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How to Create an EPUB file — Mac or PC Users

An ePUB is quickly becoming the universal file format eReaders and smartphones. In contrast to Amazon Kindle's proprietary file format, ePUB is an "open publication" e-file that is supported on the Nook, Sony Reader, iPhone, iPad, iTouch as well as all Android smartphones and both PC and Mac computers.

For this reason, in order to publishing your book across all the major online retailers like Barnes & Noble's PubIt, Apple's iBookstore, Kobo and its international subsidiaries like BookWorld, and indie favorite, it's imperative that you create a flawless ePUB file of your book.

The good news is that it's a pretty easy process. With the right ePUB converter tool, we were able to make our ePUB file in less than 30 minutes. And that's less time than it takes us to pull ourselves out of bed in the morning.

And whether you're a PC or Mac user, the process is the same for creating an ePUB file. And you'll only need to follow three steps: (and that's included in the 30 minutes because we know you've already pulled out your egg timer, and we hear it clicking away):

STEP 1. Prepare! Your! Manuscript!

Cleaning Up Your MS Word .doc Manuscript

Preparing! Your! Manuscript! is a lot less scary than it sounds. And contrary to what you may read elsewhere on the internet (shame on you, you promiscuous cyberslut), italics, bold, and underline formatting in your MS Word .doc transfers perfectly fine to the ePUB file format. Transferring chapter headings and chapter breaks, on the other hand, will give you heartburn.

  • For this reason, the simplest way to start "cleaning" up your MS Word manuscript for the ePUB file format transfer is to strip out all the extras in your headers: page numbers, title/author name, and any other fancy-schmancy stuff you've listed there. That header information was required by the agents. Instead, that information is placed in the "metadata" of your ePUB file (see Step 3), so if you keep the header information in your manuscript, it will simply gum-up your final ePUB layout.

  • The next thing is to remove all those chapter breaks. Yes, remove them. Highlight your chapter titles in bold and underline. This will sufficiently call out a new chapter break within your ePUB file. All those extra breaks between chapters are no longer necessary, and again, will self-destruct your ultimate goal of a nice, clean eBook layout.

STEP 2. Re-Save! Your! Manuscript!

Converting Your MS Word .doc to an HTML file WITHOUT Knowing Any HTML Code

An ePUB file is just a glorified XHTML file.

A what? Yeah, XHTML. That means that if you're a programmer, you can actually spend all night, going line-by-line, and coding your own eBook.

For the rest of us who aren't cylons, you can easily change your MSWord .docx manuscript into a HTML file with a few clicks of your mouse. No coding required, mere mortal.

  • 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 any ePUB reading device simply by viewing this new "Web Page, Filtered" file 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 Step 3 that requires the real brain power. (Egg Timer Check: 15 minutes and counting)

STEP 3. Perform! the! Conversion!

Convert Your "Cleaned" Manuscript Web-Filtered .HTM File into a ePUB-Formatted File.

An ePub file can be read on most eReaders like Apple's iPad, Sony's Reader, and Barnes & Noble's NOOK as well as the iPhone and all Android-based smartphones.

Yes, indeed. It is time to Perform! the! Conversion!

Whether you use a Mac or PC, what we're offering you as our way to perform! the! conversion! is what we believe is the most user-friendly way. But it requires two things:

  • That you're as computer literate as your twelve-year-old nephew or his dog, Skippy

  • That you're willing and able to download the free Calibre conversion software.

PLEASE NOTE: It's true that there are several other optional software tools that you can use for making an epub file. Calibre is the one with which we're most familar, but Sigil is crazy popular with control-freak coders and several other vendors like the Ultimate Ebook Creator and My Publishing Assistant have developed their own software to assist self-publishing authors looking for better ways to create fancier ePUB and Kindle files.

While in Calibre, follow these simple steps:

Import your manuscript into Calibre:

1. Add Books Button -->Add books from a single directory --> select your "Web Page, Filtered" HTML file
2. IMPORTANT: Preferences Button -->Preferences -->Output Options -->select ePUB Output (far upper-left hand corner)

Create your ePUB eBook in Calibre:

3A. Choose your file in the main window by clicking on it-->Go to Edit Metadata Button -->Edit metadata individually
3B. Metadata information -->
  • Change the title, author and published date
  • Book Cover -->change cover image to approximately 300px x 400px--> click browse and upload your cover image
  • Available format --> it will likely say "zip" which is okay because you'll select your output preference as ePUB in next step.

Convert and Download your ePUB file in Calibre:

4. Convert Books Button --> convert individually --> double check that "output file" in upper-right hand corner says ePUB (if not, select ePUB from the drop-down menu)-->click OK
5. Find your converted eBook file via PATH: (under your book's big icon on the right-hand side) --> Click to Open --> Find your manuscript file with the .ePUB extension.

STEP 4. View! My! ePUB File!

Okay, I did it, I did it! Now, how the heck do I see what it looks like?

You can, of course, view your ePUB file right on your computer in Calibre or via Bookworm, or if you have an iPad, Nook, or Kobo eReader, you can simply transfer your ePUB file onto your reading device in order to see how it will be displayed.

Otherwise, you can also use a USB cable to transfer your ePUB file from your computer onto your iPod, iPhone, or your Android smart phone to view your ePUB file through the following apps: