Tuesday, June 7, 2011

eBook Conversion Guide basic.

I have updated this guide as of Dec 7, 2011.  The updated guide can be found here.

This is a basic guide to convert your manuscript into .prc for the Kindle and .epub for the Nook.  I am not going to go over anything super fancy like embedding links or creating a table of contents.  Your mileage with this guide may vary with the versions of the programs you are using as well as this document ages, links may change and program versions get updated.  READ THE WHOLE GUIDE.  There are some formating issues you need to be aware of that I go over in detail at the end.

I used Microsoft Office Word 2007 to write my manuscript.  I also saved it as a .doc file.  This is an older compatibility mode and not the default .docx
Next is Mobipocket Creator version 4.2 build 41.  I downloaded this from the link provided by Amazon here.
And the last conversion app I used is called Calibre that can be found here.

Next I downloaded the pc reader versions of the Kindle and Nook to test my conversion and formating.  These apps can be found here.  KindlePreviewer  NookPCApp.

Now, of all the guide and information I found.  Amazon's own guide to create an eBook was the best by far.  All the other guides I found were teasers.  Just tiny bits of useful information that served no purpose other than trying to get you to buy a book or service to have it done.

Amazons guide says to convert to html and then run it through the Mobipocket app.  This is an unnecessary step now as the app will work right from a .doc file.  Simply click the option for ms word document.

Browse to your saved .doc file and press import.  If it hangs at 25% look behind the window and make sure you don't have a dialog box requesting permission to continue.  This can happen if you already have your manuscript open in Word.  It doesn't like that the file is already open in another program.

Now you should have a menu in Mobi that shows your manuscript listed as an .html file.  The next step is to add your cover.  Click the link that says Cover Image and press the 'Add a cover image' button.  Browse to where your cover art is and click open then click the update button.  I don't have my cover finished yet, so I am using a simple image that I created in MSPaint for this guide.

Next is Metadata.  This is important because the metadata is where a lot of information is stored about your eBook that can be used for searches, sorting, and all kinds of other information.  Think of this as where the title, singer, album etc that you see from MP3 files.  Also car radios that display the song and title for you get this info from the metadata.  If you do not know what to put in one of the fields, then leave it blank.  You should also see your book cover near the bottom as well.  Like before, when you have it filled out to your satisfaction, click the update button on the bottom.

Now click the build icon at the top of the window in Mobipocket Creator.

Here you get to set you compression levels and encryption options.  If you encrypt with DRM, the viewer wont display your eBook so for now use no encryption.  You can always go back and add it later.  Once you are satisfied, click build.  Open your Kindle Previewer app and drop in the prc file to view.  I recommend you go over every page to make sure it is the way you want it.  If you find any errors, correct them in your .doc file and repeat the process.  The only bit that takes any time to do is the 2 minutes to fill out the metadata.

Now, let me go over some of the problems I ran into.  Hopefully you read this part before you started.  On Amazons web page there is a line of text that doesn't stand out much, but it is extremely important.

Also your manuscript will automatically be left and right justified, so you don't need to do this in word.  So if your Word doc has tab indentation for each paragraph. You need to get rid of them or the Kindle will double tab and your paragraphs will start in the middle of the page.  Here is a clip from the word document and how the Kindle app uses its own formating.

What you need to do is remove the tabs manually, or change the paragraph layout to remove them in word.  Also you will need to get rid of any page numbers, headers and footers.  These will not line up at all when you convert to an eBook.  Also remember people can change the font size in the reader as well so page numbers in your manuscript will never line up with pages in an eReader.  So you should have something now that looks like this as a final product.

Take your time to make sure the Kindle version of your eBook is the way you want it.  Because this .prc file is what we are going to use to make your Nook version.  Also you need to do this process twice, because the ISBN number for the Nook version will be different than the Kindle version.  Make sure you go back and edit your copyright page and metadata to reflect this.

Now it is time to create the ePub file for Barnes and Noble's Nook.  I found that if you try to follow any guides about creating a PDF and then meat grinding it into an ePub file its going to suck.  I spent a good 5 hours trying to get it to work correctly and never got a final product that I would show the world.  PubIt's site sucked for information compared to Amazons and I spent more time trying to get a good epub book than everything else combined.  I almost gave up in frustration until I figured it out.  It was so simple, like 6 clicks and 30 seconds it was done.

So first open up Calibre

Then click the Add book button at the top.

Browse to your .prc file you just created for the Kindle with your updated isbn and copyright page and it should be added to the list of books.

You can click that blue "i" button next to the add book to review your metadata and edit it here but not the copyright page.  There are a few extra options you can fill out if you want.  Like if your book is part of a series.  When you are ready, make sure your book is selected and hit the convert button.

At the top left you should see input type as PRC and on the top right the output should be EPUB.  If it is not, then use the drop down to change it to EPUB and hit the ok button

Let it grind away.  You will see a buffering wheel next to jobs while it grinds out your epub book.  You can click on jobs and see the details if you like.  Once this process is complete, you will need to find your epub book.  When you added the .prc file, Calibre put it in its library folder under the author name.  Navigate to it, or do a search for *.epub and you should find it listed by the book title.  Drop the epub file into the Nook Reader.

Verify each that each page looks good and then congratulate yourself for creating your first Kindle and Nook eBook.  Hopefully if this is the first time you have created these file types, this guide helped and it did not take you more than an hour or two and feel proud for not spending a thousand dollars and waiting three months for someone else to do it.  If you have special formating in your book, like pictures, tables, bullet points and the like, hopefully they made it through the process ok.  If they did not, you may need to play with it, or hit up some of the Kindle forums.  There is a lot of helpful people there.


  1. Great post! I've uploaded several times now to Kindle, but there are some things in here I still haven't used or didn't know about. Great guide :) I'll be referencing this again when I upload another book to Kindle.

  2. The one bit I left out that I can recall is that with your word doc. At the end of each chapter you need to insert a page break. If you just hit the enter key a bunch of times to get to the next page, that will not convert well to an eBook format.

  3. THIS is very good info to have! I know nothing about ebook conversions, and have friends who have experienced problems trying to convert as well. I'll be glad to forward this guide of yours to them! THANK YOU!

  4. *Refer them to this blog, I mean.

  5. THANK YOU. I've been having heart palpitations (or something just slightly less dramatic) thinking about how to get my book up to Kindle. I cannot thank you enough for really breaking it down. AHH lol. Thanks again

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