To make and eBook, we’ll first make an HTML version of the AsciiDoc plain text files using the AsciiDoctor app. Then we’ll add that HTML file into an eBook making app, called Sigil. We’ll make an eBook cover, or check the dimensions of a cover someone else makes for you. The following instructions walk you through how to make an eBook step-by-step.

Convert the AsciiDoc Content into HTML

  1. Open a terminal window (Mac) or Command Prompt (Windows).

  2. Type the following command to render the AsciiDoc plain text source to HTML.

    asciidoctor -b html5 MakeBooksFree.adoc
  3. Open the book file, for me is MakeBooksFree.html, that AsciiDoctor made automatically and check it is as expected.

Make an eBook Cover

We need an eBook cover. You can pay someone to make one for you or you can make your own.

Your eBook cover should be a graphic image sized approximately 1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall.

Free tools include:

  • Gimp (for raster images)

  • Inkscape (for vector images)

I prefer Gimp.

  1. Follow installation instructions for your computer from https://www.gimp.org.

  2. Open Gimp.

  3. Open your cover file.

  4. Go to Image | Scale Image.

  5. Modify the scale in pixels to near the ideal eBook cover size of 1600 px X 2400 px high.

  6. When done, use File | Export to save the cover to a PNG or JPG file.

Make EPUB Format eBook for all Readers Except Kindle

  1. Open the Sigil app on your computer.

    media\SigilOpenScreen
    Figure 1. Opening Screen for Sigil
  2. Ignore most of what you see.

  3. Select the Text folder as shown.

    media\Sigil1
  4. Select File | Add | Existing Files as shown.

    media\SigilAddExistingFile
  5. Navigate to your working folder where you have the book files and select the book file HTML version, for my book is MakeBooksFree.html. This screenshot shows using the add existing file icon rather than the file menus.

    media\SigilAddExistingFileNext
  6. Check that your book file was added. See in the example how MakeBooksFree.html now shows up.

    media\SigilAddedMyHTMLBookFile
  7. Select the default file that was included in Sigil, called Section0001.xhtml, and press your delete key. The Delete Files window pops up with the Section0001.xhtml file checked.

    media\SigilDeleteDefaultFile
  8. Confirm Section0001.xhtml shows in the delete window and select Delete Marked Files button at the bottom of the Delete Files window.

    media\SigilDeleteFilesWindow
  9. The default file should disappear, leaving only your book file.

    media\SigilYourBookShowsUp
  10. Select Tools | Table of Contents | Generate Table of Contents

    media\SigilGenerateTOC
  11. Select the titles you don’t want in the Table of Contents and they disappear. In my screenshot example, I’m removing all the h3 titles so my TOC is not too cluttered.

    media\SigilTOCSelector
  12. Select the OK button and the eBook table of contents is automatically generated.

    media\SigilTOCGenerated
  13. Select Tools | Add Cover.

    media\SigilAddCoverMenu
  14. The cover image selector window opens. Select your cover graphic file and select OK.

    media\SigilCoverImportWindow
  15. Your cover should show up as a new tab in the middle pane of Sigil as shown.

    media\SigilCoverAttached
  16. Select Tools | Well Formed Check EPUB to validate your eBook.

    media\SigilWellFormedCheck
  17. Check that the validation results pane message shows "No problems found."

  18. Select Tools | Metadata Editor to add metadata to your eBook.

    media\SigilMetaDataWindow1
  19. Select Add Metadata and select the metadata type you want to add. For example, Author.

  20. Click on the field that shows [No Data], and type in what you want instead.

  21. When done adding metadata select the OK button.

    media\SigilMetaDataWindow2
  22. Select File | Save As.

    media\SigilFileSaveAs
  23. Add the filename for your eBook then select Save.

    media\SigilNameeBookFile
  24. Close the Sigil app.

Congratulations, you made an ePub eBook.

Make Amazon Format eBook for Kindle

Although ePub is the most common ebook format, Amazon decided to make their own format. This means that Kindle readers can’t read ePub without an easy conversion to Mobi or Azw3 formats.

To get set up for this conversion, we’ll load a free app called Calibre.

Free App Installation for Calibre
  1. Go to http://calibre-ebook.com.

  2. Select the Download Calibre button.

  3. Pick your operating system or OS.

  4. Select the Download Calibre link.

  5. After it downloads, install it on your computer.

    Note
    The Calibre manual is located at https://manual.calibre-ebook.com.
Conversion to Mobi using Calibre
  1. Open the Calibre app.

  2. Select Add Books and point Calibre to the folder with your epub book file. Calibre imports the ebook and lists your book as the top book on the list.

    media\CalibreScreenShot1
    Figure 2. The ePub book loaded into Calibre.
  3. Select the book you want to convert to Mobi format for Amazon reader devices.

  4. Select Convert Books. The convert window opens.

  5. If you want the Mobi format, select mobi as the output format as shown.

    media\CalibreScreenShot2
    Figure 3. Picking the Mobi Output Format
  6. If you want the newer Amazon AZW3 format, select AZW3 as the output format as shown.

    media\CalibreScreenShot3
    Figure 4. Picking the AZW3 Output Format
  7. After Calibre shows the conversion job is done, select the book in Calibre and select Save to Disk.

    media\CalibreScreenShot1
    Figure 5. Saving the Converted Book
  8. Find the *.mobi or *.azw3 format eBook on your computer drive.

  9. Quit the Calibre app.

Another way to convert ePub to amazon format is to use the free Amazon command line app called KindleGen.[1] At the time of publishing, Amazon even created a manual for how to do it.[2]

How to Test your eBook on Your Reader

We want to test our eBook before we send it out to the world. It’s better when we catch mistakes before our audience finds them. We won’t be perfect, but we want to seek as much perfection as we can in our process for producing a book for the world.

So how do we do this? I offer a way. You may find other ways you like better. The point is be sure to test that your eBook works before you distribute it.

If you have a mobile device like a phone, you can load a reader app. If you use the Android OS, load the Adobe Digital Editions app. If you use iOS, then a reader app is pre-installed. It is called iBooks. If you have no mobile device, but have a computer you can also load the Adobe Digital Editions app.

One Way to Test a eBook
  1. Check that your device has an eReader app installed. If not, find one you like and install it. If you want one that works across platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux) load the Adobe Digital Editions app.

  2. Make your eBook. Use the instructions in the rest of this book to make your eBook.

  3. Once you have your ePub file, in my example my file "Making_eBooks.epub" is the eBook version of this book.

  4. Get the eBook to your iOS device.

    1. Email the *.epub file to yourself as an attachment.

    2. Open the mail with your iOS device.

    3. Click the *.epub attachment.

    4. The iOS device will ask if you want to open it with iBooks. Select iBooks.

  5. Get the eBook to your Android device.

    1. If your device has a removable SD or microSD card, copy the file onto that card and insert the card into the device.

    2. Download and install FBReader on your Android device. You can get the FBReader reader app from Google Play.[3]

    3. On the Android device, open the FBreader app.

    4. Select File Tree | Memory Card and navigate to the location of the *.epub file.

    5. Select the book to view the metadata.

    6. Select the Read button to open the book.

    7. This is only one method. Use your favorite reader to check your book if you prefer. Other readers include Aldiko Book Reader, Adobe Digital Editions, and many other readers on Google Play.

  6. Get the eBook to your Amazon Kindle device.

    1. Open your computer folder with the *.AZW3 or *.mobi file.

    2. Plug your kindle into your computer with the USB charging cable. The Kindle device opens like another drive folder.

    3. Drag and drop your *.AZW3 or *.mobi file from your computer folder to the Kindle folder.

    4. Eject and disconnect your Kindle from the computer.

    5. Remove the USB charging cable from the Kindle.

    6. Open the Kindle and go to your library.

    7. You should see your eBook listed as one of the books available.

  7. Review the eBook on the device eReader app.

    1. Check that all your images came through the publishing process.

    2. Check that the table of contents works.

    3. Check that the cover shows up correctly.

    4. Make sure your eBook is formatted so that it is readable.

Tip
Another way to get an eBook to your Reader and to your reviewer’s readers is to put the eBook on Dropbox and send the URL to yourself and your reviewers. Once you go to the Dropbox URL, the rest of the steps are just like after the email is opened.
Note
I use the flowable eBook formatting meaning that the content flows onto the screen differently depending on the device screen size. For people used to fixed layout, there is a another format just for fixed layout but I don’t care to mess with that layout. People that produce magazines may. If you really want to try for fixed layout on readers that can’t even reliably produce tables yet, have at it. As for me, I am satisfied with the flowable eBook layout.

1. To download KindelGen, see URL www.amazon.com/kindleformat/kindlegen
Image

Line By Line

Here a Little, There a Little, Layer by Layer.

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