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Converting Your Book Into an eBook

To you, aspiring self-publishers, I have three words for you:

Dont. Use. Calibre.

Sorry Calibre developers; your software is amazing and I love it so so much. You're all so generous to offer it to us struggling people and I respect that more than I can express.

Unfortunately, the amount of time I spent trying to make graphics, headers, TOCs, and everything to work on all three major book platforms (Kindle, Kobo, Nook)... I spent 40+ hours in agony trying to make it all work. Over Christmas at my in-laws.

I was on Google, I looked in blogs, I went into the coding of the books and tried to edit the HTML... all to no avail.

Finally someone responded to one of my desperate pleas in a forum and told me what I was looking for just wasn't ideal. Thank you, whoever you are.

In walks Vellum. Oh my gosh. One of the few pieces of software that I don't have a love-hate relationship with. Naw; it's all love for Vellum.

The down side is that, Vellum is only available on Macs. That works wonderful for me, the Mac lover that I am. But not for the other 86% of the world.

Image Source

WHAT MAKES CONVERTING AN EBOOK SO HARD? The images, that's what. Kindle doesn't support transparent .png images. I created a bunch of awesome, transparent graphics that would work in EPUB books. They looked awesome on an iPhone, having black outlines against white backgrounds and white outlines against black backgrounds:

Those graphics, even my header graphics and paragraph break graphics, get an ugly, white box around them in Kindle's .mobi files.

With Vellum, I'm able to specify which ebook platform I'd like to export to. Vellum, the clever program that it is, replaces the ornamental break graphics with asterisks (***) so they don't turn ugly in your book.

Even so, I still have two different Vellum files for each of my books. One is strictly for Kindle exports, where I removed all chapter header graphics, and the second is for all the other platforms.

I'm not a fan of .mobi, could you tell? The files crimp my style.

Also, with Calibre, I couldn't get my world map to stay on the page. Not for anything. I tried so many edits with the code. If I made the image 100% the width of my Kobo screen, it would fall off the bottom of the screen. The struggle was real.

Lastly, considering the amount of times I've exported my eBook since publishing, I'm so glad I don't have to go into the HTML code each time.

Kobo, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble all allow you to update your files whenever you choose.

Moment of confession: yes I still had a couple of remaining typos after publishing. My favourite self-published author is susceptible to those; I've found them. So, I don't kick myself too hard.

But also, since releasing my second book, I've added the first chapter of the second book to the end of my first book's eBook file. If I'd had to go through Calibre each time, fiddling with the HTML coding, I would have gone mad.

I'm going to end this post short and sweet. Even if it costs you $250, even if it costs you $500, invest in an eBook creator. It's worth it.

For Windows users, I'm sorry that I don't have a recommended solution for you. I'm a Mac girl and I don't even have a Windows computer to tamper with. Find one like Vellum; that's all I can say (and no, Vellum is not paying me to write this).

If anyone has suggestions, especially for those Windows folk, let me know in the comments below.

Happy publishing!

Written by M. A. Leon — Author of the Steel and Magic series


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