Most authors write in MSWord, Pages or another word processing software. But if you have chosen to publish your text as a digital book, you must first convert your text for eBook distribution (Ready, Set, Publish: Choosing an eBook Format).
The options for taking your book from print to eBook are vast. Some word processor programs will export the file in the chosen digital form like a PDF. Other times, you may need to use an intermediate converter.
I have used several processes and researched others. Here are my conclusions.
The easiest way to convert to those pesky text files into eBook files is to write using a program that will export the desired format. If you want a one-stop software, Scrivener is the most versatile. It will take the book from the initial stages of outlining to the final export as an .EPUB or .MOBI.
I write directly in Scrivener and I also import my MSWord documents into it. Exporting is a little complicated, but possible. For detailed instructions on how to use Scrivener to export for Kindle, read How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in Under 10 Minutes. The post will help Mac users in particular.
InDesign is the industry standard software for formatting. It exports in two versions of .ePub as well as a fixed format for picture books and others with non-flowable text. These files are then ready to upload to the publisher. I write in MSWord, place in InDesign to format my pages, and then export in .EPUB.
I am unfamiliar with the following tools, but they come recommended by other authors.
Sigil is a free, ebook editor for files in .EPUB format. The program will allow you to import and edit ebooks in .TXT, .HTML and .EPUB format, and convert them to .EPUB for export.
eCub is a free cross-platform tool for creating EPUB and MobiPocket books.
Calibre is a free e-book library management application. It has many features including E-book conversion and syncing to e-book reader devices.
If you are still shaking your head and wondering how to go about converting your book to an eBook file, the simplest way may be to use a book distribution company. I have not used their services, but these companies are a few of the popular ones.
Smashwords claims to be the world’s largest ebook distributor for self-published authors and small independent presses. Upload your book once, and it will reach multiple retailers and libraries. They accept MSWord files that follow their guidelines (download Smashwords Style Guide) or EPUB files. Of course, they charge a percentage for their service.
Bookbaby is one of many publishers that offer package pricing to publish your book. They will convert your files and provide many other add-ons priced accordingly. This is the costliest method of self-publishing, but it also may be the less stressful. Submit your text and they will do the rest…for a fee.
Some print publishers also offer to publish your book as an eBook. CreateSpace will convert your print book into a Kindle version for Amazon distribution for a fee.
There is a cornucopia of choices to convert your book to eBook format. If this sounds a little too complicated, remember this…eBooks are here to stay. Write in the software of your choice, but be ready to run the conversion gauntlet to put it into digital form.