Publish your Kindle Store ebook Part Two: First Fumbling Steps

Alrighty, here we go.

I currently have a Word document totalling 130 pages – that’s the entire manuscript for Crack, my urban thriller about a devastating riot that hits a small Northern city. My end goal is to turn this Word doc into a money-making¬†ebook, save up a couple million, then live out the rest of my days on a¬†sandy beach, sipping White Russians from a goblet of pure gold.

Or, failing that – cobble together enough cash for a bottle of Lambrini and a Bob Marley CD, so I can turn up the heating, close my eyes and pretend I’m chilling in Goa, with all the other hippies and drop-outs.

What format?

The first thing to consider is the format of your ebook. There are tons of different devices out there, but Amazon’s iconic Kindle is the most common so I’m sticking with that.

Apparently the online service SmashWords will take your Word Doc and format it automatically into a Kindle ebook, taking a small cut of your profits in return. However, there’s nothing I love more than a session of eye-gougingly painful formatting, so the hell with that. Besides, skipping this stage would be cheating, right?

Get it ready for Kindle

After researching dozens of (or at least three) guides on how to create an ebook, I decided to use the free-to-download Sigil software to format my .doc file. This is a specialised text editor that allows you to set up chapters, add a photo cover, and save the result as an .epub file.

Quick warning: this bit is a very dry guide on how to format your book so it’s viewable on a Kindle. If you’re a well-balanced human being who’d rather shove ice picks beneath your fingernails than go through this pain, you’re best skipping to Part Three of this series.

Download the necessary software

First, I downloaded Sigil for Windows 64. It’s free to install and, at first glance, isn’t too terrifying.

I then saved my original .doc file as a ‘WEB PAGE, FILTERED’ using Microsoft Word (just go to ‘save as’ and it’s one of the options in the drop-down box). When I opened this new HTML file in Sigil, my novel appeared as a big chunk of continuous text.

Make it look less rubbish

So far so good, but it’s rather unwieldy like this. I stuck my cursor where I wanted chapter one to end and pressed Ctrl-Enter. This shifted everything after the cursor into a new chapter. I repeated this another 24 times to create all of the chapters I needed, then I got bored and wandered off to make a Nutella toastie.

With my cravings for delicious hazelnut toasted sandwiches sated, I created a table of contents. All you need to do is create a heading at the top of each chapter – I used ascending numbers for simplicity. I highlighted each number and selected ‘Heading 1’ in the Style menu, at the left of the toolbar. Then, when I pressed F7, these headings are used to bookmark the start of each chapter. Table of contents done!

Bloody hell, there’s more?

I thought that would be the hard part over, then I realised that I still needed a damn cover image. This’ll go at the start of the ebook, and also be used to market the book on the Kindle Store (if I actually make it that far…)

I’ll tackle this in Part Three, then I’ll be ready to save Crack as an ebook and check it out on my Kindle – huzzah! Now, time for a beer…

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