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How to Convert Your Manuscript to a Kindle eBook (for PC Users)

NOTE FOR MAC USERS: Go directly to our How to Create an EPUB file page and follow our intructions for downloading and using Calibre to convert your book into both ePUB and Kindle (MOBI) file formats.

If you've reached this step, you must be a seriously motivated writer, or a Friday-nights-are-for-jailbreaking-my-iphone computer geek because the truth is that you can certainly upload your MS Word .docx to your Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing account and call it a day.

But unfortunately, you won't be able to insert anything fancy - no photos, no table of contents with active links to each chapter, no artwork, no nothin'...

For most of you, that will be completely acceptable. Just like you, we have simply uploaded our MS Word .docx into our KDP Dashboard, and allowed Amazon's conversion tool to crunch it into the proper Kindle format. Amazon allows you to also review the final result through their online book previewer before hitting "PUBLISH" and calling it a success.

But as you get deeper and deeper into world of self-publishing, you're going to find that you may want to add more to your Kindle ebook than a simple MS Word .docx will allow you to embed into it without the final result going all crazy-town on you when Amazon crunchs it up and spits the file back out.

According to Amazon's Kindle Publishing Guide, MSWord, ePUB, PDF file formats are all acceptable document formats for uploading your ebook content. What they don't tell you is that these formats are inconsistently transferred into the Kindle File format. So you never know how a chapter break or even a little ol' paragraph indent in a MS Word or PDF file will look on the final Kindle file until you test it. And while we've had perfectly decent results with uploading basic, text-only MS Word .docx manuscripts, we have heard horror stories about authors attempting to upload PDFs.

So... where does that leave you? Plan B, right? Google it.

If you google, "How to convert your manuscript to a Kindle ebook," you'll get an 80 step process of how you need to set-up a Kindle email account within your Amazon account, and send yourself the file as an attachment, which will automatically convert the file into a Kindle formated file. Oh, and it helps if you know a little HTML, too.


Exactly. In a word: lame-o.

Save yourself the consternation (and constipation), and focus on performing the conversion yourself from a MSWord (or PDF, or ePUB file) into a Kindle formatted file.

STEP 1. Prepare! for! the! Conversion!

Cleaning Up Your MS Word .doc Manuscript

Preparing! for! the! Conversion! is a lot less scary than it sounds, and you're only required to do a happy-dance after each succesful step in nine out of 48 Contintental US. States (and The Netherlands).

Even better, contrary to what you may read on those 80-step Google guides, italics, bold, and underline formatting in your MS Word .doc transfers perfectly fine to the Kindle file format. Transferring chapter headings and chapter breaks, on the other hand, will give you heartburn.

  • The simplest way to start "cleaning" up your MS Word manuscript for the Kindle file format transfer is to strip out all the info. in your headers: page numbers, title/author name, and any other fancy-schmancy stuff you've listed there. That header info was required by the agents. Kindle readers won't need it, and it will simply gum-up your ebook layout.

  • The next thing is to remove all the extra space between chapter breaks. In other words, remove all the hard "ENTERS" between each chapter, using the delete button. Otherwise, in your eBook file, you will see weird dashes marking every hard "ENTER" break within your Word document. If you want a clearly defined chapter break within your ebook file, you can use MSWord's "Lines and Pages Breaks" function. Just make sure that there's no extra floating white space or a ton of hard "ENTERS" at the end or beginning of each new chapter.

    In addition, we recommend that you highlight your chapter titles in bold and increase their font from 12 TNR to 14 TNR. This will sufficiently call out a new chapter break on the Kindle. But all those extra hard "ENTERS" and forced space before and after chapters are no longer necessary, and again, will self-destruct your ultimate goal of a nice, clean ebook layout.

  • While in MS Word, open your "cleaned" MS Word .doc and simply select "Save As". Then, change the "File Name" and change "Save as Type" to --->Web Page, Filtered (*HTML, *HTM) from the file format drop-down menu.

You have now saved your cleaned MS Word .doc as an HTML file. Congrats!

You will now be able to see how your HTML file will look on the Kindle by viewing it in MS Word. If there continues to be funky spaces between chapter breaks, go back into your original MSWord .doc, remove them, and resave over your web-filtered file.

Really, that's it? That's all the prep work? But that's too, too, too damn easy... something must be wrong here?

Yeah, it is easy. Unfortunately, it's the next step that's a lot harder.

STEP 2. Decide Which Conversion Tool to Use: MobiPocket vs. Calibre

Yes, indeed. You must make a fateful, epic choice between two dueling conversion software tools.

Which is better: Mobipocket vs. Calibre? Well, Mobipocket is only for PC users who want to convert their book into Kindle Mobi file format. We think it's a bit more user-friendly than Calibre. That said, we're also hearing that it's no longer being supported or updated by Amazon, which means... if you're running newer versions of Windows (7 or higher) on your computer, you may have problems with Mobipocket. Or you may not be able to use it at all.

In addition, if you're looking to convert your book into both ePUB and Kindle file formats, Calibre does both conversion formats... so learning Calibre in the long-run will save you time.

If you're a Mac user, there's only one option for you: Calibre.

If you're interested in using Calibre for creating a Kindle file, simply follow our Calibre instructions. The process is the same in Calibre for creating an EPUB or Kindle MOBI file. You simply select a different file output with a button click.

If you're a PC user only interested in converting your book into Kindle's Mobi file format, then brace yourself and follow the below recipe.

And remember: Even your grandmother and her 99-year-old boyfriend can do this. And in fact, we're pretty sure we've already read their best-selling ebook, Love in the Time of Social Security Cut-Backs...

STEP 3. Perform! the! Conversion!

Convert Your "Cleaned" Manuscript Web-Filtered .HTM File into a Kindle-Formatted File via MobiPocket

While in Mobipocket, follow these simple steps:

Import your file into Mobipocket:

1. Home -->Import from Existing File --> HTML document
2. Choose a file --> browse and select your Web filtered manuscript
3. Create publication in folder --> browse and select your desired folder
4. Click Import button

Create your Mobipocket eBook:

1. Click on "Cover Image" --> Add a cover image --> select a greyscale version of your eBook cover. Approximate image size 900px x 1100px worked for us.
--> Update button
2. Click on "Meta Data" --> Be sure to list your eBook's title and your author name as you would like it to appear in the Kindle. Add other information (if desired).
3. Click on "Build" --> Standard Compression --> No encryption --> Build
4. Open folder containing eBook --> OK

Upload your Mobipocket file to your account

1. In the folder containing your eBook, find the .PRC version of your file.
2. Login to your Kindle Direct Publishing account --> Your Book: Book Basics --> Book Content file --> Select your .PRC file -->Upload Book button
3. Preview Book button --> This preview gives you the opportunity to review how your book looks on the Kindle (if you actually own a Kindle, we recommend that you actually transfer the file from your computer onto your Kindle via a USB cable connection in order to view it on the device. Otherwise, we found that this preview tool is a decent substitute.)