How to Make an eBook, Part 2: Converting your Files

Wel­come to part two of our self-pub­lish­ing series, How to Make an eBook. If you need to catch up, take a look at part one, which will teach you how to cre­ate an eBook-con­ver­sion-friend­ly man­u­script:

In this tuto­r­i­al, we’re going to cov­er how to con­vert your com­plet­ed Mark­down man­u­script into eBook for­mats using a free eBook appli­ca­tion called Cal­i­bre.

Ready to get start­ed? Read On!

Self-Publishing 101: How to Make an eBook

For­mat­ting and pub­lish­ing your own eBook can be an intim­i­dat­ing expe­ri­ence for a novice self-pub­lish­er. That’s why ser­vices like Smash­words are so pop­u­lar: they can take a stan­dard Word doc­u­ment, con­vert it into all pop­u­lar eBook for­mats, and pub­lish them to a bunch of venues for you. They take the has­sle out of inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing.

But, for those of us who want bit more con­trol over their pub­lish­ing expe­ri­ence, for­mat­ting and cre­at­ing eBooks by hand can be a reward­ing expe­ri­ence. Why would you want to do this by hand, when there are ser­vices out there that can do it for you?

  • Microsoft Word is a pain. Basi­cal­ly, it is overkill for the eBook writ­ing process. Most Word fea­tures are either not need­ed in an eBook (e.g., mar­gins, padding, page num­ber­ing), or won’t trans­late dur­ing the eBook con­ver­sion (e.g., font selec­tions and foot­notes). And, your Word doc­u­ment has to be metic­u­lous­ly for­mat­ted for it to con­vert clean­ly. (If you’ve glanced over the Smash­words style guide, you know what I’m talk­ing about.) Most peo­ple default to Word because it’s what they’re used to using, but I find that oth­er options are much sim­pler, ele­gant, and con­ducive to the writ­ing process.
  • For­mat­ting by hand gives you greater con­trol over the look of your final eBook. I’m a typog­ra­phy snob, and I love the con­trol that for­mat­ting eBooks by hand gives me. I can embed fonts, change the way that para­graphs and head­ings are for­mat­ted, even include drop caps into my open­ing para­graphs. While there is a bit of a learn­ing curve involved in tweak­ing eBook out­put, I find the result to be well worth the effort.

In this three-part series I’m going to go over writ­ing and for­mat­ting your eBook file, con­vert­ing it to pop­u­lar eBook for­mats like ePub and MOBI, and tweak­ing the out­put with a bit of styling. You’re result­ing eBook files will be ready to upload to pop­u­lar out­lets like Ama­zon and Barnes & Noble for sale and dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Ready to dive in with me?

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