Now that I've addressed the issue of To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish in the previous article, I'll tackle how to convert a novel to multiple eBook formats.
This is part 1 in a series where I give step-by-step instructions on how to convert your novel into multiple eBook formats. Here are the other parts to the series:
- Part 1 – Prep your MS Word Document for eBook Consumption
- Part 2 – Convert the MS Word Document to a PRC file
- Part 3 – Using Mobipocket eBook Creator
- Part 4 – Using Calibre
This series will cover how to convert an MS Word document to a PRC file, which is used by the Kindle. I will then show you how to convert that into multiple eBook formats, and even provide a few suggestions on how to use those files for promotion. For the author who already has an eBook file, skip to Part 2.
The article below is for the author who wishes to convert their MS Word Document to an eBook format for self-publishing purposes. OR how to convert any file to an eBook format. Click here to read a tip for promoting a series.
Here are the four “big picture” steps I take to convert an MS Word document to multiple eBook formats.
- Prep your MS Word Document for eBook consumption
- Convert the MS Word Document to a PRC file
- Import the PRC or other file into Calibre (actually pronounced cal-i-ber)
- Convert to any eBook format using Calibre
I am absolutely not advocating piracy or a method to take advantage of your publisher. You are responsible for the agreement you have with your publisher, so know this doesn't give you carte blanche to make as many formats of your book as you want and give them out free to the world if your publisher has specifically stated you can only give out 10 or whatever your contract says. Nor is this permission to take what eBooks you have written by other authors, convert them and e-mail them to your friends and family. PLEASE respect the rights and hard work of the authors and publishers who produce these eBooks for your reading pleasure. Piracy SUCKS!
Step 1: Prep your MS Word Document for eBook Consumption
I will not be going into great detail on this step for a few reasons. First, I'm assuming every author has a working knowledge of MS Word and since there are so many versions of MS Word out there, I can't possibly illustrate every step for every version. If you're writing a book fresh (meaning starting a new document), I recommend writing your novel in the Smashwords template (either theirs or the one I modified – links to both are below). If you have a book already written, then you can copy and paste your book into the template…but you'll have quite a mess to clean up. This is why it is to important to know how to use Styles in MS Word.
There are three resources I'll provide to help you achieve the goal of formatting your own book for eBook:
- Smashwords – Smashwords is how I learned to self-publish. They already have a slew of advice, templates and information that will teach you about what you need to know to self-publish your book – including giving you a distribution platform. I know it's a lot of reading, but if you want self-publish your own novels OR learn to do everything yourself instead of hiring out, thereby saving money, then you must read it all. This is part of being a self-published author. Also, try some of these YouTube.com tutorials.
- Modified Smashwords Template – Because I'm not crazy about the way they did their template – meaning, they didn't have enough guides and placeholder text for my taste – I decided to modify the template for my own use. It also has a Table of Content (TOC) included, with instructions on how to update it. Clicking on the heading for this topic will download a zip file with the template I use, and this template, so far, has never been rejected when it goes through the Smashwords “meat grinder” as they so affectionately call it. You can also use this same template for uploading your MS Word Document to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). The comments I've included will guide you how to change the document for those purposes and the content is that Latin filler text.
- Styles in MS Word – To properly use the templates, one should have a familiarity with Styles in MS Word, as I mentioned in my previous article. The heading link for this topic should take you to the search results for “How to Use Styles in MS Word” on YouTube.com. Lynda.com has a lot of very useful and informative tutorials. You can also search YouTube.com for tutorials on “how to format your MS Word document for ebook” and explore those videos.