Turning a Manuscript into an E-book

If you are coming here from Formatting a Document for Conversion [in OpenOffice], then you most likely have a clean, formatted document for processing. If you did not, then I hope you have a clean, formatted OpenOffice, Pages, or Word document ready for use. Otherwise, click the link above for help formatting your file in OpenOffice, or follow this guide here by Catherine, Caffeinated for formatting your story in Word.

Now that you have a formatted document, let’s begin!

Program Options There are a great many programs for converting a document to an epub, which is the standard for digital books. You could use an online option, like Online Convert, Epub Converter, or Ebook Convertor, but I am kind of old fashioned and like to use a program. After mucking about with several, I found one that I liked, called Calibre. This guide will now assume you are using Calibre for all intents and purposes, but it could apply to many converters.

What You’ll Need:

Optional, but Extremely Helpful:

  • A smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app and/or Google Play Books on it


  • A dedicated e-reader device, such as a Nook, Kindle, etc.

Converting Your Document

  • Obtain your program or load web converter of choice. [We’ll go with Calibre. Install and run the program.]
  • Load your formatted file in the program, and look for some place to input metadata. Metadata is a group of little info bits attached to your finalized e-book. It tells e-readers things like the author’s name, whether the book is part of a series, and what tags have been attached to it. Fill out as much of this data as possible! It helps people to more easily find your book, and that is never a bad thing!
  • Once that is done, go over your settings. You should have options like Font Size Key, [which should be something like 7.5, 9.0, 10.0, 12.0, 15.5, 20.0, 22.0, 24.0 if you want reflowable text] Output Profiles, and your general format area. [in this case, epub]
  • Or you could be brave and leave everything at default values and see what comes out! You can always do it over again, so experimenting does not hurt you!
  • Once you tell it to convert, you should have the option to save it to your hard drive. Save it.

Proofing Your Epub

  • Now, take your epub file, and load it up in Adobe Digital Editions. This is the front line for proofreading.
  • How does it look? If it doesn’t want to make you gouge your eyes out, and the text is uniform–not jumping around the page or overlapping, then congratulations–you’ve passed the first test!

  • We’re not done yet though! Now it’s time to run that puppy through EPUB Validator. Load up the file, and press submit, then wait for it to finish. Agonizing, no?
  • If you did everything right, you should get no errors! Yesss! If you are going through a distributor such as Smashwords or Amazon, then your book must pass this test 100%. If not, it will be rejected, and you will be sad.

Extra Credit

  • If you really want to experience your masterpiece as the average reader, take your file and upload it to your smartphone’s reader app of choice, [I like Google Books] or dedicated e-reader. Poke it. Reflow it, skim it, skip chapters, click the hell out of your table of contents! Try to break it. If you can do all those things and it still looks fabulous, and doesn’t error out, then congratulations–you have a completed e-book!
  • Repeat this process from the top if you need to make it a Mobi file, or anything besides epub. Use your epub file as the input now instead of your doc to minimize errors.

You’re done! Pat yourself on the back and have a cookie!

…or a whole cake. I won’t judge you. Probably.

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