This is part 4 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
Step 4: Using Calibre
- Open Calibre
- In the top-left corner, click on the red book icon “Add books” (see Figure 1)
- Navigate to the folder where you're new PRC file is located and select that PRC file.
- Once you've added the PRC, it should now show up on the list of books and will probably either be at the top or at least highlighted. Of course, if this is your first book you're adding to your new Calibre library…it will be the only one. PLEASE NOTE: In Figure 2, I've underlined in red some of the information regarding my book Midnight Hunt, which I used in the previous tutorial screenshots. All those fields I instructed you to complete when you entered the metadata on your PRC file. Now you can see those fields at work!
- Click the “Convert Books” button (circled above in Figure 2).
- In the window that appears, there are a number of settings to become familiar with and may need changing or updating:
- Input Format: (top-left of window) This should already have PRC selected. This is the original file format you imported when you selected Add Books. No need to change this, just be aware of it.
- Output Format: (top-right) Use this drop-down box to select the file format you want to convert the PRC file to. The most common file formats are EPUB (used on Nook and iTunes' iBooks), MOBI (Kindle and MobiPocket Reader app) & PDF. However, I do not recommend you create a PDF from here. The formatting gets all wonky. So for this first time converting, go ahead and keep the default of MOBI.
- Tags: (2nd check mark on right) This was taken from the “Main Subject” field entered in the metadata when you created the PRC. Remember when I said you don't really have many options? Well HERE you can add more. So for my example, I would also add “vampires” and “paranormal”, with commas in between.
- Series: (3rd check mark on right) If your novel is part of a series, you can enter the series name here.
- Book Number: (4th check mark on right) This will default to “Book 1.00” so just leave it if it is a stand-alone or the first book in your series. Change it by clicking on the arrows. Also some people have started using decimals for those in-between novellas and short stories in a series. So a short story that takes place between Books 1 & 2 of a series might be numbered 1.1, for example.
- Once you've made the changes or additions to the fields mentioned above, click the OK button. The window will close and you should see, in the bottom-right corner, a grey arrow pointing at the jobs it's processing (right now 1). Once the eBook has been converted, you should now see that file version listed under “Formats” below the book cover (see Figure 3)
- Rinse & Repeat! To convert your eBook to other formats, just follow 5-7, but instead of selecting “MOBI” from the drop-down menu on the right, select EPUB or whatever format you want to convert to. Each version will appear under “Formats” below the cover as pictured in Figure 3.
Now…where are those files??
- At the top of your Calibre window, click on the Calibre Library button (see Figure 4).
- A small dialogue box will appear (also Figure 4). Click on the small computer-like icon next to the “New Location” text box. This will open another dialogue box. At the top of this box, you should see the path to where your eBook files are located. Make note of that location. Then cancel this dialogue box and the one pictured in Figure 4.
- Now go to your “My Computer” folder, or the window that will allow you to access your computer files, and navigate to that folder you took note of in the previous step.
- Calibre automatically creates an author folder every time you add a book. Within that folder, it also creates a folder of the book title. THIS is the folder where your eBook files are located. You can keep those files in your Calibre Library, but you might also want to COPY those files and then PASTE them into the folder where you created your PRC file (which is also where you put your MS Word Document and book cover image).
So now you have your files. What do you do with them? Reproducing your eBooks (as long as you own the rights) costs NOTHING and it's a great way to get your books into the hands of readers. I know many authors balk at giving their books away, but when you're first starting out, your main focus should be to gain a following of readers who will talk about your books and get your name out there. If they enjoyed your book, they'll recommend it to a friend. The more people who know about you, the more chance you have of increasing your sales. So don't let giving your books away for free scare you when you're just starting out.
Here are some suggestions on how to promote yourself by free eBook copies:
- Guest Blog Giveaways – If you're guesting on someone's blog, you can offer to give away a few copies of your eBooks to those who comment on the post. This is a GREAT way to engage with readers. And if readers leave comments, please be sure to visit that blog and respond to every one of their comments (if you're just starting out). Readers love to engage with authors.
- Blog Tour Prizes – Team up with a bunch of author friends and have a huge giveaway of your books as an eBook bundle.
- Book Clubs – Contact some book clubs and let them know you'll give them free eBook copies of your novel.
- Libraries – Contact your local libraries to see if they have an eBook loaning program and donate copies of your eBooks.
- Charity Causes – Many charitable organizations are looking for prizes to auction off or reward people for giving of their time and money. Offer to give some copies of your eBooks to help out!