Make your self-published books available to a wide audience by publishing to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iTunes. Most popular eReaders support the ePub format. Amazon is the exception, but perhaps, not for long.
Simply-formatted books may not need conversion
Before stepping into the abyss, be aware that authors are not required to convert their submissions from Word to ePub by Barnes & Noble’s PubIt! service. Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) system also accepts uploads of Word .doc (not .docx) files. Both B&N and Amazon accept Word, HTML, or text files. Authors who want more control over the results are free to upload an ePub file to B&N or a Mobi/PRC file to Amazon.
A glimmer of hope for ePub with Kindle: Kindlegen, Amazon’s dedicated MOBI (Kindle format) builder program, will take an ePub file as input. Since Kindlegen 1.1, source files are included in the .mobi package. Many of those source files are ePubs. Perhaps they are being archived for reuse as ePubs?
With consistent usage of Word’s default styles, results of a direct upload may be quite good. If the after-upload preview is horrifying, better results can be obtained by taking the time and care to produce an ePub and use it as the source for your Amazon .mobi package.
The best submission format
People who know HTML and CSS will get the nicest-looking results with fewest problems by building Kindle and ePub versions from a clean XHTML file based on Word’s Save As Filtered HTML output. More about that later.
The same clean XHTML file is the starting point for an ePub book and a .mobi file. It’s even possible to handcraft an ePub from scratch without using anything but a text editor, but I’ve grown to appreciate the simplicity and power of Sigil, a free ePub editor with time-saving features.
Calibre is a great conversion tool, not an editor, favored by many for creating Kindle and ePub files. I prefer Sigil for building ePubs or .mobi files because it’s a dedicated ePub editor with a transparent user interface and the results are excellent. I’ve also read that DRM-ed Kindle books that were originally created with Calibre may not work in Amazon’s eReader apps, but do not know if that is still true, since Calibre is updated frequently.
My procedure will not work for everyone. It’s merely what I have worked out for myself. In a nutshell, the steps to be covered are as follows:
- Set Word options that will make the exported HTML file more easy to work with.
- Export as Filtered HTML and clean up the file.
- Review for problems and save an XTHML copy, along with a CSS stylesheet.
- Edit the file in Sigil, an ePub editor that helps you add a cover, create metadata and a Table of Contents, and check your file for errors.
- Save the file as an ePub and preview it on your Nook, Nook for PC, and/or Adobe Digital Editions.
- Open the ePub file in Sigil and correct any spacing issues or other problems. Resave and preview again until you’re happy with the look and flow of the book.
Some book files will be a breeze to format, while others will be fussy and harder to style. In the series of posts to follow, we’ll take each step and explore the most common procedures for getting the book from Word to ePub.
Proceed to Word to ePub – 2: Preparing a Word document