Why & How to Make Ebooks For Your Audience (For Free)

woman reading ebook

(10-min read)

What would you say about a company that offered a complimentary book they had written that answered the questions you currently have? A lot of different feelings may bubble up.

“Whoa, for free?”

“Nice! Finally, honest answers!”

“These folks must really know their stuff.”

In this article, we’re going to look at why you should consider creating a free ebook to throttle content marketing efforts. After that, we’re going to show you how you can do so—even for free.

“What is an Ebook?”

An ebook is a downloadable multi-page document that functions just like a physical book. It can be viewed on a device screen such as a computer, tablet, or mobile device. If the ebook is primarily in monochromatic text form, it can be read using an e-reader such as a Kindle, Nook, or other e-ink display.

man reading ebook

So, how do you stand out from the rest?

writer illustrated

“Why should I make ebooks?”

While winning the attention of your target audience can be easy, earning their trust can be much more tricky. The internet has made it easier than ever for your audience to weigh their options. Differentiating yourself is especially difficult if you’re just one of many companies that offer nearly identical products and services. So, how do you stand out from the rest? By answering their questions before they ever reach out to you. An ebook is an excellent vehicle for some of the answers they’re looking for right now.

“That’s exactly what I needed.”

Content marketing is all about providing helpful resources for your audience to help you earn their trust. When you provide compassionate support, answer their questions, and solve their problems, you don’t have to work as hard to “sell” them on doing business with your company. You’ve already created value for them before they sign on any dotted line. If you’ve worked this hard to earn their trust, they’re likely to understand that you’ll work even harder to keep it.

“They wrote the book on _____”

The old expression of “they wrote the book on it” is used to denote that someone thoroughly understands a particular subject. When your company has authored and published (even self-published) a book on a specific topic, this tells your target audience that you’re an expert in your field. You don’t have to convince your audience that you’re an expert when you can prove it.

“Free? For me? Aw, shucks.”

Let’s face it—we love free stuff. Why? Because of the value received by the giveaway. Getting something for nothing is inherently a great deal. While a company can swear up and down that they’re amazing and that a customer should do business with them, very few of them are creating items of value for their target audience before the sale. When you offer a free ebook with genuinely useful content that answers questions and helps them work through problems, you’re creating value for them before they give you a dime.

Gate Your Book to Grow Your Newsletter List

While posting fantastic content on social media is a great way to get your brand in front of your target audience, it pales in comparison to a newsletter. Your audience sees a waterfall of content on their feeds and timelines every day—many of which are ads they never asked to see. Their inboxes, however, are much more valued real estate for marketers. If your newsletter can earn a spot in their inbox, you will significantly increase the regularity of which they interact with your news, offers, and incentives. One of the ways to do this is by offering your ebook to them for free in exchange for them subscribing to your newsletter.

How to Gate Your Ebook

  • Create your ebook.
  • Create a landing page that promotes the ebook.
  • Put a form on that landing page that asks for their name and email address so that “we know where to send your free ebook.”
  • Make a requirement of the form submission/ebook request a subscription to your helpful newsletter. Make sure to mention that they can unsubscribe anytime.
  • Create a “thank you” response to the form submission, telling them to look for the email containing their ebook download link. Mention that if they don’t see the email, check their spam or junk mailboxes.
  • Create an auto-responder email in response to the form containing a download link for the ebook.
  • Promote the ebook via the landing page through your blog and other distribution channels.

How to Make an Ebook

Part of the reason we’re impressed by books and their authors is because of the perceived work required to create one. We envision hours upon hours working over a keyboard just for that book.

Here’s a dirty little secret that most content marketers don’t want you to know: making a book isn’t nearly that hard. In fact, you may have already written enough material for a book.

Text or Graphic-Centric

Ebooks can be text-centric like novels or image-centric like magazines. The decision to use either would depend on the media consumption habits of your target audience. If this particular audience is more likely to curl up with a book and a cup of their favorite drink, a text-centric ebook may be best. If they’re more engaged by stunning design, photography, or infographics, a magazine-like graphic-centric ebook may be more their speed.

You May Have Already Written a Book

Right behind climbing El Capitan and running a marathon, writing a book can seem like one of the most daunting tasks one can attempt. If you’re feeling this way, I have good news: if you’ve already begun your journey into content marketing, you may already be sitting on your manuscript. Yes, any content you’ve written can be slightly tweaked and reorganized to fit nicely into a book. Beyond blog articles, even some email replies to specific client dilemmas can be massaged into entire chapters. When writing a book, there’s no such thing as “that doesn’t count.” If it’s helpful and fits, it counts.

Creating Ebooks for Free

Text-centric Ebooks

If your target audience is what you would call “readers,” your best bet is turning your collection of blog articles, essays, and email replies into a text-based book. For this task, there’s no better tool for formatting/typesetting than the Reedsy’s formatting tool. In under ten minutes, the free Reedsy tool formats collections of articles, blog posts, and essays into stunning typeset pages that look as good as any book on the shelf of any major bookstore. The tool automatically generates a table of contents for easy navigation and makes editing a snap. Once all edits are completed, you can download PDF, MOBI, and EPUB versions of your book ready for all manner of digital devices for enjoyable reading.

Sidenote: We’re in no way associated with Reedsy. We just think their tool is among the best of its kind.

Graphic-centric Ebooks

Not all target audiences are going to be interested in reading chapter after chapter of a novel. If your audience is composed of more magazine flippers than book worms, no worries. Even if you’re by no means a graphic designer, still no worries! For this audience and your abilities, you can create free stunning ebooks using the ebook-builder functions within the free online tool Canva.

Canva Desktop Presentation vs. Mobile Magazine

Upon logging into Canva with a free account, you will need to scroll down and choose your size dimensions. Scrolling down to the “Documents” options, you’ll see a “Presentation (16:9)” option or a “Magazine” option. The Presentation option would be for those with a desktop-centric target audience, which is the medium that really shines for the dimensions of this ebook. If your target audience is more likely to download this ebook for viewing on a tablet or mobile device, the 8.5”x11” dimensions of the “Magazine” would be best.

Canva Templates

One of the most user-friendly aspects of creating a graphic-centric ebook with Canva is the variety of free templates you can use. These templates come with professionally formatted text and image sections standard. You can add, duplicate, and edit everything about these templated pages right within the website. Even if you select templates that aren’t free, you only need to exchange the included images with your own to allow for unrestricted use of the template. If you don’t have your own images readily available, you can download images for free from websites such as Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. Once you’re finished creating your ebook, you can download it in a PDF version for smooth transfer and viewing.

One Limitation of Canva’s Free Ebook Builder

The main limitation presented by Canva’s free ebook builder is that you can only create image-centric ebooks up to 30 pages in length. To get around this limitation, you can create multiple ebooks and combine them using a free online service, such as CombinePDF.

Ebook Covers

“I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but that never made sense to me because that’s why they put covers on books in the first place.” - Michael Che

Even though the cover for your ebook will likely never catch the eye of a passing shopper at a book store, it will do so on a landing page or other promotion. Fortunately for those with limited graphic design abilities, Canva also has an incredible array of customizable book cover templates. Most of these templates are so polished that your audience will never know that you spent 20 minutes and absolutely no money putting this entire project together.

Hiring Professionals to Make Your Book

So, you’re fully convinced by the effectiveness of having an ebook. Still, you: 

(A) don’t have the material

(B) don’t have the skills to craft one (even though this method requires very few skills), or 

(C) would prefer an ebook far more professional than you feel you can generate.

The answer? Call in the big guns. You can always hire a professional to create your ebook. Experienced creative specialists and marketing experts can work with you to craft a stunning, helpful, and lucrative ebook to super-charge your content marketing efforts.

Conclusion

A helpful ebook can be a powerful tool for whoever wields it. For this reason, please remember to promote it with the best interest of the audience in mind. When you genuinely want what is best for your audience, they will remember your compassion and reward you with their trust.

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