Creating an e-Book in 10 Minutes

A member of the family is publishing his third book and I was interested to see how easy it was to publish an e-book. Searching around the Internet it seemed to be a big ordeal but once you have the right software it is very easy. I have written the workflow I used to publish an e-book and I only had to spend $10! The workflow I use enables updates to be made to the master document and the PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats created within 10 minutes.

I wanted to produce a PDF for hard copy printing and EPUB/MOBI files for e-Books.

Looking round the Internet many web pages suggested using Calibre to create and manage eBooks but it produced e-Books that did not pass EPUB compatibility checks. I foud Atlantis Word Processor which makes it easy.

I have split my workflow into five steps:

  1. Prepare – Install the software necessary to format and publish the e-book.
  2. Cleanup – Remove formatting that may not show until the e-book is produced.
  3. Format – Create a book in a format that is easy to re-generate when there is a change
  4. Generate – Generate the PDF, EPUB and MOBI format books.
  5. Check – Check the books are correctly formatted.

Prepare

I installed the following tools to process the book. All tools are free except for Atlantis Word Processor but at $10 it is nearly free!

The four essential tools are:

  1. Atlantis Word Processor – is used to generate the ePub and MOBI files. A 30 day evaluation can be obtained but as Softpedia were selling for $10 (a 70% discount) I purchased the license.
  2. KindleGen – is used by Atlantis to add the capability to generate MOBI files for an Amazon Kindle. This video shows you how to install KindleGen to be used by Atlantis.
  3. Adobe Digital Editions – is used to check and view EPUB files.
  4. Kindle Previewer – is used to check the format of the MOBI files for Kindle.

Other software that is useful install:

  1. Calibre e-book Management – is used to manage and view a library of e-Books in multiple formats including epub, PDF and MOBI e-books.
  2. Pagina ePub-Checker – is used to check the format of the ePub files (although Atlantis says it generates ePub e-books that are fully compatible). Note: The web page is in German but the software runs in English.

Cleanup

In my case the author had cut and paste bits of text from the Internet that contained hyperlinks. Initially I changed the format so they did not show up on the hardcopy book but when I generated the e-book they all appeared again as hyperlinks. To remove the hyperlinks from the document I selected the text from each chapter in turn (excluding the headings) and pressed Ctrl-Shift-F9 to remove hyperlinks.

Format

I wanted to create a master document that could be quickly changed to re-generate the book in the different formats very easily (this was well tested). My master book was created using Microsoft Word 2013 in docx format and was structured:

  1. A first page that is the image used for the ebook. The image should be a jpeg file and I used an image with a resolution of 800 x 1143 at 150 dpi. The image file could be created using GIMP.
  2. Following that the title page was created including the ISBN for the printed book.
  3. If the title page only covers one printed page – insert a blank page <Ctrl><Enter>. This enables the next page (perhaps Table of Contents) to be facing upwards when you open the printed book. When you get to generate the e-Book the page breaks will need to be temporarily removed.
  4. Generate a Table of Content with page numbers.
  5. Insert a bookmark named ‘toc’ at the start of the Table of Contents to ensure a Kindle knows where to find it. Note: It should be automatic with Atlantis but it ensures it is correct.
  6. If the ToC is just one page – insert a blank page <Ctrl><Enter>. This enables the first section to be facing upwards when you open the printed book. As before the page breaks will have to be temporarily removed later.
  7. Inset a bookmark named ‘start’ where you want the Beginning of a book on a Kindle. Note: It should be automatic but in my case the beginning appeared in the middle of a chapter.
  8. Then fill the book with all your content
  9. Generate the Table of Contents
  10. Select the option to embed the fonts into the file as the printers will need this.
  11. Save the book.

Generate

The next step is to generate the book in its various formats.

Generate PDF

2013-07-10 19_39_24-Word OptionsThe first file is PDF used by the printer but the printers do not want the image file used in the e-Book.

In Word 2013 perform the following

  1. Save the document
  2. Remove the image from the first page of the document (do not save the document)
  3. Then Export to PDF to create the PDF file
  4. Close the Word file without saving to keep the image file in the master document.

Generate e-Books

Next is to generate eBooks in EPUB (for Sony or Nook) and MOBI (for Kindle) formats. For this the document needs to be opened in Atlantis Word Processor then follow the instructions:Remove Content Numbering

  1. Remove Table of Contents numbering by right clicking on a Table of Contents entry and selecting Table of Contents -> Modify Contents
  2. Remove page breaks where you have used <Ctrl><Enter> to insert blank pages.
  3. Change the ISBN number on the title page to the EPUB ISBN number.
  4. Generate the e-Book using the Save As eBook instructions on the Atlantis web site here. Remember to update the basic information about the book including title and author.
  5. Copy the EPUB version of the book to a directory were you are storing the final book.
  6. Change the ISBN number on the title page to the MOBI ISBN number.
  7. Generate the e-Book using the Save As eBook function for a second time.
  8. Copy the EPUB version of the book to a directory were you are storing the final book.
  9. Close the book without saving it.

The books are now generated but they need to be checked.

Check

The checks I made were:

Open the PDF file in Adobe Reader and scroll through the whole book checking:

  • the layout looks correct
  • there are blank pages included to make the main pages print facing up
  • the Table of Contents is numbered correctly
  • that <Ctrl><Click> on a contents page entry will take you to the start of a chapter.

Open the ePub file in Adobe Digital Editions and scroll through the whole book checking:

  • the layout looks correct (it may change between PDF and EPUB)
  • there are no blank pages includedTable of Contents
  • there are no numbers in the Table of Contents embedded in the document. Note: There are two Table of Contents – one embedded within the document (on the right) and one in the viewer (on the left).
  • when clicking on the embedded Table of Contents it should take you to the start of a chapter
  • when clicking on the viewer Table of Contents it should take you to the start of a chapter

Open the MOBI file in the Kindle Reader and scroll through the whole book checking:

  • the layout looks correct (it may change between PDF and MOBI)
  • there are no blank pages includedTable of Contents Kindle
  • there are no numbers in the Table of Contents embedded in the document. Note: There are two Table of Contents – one embedded within the document (on the right) and one in the viewer (on the left).
  • when clicking on the embedded Table of Contents it should take you to the start of a chapter
  • when clicking on the viewer Table of Contents it should take you to the start of a chapter
  • select to go to the Beginning of the document and check this is correct

You should now have books in the three main formats for publishing! You can repeat this workflow until you are ready to finally publish your book.

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