If your budget requires you to format your own books, rather than hiring a pro, there are three ways I know of to get your book from Word doc to finished, ready-to-upload ebook. I’ll be including links to other authors’ helpful videos and tools, since they’ve helped me.
You’ll also get the chance to download a free and nifty little PDF describing in more detail (and with screenshots) the approach I used for my latest nonfiction book, Writer Overwhelmed!. I made the screenshots while working on my novel, The Lazarus Door, but you get the idea.
From Word doc to HTML to Kindle Previewer to KDP
This is the method I describe in my book, Writer on a Budget, and it’s quick and easy, though the results look less than fancy. If you want your ebook to look like it was formatted by an “interior designer,” this would not be the best approach. But, if you’ve laid the foundation with strong, simple formatting in Word, the results are clean and look good. Still, I’m always looking for ways to make it look more pleasing to the eye.
From Word doc to Calibre to Kindle Previewer to KDP
I didn’t start really having fun with this until I started messing with the CSS Stylesheet, which is easy to do — though we still have to proceed with caution and make sure we’re changing the right thing.
Here are the basic steps for formatting your ebook using Calibre and a downloadable version of Kindle Previewer:
1. open Word doc in Calibre and edit metadata (author name & book cover, mainly)
2. convert to EPUB
3. Open EPUB file & check font sizes, etc.
4. Open EDITING window for EPUB file (in Calibre)
5. Check Block # for each line that needs a change to font, font size, letter spacing, etc. and go to CSS Stylesheet
6. Carefully modify the fonts, font sizes, etc. for the specific block #s
7. Save edits and save EPUB to desktop
8. Open EPUB in Kindle Previewer (downloaded beta version). Check appearance in Tablet, iPhone & Kindle e-reader views. Go back into your Calibre EPUB file, if necessary, to make any other changes you want.
9. Export MOBI from Kindle Previewer (to desktop) and upload to KDP when ready
10.Preview book on KDP’s Launch Previewer before publishing. Make any necessary (or desirable) corrections (in Calibre) and repeat steps 7 through 10.
(If you have to go back into your Word document to make changes, then I guess you’d repeat steps 1 through 10 after saving your changes. I’ve had to do this, too.)
Download this handy PDF tool to see screenshots of this approach, which I’ve used mainly for my latest nonfiction book, because I really wanted to keep my bulleted lists. If you do, I’d love it if you’d drop me a note to tell me whether or not it helped you.
For my novel, I went with method 1, which is quicker, but I’m still young in the ways of HTML editing, so as I learn more, I’ll share what I learn here.
From Word doc to PublishXpress.com to Sigil to KDP
I’m not as familiar with this approach, but I’ve found videos by both Derek Murphy and Rob Cubbon to help with this. I’m still partial to Calibre’s HTML editor, which is why I use method #2 for my nonfiction books. I’m still working on making my novels look prettier on the inside, and I’m hoping methods #2 and #3 — the more I learn — will help me do that.
For now, here are links to the videos I mentioned:
- How to open and edit an ebook (epub file) with Sigil (free software) by Derek Murphy
- How to embed fonts to your ebook file with Sigil by Derek Murphy
- Create a perfect ePub or Mobi for Amazon Kindle with Sigil from Word by Rob Cubbon
Also, here’s the link to PublishXpress.com, which will convert your Word doc to EPUB and MOBI files. It’ll even add an image of your cover (like Calibre). Once you download your new files, you can open the EPUB on Sigil and get to work.
As I learn more, I’ll share on this blog. If you have questions or comments, please share in the comments below or feel free to send me a message using the Contact page.
Have a great week!