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How to Write an E-Book Using Your Smartphone

With the creation of the eBook (e-book) on the horizon, many are wondering – what exactly is an e-book and how to write one?

While the format might not seem like a massive departure from a traditional book – an e-book is essentially the digital version of a ‘floppies’ or ‘stone age’ book. These are books that you carry around in the form of a disk (floppy disk). Essentially, what you have here is a book that you can read on your smartphone (cellphone) or on any other device connected to the net (e.g. laptop, PC, etc.).

What is interesting is that with the proliferation of tablets, e-readers and small laptops, the line between a traditional book and an e-book is becoming blurred. Writers are no longer bound to a single device when creating a book. This means that e-books can now be created using any device and any software capable of opening and saving files in PDF format. (Note: Not all e-readers support all PDF file types, so it’s important to check with the manufacturer before opening up your device to any type of file.)

What Is an E-Book?

An e-book is a book that you can read on any device connected to the net. It does not have to be restricted to being read only on a computer or phone. You can download the Kindle app for iPhones (and other smartphones), Nooks, etc., and read books on the go. Essentially, the e-book is a scaled-down version of a traditional book – only without all the frills (collections of papers, tables, indices, etc.).

Why would someone want to write an e-book? There are a number of reasons, but the most common one is that you want to self-publish and gain instant brand recognition. Once you have your book published, you can apply for publishing grants and discounts from publishers, which can help offset the cost of publishing.

How Do I Create An E-Book?

If you are new to the world of e-books, you will want to familiarize yourself with a few different tools before getting started. Below, we outline three of the most commonly used software packages for creating and editing e-books.

Adobe Acrobat

We begin with an app that is most commonly used for creating PDF files. These are the files that e-books are based on, and as the name would suggest, they are designed to be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat software. The only caveat is that not all PDF readers will show all the features of Acrobat, so it’s essential that you download the full version. Even then, you might not have access to certain features depending on your device or browser. Some of the more basic features that you will find in most readers include:

  • Bookmarking
  • Text searching
  • Fade to another page
  • Rotating pages
  • Creating a summary
  • Writing a credential
  • Tracking sales (e.g. ordered, shipped, etc.)
  • Adding photos
  • Adding videos
  • Adding music
  • Adding a table of contents
  • Adding marginalia
  • Adding hyperlinks

Microsoft Word

We next arrive at Microsoft Word. Like Adobe Acrobat above, Microsoft Word is a suite of applications that is designed to create and edit word docs, letters, etc. As the name would suggest, Microsoft Word is primarily used for creating and editing traditional books. While Microsoft Word doesn’t have a lot of the frills that some of the other applications above do, it is the most basic of the three tools we discussed above. Simply put, if you are looking for a word processor that will allow you to write a book, Microsoft Word is the one to go with.

Libre Office

Finally, we arrive at the king of (free) software, Libre Office. Libre Office is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, and it supports all the basic features of Word and Acrobat above. The one caveat is that not all versions of Libre Office are created equal, so it’s important to check with the manufacturer to see if your version supports all the features you need. Some of the more basic features that you will find in Libre Office include:

  • Summaries
  • Footnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Changing fonts
  • Adding pictures
  • Adding videos
  • Adding a table of contents
  • Adding marginalia
  • Adding documents to a project
  • Collaboration

Where Do I Start?

Once you have your device and software ready, you can begin by creating a folder on your phone (or computer) to keep all your e-book documents. Inside this folder, you will want to create sub-folders to keep track of all the separate e-book projects you have going on. For example, you can use the year as a foldering system and create sub-folders for each month of the year. 

Each sub-folder will contain all the documents related to that particular book project. Further, you can use a word processor (such as Microsoft Word or Libre Office) to start on the first pages of your book and continue through the whole book – taking care of all the little details such as brackets, collections, etc. When you are happy with the first few pages, you can export the file to PDF and continue working on the rest of the book from there. This way, you keep all your manuscripts together and can return to them at any time.

If you find that you are struggling to keep track of all the different versions of your book – i.e. the separate versions for different markets (or genres), you can use a tool like Evernote to keep all your materials organized. With Evernote, you can create notebooks for different projects and organize all the documents and pages related to each project into their own notebooks. These notebooks can later be linked to create a dynamic bibliography and keep track of all your accomplishments.