is to start writing it. For that, you can use any number of word processing programs.

1. Writing your eBook.

Microsoft Word is a tried-and-true word processing program, but it’s not the only one. Programs like OpenOffice, Scrivener, Google Docs, and WordPerfect can also save documents as .doc files, which is a common word processing document format. Adobe Acrobat can easily read .doc files and convert them into PDFs.

2. Designing your own eBook.

If you’re publishing a book with a traditional publisher, there shouldn’t be any need for you to create an eBook yourself. Authors generally don’t deal with things like kerning and font choice. However, if you’re self-publishing, you have to act as your own designer.

Because word processing programs all deal with formatting, images, and graphics differently, it’s not always the best idea to use them for formatting your eBook. Adobe InDesign is purpose-built for formatting documents such as eBooks, and it’s designed to work with Acrobat.

In InDesign, you can choose styles for things like fonts for your main text, long quotes, and chapter headings (known as “body text,” “block quotes,” and “headers” in the publishing business, respectively). InDesign lets you add graphs, illustrations, add page numbers to PDF, a table of contents, a title page, and other essential elements of long-form writing. You can even design your eBook cover here.

3. Discovering eBook templates.

Formulating a particular style for an eBook can be a lot of work, especially for your first eBook. Fortunately, templates for eBooks and other electronic publications are easy to find and work with. A template can help you quickly find the book format that works best for you, including elements like the color scheme and font choices that will determine the general feel you’re going for with your eBook.

4. Getting feedback on your eBook.

Don’t, however, act as your own editor or proofreader. If you can, get someone else to read your work and give you feedback. Having an additional set of eyes on your work is an essential part of the writing process and eBook creation. Every creator, whether they’re a graphic designer or a blogger, can benefit from feedback, so seek out feedback as part of eBook creation.

Acrobat makes gathering feedback easy. Whether you’re sending out your own novel to beta readers for their initial reactions or creating a B2B-focused eBook for an organization, you’ll need to get other people’s eyes on things. Acrobat’s PDF reader has a note-taking feature that lets your proofreaders, clients, stakeholders, or whoever else is reading your eBook send you feedback about text, graphics, formatting, and every other feature of your publication.

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Prepping your eBook for distribution.

You can’t gather feedback on your eBook if its file size makes it a bear to share. These are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about how to share your eBook:

  • When you’re done designing your work, convert InDesign file to PDF, save it as a PDF. PDFs are the most common file format for eBooks, and for good reason. If you format and publish your eBook in a less standard format, you risk losing information or your reader seeing a distorted document. PDFs are called “portable document format” for a reason — they preserve information in a way that word processor, text, or graphic document file types often don’t or can’t.
  • Ebook readers like Amazon Kindle and Microsoft NOOK can handle PDF files. You can read PDFs with MacOS and Windows with applications that are included on each platform. Best of all, PDFs keep your formatting the same on all of these programs and devices. A reader perusing a PDF eBook on a NOOK will see the same thing as someone who opens the book using Microsoft Edge on a laptop.
  • Ebooks can be as long as traditional books, which means bigger file sizes and longer download times. Fortunately, Acrobat's PDF file compressor tool allows you to quickly reduce a PDF’s size and make things easier for your readers. You can shrink down the size of your documents without losing any of your text, graphics, or illustrations.

3 reasons to compress files for first-time eBook writers:

  • It makes them easier to submit to publishers.
  • You can share them quickly with editors and reviewers via email while keeping attachment sizes down.
  • They can be more quickly distributed to readers who’ve purchased your work directly.

Putting your eBook out in the world.

Letting people know about your eBook is just as big a task as creating one.

Promoting your eBook.

Once your eBook is out there, talk about it. How you use your eBook depends on what type of eBook it is. Promoting an eBook that’s part of a marketing strategy is different from promoting a more traditional literary electronic book.

Ebooks as marketing.

If your eBook is part of a content marketing strategy, you’ll need to promote it via LinkedIn, your email list, homepage, and anywhere else your target audience might visit. If possible, make a search engine optimized (SEO) landing page for your eBook. A marketing eBook is valuable because it’s your opportunity to communicate with a potential customer at length and really show them what you can do.

Ebooks as literature.

If your eBook is more traditional fiction or nonfiction, post about it on social media, promote it via media like podcasts and author appearances, and make sure that your eBook title and your name are out there in front of readers. Promote it like you would any other traditionally published paper book. After all, you’ve made something big. You might as well shout about it from the rooftops.

No matter what your eBook publishing goals are or how long your book is, there is a way to make it work. Use the Compress tool to get your file right-sized and take advantage of the many other eBook resources available to make something you can be really proud of.

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