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Archived Author Help > DIY eBook Instructions (from a complete n00b)

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message 1: by Annie (last edited Jun 12, 2016 03:52AM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments Hiya everyone,

I received a PM from a friend asking for DIY instructions on how to create a MOBI and thought, “Huh, I wonder if anyone else would like to know too.” Sooo, if I’m being annoying, please ignore. If I’m breaking any rules, please delete. Just do whatever the heck makes you happy LOL. Anyhoo, here’s my long-winded response to her:

Okie dokie, ma'am. First things first, you should know that I have ZERO clue what I'm doing. I have literally deployed my google gopher every single step of the way. With that being said *gulps* I shall do my best to help ya with my extremely limited, 100% self-taught experience...

There are actually a few different ways to whip up an ebook. This is a pretty decent overview if you wanna take a look-see:

Personally, I refuse to tinker with html because...well...I don’t know a darn thing about it hahaha. I also know of authors who use Scrivener and InDesign to export directly to ePub. As for me? I go the super duper simple route and make a Word document of my manuscript following these formatting instructions:

Afterward, I just chuck the file into Caliber (you’ll have to download and install: and click “convert” to ePub, MOBI, PDF, etc. Keep in mind, though, that my books are pretty much text-only. If you're looking to embed images or tables, I can’t promise this method will work.

Heh. Here’s what I learnt from a whackload of failed attempts *headdesk*:

1. Do not use tab or extra spaces anywhere. At all. Add a first line indent instead.
2. Save the file in .docx. Most people actually use .doc or .pdf. Didn’t work for me.
3. Convert to ePub first, then do an ePub to mobi conversion.
4. Remember chapter headings. These are used to generate your table of contents. Personally, I like to create hyperlinks as well, but I’m an obsessive weirdo...
5. If you publish on Amazon, upload ePub as your source file. They recommend .docx. Don’t listen to those liars *growls and strangles KDP* Seriously, though, the formatting gets royally messed up.

Hmm. That’s all I can think of right now. You’ll probably have to do some research on your own, but I hope that helps some :)


EDIT: If anyone thinks I’m completely off my rocker, please don’t hesitate to chime in and correct me. I’m totally fumbling in the dark here, so yeah...

message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments I don't use Word myself, but have helped others who do. You're adding a few extra steps that are not needed: if you have a properly formatted Word doc, just upload that to KDP (you don't need an ePub or mobi file).

You also left out an essential step: every paragraph in Word *must* have a style applied, other than the default Normal style. I actually recommend using the Smashwords style guide, even if you don't use them for publishing.

Other than that, good instructions!

message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt Parker | 38 comments If anyone is interested, I found this guy's guide very helpful-

He also uses Calibre, but he converts his file to html first, and he talks you, step by step, through the process. Getting to grips with html was a little daunting at first, but in the end I found it quite satisfying.
Apparently one good reason for converting your file to html is that there may be hidden bits and pieces of formatting code when using Word Processor software that don't show up up when you view the file, but may have strange formatting effects when converting to e-book files.
Personally I've tried both methods (word doc and html) and putting them through Calibre, and both result looked fine on the surface. When I published I used html though, to be on the safe side. The other advantage of html coding is that you can be sure all your formatting is consistant. All chapter headings will be the same size and spacing between them and the text will all be the same ect.

Guido's online guide isn't exhaustive. I had to do a little bit of hunting on google to figure out how to format certain things, like clickable links, ect, though I think he has a book available which goes more in-depth.

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 968 comments Annie - Thank you for posting this extremely helpful information. My book is written and in the editing process, and I use Word 2007, but have not signed up with KDP yet. I'm waiting for when I'm ready to prepare my cover... Is that too late? However, I know you do not publish through KDP, so perhaps someone who does can answer, please?

Ken - You stated "every paragraph in word *must* have a style applied." I'm typing my book directly into the template I downloaded from CreateSpace, as I will publish electronic and paperback versions of my book. Is that not right? Please help. Thank you.

Matt - Thank you for that very helpful link.

message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments I can answer the KDP question.

You need do nothing there until your book is ready to upload. Or you can set up a KDP account in advance,.

Up to you.

For exactly how to prepare your MS for Kindle may I suggest you download a free book from Amazon called Building Your Book for Kindle (Kindle Direct Publishing). I'm no computer genius (read muddled middle-aged woman) and I followed the step by step instructions in this book with complete success. It's written specifically for Word users.

message 6: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments Sue (Dog Mom) wrote: "Thank you for posting this extremely helpful information. My book is written and in the editing process, and I use Word 2007, but have not signed up with KDP yet. I'm waiting for when I'm ready to prepare my cover... Is that too late? However, I know you do not publish through KDP, so perhaps someone who does can answer, please?"

No problemo, Miss Sue :) Btw, I didn't name you before because I wasn't sure if you wanted to be identified *shrugs* As for KDP, I actually listed with them this past Wednesday. The only reason I hadn't prior was because I thought you needed to be exclusive (turns out that's only with the Select program thingymabob). But no, ma'am. You can sign up whenever you want for free. And when your shizz is ready, it takes all of 5 mins to upload everything and hit "publish." So you can either wait or not wait, makes no difference whatsoever :)

Ken: Huh. I totally use the default body (though I customize the font or whatnot). I just add chapter titles with a "heading" style. Hmm. I'm willing to bet this is why my Word doc converts all wonky, eh? In either case, yes, I'm totally doing an extra step with ePub...but...I don't wanna go back and format the Word doc properly *smirks*

Matt: Oooh! Sweet guide!! Yep, I totally did a few trial-and-error conversions, so html is probably best. *adds to looong list of things to learn*

Jane: OMGeeee! I didn't even realize there was a manual. Thanks for that!! I seriously need to start reading instructions hahahaha.

You guys are awesome possums!


message 7: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Hi Annie. As far as formatting your word doc, all you need to do is set your paragraph info to what you want (indentations, no spaces between, single spaced, etc). Amazon's kindle generator is actually less likely to output wonky formatting with a basic word file than anything that's been fussed with. There's no need to worry about 'clean code' because they do an efficient job of compressing the file. The guide Jane used is how I set up my initial books, but it's gotten even easier in the last few years.

message 8: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments Thank you, ma'am!!

I actually didn't have an issue with the Kindle copy. Only with the "Look Inside." But I randomly tried ePub and that worked haha. So, yeah...

I need to read that guide LOL

*hugs Christina*

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 968 comments Jane - Thank you for posting that Guide. I'm going to grab that.

Christina - Thank you for making it sound easy so I won't be so nervous.

Annie - Thank you for your update.

I think I have one less thing to be terrified over now. Thank you all. : )

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