Here's the series:
Tues: Where to Publish
Wed: Formatting Ebooks - The Easy Ways
Thurs: Formatting Ebooks - The Hard Way
Fri: Publishing to iTunes
Yesterday, we talked about The Easy Ways to format. And honestly, that's the best way for most people. But if you can read this:
It's really not that hard, but knowing some basic HTML skills (or learning them) will keep you from tearing out your hair. If reading that HTML made you cringe, then you might want to stick with The Easy Ways.
Why You Want To Format The Hard Way
So you can include fancy fonts and images in your ebook...
...without having to pay for it, and so you can update it yourself.
Word: I'm assuming you are starting with your MS in Word.
Sigil: this is an Epub editing program
Adobe Digital Editions: will allow you to view your Epub
Calibre: will allow you to convert your epub (nook format) to Mobi (kindle format)
Kindle Previewer: To preview your mobi file
1. Clean up your MS using Smashwords Style guide; add in front/back matter (copyrights, acknowledgments, etc.). Make sure any retailer links go to Amazon (we can change this later, but we're focusing on Kindle first - you'll see why in a moment).
2. Save your Word doc, then save again in Web page, filtered format (this is a Save As... option with an *.htm extension)
3. Create any images you want to use (chapter header fonts, scene separation symbols, pictures). I download free fonts from the interwebs, install on Word, create the headers I want, screencap it, and paste it into Paint. Do whatever works for you. Save in png or jpg format.
example back matter
example scene separator4. Import your HTML filtered format MS into Sigil (see Sigil FAQ, Users Guide, and Tips).
5. Format in Sigil and fix up any errors (this is where your HTML programming skillz will come in handy)
- Insert page breaks in Sigil, fixing any stray formatting problems, etc.
- Insert all your images/chapter headings/etc
- Include a cover (instructions).
- Build a Table of Contents (instructions scroll down).
- Hard-code your ellipses (…) and em-dashes (—) so they will always look nice (instructions).
- Learn about style sheets, to make your life easier (instructions, more instructions) Note: you have limited controls on fonts. You can set a default font, but users can change the font on their end.
- Set Title, Author, Language, Copyright, Publication Date, Description, and ISBN if there is one, in Metadata.
- Set your first text file (where the book will open) as Semantic type Text (right click on file, choose "Semantics").
- Run the "Check" to compile; fix any errors
6. Convert to Mobi: open your Epub into Calibre. Convert (individually) to Mobi format (see Calibre FAQ). (Note: You can also use Kindle Previewer to convert to Mobi, but you will not preserve your Table of Contents). Use the "Save to Disk" option to save your Mobi converted file.
- Save file as an Epub.
7. Check for errors in Kindle Previewer (make sure to view in all the Kindle formats). Fix up any errors in your Epub file in Sigil and reconvert until errors are gone. If you own any Kindles, check your Mobi there too. You can also upload to KDP and test it in the preview screen there. If all looks good, your Mobi is ready to load up to KDP (Amazon).
8. Prepare for B&N: copy your Epub to a separate file, to prepare for formatting for B&N. Change the links to B&N. View your Epub file in Adobe Digital Editions. Be sure to check all the formats - go back to 5 to fix errors. If you own any Nooks, check your Epub there too. You can also upload to PubIt (B&N) and use the previewer there. Your Epub is now ready to load up to PubIt (Barnes & Noble).
9. You're done. Have a beverage of your choice.
For Kobo - Take your B&N formatted Epub, change the links to Kobo, and you're ready to upload.
For Apple - Heaven help you. You need a Mac, ISBNs, and a bunch of other steps. I'll talk about this tomorrow. (Apple doesn't make it easy, but it's not impossible either.)