eBook Edition Guide: From Manuscript to eBook

By in portfolio on January 9, 2018

Transform Your Manuscript into an eBook Ready to be Sold

the electronic book


To create an eBook is tricky. It’s tough to do it the first time, but it gets easier with experience and practice, and finally, it becomes a snap to do it.

I’ll dissect the process of creating an eBook from a manuscript to a finished eBook with EPUB, PDF and Mobi versions.

All the tools used to create an eBook with this guide are free and available for download. They work with the manuscript in HTML form, but no HTML knowledge is required.


1 — The Manuscript

If you want to create an eBook with minimal hassle, the ideal is to begin writing it (and keep writing it until finished) directly in the eBook software itself. Use either Sigil or Blue Griffon EPUB Edition. If you wrote your book in Word or a compatible word processor, take advantage of the spell checker and any other automated correction tools the word processor may have.

Manually import the manuscript into either Blue Griffon or Sigil. These two eBook creation software are very similar, but neither has an import function.

Just copy your whole manuscript and paste it into the eBook creator software.

If formatting gets messed up in the transition, then experiment with the word processor:

  • Save a copy of the manuscript as HTML first, and then transplant it to the eBook software, using copy and paste can work
  • If copy and paste give bad results, then try saving or exporting the manuscript in a format that the eBook software can load. (EPUB, HTML or plain text)
  • Last, but not least, save the manuscript in plain text, and when asked to pick up an encoding scheme, choose UTG-8, this one never fails

Once you have the manuscript in the eBook writing software, check for typography discrepancies. You want to use a sans serif font for the chapter titles, and a serif one for the chapter’s gloss.

If you’ve been lucky and the formatting is preserved, or if you wrote the whole manuscript in the eBook software, then is time to prepare the formatting for the table of contents.

Check that each chapter title has a header HTML tag assigned, and use that tag only for the titles of the chapters. <h1> is too big and we need it for the front matter of the eBook, because of this choose any from <h2> to <h6>.


2 — The Creation of  The Table of Contents

First off, auto-generate a table of contents to spot any errors. The ToC has to have the same quantity of items as the book has chapters. If it has more, you used your chosen title h tag for something else other than chapter titles, and if it has less or none, it’s because you haven’t tagged all your chapter’s titles with the same h tag. Goes without saying that any piece of content that comes before the chapters must have a different h tag.


3 —The Placing of The Front and The Back Matters

As you may know by now, EPUB, the contemporary eBook standard, doesn’t carry embedded fonts like PDF did. Every formatting niceties and emphasis must be achieved by header tags, font size, italics, and bold emphasis.

Read a guide on the web on how to write the front matter of your eBook, it’s all the content that comes before the main content.

If you think it’s too much work or you can’t find one, then get five paper books and study the first pages, you’ll see a more or less rigid pattern to it. Follow it as it is, don’t get creative with the front matter. Copy it, changing the content of the title of the book, the author’s name, and the rest of the front matter content.

The same goes for any additional content that is not the manuscript but the supplementary matter that you decided to put in the last pages, like bibliography, notes, appendixes.


4 — The Cover, The Spine and The Back Cover

Since this is just an ebook, we aren’t concerned with creating a spine cover. Also, I’ve seen many ebooks to have a cover but lack a back cover, I personally won’t go that far. It’s nice for an ebook to have a back cover, even if only for aesthetic reasons.

Use a vectors program like Inkscape to design the cover. But first, you need a picture and the typography. Source an image by either designing it, shooting it yourself, buying it from a stock photorgraphy silo or getting it from Creative Commons (if you want a free image), and resize it to at least 1400 pixels wide to comply with most of the eBook markets.

Conventional book cover fonts to use are:

  • Baskerville
  • Bodoni
  • Calibri
  • Dings
  • Futura
  • Garamond
  • Helvetica

There are free imitations of these fonts that you can use without having to buy them.

Create also the back cover (generally a summary of the book and/or the writer’s bio) in the vector design program.

Export the images from the vector design software in a high definition format like .TIFF.

Embed the cover and back cover in the eBook. Save as EPUB.

Presto! You created an eBook!

It’s time to go to Amazon, Lulu and Smaswords and begin selling it!

Photo Credit: Javier Candeira

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