3 Popular Questions Asked about e-Books in Kenya

Question 1: How do I create an e-Book in Kenya? Is it easy?

A. This depends on the type of book you want to create. A book filled with prose like a story, or a non-fiction book with no graphs, tables, and pictures is easy.  You only need Microsoft Word/Apple’s Pages to create an e-Book.  You can turn your word document into a PDF, and/or ePub with Pages, and voila, you have an e-book.

The challenge starts when you have graphs, tables, and pictures that need specific formatting and layout requirements.  You then have to think of how your readers will access the e-book and the type of app they will use to read your e-book.

If you are selling your e-book yourself, there are decisions to make, for example;

  • Do you want the e-book printable? If you do, the PDF version is sufficient.  You only need to make sure it is formatted correctly so that the graphs fit within the margins and are readable on a phone/tablet/ laptop etc.
  • Do you have a print book and do not want the e-book printable? My advice would be to keep the book in print form. Do not turn the print book into an e-book if you’re absolutely against getting it in an e-book and having it printed out by readers that way. I tell you this because a motivated reader will find a way to turn your unprintable e-book into a printable version. We are in an age when there is always software somewhere that can do the conversion.
    • In any case, if you must turn the e-book non-printable, ePub is your best option.  ePub allows you to disable the printing option at creation ePub reading apps do not provide a means to print the eBook. Once again, it depends on the platform you have chosen to use to distribute your ePub.  When you are creating PDFs, you do get to choose whether to make the PDF nonprintable too, but you have to have software that allows you to lock up the contents.  Otherwise, as I said earlier, motivated readers will find a way to bypass the password version. ^_^

I hope this sheds some light on this constant question in my inbox. ^_^

Question 2: What type of software do I use often to make e-books?

  1. Microsoft Word

The most basic and easiest way to create an e-book in Kenya is to use Word from Microsoft Office, or its equivalent on Apple called Pages.  This is because I have used Word for a long time, since my school days, so I find it easiest to use.  I am able to make the necessary formatting changes on Word without problems. It is also easy because platforms like Smashwords take the word documents and turn them into PDF/Epub/and all other types of formats for the different types of devices on the planet.  Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing can also use .docx for their Kindle Create software to make upload files for Kindle. Word is quite diverse and easy to use.  Microsoft Office 360 is also a great way to save documents online so I don’t worry about crashing laptops and loss of work.  You can also do that with Google Docs, though I rarely use google docs as a way to work on ebooks to publish unless I’m doing a collaboration with someone else and we’re storing notes or giving feedback that needs everyone’s input.

  1. Publisher

I love Publisher for when I’m creating mini books that will not be uploaded online, or used as e-books. I use this software for little books we are printing ourselves.  It has a lot to offer in terms of formatting, and the little bubbles and asides and graphs and ways to arrange pictures excite me.  It’s my favorite for brochures, info notebooks, or just a short printed book.  I do not use this for e-books though.  I also do not use this software when sending a document to the printers.  The few times I tried it, we had great and epic mix-ups with formatting issues, so I reverted to word, and shifted to Indesign.

  1. Adobe Indesign

This is my favorite software.  It offers a very wide range of possibilities and is perfect for magazines, novels both non-fiction, and fiction, brochures, ebooks, and anything you can think of creating that will open like a book.  It is important to note that it also has a wide learning curve.  You’ll need to take the time to get to know how to format paragraphs, shapes, designs, images, and all that, but once you master it, anything is possible.  You can save your documents as per the printer’s requirements, and create ebooks turning them into PDFs or ePubs. The only limitations with this software are caused by the wallet ^_^. You can work on upgrading it as you grow.

Question 3 – Where do I sell my e-Book in Kenya now that I have made it?

Everywhere!  There is no limitation on where you can sell your e-book or printed book for that matter.  What I can do is give you three ideas on how you can create outlets for your ebook.

There is no limitation on where you can sell your e-book

  1. Create a Page on your preferred Social Media Platform. There are very many: Facebook /Instagram/ Tiktok/ Twitter to name some of the most popular. Discuss and talk about your book on your pages.  Facebook/ Instagram allows you to create a shop and you can sell your book through them.  Tiktok allows you to direct your followers to your Instagram page. Well, you can also Tweet the process of how to get the book. (This is the least amount of work for setup) You can also sell your ebook through Whatsapp.
  2. Create a website and make a landing page for your book.  Do you know how to create a website? If you do, then we’re halfway there. Create a landing page highlighting your e-book. I’m hoping you have a following or have at least been marketing it by this point. Explain to your potential readers how to buy your Printed Book/e-book. Provide an email, phone number, and how to pay for it.  Please make this process seamless for the reader. (An Mpesa plugin allows you to set up a seamless payment system. This method does require a considerable amount of knowledge when it comes to setting up a website. You can learn to do it yourself, or reach out to the website designer of your choice.)
  3. Signup on an ebook selling platform like OkadaBooks/ Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing/ Smashwords / Draft2Digital/ Litireso.  What these platforms allow you to do is upload your word document or pdf, please check their requirements, and sell your book through their shops and/or distribute to other ebook selling shops like Barnes & Nobles and Apple Books, etc. This method is the easiest as you rely on already established resources.  The cost of this is that each of these platforms does take a percentage of your sales. Decide which platform best fits your needs.

I hope this information gives you some insight into creating your own e-book for distribution to your readers. Find the software you are most comfortable with and work on mastering it, formatting documents, so that you are able to send out beautiful ebooks to your readers. Most of all, I wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey.

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