Creating Your Own eBooks: Part 2

As promised, part deux! (For Part 1, click here.)

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For those of you heading down the self-publishing road, sooner or later you’ll have to format your novel for ebook (unless, of course, you have a ton of money to shell out on someone to do it for you!). In order to use the programs I mentioned in my previous post, Sigil and Calibre, you’ll need your novel in a .htm file.

Luckily, if you have Microsoft Word, you can do it yourself. I taught myself to format my very first novel for Kindle when I went the self-publishing route, and I can help you! It took me many trials and many more errors to figure out how to do it, but in the end I did get it. I’ll walk you through it!

(I suggest creating a new document and copy/paste your novel, just in case something happens to the file while you’re working on it.)

Step 1. Let’s start with an unformatted .doc/.docx document of our novel. Make sure your entire text for each chapter is set to “Justified” — not “Align Text Left” — most books and ebooks are formatted this way. If the text is not justified, you’ll have a lot of ugly blank spaces at the end of most lines of text. For my example, I’ll be using the first five chapters of Waiting for You:

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Step 2. We need to format each chapter title as Heading 1, as pictured below. To do this, highlight each chapter title and click the style option “Heading 1.” You can change the font and size, but make sure it is selected as Heading 1 (there’s a way to change each style option, which I can cover in a separate post if requested). Do this for each chapter.Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 12.55.44 PM

Step 3. In between each chapter, make sure you have a “Page Break” at the end of a chapter. If you’re not sure, there’s a button you can click to show all nonprinting characters. This will show all your formatting. Like in the example below, you should see “Page Break” in between a line if your text is formatted correctly (that is, there is a page break before each new chapter). If you don’t see this, go ahead and add in the page breaks now. To do that, go to Insert>Break>Page Break.

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Step 4. Next, let’s add our Front Matter. Go back to the very first page of your novel and enter a Page Break to create a blank page at the beginning. Here, we’ll create a title page. Center your text and add in your novel’s title and, of course, your name! If you want to add a dedication page, insert another page break and type out your dedication on a separate page. Don’t forget to also add your copyright page! If you have a foreword, add that here, too.

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Step 5. Now comes the tricky part: the Table of Contents. The TOC is especially important in ebooks, as there are no page numbers. An active TOC can be very helpful for readers if they want to skip to certain chapters without having to go through the entire novel. If you’re on a PC, Microsoft Word has an option to create an automated TOC. But if you’re on a Mac like me, we’ll have to build it ourselves.

Remember those heading styles we assigned to the chapter titles? This is where they come into play. On a new page after our dedication and copyright pages, we’re going to create the TOC. First, type out your chapter titles.

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Next, highlight your first chapter. Right-click and select “Hyperlink”:

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You should see three options in the box that pops open (as pictured below). Select “Document.”

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Click where it says “Locate” under “Anchor” — this will create a hyperlink in our table of contents. Select your first chapter and click OK.

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You should now see “#Chapter One” (or whatever you have saved under that Header 1 style).

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Step 6. Repeat these steps for each chapter. Once you’ve done that, you should now have your Table of Contents!

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Step 7. It’s time to save our work. From the drop down menu, select “Save As” and “Format: Web Page (.htm)” — if you’re on a PC, you’ll also have the option of “Web Page, Filtered.” Use this option if you’re on Windows operating system.

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Now you have the correct file to load into Sigil! Once in Sigil, you can generate an interactive Table of Contents. Your .epub file from Sigil can than be loaded into Calibre to create a .mobi file for Kindle. Be sure to preview your ebook for functionality and formatting!

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