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!

 

Step by Step Self Publishing – Formating Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle

Step by Step Self Publishing is a feature section of Jason M. Brooks' blog and website. Jason M. Brooks is the author of the Wild Space series.

I started self publishing back in 2008 when all of the self publishing options really started to take off. At the time, I was one of the few who did it. Now, I’m lost in a sea of many who self publish – and that’s a good thing. While almost every blog out there will tell you how to get rich off self publishing your books, I would rather take a different approach. I want to teach you easy, effective ways to get your book out of your mind and into someones hand.

We start with today’s blog: a step by step self publishing process for formatting your manuscript and making it ready for self publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website.

Some people like to go in and code their manuscript by hand. I will tell you first hand, I do it, it’s not terribly difficult, but it’s time consuming and not an efficient use of your valuable time. If you’re like me, you want to write your book, edit it, and then get it on the market and move on to the next book. Coding takes time and can get tricky if you’re not familiar with the process or make a mistake and have to go back and find it. My process takes all of the coding out of it and leaves you with a very nice product that is ready for Amazon on day one. Rarely will you have to go back and do more work.

If you haven’t already done so, visit my last post on the tools I use to self publish. You will be needing some of those to do this project. The only thing we need for part one in today’s post, is a finished manuscript and a word processing program. I personally use Microsoft Office 365.

So let’s begin.

Identify Page Breaks

  1. The first thing we want to do is insert page breaks at the end of our title pages and chapters. To do this, we begin by scrolling to the bottom of our desired content. In the image below, I like to add a title page to my book with graphics and whatnot. I’ve already inserted the image. Now I’ll scroll down below the cursor and insert my cursor. Now I go up into the tool bar and select “Insert Page Break”.

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2. Now I’ll repeat that process on the copyright information page (also commonly called a title page). I’ll scroll just to the end of the title page information and insert my cursor. Then I’ll select “Insert a Page Break” and the computer will do its thing.

It’s important to note that you want to put that page break right at the very end of the content that you are trying to separate. If you put that cursor five, ten or more spaces down, it will create blank pages in your ebook. That is not a good thing. Blank pages leave people scratching their heads – wondering if something is wrong with their ebook file. You want the content to end and then when you turn the page, new content begins. So place that cursor right after the text you want to separate as I show in the next image.

3. Now we’ll repeat this process with the remainder of our book. We will add page breaks at the end of each chapter. Remember to place that cursor after the last sentence of the chapter. Don’t go down a bunch of spaces before inserting that page break or you get dead space. Insert your cursor under the last line of the chapter and select “Insert Page Break”.

Continue this process through the rest of the book. Do the same with your “About the Author” page, “Other Books By Author” and any other back matter content you might add. It looks professional to separate all of this back matter with clean page breaks.

Once you have completed inserting those page breaks, zip back up to the first chapter of your book and lets assign levels to your book.

Identify Chapter Headings for the Table of Contents

Now we need to identify the chapters themselves. We will be doing this by assigning “levels” to them. If you’re familiar with blogs, examples of levels are “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, “Heading 3” and so forth. These levels will help Calibre (the program that will convert our manuscript into a Kindle file), understand what is a chapter heading and what is not.

  1. Highlight the chapter heading. Then in the formatting toolbox at the top of the page, select “Heading 1” or “Heading 2”. In my example below, I selected “Heading 2” because I reformatted “Heading 1” into a preset format of “Centered”. There is no wrong way to do it as long as you are consistent with every chapter heading. Be sure to remember which heading format you chose because we will need to put that information into Calibre to build our Kindle file.

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A note about heading formats. By default, your word processing program will already have a preset style for your heading to appear in. You can edit these presets to reflect the style you desire. For me, I wanted the font to be Cambria, at a font size of 20, bolded and italicized, and justified to the right. I changed these settings myself so that every time I select “Heading 2” I get the same look.

2. Now go through and assign levels to every chapter heading. When we get to our back matter, we will follow the same process to identify our “About the Author” page, “Other Titles By” page and any other back matter you might have added. The process is the same as we did with the chapter headings. There’s one more screenshot below as I format my “About the Author” page.

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And that wraps up all of the formatting that we actually have to do ourselves. No more coding is needed. So save this formatted file in a safe place, because we are going to plug it into Calibre and allow that sweet program to do the rest of the work for us.

As I mentioned before, there are many ways in which to format your manuscript for uploading to Amazon KDP. You can learn how to code it – but this is very time intensive, easy to mess up, and if you’re not already familiar with coding, it isn’t always an easy thing to learn. Some people have a gift for it, but most don’t.

But why waste your valuable time coding when a free software program will do the work for you? All you really have to do is follow these two simple steps and the hard part is over. In my next post, we’ll plug your file into Calibre, adjust a couple of settings and then allow Calibre to do the rest of the work.

It won’t be long and we’ll be uploading your completed file to Amazon and sharing it with the world.

If you have found this article helpful, be sure to share it with others. Also, please consider liking my Facebook Page or Follow me on Twitter. I’ll keep you updated when new, helpful posts, become available.

Until next time!

 

 

The Four Tools You Need to Publish Your First eBook for Free!

In today's post, I'll share four valuable tools so you can self publish your first eBook for free !

Have you always dreamed of publishing that “Great American Novel” you’ve had brewing in your head for years? In today’s market, it couldn’t be easier to publish your story in eBook and print formats. Best of all, you can do it at no risk or cost to you but the time you put into it. I’m going to share with you the four tools I use to publish an ebook for free.

Years ago, when the market was just growing, I started publishing ebook’s for free using the same tools I use today. I am using variations on those tools now, such as I pay for my word processing program now, but the free tools are still available – and possibly, you already own them.

I used to blog on the self-publishing world quite a bit and so I had all these posts on my blog at one time. But at some point I revamped my blog and deleted all of those posts. I’m going to begin leading people through the self-publishing process again – and I’m starting with this post. If you want to keep up to date and not miss any of my self-publishing posts, be sure to subscribe to my eNewsletter. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Now let’s get to work.

The Four Tools You Need to Publish An eBook for Free

Tools for Writing Your Novel

This is a gimme and you knew I was going to say it. You need a word processor to publish an ebook. Most people already own one, but there are only two I suggest you use. Forget about Google Docs, forget about whatever Apple’s version of a word processor… there are only two options here. One is free and the other one you pay for – and possibly you already own it or can get it from someone for free.

When I started out my self-publishing journey, I used OpenOffice. This is a free software that is available for Mac’s, Linux, and Window’s Operating Systems. It works just like Microsoft Word and is easy to pick up and use. If you don’t already own Microsoft Word and you don’t want to buy the program or subscribe to Office 365, I highly urge you to use OpenOffice. You can download the free, OpenOffice software, HERE!

About a year ago, I fell in love with Microsoft all over again. I was designing a number of brochures and promotional material for a local church and I started to use Microsoft Publisher. I decided that I needed Publisher for myself but I didn’t want to pay the hundreds of dollars it cost to buy Microsoft Office outright. Then Microsoft rolled out Office 365, which is a subscription based service. I pay $10.95 per month to have access to every Office program Microsoft offers and it is well worth the price. Plus, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. People might say, “But you’re paying more than it’s worth after a couple of years worth of monthly payments!” But that’s not true.

When Microsoft rolls out the newest version of its software, mine updates for free! I get the latest version of Office as soon as it comes out so I am always up to date. That’s well worth the price I pay. Plus, as I said before, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. But I sure would miss $399 if I paid for the software package outright. And then I’d have to shell out another $399 if I wanted the latest version.

So if you are like me and won’t miss $10.95 per month, just go with Microsoft Office 365. It’s worth the investment and plus, every step by step publishing video I produce to share with you all will be done using Office 365. It will be easier to follow along. If you already own a version of Microsoft Office, you’re already good to go.

You can download Office 365, HERE!

Again, there’s nothing wrong with OpenOffice. It’s a fantastic, free option. But I’ve fallen in love with Microsoft all over again.

Tools for Creating a Cover

The next tool you need to create and publish an ebook for free is a cover creator. I do all my covers myself using Adobe PhotoShop. One of my friends upgraded to the newest version of PhotoShop so he gave me his old copy of PhotoShop CS3.

PhotoShop isn’t one of the easiest programs to learn, but I self taught myself and I have great success with it. PhotoShop also has a hefty price tag on it, but not anymore. Like Office 365, PhotoShop offers a subscription service starting as low as $9.95 per month. If you want to use PhotoShop to design your covers, I suggest either finding a used copy or subscribing to it. You can subscribe to Adobe’s software packages, HERE!

I free alternative to PhotoShop is GIMP. This is just as powerful as Adobe’s product and the best part about it is that it’s free! I have to admit, I’ve never used GIMP. But I do have friends who use it and they love it. One of them actually prefers it over PhotoShop. If you want to build your covers from scratch, this might be a great option for you. You can download GIMP for free, HERE!

How about building an ebook cover for free but not having to do it from scratch? There are tons of options out there. You could try having someone make a cover for you on Fivver.com. I’ve seen some great work come from there. Or you might want to try Canva. I’ve heard a lot of great talk on what Canva has to offer.

Basically, this is just a drop and drag program that is completely online with nothing to download – except your final product. It can be free or you can buy add on’s to spruce things up. Again, I’ve heard a lot of authors speak highly of this service, so give it a shot if you don’t want to build your cover from scratch and you want to do it for free. You can find Canva, HERE!

Tools for Converting Your File Into an eBook

Next, we need to convert our Word file into an eBook format. Guess what? I have always produced my ebooks for free using this option – and it’s the only one I’m going to share because I can’t imagine the need for anything else.

I use Calibre to convert my Word files into Mobi format for Amazon Kindle books, and ePUB format for Nook, iBooks and Kobo. It works slick and offers a ton of features to trick out your eBook. I’ll be sharing how to use Calibre in future posts and videos.

It’s available for Windows, Mac’s, and Linux operating systems. You can download Calibre for free, HERE!

Tools for Distributing Your eBooks

Finally, we need to sell our books somewhere. There are tons of options but I only suggest four places and really, if you want to keep it simple and maximize your sales opportunity, there’s only one option.

My number one choice for publishing my books (and if you want to keep it simple) is to open an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short). The overwhelming majority of eBooks sold are sold through Amazon. For every $10 I make in eBook sales, $9.50 of that comes through sales on Amazon. Nobody else comes close.

I also publish on Barnes and Noble Nook Press site, Kobo’s Writer’s Space site and Smashwords. But again, all of those combined don’t come close to matching the sales I see on Amazon’s site. I can’t stress enough how much more valuable KDP is compared to all the rest.

However, I’m going to give you the links to all four of these sites so you can make your own decisions. Plus, there are people who have success at these other sites. I just haven’t seen it myself. Keep in mind, these links are just for publishing eBooks. We’ll discuss print books in a different post. As for eBook publishing, here are the links you’ll need:

Amazon KDP – CLICK HERE!

Nook – CLICK HERE!

Kobo – CLICK HERE!

Smashwords – CLICK HERE!

So those are the valuable tools that I use when I set out to publish an eBook for free. I hope you find this content helpful. I’ll be posting a ton more on self-publishing. To be sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe to this blog and subscribe to my FREE, monthly eNewsletter to keep  up to date.

Until next time…