Resources to help you self-publish an ebook.

Images of Community Comfort ebook by Riaz Phillips

If you have a skill or passion you’d like to share during lockdown (or long after!) then an e-book might be something you’re considering. 

In this Spark and Co. post, we hear from Riaz Phillips, the founder of independent publisher, Tezeta Press. Its first book Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK aimed to illustrate Caribbean culture and history in the UK.

Why ebooks?

Digital books or e-books are a great format for anyone who wants to share their passion with the world. Everyone loves real books. For most people however, making a real book isn’t something that we have the resources or time to do. With ebooks, you don’t have to hire any fancy help and once you make them, the ability to share them with others is easy. Do note, you don’t need to own your own computer to make a great e-book and get the word out. E-books are great for people with a creative itch or idea that has been bubbling in their head. E-books are also a great source of added income, which is great especially during this COVID-19 period. So where do you start?

Formatting your ebook.

There are fantastic applications like Adobe’s inDesign, that you can use to create ebooks. There is nothing wrong with using Microsoft Powerpoint though. This comes installed on most computers. Local library computers usually have Powerpoint pre-installed. This makes it a more accessible option. Most ebooks are in PDF format, which makes them easy to share. All different types of computers, tablets and smartphones can read and save PDF files.

Designing your ebook.

If you think you aren’t the most artistic person, don’t worry! People who are more artistic than us spend lots of time making amazing ebook templates and many are free. Using sites like Pinterest or googling ‘ebook template’ gets some amazing results. You can find cookbooks, health and wellness guides or even exercise guides to slot your own original content into. There will be lots of customisable elements so don’t worry too much about being unoriginal. The originality comes from your content and voice so it doesn’t matter if you use a pre-made template.

Content for your ebook.

Many of us come from heritages with amazing culture and we are passionate about it. But, we may not have had support with creative endeavours. This can mean we struggle when it comes to sharing our creativity. Spark & Co. has a great roster of resources and organisations that foster creativity. If you are making a project that centres a specific community, you can seek out people in the same space with similar interests in the UK. I'm sure these communities would love to help and support.

Photography for your ebook.

If you or somebody you know has access to a smartphone released recently than that is more than fine. Cameras on modern smartphones are better than most of the digital cameras in history. If you need photo content for your ebook then look no further. The one secret here is to try and shoot during day-time. If you are taking pictures of food, an exercise routine or portraits of people, take advantage of natural light and avoid indoor lighting and flash!

Editing the text for your ebook.

At one time you may have needed a professional editor to make sure that all your text is error free. I definitely still do! For basic text you can use any number of free editors including google documents. These programs have amazing new technology to help spot mistakes. They  can also narrate your work aloud or via close caption to help.

Website hosting for your e-books.

The great thing about e-books is that hosting them can be free. With free hosting programmes like google documents you can upload your file online. After this it will give you a shareable website link. This link is what you use to share your ebook and you can text it to people, email it, put it on a business card and so on. The possibilities are endless. Web hosts like Strikingly, Squarespace or Wix also allow you to create free websites. Here you can use pre-existing templates and use their built-in shops to sell your ebook. This isn’t completely necessary though. You can always use another free to use service like paypal and sell your ebook straight to people.

I hope this now seems less daunting. While some elements may seem technical it is still easier than making real books. Like any creative project it is amazing the array of people who may come across your project. It's also great how far away they might live from you! The costs of making digital books compared to real books is a lot cheaper. 

For those still seeking financial aid, especially given the circumstances COVID-19 has placed people in, Spark & Co’s resources are a great start.

If you can't get enough of our food content this month, sign up to our free online event Spark Talks for the Love of Food here

This piece was written by our Community Ambassador, Food publisher, writer and advocate Riaz Phillips. You can find out more about Riaz here