Follow in Virignia Woolf's self-publishing footprints and earn a living - not to mention potential literary immortality - with your very own e-book. We show you how with the free version of Serif's PagePlus software.

Although e-books have been around for years, it wasn't until Amazon started selling its Kindle reader in the UK and, more recently, Apple launched its iPad that the concept really began to excite consumers.

One great advantage of e-books is that they make becoming a publisher easier than ever. You may be interested only in producing titles for a select audience, such as family and friends, but it's easy to extend your reach by setting up an online shop.

Despite the digital book's new-found popularity, for some readers it will never replace the traditional paperback. Print-on-demand sites such as Blurb, Lulu and Spiderwize offer software to help you compose your own book and will happily run off a single copy or a whole batch of your finished design.

Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and William Blake all started their careers by publishing their own works. These days, thanks to online stores, print-on-demand sites and e-book-publishing software, all you need to join their number is a good idea and the ability to communicate it effectively.

Turning your literary masterpiece into an e-book is a great way to make it accessible to a wide audience. The most widely supported format of e-book is PDF, which is compatible with PCs and Macs running the free Adobe Reader software.

Laying out your copy and images and exporting the document to PDF is a fairly simple task. We'll do so in the following workshop using the free version of Serif PagePlus. If you prefer to use Google Sigil and publish your e-book in the ePub format, see our alternative walkthrough.

Create an e-book with Serif PagePlus

Step 1. Download and install Serif PagePlus. Launch the application, choose the Pages tab and select a master page. Master pages are templates that hold design elements common to all pages. Text and graphics can be added separately to individual pages. To create guide lines, click the ruler at the edge of the screen on to the page.

Serif PagePlus step 1

Step 2. Use the buttons at the bottom right to add a new page based on your master page, or to scroll between pages. Note that you can set up multiple master pages. To insert text, create a text frame using the tool in the left toolbar. Fonts can be applied from the Attributes tab or from the top toolbar.

Serif PagePlus step 2

Follow in Virignia Woolf's self-publishing footprints and earn a living - not to mention potential literary immortality - with your very own e-book. We show you how with the free version of Serif's PagePlus software.

Step 3. A small plus sign at the bottom of a text frame indicates that there is too much text to fit. Create another text box and, using the Selection (arrow) tool, first click the plus sign and then your new box. The text will flow between the frames, even across multiple pages.

Serif PagePlus step 3

Step 4. To add an image, click the Import Picture icon in the toolbar and browse to your chosen image. Ensure that ‘Embed Picture' is selected before clicking open. PagePlus supports most common image formats, including Jpeg, Tiff and .png. Drag the picture into the correct position and use the handles to resize the box.

Serif PagePlus step 4

Step 5. Spend some time tweaking your design, experimenting with colours, borders and so on using the Attributes tab. When you're happy with the appearance of each page, save the document with a memorable file name. PagePlus SE saves files only in Serif's native format, but we'll convert ours to PDF in the following step.

Serif PagePlus step 5

Step 6. Download and install PrimoPDF. Launch the application and select the eBook tab. From within PagePlus, go to File, Print and select the PrimoPDF driver as the printer. Rather than printing to paper, this will create an Adobe PDF file that you can then distribute electronically.

Serif PagePlus step 6

Also see: How to: Create an e-book using Google Sigil

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