Pretty Words – One Way Trip #5

Past articles in the series:

1. A Practical Guide to Formatting for Online Publishing

2. The Importance of Formatting

3. A Good Start is Key

4. Retouching Existing Documents

Whether you started writing your novel using the template or by formatting your existing document, you should now be ready to move to the next step and convert your document to an eBook.

This particular step is a one-way trip though. That means that once you start this process you are going to sever the relation between the eBook and the original Word document. Any changes you need to make to the Word document you either need to make them both in Word and in the eBook – if there are a small number of them – or repeat the formatting process from this step forward again. Thankfully, the rest of the process is pretty mechanical and, with a little practice, it should not take you long to format a document from scratch.

Before we start we need a couple of tools that we’re going to need in order to convert the Word document into an eBook ready for publishing.

The first tool is a nice little gem called Sigil. To download Sigil go to the Downloads section of the site and click on the file that says “Windows” or “Mac” in the title depending on your platform. The latest version at the time of writing is 0.7.4. Sigil is an open source project and it’s free to use. Unfortunately, development of Sigil has stopped as of October 2013, but the tool works extremely well for our purposes and we’ll keep using it until it does.

Sigil will help you take the output from Word and turn it into an ePub file. ePub is the industry standard format for eBooks, used by many publishers.

The second tool we’re going to need is Amazon’s Kindle Previewer. Also available for Windows and Mac, Kindle Previewer will convert the eBook from ePub to Amazon’s proprietary mobi format for publishing to Amazon’s KDP. Kindle Previewer will also allow you to preview the final eBook simulating a number of different Kindle reading devices.

The conversion process will go something like this:

· Convert the document in HTML format from Word

· Use Sigil to edit the HTML and compose it in an ePub file with all the appropriate section and metadata

· Use Kindle Previewer to convert the ePub to mobi and do a final test pass to make sure it look and works great

Before you convert the document make sure that:

· All the editing is done and the document has been proofread

· Accept all the changes in the document and make sure there are no more revision marks and the document is final

· The entire document is properly formatted in Word according to the guidelines in the past two articles

· There are no page breaks between chapters and that text flows from one chapter to the other. If you have left page breaks we’ll take them out during eBook formatting, but it’s better to do it in Word.

· You have included all the front- and back-matter and that these sections are also edited, proofread and formatted appropriately

The book is now starting to resemble the final structure, ready to be converted:

· Front matter

o Book title

o Copyrights

o Dedication

o Table of contents

· Document text

· Back matter

o Acknowledgements

o Bio

The eBook template includes all the sections and the appropriate formatting, feel free to add or remove sections to match what you want in your book.

Ok, now we’re almost there. One last check. Make sure everything is all right. Save the document one last time and close it, just to be sure.

Open the document again and go to File, Save As. Pick a place where you want your HTML document to be saved. From the “Save as type” drop down pick “Web Page, Filtered”. This step is super important as by choosing the Filtered option, Word will remove a ton of extra formatting that we do not need, or want, in our HTML file.

And we’re done for the day! Congratulations, you are one step closer to publishing your masterpiece!

Next week we’ll work in Sigil to create the ePub. Until then please let me know if you have any question @robertoruggeri. Ciao!

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Pretty Words – One Way Trip #5

Pretty Words – A Practical Guide to Formatting for Online Publishing

Starting today, and without a proper introduction—and that’s entirely my fault—my formatter, aka dear hubby Roberto, will explain, once a week, the art of good formatting. Since he is very knowledgeable and has lots to say on the topic, I’ll leave the floor to him right away:

When Monica started her book business we looked at all the different components of the workflow, from inception to publishing and marketing, and decided how to tackle each phase. We wanted to have a professional approach and put out on the market a polished product.

Some parts were clear: she does the writing, you need a professional for the editing and you definitely want an extra pair of eyes for the final proofreading.

For the covers, we started working with our good friend Alessandro, even though lately we started doing our own covers with some encouraging results. Yes, Alessandro, it takes two of us to even come close to what you did Smile

The last part to figure out was how to get the manuscript from its raw format to a format that could be published on one of the online services like Amazon, B&N/Nook, Kobo etc.

We looked around the room and thought, who has some background in publishing and IT that can get help with this?? She looks at me. I look at her. I look at me. I decided that it was me, the one with 25 year experience in IT, who should take this. The skills in setting the clock on my parents’ VCR and fixing remote controls prepared me for this and I was ready to support my better half in her new venture.

I went into it without much knowledge of the process and I have learned a lot. Now we can take one of Monica’s books from the original document to formatted and uploaded to the service in a matter of few hours.

This is meant to be a series of articles and practical advice on how to publish your work online and have it look good on your readers’ e-devices.

I will be focusing primarily on publishing to Amazon’s Kindle format which I believe will cover 90% of the cases. I’ll start with the basics of editing and how to prepare your document for formatting. We’ll then have a look at the tools for formatting and finalizing the document for publishing, including all of its metadata. Finally look at some of the variances for different online publishing services like Smashwords and Createspace for print-on-demand.

If you have any questions or have suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered, feel free to hit me on Twitter @robertoruggeri or Monica @momilp. For now get ready and let’s start with the basics and why formatting is important.

clip_image002About me: I am a technology freak, that’s pretty much it. I spent pretty much all my life in Information Technology. I started working for Microsoft in 1998 and I am still there making up the future of Xbox. When I am off work I play videogames, but every day that goes on I feel more like a videogame collector, I wish I could play them all. I am an amateur photographer, a Canon guy really, and a comic book collector, X-Men FTW! You can find me on twitter, Xbox and PlayStation Network and I have some photos up on Flickr if you want to connect.

Pretty Words – A Practical Guide to Formatting for Online Publishing