With a little help from my friends, I have figured out the basics of getting a Word document into a series of eBook formats. I have got my own eBook, 30 Days to Better Business Writing up on the Amazon Kindle store.
- Start with Microsoft Word. This is my main writing tool and I guess many people use it for composition. The problem with Word is that it outputs crappy HTML with lots of Microsoft-specific tags that don’t work in eBooks. There are other problems too, like the way it curls apostrophes and speech marks.
- Use Microsoft Live Writer. This is a great way of stripping out Microsoft-HTML-crud from your Word documents but retain basic formatting including links. It’s free and it’ll help with blogging too. I used Live Writer to tidy up the formatting, especially for stuff like bullet lists and sidebars that didn’t convert easily into HTML.
- Export the HTML source to Sigil. Sigil is a free tool that lets you compile an eBook in EPUB format, including meta data, a cover and table of contents. You can import straight from Word and this may work if your formatting is pretty simple and you can edit the source code directly in Sigil to fix any errors. (You have copy from the source code window in Live Writer and paste into the source code view in Sigil.)
- Convert in Calibre. Calibre, another free tool, lets you import eBooks in different formats, view them and then convert them other formats. Again, you can import directly from Word but I think my approach, though more laborious, gives more control and reduces the chances of errors and weird formatting. I used Calibre to export a MOBI version of my eBook which I could upload directly to Amazon. And bingo!
- Checking your eBook. Calibre is a good way to preview your eBook in different formats but I also used Kindle Previewer and I downloaded the eBook onto my Kindle directly.
Of course, this is a summary and you’ll need to read the various bits of documentation and have a basic knowledge of HTML etc. It took me about a day to turn my book from Word to Kindle (and, along the way, PDF, EPUB and MOBI). Thanks to everyone who shared their tips. Now, go buy my book. And buy one for all your friends and family.