Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to create your e-book by SB Jones.

The original guide I wrote in June can be found HERE.  It is still a great guide, but as I have said before, it's time to update it.  The same disclaimer as before, your mileage may vary with this guide and as time moves forward, new devices, programs, and features of e-readers may render this obsolete quickly.

The main change with this guide is the addition of how to create a Table of Contents for your e-book that allows your readers to jump to a desired chapter.  Even if you don't care about a TOC, you should have one.  Every little bit of polish makes your e-book look and feel that more professional.

This guide is for converting a Microsoft Word Document.  If you are working in another word processor, I am sure you can achieve similar results.

First, you need to get the programs that let you do all the work.
Mobi Pocket Creator, and Calibre.  You will also want to have a Nook or Kindle handy to side-load your novel, or use the Kindle for PC or Nook for PC apps to review your book.

First, make sure you are saving your your word doc as a .doc file and not a .docx file.  This is easily done by using the "Save As" feature in Word.  The reason for this is to avoid a lot of the meta data that gets added to the newer .docx files.

Now comes the grunt work.  Cleaning up that Word doc.  First you need to understand that the Kindle will auto indent your paragraphs.  So if your document has a tab indent, you will need to remove these.  You can do them manually or use the paragraph and page setup in word.

Next, we are going to look at some typesetting options.  I prefer to use single spacing with an extra half space after carriage returns.  When converted, the extra half space in my opinion gives it a nice look and makes it easy to read and looks nice and clean.  Remember, some people may read your book on their phone so you want it as readable as possible.  Having a massive wall of text is annoying.

Take your time with this step.  You may find yourself converting your book several times as you make adjustments to get it to look and feel the way you want.  You spend months or years writing the book, you can spend the hours needed converting it for upload.

Now lets create your Table of Contents.  This step is actually quite easy.  I didn't do it for my first novel because all of the information I found was convoluted and unnecessarily complicated.  Some even wanted you to manually code and write the TOC in HTML.

First, just navigate to your word doc and place the cursor at the start of a chapter.  Click the Insert tab, then the Bookmark button and give the bookmark a name.  I used Ch1, Ch2, etc for each of the chapters.

Once this is finished for each chapter, highlight where it says Chapter 1 (or whatever chapter titles you are using) and click the Insert Tab then Hyperlink.  In the popup box, click where it says "Place in This Document" and you should see all of the bookmarks you created.  Pick the correct bookmark and hit ok.  It's as simple as that.

You are going to want to test all of your links and verify that they jump to the correct chapter.  Also if you want, you can make each chapter title, jump back to the Table of Contents as well.  I don't do this because the e-readers have a "back" button already.  Less code means less opportunities for error.

Lets move onto the conversion process now.  Close out of your word document, Mobi Pocket Creator doesn't like it if you have the document you are going to convert already open.

Launch Mobi Pocket Creator and click where it says Import from Existing File: MS Word document.

Browse to your document and click import.

You should see your file listed there now as an HTML file.  Click where it says Cover Image then the button that says Add a Cover Image.  Browse to your cover and press the Update button at the bottom.

This will take you back to the HTML file,  Now click where it says Metadata, and fill out the information.  Metadata is important so take a few minutes and fill out as much of it as you can.  If you don't know what to put, then just leave it blank.  Most of the information you have to give directly to Amazon or Barnes and Noble anyway.  When you are finished, make sure you hit the Update button to save the information. (ignore most of this if you are building test files to view your formatting and typesetting to save time)

Now, Click the build button.  If you wish to add any compression or encryption, this is where you can add it.  Once you have made your options.  Click the build button.

Once it's done building, I open the folder, and open the new PRC file with the Kindle for PC app for review.

Take your time and scroll through the book.  Verify all the links work for the TOC, the cover is embedded properly and note down any mistakes you find.  If you find anything you don't like or isn't working.  Go back to your word document and correct them and reconvert the book.

Once your book for Kindle meets your standards.  It's time to convert for Barnes and Noble.

Open up the Calibre program, and click on the Add book icon.

Navigate to where your newly created PRC file is and hit open.

Once you see your novel, select it and hit the convert icon.

You can browse through some of the menus if you want and change a lot of the meta data, add to it etc.  The inportant thing is to make sure in the top right corner under Output Format, EPub is selected.  Once you are satisfied, click the OK button and let it do its thing.  There will be a progress wheel in the bottom corner. When it stops, the conversion is complete.

Navigate to where the Epub file is and open it with the Nook for PC app, or side-load it to your nook for testing.  You may have to search for the file, but Calibre by default saves the file in its library folder.

Drop it into your Nook for PC and like before, verify that everything works, check the links again, and scan every page for errors.

If everything looks good, take it over to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and upload them and start selling books!


  1. Okay, saved in case I ever need it. Thank you:-)

  2. I love that you made this guide. Sometimes people contact me asking how to do this stuff. Now I'm just going to send them here to read this. :D

  3. This is a great tutorial. I'm saving this for later, but hopefully sooner than too much later. You've provided a great service in giving computer unsavvy folks like me something to guide them.

    A to Z stories starting 12/12 and the official A to Z Badge is now revealed
    Blogging from A to Z

  4. This is a great guide. Will bookmark it. It will be personally a blessing for me.

  5. Hi..I have added it to my current post, so that all my followers can read it.

  6. @Sarah- You're welcome. I will prolly update it again in May 2012 when the final book in the series is finished.

    @Ranae- Haha, the first guide I posted in June has generated 1/3 of the overall traffic to my blog so I hope this one is just as popular.

    @Arlee- You're welcome, and I hope it helps when you need it.

    @Rachna- Thank you for the plug on your blog. I hope it helps and saves you the headaches of having to figure it all out on your own.

  7. Excellent tutorial. I just printed it out for reference, and I sent a fellow author here to answer his questions.

    Good job, S.B.

  8. This is perfect! Exactly what I need for my short story collection idea.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)