Unless you have been living under a proverbial rock for the last ten years, you know what an ebook is. For the benefit of those of you who don’t, an ebook is an electronic book that requires an ebook reader either in the form of a piece of hardware (as in the Kindle or an Ipad) or software that runs on your computer (e.g., iBooks or Kindle for desktop). This article will show you how to create an ebook, specifically, a standard / reflowable ebook from an existing Word (.doc or .docx) or similar document, i.e., Apple’s Pages (.pages) or Open Office document (.odt). If you are willing to learn some new technology, and you don’t mind putting in the time, you can do this for little or no cost. And don’t worry about getting stuck—there are professional ebook servicesavailable to you everyl step of the way.
This document assumes that you already have your book in an editable format, such as .doc, .docx, .pages, or .odt. If you don’t, you will want to convert your document to one of these formats for best results. This document also assumes that you are creating a reflowable epub and not a fixed layout (e.g., coffee table photo book, children’s book with text over photos, etc.).
Creating an Ebook
Here is a review of the process:
Format Your Document for an EbookCreate an Attractive CoverRun Your Document Through Conversion SoftwareTest Your Ebook FilesFine-Tune Your .epub File
Format Your Document for an Ebook
Formatting is both an art and a science and is the first step in creating an ebook. The art part has to do with layout and changes that make your book visually appealing. The science part is the technical aspect that makes the ebook work as it should and enhances the user experience. It is this latter part we will go over in this step.
Keep in mind that ebooks are quite different from the printed book. There are many limitations you have to deal with when creating an ebook that is reflowable, for example, you can’t choose the exact placement of photos in comparison to the text. These limitations frustrate some people, but keep in mind that the upside is that your book has a universal format that can be read on virtually any ebook reader.
Here is a list of formatting suggestions. For complete details, see our short guide to preparing your files for ebook conversion.
Remove all headers and footers. Ebook readers automatically add their own headers and footers.Remove page numbers. Ebook readers reading reflowable ebooks do not use page numbers since users have control over the text size. Also, remove all references to page numbers in your book (e.g., “See page 12”).Use heading styles. Do not create the headings by simply applying text styles to each header; use the proper heading styles to set these, so the conversion software is consistent and knows how to handle headers.Use first line indenting. This is the best way to separate paragraphs consistently.Insert page breaks between chapters and/or major sections. Page breaks work well in ebooks and lets the readers know when the chapter or section is over.Unwrap all images and center them as inline images. Remember that reflowable ebooks do not allow text to wrap around images. For best results, just place the image after a paragraph and center it. Use .jpg images.Add a title page. All ebooks should have a page with the title and author name.Add a copyright page. All ebooks should have a page with copyright information and ISBN (this can be combined with the title page).Make sure your TOC is automatically created by the software. Do not try to manually add a table of contents. Word processing software includes a TOC feature—use that to create your TOC. This is another reason to use heading styles.Include the cover image as the first page. It is okay to add this as a floating image. See the next step for more details.