If you're planning to format your own ebooks to distribute anywhere other than on Amazon's KDP platform, you'll need to master the industry-standard .epub that is used by just about every other ereader and ereading app.
But as with so many tasks within self-publishing, there is more than one way to achieve it. We asked experienced ALLi author members to share their preferred means and methods of formatting .epubs, and here's a summary of their recommendations.
Four Favourite Software Packages
ALLi members cited these four programmes as useful conversion tools:
- Calibre (free)
- Jutoh (small cost – less than you'd pay a third party to format one ebook – but offers free trial)
- Scrivener (small cost as above – designed as writing software but also includes conversion facilities)
- Vellum (more costly and currently only for Mac, but it has a great reputation, and its current beta testing for print books got some rave reviews from ALLi members taking part)
All four are relatively easy to use, though as with any software system, the more you use them, the more competent you will become.
Using Distribution Platforms for Ebook Conversion
Another route is to use the conversion services offered within certain distribution platforms, eg Draft2Digital or Pronoun. (Similarly if you need a .mobi file to send to someone, just download KDP's proof of your ebook.)
Although a conversion service is part of these providers' distribution package, designed primarily so you can easily distribute your ebook via their platform, you can also download the conversions created this way for your own use elsewhere.
D2D and Pronoun don't mind if you stop short at the actual “distribute” stage, effectively enabling you to get your .epubs completely free, because, like KDP, they don't charge you for their services until you start selling books, retaining a small percentage from your revenue.
Although technically you can do the same Smashwords, you shouldn't, because their terms and conditions prohibit using the files elsewhere.
With thanks to the following authors for contributing to this discussion held on our members-only Facebook forum (just one of 21 great benefits of belonging to ALLi): Pauline Baird Jones, Fiona Cameron, Anna Castle, Keith Dixon, Karl Drinkwater, Elizabeth Ducie, Jean Gill, Tim Lewis, Roz Morris, Alison Morton, Lynne Pardoe, Russell Phillips, Katherine Trail, Linda White
OVER TO YOU Do you favour a different method of creating .epubs? We'd love to know what it is and why you prefer that way – please leave a comment!Quick'n'easy way to turn your ebooks into .epubs - a round-up post by @DebbieYoungBN Click To Tweet
OTHER HELPFUL POSTS ABOUT EBOOKS