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We’ve all got dreams for our businesses. For a lot of us, that means getting published. Whether that means a book deal with a publisher or selling an ebook published on your own, there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
Not only do you have to actually write the thing, but someone’s gotta design it. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, I’ve got good news.
It’s super easy to design and publish an ebook on your own.
Don’t believe me? Here are five different InDesign tools you can use to finally get your ebook published.
When you’re first opening a document in Indesign, you’ll probably pay attention to the page size, the number of pages, and the orientation. But there’s one more thing you should change when that first dialog box opens: uncheck the “Facing Pages” box.
Facing Pages means your pages will be next to each other in pairs. If you’re creating a book for print, you’ll definitely want your pages to be facing.
However, we’re talking ebooks here. That means it will be viewed on a computer, not in print.
When you export a document with Facing Pages, the two-page spreads are morphed into one extra-wide page. That means rather than being able to scroll down through all of your ebook’s pages, your audience will have to scroll down, then over, then down, then over, and on and on.
Instead, design your ebook with non-facing pages so your audience can scroll down through all of your ebook’s pages with ease.
Linking Text Boxes
You know how in Microsoft Word, you start typing on one page and it continues onto the next when you run out of space? Well, at first it doesn’t seem like InDesign can do that. You create a text box and start writing in it, but once you run out of space, the text disappears. What’s a designer to do?
Link your text boxes, of course! When you’ve filled up a text box, you’ll notice a small red plus sign appears in the bottom right corner.
When it appears, simply draw a new text box where you’d like the text to continue, click on that red plus sign, and click on your new text box. Voila! The overfill text appears because your text boxes are now linked.
And yes, you can link more than one text box. In fact, you can link as many text boxes together as you’d like, across as many pages as you’d like. You’ll see below that my second text box still has a red plus sign in the corner, so I know I either need to make the text box bigger or add a third text somewhere in my ebook (preferrably on the next page).
This allows InDesign to function much like Microsoft Word, without all of the clunkiness.Ready to get your ebook published? @caitlinhonard will show you how to design it yourself!Click To Tweet
Another beautiful text-based function of InDesign is Text Wrap.
You’ve probably seen in textbooks how the text seems to wrap itself around an object. Think the designer had to go and manually create that shape? Not a chance. There’s a super easy tool called Text Wrap (appropriately) that does it for you. To find it, simply go to Window -> Text Wrap, and the window will appear on your screen.
Place the object where you want it (even if that means covering up some of your text).
Now, while that object is selected, go back to that Text Wrap window, and at the top, click on the icon that looks like an Easter egg with lines on either side of it.
You could use the icon that’s more of a square, but that will square-off rounded edges.
We’re definitely getting there, but you’ll notice the text is right on the object’s border. It’s making me a bit claustrophobic, so let’s give that object some breathing room, shall we?
Back on the Text Wrap window, you’ll notice the distance is set at 0px. We’ll want to change that. I typically don’t use any buffer less than 12 pixels.
Much better! You’ll notice a new border has appeared around your object. That’s showing you where the text buffer is, which is super helpful if you don’t have text around that object yet. It enables you to see how wide your buffer will be, and therefore if you need to increase it or decrease it.
If your object is in the middle of two columns of text (like mine is), you might want to justify your text. You can see in my example, the right side circles the object nicely, but the left side is choppier. Justifying the columns would help balance that out and make both sides uniform.
Voila! Text easily wrapped around an object to add some intrigue to the design.
Since we’re talking about getting your ebook published here, it’s safe to assume it’s going to be accessed on a computer. Sure, some people might print it out, but most people will see it on their computer screen.
Because of this, InDesign has a tool that can really take your ebook above and beyond for your audience: hyperlinks.
Your first thought is probably linking some text in your ebook to a webpage, right? While you can totally do that (and I highly recommend it), you can also link within your ebook. Think Table of Contents.
Imagine if you were in the middle of an ebook and had to put it down for whatever reason. When you get back to it, it’s likely going to open at the first page. You could scroll down to find where you left off. Or, you could go to the Table of Contents, click on the title of the chapter you’re on, and be taken there automatically.
The second option sounds a lot better, right?
To do this, go to Window -> Interactive -> Hyperlinks. Just like with Text Wrap, a window will pop up.
You don’t need to have the text for these chapters already written out, but you do need to know which page the chapters will start on. So, if you’re not 100% sure how long your chapters will be, I recommend coming back to this once it’s all laid out.
Now, you’ll go to your Table of Contents page and highlight the text you’ll want to link. Open up the Hyperlinks window and select the little Post-It-Note-shaped icon in the bottom right of the window. A new window will pop up.
At the top of the new window, there will be a drop-down menu that says “Link to:” in front of it. It’s most likely going to have URL selected. This is what you’d use if you wanted to link some text to a webpage, but we want to select Page instead.
Make sure your current document is selected (it should be automatically), and choose whatever page you want that text to link to. In my case, it was page 1.
Click OK, and then repeat for the rest of your chapters! Bam, interactive Table of Contents. Easy, right?
A-Master pages were difficult for me to grasp at first, but I’m so glad I’ve figured it out now. Think of it as a background template for your pages, and you can create as many as you’d like within one document.
Open up the Pages window (Windows -> Pages if it isn’t already on your screen). You should see a page labeled [None] at the very top, with one labeled A-Master below it. Double-click on the page labeled A-Master.
No matter how many pages your document has, suddenly only one will be on your screen. That’s because these templates are only one page, but it dictates the design of as many pages in your document as you’d like.
Whatever shows up on your A-Master is going to appear in the background of any page it’s applied to. Because of this, you don’t really want any text on your A-Master, with one exception: page numbers.
You’ll create a text box and place it wherever you want your page numbers to appear. You don’t want to add in a number manually, though. Instead, you’ll go to Type -> Insert Special Character -> Markers -> Current Page Number.
You’ll notice an A will appear in that spot. It’s simply a placeholder for the page number, which will show up when you go back to your actual document. It’s an A if you’re in the A-Master, but it could also be a B on the B-Master, a C on the C-Master, and so on.
You can have as many of these master pages as you’d like, and they’re all named by the alphabet to keep them straight.
So, what else should you include? Any background images you’d like, dividers, etc. Anything that will remain in the same place on every page the A-Master is applied to.
When you first create your document, the A-Master is applied to every single page of your document. If there are pages you don’t want it applied to, though (like, say, your cover page or Table of Contents), you can click on the [None] page at the top of the Pages window and drag it over those pages to apply no master template to them.
You’ll do the same if you’ve got a B-Master, C-Master, etc. Just click and drag those templates onto whichever page you’d like to apply it to, and bam, it’s applied.
To get back to your actual document, simply double-click on the page you’d like to go to.
Whew, that was a lot. InDesign is such an amazing program to use when you’re working on an ebook, and I highly recommend it.
Want some video tutorials and prompts to help you become an InDesign pro? Well, good news! The InDesign Adventure Guide is now on sale!
In the course, you’ll not only learn the ins and outs of InDesign, but you’ll also create three projects you’ll actually use for your blog, one of which is an ebook!
So, if you’ve got your plan for your ebook all laid out, but need some help with the design side, the InDesign Adventure Guide is perfect for you!