Monday, October 19, 2015

Coordinating Kindle, Nook, and Kobo eBook Publishing – Take 2

To date, the post with the most views on my blog has been one from August 29 entitled Coordinating Nook and Kindle eBook Publishing.  Just to reiterate the objective of that post, it was to find a single MS Word format for the source manuscript that would require the fewest, most straightforward conversion steps to produce Nook and Kindle eBooks that maintained the original formatting, table of contents, etc.  Later, I found the same process largely worked for Kobo and posted that result.

In addition to views, I have received a few questions on this post about specific types of content (e.g., does the process work for URLs?  It does.)  And a few comments offering alternatives.  Thank you.  Anything to reduce the pain and speed up the process is goodness in my view.

Since August, I have continued to experiment with the process and have adopted one modification that I thought I would pass along.  Specifically, I am avoiding putting the ePub version of the manuscript into either the Nook or the Kobo editors.  Doing so seemed to be producing some types of problems with inserted spaces or forced line breaks. 

The implication of this change is that the MS Word version needs to have all the upfront materials (Title Page, Copyright, etc.) defined, thus making any work in the Kindle editor unnecessary as well.  Just a nice by-product of the change.

Here what the steps look like currently:

For Kindle

1.      Follow the Kindle instructions for formatting 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.  Check those guidelines for specifics.

2.      Define each chapter and the major upfront sections (title page, copyright, dedication) as Header 1 text, so that they appear in the table of contents that Word generates.  Tag these sections as Header 1, and then change their actual format to whatever you want (e.g., the title page does not have to use the Header 1 format; just change it after it is tagged and do not redefine the Header 1 style.)  When the TOC is generated, spaces between sections (e.g., after the upfront material or between major sections) can be added to improve readability.  The generated TOC should look exactly like what you want in the final product.

3.      Save the Word document as a filtered webpage and upload it to the Kindle publishing site. 

4.      Preview.  Correct all errors in the MS Word document, and then repeat Steps 3 and 4, if needed.  The intent is to produce a manuscript that needs no editing here, so it will likewise, need no editing on the Nook or Kobo sites.

5.      Publish.

For Nook and Kobo

1.      Upload the MS document created for Kindle to the software application Calibre, using the Add Books menu option (along the top).  Calibre is a free software application and can be found by searching the Internet.

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

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

4.      Save the ePub version from Calibre to your hard drive.  The command is 'Save to disk'.

5.      Verify the ePub book at http://validator.idpf.org/.  (Probably unnecessary, but I am a better-safe-than-sorry type of guy and this step only takes a couple of minutes.)

6.      Upload the ePub version to Nook and Kobo publishing and preview them without any editing.  All of the page breaks and chapter titles should be there, as well as the upfront materials (TOC, dedication page, etc.).  If there are any errors, make the changes in the Word manuscript, rather than using the Nook or Kobo editors. 

7.      As a final precaution, when I publish the Nook version,  I click “Publish” on the Manuscript page and select “The original .epub file I uploaded”. 

Happy writing,
BmP