E-commerce. E-banking. E-gift cards. What do you know — we live in a world where we can do everything virtually. Or better yet — a world where almost everything can be converted electronically.
Of course this applies to the most traditional reading materials: books.
With more and more businesses or entrepreneurs jumping onto the content marketing train and creating ebooks to generate leads or to establish thought leadership, you could be late to the game if you don’t have one right now.
But fret not. In this blog post, I’ll discuss how you can structure your ebook, what type of ebook format you should go for and most importantly — how you can create an ebook that engages and converts.
Let’s get started.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is an ebook?
- What is the structure of an ebook?
- What are the common ebook formats?
- How to create an ebook + tips to make it engaging
What is an ebook?
Simply put, ebook is short for electronic book.
The longer definition (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary): an ebook is “a book composed in or converted to digital format for display on a desktop computer screen or handheld device”.
These devices can be your mobile phone, your tablet, your e-ink reader, etc.
Technically speaking, not all books converted into a digital form are ebooks — as an ebook’s content needs to be non-editable and reflowable.
I know, bear with me for a moment.
Non-editable content means content that cannot be edited by readers and/or other authors. And having reflowable content means the text layout automatically changes to fit the screen size of the gadget you use — or in other words, it’s responsive.
For this reason, PDF files can’t exactly be considered ebooks in its traditional sense — because these files aren’t responsive.
But well, things have changed. As we’re more familiar with this file format than most, and because it’s easy to read or to create a PDF file — now a digital document in a PDF format can be considered an ebook too, as long as it follows the right structure (more on this in a moment).
Here’s an example of an ebook your company can publish:
Note: Just so you know, some of our templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.
What is the structure of an ebook?
Just like a traditional book, an ebook has three major parts: the front matter, the body matter and the back matter.
The front matter
The front matter is the material that appears before the main content of the work. This includes the cover, title page, dedication, copyright page, foreword, acknowledgments and table of contents.
Here’s an example of the front matter in an ebook meant for e-commerce brands:
The body matter
The body matter is the main content of the book. It often breaks into chapters, sections, individual stories, or in the case of a collection — poems and articles. Other than the major content, the body matter includes the prologue and the epilogue too.
Let’s revisit the ebook template above. Here’s an example of its body matter:
The back matter
Following the main content is the back matter. It contains the afterword, endnotes, glossary, index, bibliography, biographical note and more. Of course, for non-fiction ebooks like the one above, it can include things like information about the author and the company, or a call to action (CTA):
What are the common ebook formats?
There are quite a few options on how you could format your ebook. These include TXT, EPUB, AZW, PDF and MOBI. The format you choose matters, so make sure it is suitable for your audience and the platform where you distribute your ebook.
The simplest format of a plain text file uses the file extension .txt. Strictly used for text, this format doesn’t support images, graphs or interactive content — so it’s perfect for text-heavy ebooks or for ebook drafts.
Because of its simplicity, the TXT format is ideal for storing information that requires no special formatting. It doesn’t have a fixed layout or digital rights management (DRM).
Short for “electronic publication”, EPUB is the most widely supported ebook format. It can be read through different devices like most e-readers (including Kindle), computers, smartphones and tablets. All EPUB file formats are protected by DRM and have strong copy protection.
PDF is short for “portable document format”, and like I already mentioned — a PDF isn’t an ebook in the truest sense because it is not reflowable. However, it is the format that most of us are familiar with.
We all know PDFs for their ease of use and ability to maintain high-end designs and formats. When you edit an ebook template on Venngage — like this one, for example:
You can export the ebook as a PDF or Interactive PDF file if you want all your links to be clickable. You can also add multiple images, icons, illustrations, graphs or charts to your ebook to make it visually engaging.
A Mobipocket ebook file, also referred to as a MOBI file, was used by Amazon as its first file format when it launched Kindle. However, MOBI’s support file was withdrawn and discontinued in 2011. It has since been replaced by the AZW file format.
In 2022, however, Amazon has announced that MOBI files (.mobi, .azw) no longer support the newest Kindle features for documents. This is in addition to Amazon’s move to support EPUB file formats in late 2022.
The AZW files replaced MOBI file formatting. It is also known as the Kindle file since it was developed by Amazon for its Kindle e-readers.
Files using the AZW format are accessible only from the Amazon online bookstore and are DRM-protected. This makes them readable on Kindles and any devices with Kindle applications. Complex content such as bookmarks, annotations and highlights can be stored using the AZW file format.
As mentioned, Amazon is currently moving away from AZW files for Kindle ebooks.
How to create an ebook + tips to make it engaging
It’s not that difficult to write an ebook — especially if you’ve nailed down the idea. However, it can be really hard to make the ebook engaging unless you know the right tool. Here are some steps and tips on how to create an ebook that readers can sink their teeth into:
Know your target audience
If your business has already ventured through marketing, you’ll most likely have some idea about your target audience. If you don’t — pause for a sec and write “customer research” on your to-do list. Done? Alright.
Knowing who you’re writing to and for is really important — once you’ve known who your audience is and what their needs and wants are, you’ll know what kind of pain points you can hit in your ebook, and how you can get your readers to stay and read.
Maybe you’ve got an ebook topic in mind, maybe you don’t. Talk to your customers to see whether they’ll find the topic intriguing. Creating an ebook takes time, and you don’t want to invest a large chunk of your time (which equals money) into something that doesn’t convert.
Decide on a topic, research and plan your project
Now you should know which topic to go for. Time to start researching, interviewing subject matter experts (if need to), and creating a concrete plan to write this ebook.
I’d suggest working backward from your final deadline. Say you want to publish an ebook on June 1st. Taking into account the launch promotion — which can last two-three weeks from the launch date or maybe one week prior to the launch date — you should aim to have the final draft of the ebook, designed and everything, on May 15th. This gives you about a week to get people’s feedback and to fix things if you need to, and to finalize your ebook marketing plan.
Not sure how you should be strategizing your ebook marketing plan? This article on how to promote your ebook might come in handy.
From that date, you can work backward to see when you should have the ebook cover designed, complete the first draft, finish consolidating all the research materials, etc.
Write and organize your content
Naturally, with good ideas under your belt, a good plan to commit to, and a good understanding of your readers — the next thing to do is to write. I know, exciting.
There are a few options on how to go about it. You can either create content from scratch, compile multiple pieces of your existing content, or use one excellent piece of content as your source material. Whichever way you choose, always create an outline first.
With an ebook like this template, for example, you can start by creating the outline — which you can see from the Table of Contents:
Pick the right ebook format
From the formats discussed earlier, pick one that’s appropriate for your content and for your readers.
If you plan to include lots of images and illustrations in your ebook — and I highly recommend you do, if you’re writing one for your business — PDF would be the most suitable file format. It’s a popular file type too, so most likely your readers won’t have difficulty reading your ebook.
Pro tip: To promote your ebook, you can repurpose it into different formats i.e. infographics, social media graphics, webinar slides, and more. Read our guides for more tips on repurposing content and creating visual content.
Choose an ebook maker and edit an ebook template
One of the most important steps when creating an ebook is choosing the right platform where you can design and lay out your content.
If you’ve set on creating a PDF ebook, Venngage can help. We’ve got a library of ebook templates you can choose from:
You can just pick a template, add your content, and add the design touches as you like. You can also brand your ebook with My Brand Kit:
Once you’re done, feel free to share your ebook using a private link so your colleagues can read and provide feedback. Or if you would like to collaborate with your team while writing the book, that’s fine too:
For more ebook design inspiration, check out this article on the 15+ inspiring ebook examples to captivate your readers.
Create your ebook and get internal feedback from teams
Once you’re ready, export your ebook as a PDF or Interactive PDF:
Now you can send your ebook to your colleagues for the first round of feedback. Make sure to test all the links in your file (if you export your ebook as an Interactive PDF), and see if there are any spelling mistakes or if your file is legible on a small screen (like on a smartphone).
For more examples of ebook templates and ebook design tips, check out our post: 20+ eBook Templates and Design Tips (From an Expert Who Sold 10k+ Paid Copies)
Generate leads and establish your thought leadership with a well-designed ebook
Now that you’ve got your ebook design ready, it’s time to sell your ebook online! When done right, ebooks can help you establish your business’s credibility, capture new customers and drive revenue. Put the exciting, eye-catching, entertaining, eloquent and effective “E” on that ebook — by using a Venngage ebook template. It’s free to try!