Any tips on how to make a great-looking pdf/mobi file?

Really hope someone can help. I’ve been writing a series of technical articles for a website lately and they want to turn it into a downloadable document, probably a pdf, to host on their site. I’ve suggested making it into an ebook to put on the Kindle store too.

I have a few questions, would be great if anyone has any advice.

  1. How long would it take to make them into a PDF? Including adding extra images, a professional-style layout, etc.

  2. How much should I charge for this? It’s 7 different articles, about 2.5k words each. I can’t work out how long it’s going to take, maybe 2 or 3 hours?

  3. Is the process of getting it on the Kindle store going to be a lengthy arduous process? Or is it simple and quick?

  4. Are there any good guides on how to make a info-based ebook look, well-designed, nicely laid-out, etc?

Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.

  1. “How long” will depend on the app(s) used, your experience/expertise, complexity/control of layout required, etc. You may find that you can do it all quckly in a single app… or that it will take some time and involve the use of multiple apps, a production pipeline if you will, possibly including something like Adobe InDesign. Many apps support PDF output. In Scrivener, one can compile to PDF. In Word, one can save as PDF, etc.

  2. Sorry, no idea as to charge for such. Will obviously be impacted by the above.

  3. For preparation time involved in getting such ready for Kindle, see 1) above. Actually getting it on Kindle can be fairly quick, though there’s likely some trial-and-error and learning curve involved the first time or two.

  4. I can’t speak specifically to “info-based”. A widely regarded guide to the general topic of self-publishing on Kindle is David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital”, available as both book and ebook. Currently (6/17/2016), the ebook is free. It focuses primarily on novels, which may involve less/different formatting than what you are anticipating. There will be many other books, articles and such there, on the Internet, etc.

A naive caution… you may want to consider and research issues (copyright, ownership, rights, pay) involved. What, if anything do you/should you retain? Is this a work-for-hire situation? Who would be considered the publisher on Amazon and who would upload and control such material on Amazon? There should be books, articles and such available regarding such.

Overall, I would suggest that you do a practice run, before doing such for real. Try one or more apps or combination of apps. Go through the process of constructing, formatting and outputting the PDF and/or book/ebook. Whoever is going to upload/control the material on Amazon Kindle can upload and do test downloads and/or CreateSpace prints, before setting such to be available for the public to see and purchase/download. If you want the ebook to be free on Amazon, you’ll need to read up on publishing the item elsewhere that allows free and then getting Amazon to price-match it to free.

You might also ask such elsewhere… perhaps on KBoards Writers Cafe.

Beware scammers. Avoid spending any significant amount on this until you have acquired some overview. Gaughran’s book will provide some overview, cautions, etc.

Hope that is of some assistance.

That’s really useful thank you. The parts about publishing and copyright have given me some important things to think about.

I am having another problem, with Scrivener compiling incorrectly. Could you help me with that at all? My question is here:

Honestly? If you don’t already know how long this will take or what is involved, you are probably not the right person to be doing this and should refer them to someone else in your network. Your time will be better spent writing more articles rather than trying to turn yourself into a designer, and their money will be better spent paying someone who already has the requisite skills.


Thanks for the reply Katherine. With respect, I’ve spent a few days working on it and this compiling issue is the only thing preventing the output of a decent final product. And this seems to be more of a bug with Scrivener itself rather than my own deficiencies. I’ll probably be able to work it out if I spend a few more hours but I was hoping the support forum could cut this time down.

You may need a pdf for the website, but as a Kindle reader and fan, I would never upload a pdf to Amazon for a Kindle book. Amazon is going to convert it to the proper format for a Kindle ebook, and pdf’s don’t convert as well as documents submitted in epub, mobi, or Word format (assuming those formats are done right). Although you can submit a pdf, Amazon itself doesn’t recommend it.

If you are going to put out a print-on-demand paperback through Create Space, then yes, a pdf is good.