Step by Step Self Publishing – Formatting Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle: Part 2

Step by Step Self Publishing Formatting your manuscript for Amazon KDP is the second part of a series by Jason M. Brooks

In my last post on step by step self publishing, we focused on preparing our manuscript for the self publishing process. We prepped our manuscript to feed it through Calibre, where the file will be converted into a MOBI file – which is the format that Amazon uses to create its Kindle books.

If you haven’t read the first part of this two part series on Step by Step Self Publishing – Formatting Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle, you can READ IT HERE!

Today, in part 2, we will be taking that formatted manuscript and feeding it into Calibre – a free conversion program that can turn our manuscript into any format of ebook we would like. In this case, we’re going to pump out a Kindle version of our book. Kindle uses a proprietary format known as MOBI.

If you haven’t already downloaded and installed Calibre on your computer, you can DOWNLOAD IT HERE! for either Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems. Trust me when I say, Calibre is a handy took for self publishing. If it’s not in your self publishing toolbox, put it in there today. It’s free!

So let’s get started.

Uploading Your Manuscript to Calibre

  1. Obviously, the first step to self publishing our book through Calibre, is to get the file there to work with. To upload the file, simply click on the “Add Books” icon in the top, far left. It will pop up the file manager window so you can search for your file. Once you find it, click on it and it will now appear in your library on Calibre. In the case of the images below, we are uploading my file that is titled: TAP Calling of the Kings. We’ll be working on that file throughout this post.

step by step self publishing

Step by step self publishing is a post by Jason M. Brooks

2. Now that the file is in our library, we need to begin the process of converting it into a MOBI file. Start by selecting the book you wish to format – in this case: TAP Calling of the Kings. Then select the “Convert Books” icon.

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And now we are in the settings screen where we’ll do some last minute tweaks to prepare it for the final conversion. At this point you should be at the screen shown below.

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Adjust Settings for Creating the MOBI File

  1. The first thing we need to do is select the proper output format for our book. In this case, we want to select the MOBI format. You can see this illustrated in the image above. Once we’ve selected the proper output format, then we begin adding the proper meta data for our book. This gets embedded in the final file format as well as helps us find this material in the Calibre library. As you format more books, it will become quite the chore to find titles that you are looking for, so be sure to fill out the information that is necessary to identify your book. If you notice on mine in the image below, this book is part of a series. So I will fill out the series title information and identify what volume it is. You may or may not need to do this for your book.

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2. Now, let’s add our cover to this book. It’s currently displaying the first page of my formatted manuscript, which happens to be the title page. Click on the disk icon shown to the right of the “Change Cover Image” bar on the main screen. This is illustrated in my next image. Then search through your files for the correct cover image and load it up. Now your cover is embedded into your file.

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I should note here that Amazon has you upload your cover as a separate file so you really don’t have to do this next stage of work. However, if you are like me and you like to do free giveaways on your website, add the cover. That way, you can give the file away as a special promotion and when the reader uploads it on their Kindle device, they will have the professional cover image displayed in their library.

Now We Tweak the Final Settings

Now we need to tweak a few settings – none of it is difficult to do. This final tweaking will get our book ready to make the final conversion into MOBI format.

1. The first setting we need to adjust is found in the “Detect Chapters” bar. To get there, click on the “Structure Detection” box. At the top of the screen you will find the “Detect Chapters” bar. There is a list of defaults that Calibre will search for. For me, I also add an “About the Author” page, a “Preview” page, and an “Other Titles” page to my manuscript.

I want Calibre to detect those pages when it creates my table of contents. To do this, I click in the bar and I manually add the following keywords: about, preview, other. I add the following mark | to match the default type that is already found there. What this does is tells Calibre that any “Heading 1” or “Heading 2” titles that start with these words, need to be added to the Table of Contents. As you can see, it is already preset to find “Chapter”. So no need to make that adjustment.

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4. The next setting under “Structure Detection” that we need to change is found at the “Chapter Mark” drop down box as shown below. By default it will say “Pagebreak”. Click on the drop down menu and select “None”. Now we are set to move on.

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2. Click on the “Table of Contents” icon. The next image indicates the only two changes we need to make here. Click on the “Force Use of Auto Generated Table of Contents”. Then in the dialogue box, add “h1” for Heading 1 or “h2” for Heading 2, depending on how you formatted your chapter headings in part 1 of this series. Remember I told you to remember which one you used? This is why.

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3. Now all we have to do is click on the “OK” button at the bottom of the screen and Calibre does the rest. In a few minutes or less, your book is instantly formatted into a MOBI file that is ready to upload to Amazon.

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Finding Your MOBI File

Now all you need to do is grab your newly created MOBI file and upload it to your Amazon KDP account. I will go step by step through that process in a future blog post.

For Windows users, if you download the Calibre program and allow it to install everything as it recommends (and don’t make any changes to where your files appear) you will find your MOBI file in your “Documents” folder. Click on your Documents folder, then click on the Calibre folder and you will find a folder under your author name. Click on that folder, then click on your book title folder, and finally you will see all of the formats you have created from your original Word document. In this case, we need the MOBI file as shown in the image below. This is the file that Amazon will need when you upload your book file.

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This would be the typical file path to take to find your MOBI file: Documents>Calibre Files>Author Name>Book Title

If during the install you instructed Calibre to put its files somewhere else, you’ll have to look there for the Calibre Files folder.

And that is all there is to the process. It might look intimidating, but it’s not. In fact, it is a simple process that once you’ve done a few times, will be easy and fast.

In future posts I will be looking at uploading your file to Amazon KDP. I’ll also teach you how to prepare your manuscript for uploading to Smashwords, Kobo, Nook and other eReader devices. Eventually I’ll get into preparing print files to upload to CreateSpace and Ingram Spark. And as time goes on, I’ll keep adding more and more helpful, self publishing how to’s. I’m also working on videos to add to YouTube. Unfortunately this will take time to produce because I’m also in the process of writing and publishing my own works.

Busy, Busy.

So I hope you found this helpful and I hope this gets you up and self publishing quickly and with confidence. Have any questions? Comment below. Also, consider joining me on Facebook and Twitter where we can continue the conversation.

Until next time!

 

About Jason M. Brooks

Jason is an avid reader, a published author, an inconsistent blogger, a dabbler in the art of video production, and an expert in self-publishing. In 2009, Jason self-published his first book, and since then, has helped other authors bring their passion to life in print, eBook, and audio book formats. Jason has published over 100 titles between himself and various writers, and has helped numerous authors build and launch their author platform. Jason enjoys sharing his experiences and knowledge with fellow writers on his blog at www.jasonmbrooks.com.
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