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”.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Click 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 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.
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:
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:
It 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!