eBook Preview #1: an Open Source Guide to Indie ePublishing

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Most of you come here for the flippant jokes about the EPL or La Liga. I know. However, I am hard at work on an eBook about Real Madrid and Barcelona. You helped Kickstart it. The manuscript’s text is almost perfect, the artwork is stunning, and thus I have turned my attention to production. It dawned on me that many people may wonder: how does a book appear on my Kindle?

Here’s how.

First, the starting point. You need to write a book using a Word Document. Writing a book can be difficult. Creating a Word Document is not. In fact, it does not necessitate actually using Microsoft Word. For example, I use OpenOffice. It is free. It is good. You can download it here.

Second, the formatting. Your “Word Document” is going to be melted, fused, mixed, diced, and served in many different ways. Why? Because the major e-readers don’t accept Word Docs. Kindle relies on MOBI, while the iPad and Nook use ePub. Thus, your manuscript is about to go through the ringer, and the formatting must be perfect to survive this baptism of fire.

Page breaks. Headings. Tables of content. Sound boring? It is. It is also necessary. Get all the essential info in the free Smashwords Guide. It is a must read.

Third, the conversion. There exists an amazing open source and free software program called Calibre. Calibre converts documents to ePub and MOBI. Calibre is free. Calibre is amazing. Download it here.

So, you have your manuscript in DOC format and have downloaded Calibre. You are ready to use your DOC manuscript to create both an ePub and MOBI file to then sell/distribute via Amazon and Apple. Now what? Here are some tips to create the best-looking eBook.

For ePub conversion. Take your DOC manuscript, and save it as an “ODT” file. Observe.

Calibre converts ODT to ePUB much cleaner than other formats. Why? I don’t know. It’s all beakers and test tubes and trial & error here. Trust my scientific method.

Next, you open Calibre and add a Book in the upper left corner. Select the ODT manuscript.

Now, you right click on the added ODT manuscript below and choose “convert individually.”

Now, you have some options and whatnot. On a basic level, just be sure to add a cover. Observe.

How do you get a cover? You pay an artist. That’s how. Magic!

Next, you select an Output format in the top right corner. Remember, this is the ODT manuscript, so we want to create an ePUB (for iPad and Nook). Thus, pick ePUB.

And boom, you soon have your book in a clean ePUB format. Granted, this is a general sketch of steps to get you crawling. After a bit of practice, you’ll be walking in no time.

For MOBI conversion. Take your DOC manuscript, but save it as HTML, not ODT. Observe.

Then you follow the same steps as for EPUB conversion, but select MOBI as the output format.

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