It's easy to write and publish an online course using Leanpub's Browser writing mode!

In this article we'll show you how to create a course, write in it, create previews, and finally how to publish a course.

You can also watch this video, which is currently a bit more comprehensive than this article, and if you prefer videos to screenshot-by-screenshot walkthroughs, we recommend you try that instead!

[Editor's Note: If you're a tl;dr type of person who just wants to dive in now, and learn the details from this walkthrough later, you may want to read this article.]

This walkthrough is rather comprehensive, but once you have successfully gone through it, you'll know everything you need to know to get started writing a course in the In-Browser Plain Text Editor writing mode!

Creating a Course in the In-Browser Plain Text Editor Writing Mode

Go to http://leanpub.next/create/course to create a new course in our In-Browser Plain Text Editor writing mode:

Next, type a title for your course into the "TITLE" box. You can change your title later.

Scroll down and click in the "COURSE URL" box. Leanpub will automatically suggest a URL for your course's web page on Leanpub. You can change this URL at any time.

Scroll down and you will see "MAIN LANGUAGE USED IN YOUR COURSE." 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 "In your browser on Leanpub" option will be selected, which is what we want:

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 or course in Leanpub.

Select a plan:

Scroll down and, if you are not signed in to a Leanpub account, you will see an option to enter information to create a new account. You will also see an option to sign in, if you already have a Leanpub 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 course:

If this is the first Leanpub product (i.e. book or course) you have created, you will 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 something like this:

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

Getting Started

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

On this page, you will see lots of helpful information that we recommend you read at some point. However, for this tutorial, let's just dive in to the In-Browser Plain Text editor, where you will spend your time writing your course!

To go to the editor, click on "Write" in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

Where You Write Your Course

You will now be taken directly to the page where you will be writing your course:

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

When you are on the Write page, you will see a menu of files at the top left.

For a new course, you will see just one file, named "Chapter 1":

You will also see that we have added some default content to the course in the main window, where you write:

You'll end up deleting all of this at some point, but we like to provide default content in new books and courses, as it helps authors see how things work.

Creating a Preview

First, let’s create a Preview of your course from the default chapter content. (A “Preview” is a private version of your course you can create at any time, to see what your course looks like.)

To do this, click on the "Versions" link you’ll see in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

This will take you to the Preview page for your course:

Now, click the blue “Create Preview” button at the bottom of the page:

You will now see a progress bar at the top of the page. This shows the steps carried out by Leanpub’s course generators, every time you create a new Preview.

When the process is complete, and you’ll see the links for your course material:

A Note About the Download Links

These downloadable files contain the contents of your course, but people can't actually use them to take the course. After you publish the course, learners will have the opportunity to download these files e.g. to search the contents, or to read offline.

How Courses Look

To view a preview of the online course, scroll down until you see the link to "View the latest preview of your course":

Click the link, and in a new browser tab, you will see a preview of the online course you've just created, using the default content we provided when you created the course:

Now, let's walk through some of the various elements of the course. Hopefully they're more or less explanatory, but this is a walkthrough after all, so here we go!

First, at the top left is the title of the course:

Underneath the title, you will see the number of "Quizzes Completed" and a progress bar (which is currently empty, naturally enough):

A course can submitted for completion after a learner has completed all the quizzes. Submitting a course to be completed, and graded, is called an "Attempt". Courses can also be set to allow for more than one "Attempt", if a learner doesn't like their grade and wants to try again.

Next, there is a course menu, that highlights the section of the course the learner is in. Currently we're in the "Lessons" section, that has the main course content that the learner learns from:

In the menu underneath, you will see the first section or "Lesson" is where we are in the course right now:

The contents of the section or "Lesson" are displayed in the main area on the right:

Now, try clicking the little hamburger menu at the top left:

This will put the course in a focus mode, where the menu on the left disappears:

If you click the little icon at the top left again, then you will go back to the normal viewing mode:

OK, that's probably enough of an introduction to how courses are read for now! This is Leanpub after all, and we're eager to get you started writing your course.

Writing In Your Course

OK, now let’s do some writing!

Let’s go back to the Write page for your course.

To get back to working on your course, close the browser tab that opened when you clicked the link to view the course.

This should take you back to the Preview page for your course, where you can select Write from the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

This will take you back to the Write page for your course:

First, let’s type something in the first document. Click into the page, and when you start typing, you’ll see the editor changes to a “focus” mode, with less clutter, so you can focus when you're writing:

Now, type Hello World!

Any changes you type in the editor will be saved automatically.

Next, let’s add a document. Click on the left side of the screen to bring back the menu:

In this example, there's only one file. To add a file, click on the plus sign:

This will open a box at the top of the page where you can name the document:

Let's call this document "New Content":

Now, click the blue "OK" button. You will be taken to a blank page, and you will see the name of the new document at the top left:

Please note that these document names are only visible to course authors. These names are not added to the actual course itself, and are only for your convenience.

Let's go ahead and change the name of the first file.

To do that, hover the mouse over "Chapter 1", and you will see a gear wheel icon:

Click on the gear wheel icon, and you’ll see a box appear called File Settings:

Let's change the name to "Old Content"

Next, click the blue "Save Changes" button to save the change. Now, you will see the new document name in the vertical menu at the top left:

Now, let's try deleting that document, to see how deleting works.

To delete the document, hover the mouse over the document name again, until you see the gear wheel icon:

Click the icon to bring up the File Settings box again, and click the big red "Delete File" button:

This will bring up warning box. Click the blue "OK" button:

Now, you will see that the file is gone from the menu on the left:

A Note About Manuscript Versions

If you're worried about losing work, please note that every time you preview or publish a new version of your course, we create a downloadable version of the course "manuscript" for you.

To see where you can download the manuscript for a previously previewed or published version of your course, click "Versions" in the menu at the top:

Next, click the "Versions" item in the vertical menu at the left:

It's a pretty straightforward process, but we'll show you exactly what happens when you want to download a version of your course in another article (which has not yet been created, sorry!).

Now, click the Write tab at the top to go back to the editor:

This will take us back to our blank page, with the "New Content" document we created selected in the menu at the left:

Writing a Basic Course with Content and a Quiz

All right, now let's make a very basic course, with a paragraph of content, and a single quiz. Here is a sample you can use:

# Fun Cat Facts Quizzes: Introduction

Below you will find a brief quiz about cats. We hope you have fun and do well!

{quiz, id: quiz1}

# Fun Cat Facts: Quiz #1

? What is the name of the talking cat in Bulgakov's famous novel?

a) Beetlejuice
b) Fluffy
C) Behemoth
d) Ed

? How many unique letters are there in the name "Behemoth"?

a) 5
B) 6
c) 7
d) 8

? How fast can cats run?

a) About 10 mph
b) About 20 mph
C) About 30 mph
d) About 40 mph

? What is the name of a cross between a Burmese cat and a Chinchilla Persian cat?

! Burmilla

? What is the name of the most popular cat on YouTube?

! Maru

{/quiz}

(The above content is adapted from the manuscript for our free Creating Leanpub Courses course.)

Now, let's copy and paste the example above into our quiz:


[Editor's Note: We'll go into further detail regarding quizzes in a separate article, and post a link to it here when it's written.]

When you write multiple choice questions, you use a capital letter to indicate the correct answer, for example "C) Behemoth" in the first question in the example above.

Adding an Image to Your Course Content

Next, let's see how we can add an image to our course.

[Editor's Note: You can also add YouTube videos to courses! We'll show you how to do this in a separate article, and post a link to it here when it's written.]

To add an image to your course, click "Resources" in the vertical menu at the left:

This will take you to the "Resources" tab, which is of course empty right now, since we haven't added anything yet!

To add an image, click on the plus sign:

Click on the "Choose File" button:

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 a resource on your course.

Currently it's a bit unclear, but if you look you can see the filename, indicating that the file is ready to be added:

Now, click the "Add" button:

You will now see the file listed in the Resources tab:

Hover your mouse over the filename and click the document icon:

This will copy the text you need to your clipboard, and will take you back to the course content:

Now, click into the text and hit Enter a couple of times under the first sentence. Then paste in the text you copied to your clipboard (you can do this by clicking Command + V on a Mac, or Ctrl + V on a PC).

You will now see that you have pasted in the text you need to add an image in Markua:

Now, let's add a caption to the image:

OK, now let's create a new preview to see all of our changes.

To go back to the Preview page, click "Versions" in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

This should take you back to the Preview page:

To create a new preview, scroll to the bottom and click the "Create Preview" button:

When the process is complete, scroll down and click "View the latest preview of your course":

In a new browser tab, you'll now see the content that we added is included in the course:

Finally, click on the quiz:

This will take you to the page where you can take the quiz:

All right, we're almost ready to publish our course! But first, we have to add some important information.

Before publishing, we need to add some information about the course for people to read before they decide to purchase it.

To get back to working on your course, close the browser tab that opened when you clicked the link to view the course. This should take you back to the Preview page for your course:

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 the Course" page for your course, which is the top item in the vertical menu at the left:

Next, type some information into the "Teaser Text" box, the "About the Course" box, and the "Meta Description" box. You can edit these any time!

When you're done, scroll down and click the "Update Course" button:

Adding a Course Image

Next, let's add an image to our course, that will be displayed on the course's web page on Leanpub.

To do this, click on "Upload Course Image" in the vertical menu to the left:

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

Under the default image, you will see the following recommendation regarding image sizing:

"We recommend 2560 pixels wide by 1440 pixels high, but you can also use 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels high."

This is a 16:9 ratio.

When you're ready to upload your course image, 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:

You may have an option to adjust the size of the selected area; in the example below, we have increased the area a bit:

Finally, scroll down and click "Update Course":

When the process completes, you will see that the image has now been added to your course:

[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!).]

Pricing

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

Before you publish your course, you will want to set the Minimum Price and Suggested Price for the course.

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

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

For this example, we're going to set the Minimum price to $29.99 and the suggested price to $39.99:

[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!]

When you selected your Minimum and Suggested prices, click the "Update Course Price" button:

Setting Up Your Course Certificate

When a learner submits a completed course and gets a passing grade, they can get a certificate to prove their accomplishment.

Before you can complete your course, you need to add an image of your signature (or something you consider functionally equivalent, like a company logo) to your certificate.

To do this, click on "Settings" in the horizontal menu at the top of the page:

Next click on "Certificate" in the vertical menu to the left:

This will take you to the "Certificate" page:

You may want to scroll down the page to look at the options available to you here.

For this walkthrough, we are going to choose the minimum requirement, which is to add a signature image for our selected Certificate.

To upload an image of your signature, click "edit":

This will take you to the page where you can edit your Course Instructor profile information:

Under "Instructor Signature", select "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.

You will now see that the file has been selected:

Scroll down and click the "Update Course" button:

You will now see that the image has been uploaded at the bottom of the page:

Publishing Your Course

OK, now we're ready to publish our course!

Please note that you should NOT actually publish a course you made just to follow along with this tutorial! We just wanted to show you how to do it, for when you're ready to publish your course for the first time :)

To publish your course, go back to the Versions section:

In the vertical menu to the left, click "Publish New Version":

This will take you to the Publish page for your course:

Like Leanpub books, Leanpub courses can be published while they are still works-in-progress, and you should check the "Completion Percentage" whenever you publish a version.

Your learners will not be able to complete the course themselves until you have finished it, AND you marked it as 100% complete.

To mark your course as 100% complete, type "100" in the "Percent Complete" box:

Next, scroll down and click the "Publish Your Course" button:

When the process is complete, you will see that the course is marked as 100% complete:

If you scroll down, you'll see a section with the date of last publication (this is in UTC time):

That's it!

Viewing Your Course on Leanpub

To view the web page on Leanpub where people can buy your course, click on the image at the top left:

There you'll see what the web page for your course on Leanpub looks like:

Please note that only a signed-in author of a course will see the "Edit" button.

Normal visitors to the website will not see the "Edit" button:

Congratulations!

You've completed the Getting Started walkthrough for writing a course in Leanpub using our In-Browser Plain Text Editor.

Next Steps

Next, we recommend you explore the Overview page for your course.

Go ahead and click the blue "Edit" button:

That will take you to the "Overview" page for your course:

You can get back to your course's "Overview" page anytime by clicking on it in the horizontal menu at the top of the page, when you're working on your course in Leanpub:

On the Overview page, you can see all the pages you need to get your course set up on Leanpub.

If you haven't done so already, we would also recommend you set up your author profile information here.

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

Also, you may want to check out our free Creating Leanpub Courses course. If you look in the "Course Info" section, you'll find a download link to the manuscript files for that very same course. It's a great way to figure out how various features work in courses.

Finally, you might also want to check out the Markua manual here:

Markua is the name of the manuscript markup system you use to write books and courses in plain text on Leanpub. It’s easy to learn the basics you need to write most Leanpub books and courses. In fact, you know some Markua already from completing this tutorial!

If you have any questions or can't find anything, please search our Help Center for authors here: http://help.leanpub.com/author-help.

You can also search for answers and post questions yourself on our Authors Forum:

https://community.leanpub.com/c/authors

Happy writing!

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