View Full Version : eBook editing

Darren White
August 29th, 2018, 02:07 PM
I've questions that could belong to many of the Publishing sub-fora, so I'll settle for this one.

With two friends we are starting a small publishing company, and we have just published our first book as a try-out: my book Intrinsic Brightness. I am now reworking it as an eBook. And instead of selling the eBook on Amazon, we are opting for a straight sell through our website.
This means we keep editing and compiling in our own hands as well.

Now my questions. When you compile the ebook with for example Calibre, you can add the cover image as well, but you end up with 3-4 separate files, *.epub *.mobi, *.jpg and *.opf.
I'd rather have one executable that contains all of it in one, is that even possible?

The other question is: I use Sigil as mark-up tool. But I am not enamored by the output in terms of beauty of fonts, page layout, and such.
Now I am considering buying Vellum, but that's quite expensive. Does anyone have experience with it? Or could I better use a program like Scrivener?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Anita M Shaw
September 3rd, 2018, 05:39 AM
Hey Darren,

I'm sure everyone has their favorite way of doing this kind of stuff. And there are fans of each of those tools you mentioned. I am not one of those. That stuff just exploded my brain. I used to use Mobipocket back in the day, too, which I got along with, then WordPerfect eBookPublisher until I upgraded to Windows 10. I didn't want to upgrade to WP X19 however, so I went looking for another option.

I heard about Smashwords, made an account and - stalled out there because of the style guide. More mind boggling things I didn't yet understand. Then, I found out about Draft2Digital. My brain was saved!! So much easier to use.

In D2D I upload my Word doc which I've formated with a book layout template I bought so my mind wouldn't explode over that. Upload the cover next screen, follow D2D's easy instructions and voila! I have a great looking ebook in two formats. With them, unlike Smashwords, you can take that newly compiled .Mobi and .Epub and sell it anywhere you please. You don't have to hit the publish button on D2D ever. Just go as far as compiling your book and there you go. Check your files in your Kindle device or app, or Epub app and see if you need to make changes.

Before I used the book layout templates, I would have to fix spacing issues a lot. If you have to fix something, just go back to your manuscript, fix and upload again until you're happy with it. Costs you nothing to get an account and like I say, you don't have to publish through them even though you're using their converter. Their PDF converter still needs work; I can do much better on my own, but the ebook converter is a huge time saver. Upload file, add info; upload cover, check to be sure it's all correct, and compile. And you have just what you need. Everything in one file.

I have those very same files for sale on my publishing website and on Amazon - as well as, of course, wherever D2D distributes.

Can't hurt to try it! Save you sanity! And your wallet!

Ralph Rotten
September 3rd, 2018, 05:48 AM
If you sell thru Amazon you can still tweak as much as you want. I've fixed books in print & digital many times.

I have sigil, but I'm not crazy about it.
I prefer a combo of MePub and FrontPage. I tweak it in FP, compile in MePub.
MePub is very smart and fixes a lot of felgerkarb that sigil does not.

Ps:I figured out that paragraph question I posted the other day. Twas me, I was copy/pasting from a html file in Word to Fp instead of html file in FP to FP. just a process error.

You would prolly make more money selling thru Amazon AND your site.

Darren White
September 3rd, 2018, 06:36 AM
Anita and Ralph, thanks for the replies, I'm going to try all of your suggestions!

Anita I am going to try D2D, and see how easy it is. I was initially looking at Vellum because of the beauty of it. I imagine you format poetry differently from novels, but perhaps I am wrong.

Ralph, as far as Sigil is concerned, it's great, but it requires a lot of tweaking in css sheets, adding fonts and the whole shebang and I am not officially a coder, nor do I wish to spend my time doing that. I want to write and format and style :)
And yes, we'll sell through both Amazon and our own site. Will reach more people that way.

Anita M Shaw
September 3rd, 2018, 06:21 PM
Darren, yeah, you probably do format differently for poetry. Still, if you've formatted your manuscript for poetry, it should convert for you. I haven't done any of my poems in book form yet, except in HTML - a lonnnnnnggg time ago. Maybe I'll put them all together and see what happens. What program do you create your poetry in?

Ralph, I tweak my stuff and reupload to D2D, get the new file, then upload to Amazon. Takes minutes. Although, I might try doing it straight to Amazon for the experience of it at some point. See what I think. Haven't heard of MePub before this. I'll have a look too.

Darren White
September 3rd, 2018, 07:18 PM
I write all of my poetry in my blog, it has not much added code to it, contrary to for example Microsoft Office. I can export it as an XML file.

I use Sigil, Scrivener and Calibre to work with.
Scrivener to format and see the layout,
OR Sigil. Both have good sides, but they also tend to drive me nuts at times.

After I have transported to Sigil, I have to dive into the code right away, because poetry requires you to hit the 'enter' button after every line, and most programs have translated that to a paragraph mark, which means that your lines are too far apart. I replace paragraph marks with line breaks. Also, non-breaking-spaces appear where they shouldn't be, and not where they should be. Indentation is a mess, as well as Italics and Bold, everything I have to manually adjust.
And last but not least the TOC is lining everything out to the left, without discriminating between H1 and H2. In other words, food for insanity :)

Then I bring it into Calibre and there I do the final editing. Calibre has a stripped down version of Sigil in it that allows you to edit, it has a WYSIWYG pane next to the code (HTML/XML) pane, so you can see the result immediately.

And that is where I am now, I'm almost done.

Ralph Rotten
September 4th, 2018, 09:00 PM
I hate Calibre. It seems like a cool program...until you try to get it thru a validation check.

My personal preference is to write in MSWord, then export the file as filtered HTML.
Then I open the HTML file in FrontPage, cut out each chapter and paste them into individual HTML files (in FrontPage).
Once I tweak them in FrontPage (or any other web builder) I load them into MePub and it takes care of all the CSS and such.
It is a very smart program. My only complaint is that it does not save a job in progress.
But it allows you to keep updating the html files, then in MePub you click on the create button, and it makes a new book inclusive of the changes in the html files.

MePub from Wondershare costs about $40.

Ralph Rotten
September 4th, 2018, 09:01 PM
My problem with Sigil is that it is smart enough to show you the fatal errors, but not smart enough to fix them like MePub does.

Darren White
September 5th, 2018, 07:07 AM
Thanks, I am going to try MePub.

As html editor I use Notepad++, because Frontpage, like all Microsoft applications generates so much code you don't need and it slows the process down too much for my taste, because you have to wade through so much rubbish to get to the core.

Ralph Rotten
September 5th, 2018, 05:17 PM
Have you thought about doing a thread on building an eBook...the mechanics of it all.
When I did the Rant, my focus was too broad, I didn't really get into the guts of manufacturing an eBook.
You should do a thread on it. I bet there'd be interesting things about the way you do it versus how the rest of us do it.
I'd tweet something like that.

Darren White
September 6th, 2018, 07:42 AM
I'll think about it, I am not much of a blogger, or story writer for that matter. My emails and critiques are the longest things I've ever managed to write. Everything I write comes out compact and poetic.

But yeah, perhaps it would be interesting to others to see what working on an ebook looks like from start to finish :)

Ralph Rotten
September 6th, 2018, 03:45 PM
I betcha after watching you I find out I'm doing at least 3 things wrong.
That's the problem of working alone; you do not evolve as fast as you would if you were sharing secrets with like-minded authors.
But it'd be a great thread to tweet out for new members.

Inquiring minds wanna know!

Darren White
September 7th, 2018, 09:51 AM
Ok, I will :)
I'll start a new thread. Ever since yesterday you asked that question, my mind is apparently, independent from the rest of me, working on a first post for the thread. LOL
Stay tuned.