This is part 2 in a series where I give step-by-step instructions on how to convert your novel into multiple eBook formats. Here are the other parts to the series:

In the previous article, I gave an overview of formatting your eBook, then step-by-step instructions on how to convert your formatted MS Word document into a PRC file (used by the Kindle) with Mobipocket Creator.

As promised, I’ll go over how to take that PRC file (or just about any unprotected/non-DRM file) into multiple eBook formats with the assistance of Calibre.

Formatting Your Book: Overview

In the self-publishing process, converting my novel into various eBook formats is usually one of the last steps I take. Prior to reaching this point, I’ve done the following:

  1. Formatted my MS Word document so it’s ready to become an eBook and I usually create three versions: One for Amazon with Amazon hyperlinks; one for Smashwords with no hyperlinks (it will be rejected by their meat-grinder otherwise); and one to sell on my own website AND use for my personal marketing purposes.
  2. Created my eBook cover.
  3. Uploaded my formatted MS Word document and cover directly to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and it’s sitting in the queue waiting to be approved by Amazon.
  4. Uploaded my formatted MS Word document and cover directly to Smashwords and it’s ready to be downloaded by readers, but probably still waiting to be approved for their Premium Catalogue so it can be distributed to the other vendors (i.e., B&N, iTunes, Sony Reader, Diesel, Kobo, etc.).

Although Smashwords does create the various eBook format and I do have the option of downloading their versions, I like to create my own files for my personal marketing efforts because I can put whatever links I want to inside my eBook and I don’t have a vendor balking that I’m linking to a competitor. The Smashwords file versions (if you read item #1 above) doesn’t have any buy links, although it might tell users how to get to my website (e.g., “Go to http://www.ArialBurnz.com” versus “Go to www.ArialBurnz.com“).

Step 2: Convert the MS Word Document to a PRC file

Getting Ready to Convert to PRC

To make this process easier on yourself, I recommend you do the following:

Create or designate a folder on your computer where you have your novel. This will also be the folder where you’ll save your eBook files. Like most authors, I have a folder specifically for each of my novels, as I go through several revisions and I save many documents along the way. When I create my final file ready to publish to eBook, I will create a folder titled “eBooks”. Within that folder, I’ll put the two following files (see Figure 1):

  1. My formatted MS Word Document – this is the final version I’m going to convert to an eBook
  2. My eBook cover – you should use the largest resolution you have. As Amazon says in their image guidelines: “For best quality, your image would be 1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest.” These are  minimum requirements. My covers are a standard size of 1700 x 2550 (used by Lightning Source).
Figure 1 (click to enlarge)
You should also have the following optional information handy:
  • ISBN – If you’ve already published to Smashwords, you should have an ISBN assigned, so go ahead and grab that. From your Smashwords Dashboard, click on ISBN Manager in the left-hand navigation area, and scroll down until you see your book(s) listed in a table. Your ISBN should be there. (NOTE: The ISBN for your eBook will always be different for your print book, so do not use the ISBN from your Print On Demand book.)
  • Back of the Book Blurb – Again, if you’ve already published to Smashwords and/or Amazon/KDP, you should have this written. You’ll be using this in the “Description” field when we create your PRC.
  • Reviews – If you’ve already farmed your book out to some reviewers and have the text from their reviews, you will have the opportunity to put it into the “Review” field.

About Mobipocket Creator

Here’s the funny thing…the Mobipocket eBook Creator doesn’t actually create a MOBI file, as the title of the software seems to indicate. It actually creates a PRC file. Don’t ask me why…talk to the developers.
The Mobipocket eBook Creator is a FREE program you can download to create the PRC file and then that can be converted to whatever format you need with the help of Calibre. Since I had a dickens of a time finding a YouTube tutorial or even a comprehensible guide by Mobipocket on how to do this, I decided to create my own. (Sheesh! You want something done right…) It’s simple…you just need to know what to do.
Please Note: the following instructions DO NOT include an automatically generated Table of Contest (TOC). This will produce an eBook without one. If you’d like to generate an eBook that DOES have a TOC, you’ll need to do that in MS Word. Here’s the link that shows you how to do that: http://youtu.be/OkyisWIE3kQ (E-mail me if you have questions or problems creating your TOC.)
For some reason, many people think you need to have the HTML version of your file in order to use Mobipocket eBook Creator. Mobipocket eBook Creator automatically converts your document into HTML. I NEVER start with an HTML version. I always convert directly from an MS Word file.
Be sure to download and install the program by following the Mobipocket eBook Creator link above. Once you’ve installed it, you can follow these steps outlined in the tutorial, which is in the next blog post – How to Convert Your Novel into Multiple eBook Formats – Part 3.
That’s my two pence…
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