Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to Make Files for Amazon and B&N

I'm not really adding anything new. Today I formatted my manuscript for Pulling Teeth and I found different info and tools at different places. I felt it might help some people to compile it all here.  Honestly, Guido Henkel and Helen Hanson did all the work.

This is the shorthand version. You'll need:
notepad++ or something like it
kindlegen from amazon
kindle previewer from amazon
kindle for PC from amazon
Nook for PC from B&N

1. Take your manuscript and manually search out all the italics and surround the words with <em> tags. I don't think there's an automated way to do this. I don't use many italics anyway.

2. Copy and paste your file into Notepad++

3. Perform the replacements on the special characters as Guido Henkel instructs here:
He lists the html code for em dashes, ellipses and curly quotes. I'd already changed my curly quotes to straight quotes and don't care about them that much anyway.

4. Add the <p> tags automatically as Guido instructs on that same page. This will prevent insanity.

5. Do everything else the way Helen Hanson instructs here:
She provides step-by-step instructions that are very easy to understand.

6. Add a couple of things she doesn't mention
  1. a copyright page right after the title page. The verbiage here will get you started:
  2. an About the Author page at the end with your email, your twitter, and links to your website and your facebook page and whatever the hell else they come up with. I also asked the reader to consider reviewing my book and listed a few places they could.

7. Load the file into your Kindle if you have one. Load it into the Kindle previewer which emulates different hardware and check formatting across the board. Be sure to check your Table of Content links.

8. Load the file into Calibre and convert it to epub. Because the HTML that went into the mobi file was pristine, you should get a clean epub, too. I guess. I don't really know what I'm talking about.

9. Test the epub on Nook and Nook for PC. My cover image was squashed vertically on Nook for PC, but my sister reported that it looked good on her e-ink Nook.

If anyone has a totally reliable way to convert mobi to epub that isn't a pain in the ass, let me know.

I was surprised by how easy this process was. If only Smashwords would accept a mobi or epub upload, my life would be easy. I'm dreading trying to prevent Word from adding a bunch of weird formatting artifacts, but I want into the Apple and Sony bookstores.


  1. Oh great, I have a crapload of italics in my manuscript, for all the times the characters with ESP are mind-talking to each other. This is going to suck. Maybe I should just leave out those parts of the book so I don't have to format them.

  2. Maybe I should just leave out those parts of the book so I don't have to format them.

    I like it. A distant, external third person in which characters just stare at each other a lot. Very experimental!

    But you might want to go through a .doc conversion process instead. Won't be as clean, but might be less work, I dunno.