DIYday Lesson 13: Manuscript Formatting Part 2

Hi and welcome back! In this post I am picking up where the last post left off. In DIYday Lesson 12, we created a Word document ready for converting to eBook formats. To finish the process, I use two programs: Sigil and Calibre. They are free and open source programs you can download. Note that there are some limitations to them, but they work just fine for creating usable ebooks.

First thing you do is open your Word document and save it in HTML format. You do this by clicking Save As and choosing Web Page, Filtered from the options. Now start up your Sigil program. You should see this as the main window:

Sigil 1
Click to enlarge

Go to File–>Open and search for the book you created. Remember, you need the HTML format. When you find it and it opens, it should look like this, with the whole of it in one window:

Sigil 2
Click to enlarge

Now there is a process to this, so be patient.

1. Separate chapters into tabs. You do this by finding each chapter heading. Click your cursor just before the first letter of your heading and then go to Edit–>Split at Cursor. This will separate your chapters into different tabbed windows. You should have as many tabs as you have chapters or sections, or both.

2. Clean up empty spaces. This is necessary in order for your book to pass validation. Remember those extra spaces we put between chapters so they would show up properly? Now that the chapters are in different tabs, we don’t need them, and the validator will give you an error for each extra space you have. So once you have your chapters separated, click through each tab and delete any empty rows before and after the chapter.

3. Rename your tabs. In the window on the left you will see a list of all your tabs. You will need this to create a Table of Contents and just to make the eBook neater. See below. Click on a section title, right click and select Rename. You can then type in whatever you want to call it.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

4. Create a Table of Contents. To do this, go to Tools–>Table of Contents–>Generate Table of Contents. You will get a popup window with a list of all your headings (this is why we gave chapter titles heading styles). Check the boxes next to every heading you want to show in your ToC and uncheck all those you don’t want, then click OK. Your new Table of Contents will show up in the window on the right. You’re almost done with this part, but not quite yet.

5. Enter Metadata. As discussed here, Metadata is information about your book. In order for your book to pass validation, you will need to enter some basic information about it. To do this, go to Tools–>Metadata Editor. In the window that pops up, enter as much information as you can. Author name, book title, etc. and click OK.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

6. Validate. You will note that I skipped a step here (adding a cover image). That is because the last time I did this, I had some issues getting the cover page to show up properly when I opened it in Adobe Reader. Instead, I worked around this with Calibre and because I know that approach works, I will do the same here. So, to check if your eBook meets all necessary criteria, go to Tools–>Validate EPUB with FlightCrew. What we’re  looking for is this:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

If you get something else, it is probably an error with the HTML code. Each one will be a separate line in red and you can click on them to see where the error is. It will take you to that part of your book. To see the HTML code, click on the < > symbol at the top. If you’re not sure what the error is, you can search online and find it in the Sigil help forums more often than not.

7. Save. The program will automatically set your file format as EPUB, which is what we want. If you wanted to, you could upload this file into your NOOK or other eReader and start reading, but it won’t have a cover page on it. To add one, we turn to Calibre.

8. Open Calibre and add your eBook to it. When Calibre opens, click the red Add Book icon and search for your book file. It will show up in the main window:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

9. Add cover and additional info and convert. This is the easy part. Click the Convert books icon at the top and you will get a new window. Note the red arrows in the image below.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

At the very tip top right corner, you will need to choose which file format you want to convert to. Underneath that, you will already have some information filled in from Sigil. If you have additional information, such as the publisher, series title, book number in the series, add them where appropriate. In the larger window you will at first see the very first page of your book (which acts as a cover because we didn’t assign one yet. Where it says Change cover image, click the little blue icon indicated in the screencap and find your cover image. To display properly on the most screens, your image should be at least 1000 pixels wide and should be a vertical rectangle (taller than it is wide). Once you have everything set, just click OK. Do this for as many formats as you need.

10. Move things around. When you convert a book in Calibre, it creates a folder with all information, including your original file and your converted files. You should move all the eBook versions you intend to use out of this directory. Why? Because there is a Remove Books icon in Calibre and if you click it, it will not only clear your Calibre screen, it will delete all files and folders in your Calibre library folder. Get your books somewhere safe, and THEN click Remove Books in Calibre.

11. Add a cover image to your original EPUB file. Easy as pie. Add one of your converted books back into Calibre (MOBI usually works best for this). Click Convert books. All your information should be already filled out, including your lovely cover page. All you need to do is tell Calibre to convert to EPUB format and click OK. Once it is done, just move the EPUB file to where you saved the others, remove books from Calibre to keep it uncluttered and you are done!

Congratulations, you have created eBooks ready to be published. Victory dance!


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