“Manuscript to E-Book
While the manuscript is getting a final proof, an author can begin taking steps to actually turn it into an e-book. The text must be formatted so it wraps and resizes as readers zoom in or out or toggle between devices, the table of contents needs to be made clickable, and in a format that works for every retailer. Authors can do this themselves with a few hours of technical self-education, or pay for a service to take care of it.
For those going the DIY route, the manuscript will need to be converted into two documents (assuming you are looking to publish across all major e-book platforms): A MOBI file for Amazon Kindle; and an EPUB file for other e-book retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, and Apple iBooks.Authors can utilize Smashwords Direct to upload their EPUB or Word document onto the Smashwords platform, following the company’s particular style guide. While just doing this could allow authors to distribute their book to every major retailer beyond Amazon, the Smashwords “meatgrinder” automated conversion technology gives authors limited choice in how their final layout looks.
“I want my e-books to look the way I want them to look,” says LJ Cohen, author of several self-published novels as well as detailed guides on e-book formatting. “So I send the Word document to the meatgrinder, and once it gets approved in the catalog, then I upload my hand-coded EPUB file on top of that.”
To do this for EPUB and MOBI, first use a word processor program that allows for cleaning up formatting and creating custom fonts, paragraphs, and headings. A number of software programs are available for converting documents into EPUB and MOBI files. These include free tools PressBooks, Leanpub, and Jutoh (which has a for-purchase version offering more functions) for both EPUB and MOBI, or Sigil for EPUB files. The programs Scrivener and Apple Pages can export EPUB files but cost money.But perhaps the most popular conversion program in the industry remains Calibre, which converts documents to both MOBI and EPUB. It is free, versatile, and works for both Mac and PC as more than a simple e-book converter.”