A few years ago I posted about formatting an eBook ready for publication for Mrs' latest. I had to do it again recently and I was pleased to find the process has improved a lot. The two places I need to upload to are Amazon and Smashwords. Amazon used to require a .mobi file, Smashwords needed a .doc file. The .doc file was okay, and the .mobi file was a pain and was what my earlier post was all about. But the .mobi file did give a slightly nicer result because there was more control available. Now they both take .epub files.
An .epub file is a zip of a load of .css and .html files, and a few others. You can edit them by unzipping, using any old text editor, and zipping them back together. But it is easy to screw that up. More good news. Calibre, a product that has been around for ages, has hugely improved since I last looked at it. It now allows you to edit the .epub files in place, and it also offers valrious validation tools and a preview facility. Plus it runs on Linux so I don't have to jump through hoops getting it going under wine. I mention this last bit because Amazon offers some tools that only run on Windows and Mac, and they don't run under wine, so are useless to me. Turns out they are unnecessary anyway.
Mrs had a few specific requirements in the formatting though, mostly around the table of contents, and that was easily handled by Calibre. So our process becomes:
- Use the word processor she writes in (LibreOffice) to save the file to .epub
- Open that file in Calibre and do whatever tweaks are needed. At least add the cover image, possibly nothing more.
- Preview (Calibre again)
- Copy the .epub to a tablet running Kindle for another preview. This picked up a problem the Calibre preview did not find, namely a font reference that should not have been there. Another edit using Calibre quickly sorted it out.
- Upload the file