Erm. Scuse me, I just couldn’t help that. Anyway, as you might expect, today’s post is about e-books. Specifically, formatting your Word, Text, or HTML document into a clean, visually pleasing format. With a minimum of hassle. Believe it or not, doing this yourself is a lot more trouble than it might seem.
Using Amazon or some other self-publishing website usually gets you access to online software that makes this easier. But say you want to format your book without selling it or using someone else’s website? I did something of the kind with several of my stories, which are in the library. I wanted to them to be available for free in e-book formats, without needing to self-publish via Amazon or Smashwords.
In this case, you need software. After some searching (and some dead ends) I found Sigil. In essence, it’s a e-book creator that allows you to format and build .epub books. Takes a little getting used to, mostly because it only imports .epub and HTML, so you have to figure out how to change your existing file into one of these formats. Most text editors export to HTML just fine, so most writers are in good shape already. Sigil has a good user manual online, which is quite easy to follow. Sigil has a very nice user interface, giving you a “what you see is what you get” view. If it looks nice in the editor, it looks nice in the e-reader.
Unfortunately, a LOT of people who read e-books have Kindles, which means you’ll need a Kindle-friendly format. Sigil doesn’t export for Kindle, just .epub, so you need another piece of software. I use Calibre. It’s an e-book management program, which allows you to convert from one e-book format to another. It does allow you to edit, so if there’s a spelling mistake or formatting problem it CAN be fixed, but it’s slightly more difficult than it is in Sigil.
So, between the two of them, these programs allow you to create e-books easily and convert them into other formats. If you want to self-publish and have complete control over the appearance of your e-books, I highly recommend this method. It’s worked nicely for me.
I’ve just finished formatting my story “Hunter – Of Pockets and Arachnids” to .epub and .mobi. Here’s a link to the library and a picture of the cover.
Both formats are available; check either one. Sigil and Calibre together make a fine team. Enjoy reading and good luck with formatting your own writing!