Walkthrough for Self-Published Authors: Getting Started Using Leanpub’s Word Writing Mode

19 min readJul 30, 2021

Using Leanpub to Create Ebook Files from Your Word Manuscript

It’s easy to create PDF, EPUB, and MOBI ebook files on Leanpub, using our Word upload writing mode!

You can then self-publish your Leanpub-generated ebook files anywhere you like, including on Amazon KDP, Apple Books, Google Play, and elsewhere.

And of course, with just the click of a button, you can also publish your ebook any time on Leanpub’s bookstore, and start earning 80% royalties on every Leanpub sale!

Finally, you can also use Leanpub to create a Print-Ready PDF that you can upload to print-on-demand services, so you can get your book into print, too!

Getting Started

In this article, we’ll show you how to upload your Word file to Leanpub and create ebook files from your manuscript, in just a few minutes!

We’ll also show you how you can publish your book on Leanpub’s bookstore, after adding a book cover image, a book description, and setting up your Leanpub author profile.

OK, here we go!

Creating a New Book

To begin, go to https://leanpub.com/create/book to create a new book:

Next, type a title for your book into the “TITLE” box:

Scroll down and click in the “BOOK URL” box. Leanpub will automatically suggest a URL for your book’s web page on Leanpub. You can change this URL at any time:

Scroll down and you will see “MAIN LANGUAGE USED IN YOUR BOOK.” You can select a language from the drop-down. Like the other settings, you can change this at any time:

In the section below, you will be presented with various Writing Mode options. By default, the “Browser” writing option will be selected:

Select the “Word” option:

When you scroll down, you will see the subscription plan options. By default, “Standard” will be selected, if you are setting up your first book in Leanpub.

You can use our Word Upload writing mode for free if you want! Just select the Free plan:

Next, scroll down and, if you are not already signed in to a Leanpub account, you will see an option to enter information to create a new account.

To create a new account, fill in the relevant information.

If you selected a paid account, you’ll see a form for entering your payment information:

Finally, tick the box if you wish to accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and click the blue button to finish creating your new In-Browser Plain Text Editor book:

If this is the first Leanpub book you have created, you will now see a page that is asking you to verify your email address:

If you check your email, you should see a message from Leanpub with the subject line:

[Leanpub] Thanks for trying Leanpub! Please verify your email address…

The contents of the email will say:

Click the link that says: “Click here to verify your email address.”

You will now be taken to the Getting Started page for your book:

If you use bookmarks in your web browser, we recommend you bookmark this page in your web browser, in a special bookmark folder for your book, but this is not required, of course!

(If you’d like to learn more about navigating around Leanpub as an author, please read this article when you have finished this Getting Started walkthrough. We’ll link to the article again at the end of this walkthrough, but just wanted you to let you know about it now.)

Uploading Your Word Document

In this section, we’re going to download Leanpub’s template Word document, and then upload it to Leanpub to see how the book generation process works.

Downloading the Template Word Document

The first thing you’ll want to do is download our template Word document by clicking here.

The document will be saved to wherever you save downloads on your computer. Here is what it looks like on a Mac:

Once you have downloaded it to your computer, please open the document and read it. It’s not very long! Basically, it contains straightforward examples of how you need to format your Word manuscript.

You can actually use this document as the starting point for your own book, just deleting our content and replacing it with your own. We’ll show you how to do this a bit later.

People familiar with self-publishing websites will be recognize this kind of Word document template, but for those new to self-publishing, here’s a brief explanation!

To use a Word document to create an ebook, our book generators need to “read” the formatting you’ve done in the document.

To standardize this process, every self-publishing service will offer you guidelines you need to follow when you are formatting your book’s manuscript in Word, so their book generators know what to do.

If you’ve ever encountered really complex formatting guidelines elsewhere, don’t worry, Leanpub’s guidelines are deliberately very simple, and they are set out clearly in the template document, as you’ll see when you read it!

Uploading A Word Document

Next, we’re going to upload the Word template document to generate some ebook “preview” files, so you can see how the process works, and (hopefully!) how easy it is.

First, click on the “Versions” tab you will see in the horizontal menu at the top of the Getting Started page for your book on Leanpub:

This will take you to the “Preview” page for your book:

Next, click on “Upload Word Document”:

This will take you to the Upload page for your book:

On the Upload Word Document page, scroll down until you see the “Full Manuscript” section:

Click on “Choose File”:

Next, on your device, find the template Word document you just downloaded:

With the file selected, click “Open”:

(What you see here will depend on your device and your operating system. These examples are from a Mac.)

You will now see that the file has been selected:

Next, click the “Upload and Preview” button:

When you click this button, it uploads the selected Word document to Leanpub, and our book generators get to work creating a “preview” of your ebook files.

Previews are only available to you to download from the Preview page of your book. They are used for testing how things look in your book.

You will see a progress bar at the top of the Preview page, until the process is complete:

Once the preview is complete, you will see the download links for the ebook in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats:

Click the top link to download the PDF:

Here’s a screenshot from Chapter Two, where we show you some formatting examples:

Here’s what the EPUB file looks like, in Apple’ Books app:

All right, well done! That’s just how easy it is to create an ebook on Leanpub using a Word document.

In the next section, we’ll go through the process of editing our template Word document, saving the changes, and uploading it again, to create brand new ebook files.

Writing Your Word Manuscript

Now that we’ve seen how the book generation process works, let’s pretend we’re starting a brand new book from the Leanpub Word template.

If you’re starting a brand new book, we recommend starting from the template, just like we’ll show you in this tutorial!

If you’ve already written a full book manuscript in Word, you’ll need to edit your Word document so the formatting matches the examples set out in our template Word document.

Ok, let’s write!

Start by opening the template file on your computer, in Word. The first page will look like this:

Next, let’s delete everything in the document except the “Chapter One” heading. Select everything else in the document and delete it:

Now, select “Chapter One”:

Type “Preface” to rename the chapter:

Next, hit Return (or Enter, depending on your keyboard) a couple of times and type your first paragraph. In our example, we’re just going to type a couple of sentences:

Now, let’s create a new chapter heading. Hit Enter a couple of times to go to a new line:

For chapter headings, you need to format them in Word’s Heading 1 “style”.

To change the style, select “Styles” at the top:

When you click on “Styles”, you will see a menu of options:

Select “Heading 1”:

You can also select the style “Header 1” from the Word menu, by clicking on “Format” and then selecting “Style…”, like this:

This will open up the “Style” menu:

Type “Heading 1” in the box under “Styles”

Next, click the “Apply” button at the bottom right:

Now that we’ve selected the style “Header 1”, we can type our new chapter heading:

Now, let’s hit Return (or Enter) a couple times and write another paragraph:

You may have noticed earlier that when you hit Return, the “style” changes to “Normal”, so you can write without having to switch away from the Header One style.

Finally, make sure to save your changes!

In the Word menu, select “File” and then “Save As…”:

You will now see a menu that looks something like this:

Type a suitable name for your manuscript. In this example, we’ll just call it “My Novel”:

Finally, click “Save”:

Uploading Your Manuscript Again, and Creating a New Preview

All right, now that we’ve written our own manuscript, let’s go back to the Upload Word Document page in Leanpub:

This will take you back to this page:

Scroll down to the “Full Manuscript” section and click “Choose File”, like you did earlier:

With the file selected, click the “Upload and Preview” button again:

Once the process is complete, you can download the new ebook preview files to see your changes. Here’s are a couple of screenshots from the PDF:

Note that our book generators automatically make a Table of Contents for you, based on the chapter headers.

Creating a Sample Book

Next, let’s create a “Sample” book. This is a downloadable ebook file made up of just the first chapter or chapters of your book, so people who haven’t bought the book yet, can decide if they want to buy it.

If you publish your book on Leanpub, people will be able to click to download your sample book on your book’s landing page on Leanpub. You may also find other self-publishing sites, where you can upload a sample book.

Editing Your Main Book Manuscript

To begin, go to your main book Word file on your computer:

Right-click on the file and select “Duplicate”:

This example is on a Mac; what you see will depend on your computer and your operating system.

This will create a duplicate of your manuscript, with the word “copy” at the end:

Open the new file, and check the file name at the top, to make sure you are in the correct file:

Next, delete all of Chapter One, leaving just the Preface:

Again, from the Word menu, select “File” and “Save As…” to bring up this menu:

Let’s name this new Word document “Sample Book”:

Next, click “Save”:

Uploading the Sample Book

Now, let’s go back to the “Upload Word Document” page on Leanpub:

Scroll down to the “Sample Manuscript (Optional)” section:

Next, click “Choose File” like you have done before. This time, select the new “Sample Book” document on your computer:

With the Sample Book file selected, click “Open”:

With the file selected, click the “Upload and Preview” button:

When the book generation process completes, you will see download links for the sample book files on the Preview page:

You will see that the sample book only has the Preface:

Publishing Your Ebook

When you’re happy with these preview ebook files, you’re ready to use them to self-publish your book anywhere you like online!

You can use a variety of self-publishing services, from Amazon KDP to Lulu to Smashwords in IngramSpark, amongst many others.

As we mentioned above, we also have a Print-Ready PDF export option, so with one click you can also generate the file you need to use a print-on-demand service, to self-publish your book in print.

If you want to customize your book’s colophon page (the page after the cover page) before publishing your book, please see this article.

Of course, we also recommend you publish your book here on Leanpub! Not only do we pay an 80% royalty rate on every sale, but we also have a number of features that are pretty unique, like the ability to create discount coupon links for your book.

(For a long-ish guide to what makes Leanpub somewhat unique in the world of self-publishing, please see this article.)

If you’d like to publish your book on Leanpub, you’ll want to add some information about your book and a cover image first. We’ll show you how to do that in the sections below.

Writing Your Book Description

To begin adding your book’s information, scroll up and click on “Settings” in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

By default, this will take you to the “About” page for your book, which is the top item in the vertical menu at the left:

On this page, you can add your book’s subtitle, a description of your book that will be displayed in an “About the Book” section on your book’s Leanpub web page, some “Teaser” text, and a “Meta Description” for search engines.

Enter your information in each of the boxes:

Finally, review your information and scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Update Book” button:

When the book is updated, you will briefly see a success message at the top of the page:

Adding a Book Cover Image

Next, let’s add a cover image to our book, that will be displayed on the course’s web page and anywhere else the book is shown by Leanpub, such as bestseller or category lists, or on social media.

To upload your book cover image to Leanpub, click on “Book Cover” in the vertical menu to the left:

This will take you to a page where you can upload an image for your book:

Scroll down until you see the section called “How to Choose a Cover Size”:

You will see there is a message saying that your book image should be 1800 pixels wide x 2700 pixels high, which is equivalent to, 6.0 inches wide x 9.0 inches high, or, in centimetres, 15.24 cm wide x 22.86 cm high. (This is the same cover size for all books uploaded using the Bring Your Own Book writing mode.)

Creating a Book Cover Image

If you’ve never created a book cover image before, you may find the following articles helpful:

How To Make A Book Cover Image Using Keynote


How To Make A Book Cover Image Using PowerPoint


Here is a book cover we made following these instructions:

[Editor’s Note: We’re using an image from Unsplash, which is a great resource for images you are free to use (though you should always check attribution requirements, of course!).]

Uploading Your Book Cover Image

When you’re ready to upload your book cover image, scroll down and click “Choose File”:

Navigate on your computer to the image you want to use. What this looks like will depend on your operating system. Here’s what it looks like in a Mac:

Click “Open” (or the equivalent button you see on your computer) to add the image as your course image:

You will now see the image has been selected:

Next, click the blue “Update Book Cover” button:

This will generate a new preview of your book, which will take a few moments.

When the process completes, you will see your book cover appear at the top left:

Pricing Your Book

Leanpub uses a “variable pricing” model for selling books, courses and bundles.

This model is very popular with Leanpub readers, who enjoy being able to decide what to pay, within the constraints set by you, the author.

Before you publish your book on Leanpub, you will want to set both the Minimum Price and Suggested Price for book.

To set the Minimum and Suggested prices for your book, click on “Store” in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

Next, click on “Pricing” in the vertical menu to the left:

This will take you to the Pricing page for your book:

For this example, we’re going to set the Minimum price to $9.99 and the suggested price to $14.99:

[Editor’s Note: Pricing is notoriously hard, so we recommend experimenting with different price points over time, to see which prices work best for you and your audience. However, we would like to note that the most common mistake authors make when it comes to pricing, is selling themselves short, and setting the price too low!]

Next, scroll down until you see the “Maximum Leanpub Discount %” section:

The wording in this section is hopefully self-explanatory, but basically, by setting a maximum discount percentage here, you are opting your book in to Leanpub discount sales, include our popular Weekly and Monthly discount sale newsletters.

We strongly recommend you opt in to these sales. People love getting discounts!

Choose the highest discount percentage you’re comfortable with. For this example, we’re choosing 50%:

When you’ve made all your pricing choices here, click the blue “Update Pricing” button:

Setting Up Your Author Profile

Next, if this is your first Leanpub book, you will want to set up your author profile page here:


On that page you will see the various options we provide for setting up your author profile:

We highly recommend you upload a nice picture of yourself and add your social media information, as well as a brief bio in the “About You” section. This really helps sell books!

After you add your information, make sure to click the “Save Settings” button at the bottom of the page:

Here’s an example of what an author profile page looks like, after you set it up:

Publishing Your Book on the Leanpub Bookstore

OK, now we’re ready to publish our book!

To publish your book, go back to the Versions section, by clicking the “Versions” tab in the menu at the top of the page:

Next, click on “Publish New Version” in the menu to the left:

This will take you to the “Publish” page for your book:

Finally, scroll down and click the blue “Publish Book” button:

When the publishing process has been completed, you will then see a message saying your book has been published:

To go to your published book’s Leanpub web page, click on the book cover image at the top left:

Congratulations! People can now buy your book on Leanpub from this page, where you’ll earn an 80% royalty on every sale:

Notice that blue “Edit” button?

The “Edit” button is only visible to you, and to any co-authors you may add to your book. Click it any time to go to your book’s “Overview” page:

Here is what the book landing page will look like to a normal person, who is not the author (it’s the same, but with no “Edit” button):

Updating Your Book

One last thing: Leanpub books are really easy to update.

To update your book, all you have to do is:

1. Upload a new version of your Word manuscript.

2. Generate a new preview to make sure everything looks good.

3. Go to the “Publish New Version” page and click the “Publish Book” button.

Next Steps

Ok, that’s it!

As a next step, you may want to read this article about specific ways you can use Leanpub to sell your book.

To learn more about navigating around Leanpub as an author, please read this article.

If you have any questions, you may find answers instantly if you search our Help Center or our Authors Forum.




Leanpub is the best way in the world to write, publish, and sell ebooks. Publish in-progress, serial and complete ebooks in PDF, EPUB and MOBI.