How to Make an eBook, Part 2: Converting your Files

Wel­come to part two of our self-pub­lish­ing series, How to Make an eBook. If you need to catch up, take a look at part one, which will teach you how to cre­ate an eBook-con­ver­sion-friend­ly manuscript:

In this tuto­r­i­al, we’re going to cov­er how to con­vert your com­plet­ed Mark­down man­u­script into eBook for­mats using a free eBook appli­ca­tion called Calibre.

Ready to get started? 

First, you need to down­load Cal­i­bre — free e‑Book man­age­ment soft­ware avail­able for all major plat­forms (Win­dows, Mac & Lin­ux), which comes with a great eBook con­ver­sion tool. Once you install the soft­ware, open up the appli­ca­tion, and nav­i­gate to “Add Books” (from the top menu), then to “Add books from a sin­gle directory”.

Calibre: Add books from a single directory

You’re going to find your Mark­down man­u­script from your hard dri­ve (or flash dri­ve, or cloud dri­ve), and add it to your Cal­i­bre library.

Calibre: Markdown file in your library

You’ll see it’s added to your library, and so far, it’s just in its Mark­down for­mat. So far, so good. Next, we’re going to start the con­ver­sion process.

Make sure your book is high­light­ed (clicked on) in the library, then click “Con­vert books” from the large menu at the top of the library screen.

Calibre: Convert book


You’ll be tak­en to the con­ver­sion dia­logue box. By default, it selects the MOBI for­mat as the out­put ePub for­mat. That’s fine: we need to con­vert it to both a MOBI and an ePub file. These two file types cov­er all types of eRead­ers: MOBI works on Kin­dle, and ePub files work on every oth­er type of eRead­er. So, let’s start out with MOBI.

All you need to do here is fill out the meta­da­ta (the infor­ma­tion about your book), and add your book cov­er. The meta­da­ta can be found on the right-hand side.

Calibre: Adding metadata


Once you’ve filled out your book infor­ma­tion, you can add your book cov­er. (You did make a book cov­er, did­n’t you?!) Find the “Change cov­er image” file selec­tor (under­neath the default cov­er image).

Calibre: Adding a cover imageClick the but­ton on the right-hand side of the input-box, and nav­i­gate to your cov­er image to add it as your eBook cover.

Then, just click the “OK” but­ton at the bot­tom of the con­ver­sion dia­logue box.

Calibre: convert your book!


Cal­i­bre will process he book for a few sec­onds, then you’ll see your brand spank­ing-new MOBI file in the library, along with the cor­rect meta­da­ta and your love­ly book cover.

Calibre: MOBI file


Now, all that’s left is to covert it to an ePub for­mat. You’re going to repeat the process for mak­ing the MOBI file, except select ePub as the out­put for­mat, instead of MOBI. In fact, it saves all the infor­ma­tion you’ve added from the last con­ver­sion, so you should­n’t even have to re-enter all of your metadata:

Calibre: Convert to ePub

Anoth­er few sec­onds, and you have your ePub file! It’s real­ly that easy. If you check out the files in your favorite desk­top eRead­er (you can use the eRead­er in Cal­i­bre, or, here, Adobe Dig­i­tal edi­tions), you can see how it looks:

Your converted eBookIt even auto­mat­i­cal­ly gen­er­ates the table of con­tents for you (though, I’ve only cre­at­ed two chap­ters in this sam­ple file).

Now, all you have to do is grab the ePub and MOBI files (in the library screen click “Click to open” where it says “Path”. This will take you direct­ly to the eBook files on your dri­ve). Then, you can pub­lish these files as you wish, whether you want to upload them to Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble, or your own web­site, they’ll be ready to add use from any eReader.

Note that we’ve only done a very sim­ple con­ver­sion using Cal­i­bre. Cal­i­bre is very pow­er­ful soft­ware, with a lot of options to cus­tomize your eBook — we’ve only scratched the sur­face. In part three of our tuto­r­i­al, we’re going to beau­ti­fy our book’s typog­ra­phy a bit — we’ll dive deep­er into mark­ing up our man­u­script, as well as some of Cal­i­bre’s oth­er con­ver­sion features.

Part three will be com­ing soon, so stay tuned!

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