Saturday, August 29, 2015

Coordinating Nook and Kindle eBook Publishing

The old hands at producing Kindle and Nook versions of their works may read this post and say, “Duh, of course.”  Or perhaps there is a much better approach than what I found, in which case, please let me know – I’m open to anything that saves effort on the mundane tasks of uploading and editing a manuscript in the Nook and Kindle editors. 

But since I spent a couple of hours exploring some of the options, and found an approach that is a 90% solution without involving much of the Nook or Kindle editing tools, I thought I would pass it along.
First, MS Word is a given for me.  I have it; I know it; and I am comfortable with it.  If you have other word processing options, then the rest of this post may be irrelevant for you.
My objective was to find a single MS Word format for the source manuscript that would require the fewest, most straightforward conversion steps to get this manuscript into the Nook and Kindle editors while maintaining the original formatting, table of contents, etc.  Here is what I settled on.
First, follow the Kindle instructions for generating a Word manuscript.  Most of those guidelines can be boiled down to a) keep it simple; and b) use the built in Word controls for things like line spacing, indenting, etc. rather than carriage returns, spaces, or tabs.  There is more than that, and you should read and follow those instructions, but a lot of their guidance boils down to those 2 points.
For the Kindle manuscript, save the Word document as a filtered webpage.  Again, this is straight out of the Kindle instructions.  And not surprisingly, when you upload that webpage to the Kindle editor, it will be pretty close to what you want – probably because all you have done so far is follow the Kindle instructions. 
The work came in finding how to make this Word source document usable for the Nook manuscript, because the Nook guidelines for a Word input document are a bit different.  For example, you are supposed to use the section new page command under Page Layout, rather than the Page Break command under Insert between chapters.  But even after I made all the manual page breaks into section pages, things like the chapter titles did not come through in the automatically generated table of contents.  As I have many, short chapters, creating them in the editor would be 63 manual edits (in the case of book 1) and I would have to do that each time I tweaked the text.  No way.
So, after playing with alternative conversions from the original MS Word document (the same one used for Kindle), I came up with the following steps to get a Nook manuscript:
1.       Download and install the free eBook management tool called Calibre.  An Internet search will provide download sites.

2.       Upload the MS document to Calibre, using the Add Books menu option (along the top).

3.       Use the Edit Metadata menu option to check for any modifications needed here.  If the properties on the MS Word document are set correctly, you may not need to do anything.

4.       Use the Convert Books menu command to create an ePub version of the manuscript.

5.  Save the ePub version from Calibre to your hard drive.  The command is 'Save to disk'.
 
6.        Upload the ePub version to Nook and Kobo publishing.  When I did, all of the page breaks and chapter titles were carried forward, as were the upfront materials (TOC, dedication page, etc.). 
If there are any errors, make the changes in the Word manuscript.  Do NOT use the Nook or Kobo editors.  Then, repeat all steps.  As a final precaution, when you publish the Nook version, click “Publish” on the Manuscript page and select “The original .epub file I uploaded”.  It may be superstitious behavior, but both the Kobo and Nook versions had errors that were not in the ePub manuscript after they were loaded to these respective editors.
 
As the whole process, Word to Kindle and Word to Calibre to Nook takes 5 minutes, I don’t sweat making a change like turning a comma into a semicolon in the Word original.

If this process helps, please use it.  If you have a better way, please let me know.  I am all about making the book management steps as easy as possible, leaving more time to write.
BmP