You’ve seen them before, and you may have downloaded them, too. They’re free “eBooks.”
Except they don’t look like books at all. They look more like Word docs saved as PDFs.
They’re about as appealing as a 6th grade book report.
If you plan to create an eBook to promote your business, you should aspire to something better. After all, this document represents your brand. It’s the face of your business out in the world.
There’s nothing wrong with using a word processor to create your eBook. (I’m partial to OpenOffice.)
No matter what software you use, take some extra time to set up your pages with the seven tips below to craft a PDF eBook that represents your business as a polished, professional brand ambassador.
1. Orient your page to fit your reader
Your first decision is whether to make your page vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape).
Here’s a tip: if you think most readers will download and read your eBook on screen, use landscape. The horizontal orientation fits best on a screen.
If you expect most readers will print your eBook, use portrait. The vertical orientation tends to use less paper and can be easily filed in a folder or notebook.
2. Set wide margins
One of the most effective ways to make your eBook text easier to read is to surround it with a whole lot of nothing.
By “nothing,” I mean white space! Ample white space sets off your text. It gives readers’ eyes a place to rest and take a break from the blocks of text on the page.
Try setting up your page with an inch margin along the bottom, and 3/4 of an inch along the sides and top. That will give your text plenty of breathing room, and your page will instantly look more professional.
3. Use unique fonts
Take some extra time to find interesting, highly readable fonts for your eBook. Stay away from the fonts we’ve all seen too much of: Times Roman, Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet, Georgia. These are built in to every computer, and most of us are tired of them.
When you’re deciding which font to use, try setting a full paragraph with each of the fonts you like. Look at them from a distance and compare: which ones are easiest to read? Aim for readability before style.
If you need more help, you can find guidance for choosing and combining fonts here.
4. Add images and call outs
Another great way to add variety and life to your eBook pages is to break up the text with images and call outs.
Choosing images that complement your text and add shades of meaning is always a good idea. Adding captions is even better — studies have shown that captions are some of the most highly-read text on a page.
Pulling out important sections of your text to highlight in a call out is smart, too. As people skim through your eBook deciding whether or not to dive in and start reading, the call outs will give them a glimpse of what they’ll find inside. They’ll engage them just long enough to begin reading.
5. Remember your headers and footers
A professionally-designed eBook has a header area across the top of each page. For a short eBook, you can simply repeat the title of the book at the top. Longer eBooks with chapters use this space to note the chapter the reader is in.
6. Create an eye-catching cover
Covers are essential components to a well-crafted eBook. They’re the public-facing representation of your eBook content. We often use our book covers to “sell” our eBooks, even when we’re giving them away.
Spend some time creating a cover that draws attention to your topic, engages the reader, and looks polished and professional.
Be sure your cover text is large enough so that when it’s reduced in size (when you create a web graphic of your eBook, for example) the text is still easy to read.
7. Proofread, proofread, proofread
Be sure to proofread your eBook thoroughly. Start by running a spelling and grammar check from within your word processor.
After that, put your eBook aside for at least 24 hours and go back to it with fresh eyes so you can see your mistakes.
The final step is to get your eBook in front of a few people who will review it carefully and check for errors. Don’t skip this step: you may be too close to it to see where your text is unclear or confusing, but your proofreaders will notice and let you know.
Make your eBook stand out
Don’t give away an eBook that’s subpar and doesn’t represent your business well. Spend some extra time to develop a final product that’s professional from the cover to the final page so your brand ambassador does a great job promoting your business.
About the author: Pamela Wilson founded Big Brand System to help small business owners use strategic marketing and great design to build big brands. For more guidance on using eBooks for your business, sign up for her free Ultimate eBook Kickstart.