Lessons Learned – Producing an Amazon eBook for a client

Tablet image related to final ebook production

Further to my post about How to Create Your Own eBooks for Amazon Kindle, I am just posting some new tricks I learned as these will be important for writers and publishers in the final stages of their eBook production.

I found out that Scrivener has some quirks that can be corrected from within Scrivener and or with an eBook editing program.  Here is a summary of issues I stumbled on during an eBook conversion for a client and how I solved the issues.  I should also note that this book was also being published in paper back format.

Transferring Word Document into Scrivener

Firstly, for this project my client sent me the Print version of their eBook in Word format.  It was heavily formatted.  To get the book into Scrivener I was able to copy and paste the content in, chapter by chapter, and then just take all the fonts back to a standard font, add Headings where appropriate, and italicize some text.  The print version of this book used smaller fonts in some areas which didn’t look good on the eBook so the clients agreed to increase the font size to 12 pt across the main text for the whole book.

Paragraph Indents

The Word version of this book also had a lot of paragraph indents and when I did a test eBook the paragraph indents were not that prominent.

So I learned that when you copy text over from Word, even though the Word version may have the right paragraph indents, this is not translated exactly into Scrivener but this can be fixed by going through the entire book and manually adjusting the indents in Scrivener.  In truth this was the most time consuming part.  Had the client not asked for Paragraph indents the final bill would have been about 80% lower, as this took up the bulk of my time.

It’s great that you can make these manual adjustments in Scrivener and they do look so much better once you convert to an eBook.

Footnotes not lining up properly in Scrivener

My client’s book also had about 16 Footnotes.  What I discovered is that if the Footnote was in an indented paragraph, the footnote would be indented on the Footnotes page in Scrivener.  This was because the Footnotes from Word were not properly translated by copying and pasting into Scrivener, although it’s awesome that Scrivener does recognise Word Footnotes and translates them.  It was only the indents that were an issue here.

This issue was able to be solved by removing the Word footnotes and adding them back in using the Scrivener Footnotes feature.  Once I did this all the footnotes aligned left properly on the footnotes page.  Phew!

Also some of the Footnotes had links in them and Scrivener did not seem to pick up those links even though I hyper-linked them where needed.  In this case, you will need to use an eBook editing program if hyperlinks in Footnotes are necessary for your project.

I should also add here that Scrivener creates the Footnotes page during conversion so you do not need to create one.  The Footnotes page is placed at the end of the eBook on conversion.  The Footnotes are also hyper-linked automatically throughout the eBook.

Front Matter

In Scrivener there is a feature called Front Matter.  The Front Matter is all the pages at the front of the book such as the Title Page, the Publisher Information page, the Dedication page etc.  Whilst the Front Matter for each eBook will be different, in the Windows Version of Scrivener it isn’t handled in the same way as the Mac Version of Scrivener.  So whatever Front Matter you have to add in there, if you are using the Windows version of Scrivener you need to set up your Front Matter as separate Chapters of your eBook and name the Chapters accordingly.  These pages (Chapters) will also be included in the Table of Contents so name them properly, i.e. Title Page, Publisher Information, Dedication etc.

The Table of Contents

Scrivener will automatically generate a  Table of Contents at the very front of the eBook, even before the Front Matter.  My client wanted the Table of Contents page moved so that it was after the Dedication page.  I couldn’t do this in Scrivener because there is no Table of Contents page until the conversion process creates it.

In order to do this I had to use an eBook editing program which was recommended from a video I watched on the issue of Front Matter.  I will discuss the eBook Editing program I used further down in this post.


So the above issues were the only small issues I had with Scrivener in the final production process and I’m not complaining.  It does 95% of the job really really well and I can’t recommend it enough if you are producing eBooks.  In the final production stages though you will want to use some other programs.

Editing Programs

This video below shows an eBook in the process of final production with Scrivener.  It then goes on to discuss two programs.  The first one is Sigil and the second one is the Kindle Previewer.

What you need to do to make corrections such as moving the Table of Contents page and adding any links to your footnotes text is to firstly generate a .ePub version of your eBook, not a .mobi with Scrivener.

Install Sigil and then open the .ePub version in Sigil.  Make all your changes in Sigil and save the file.

Then open the .ePub file in the Kindle Previewer which is another program you need to download and install.  This will convert your .ePub to .mobi once your changes are finalised.  Note the Kindle Previewer also uses the KindleGen plugin, but because I’d already downloaded and installed it for Scrivener it did not need to be configured again for the Kindle Previewer program.

Here is the video I watched which includes explaining the Front Matter in Scrivener, moving your Table of Contents page with Sigil, and then producing the final .mobi version with the Kindle previewer.  This video was so helpful.

Link to video

Download Links:


The above video has a link to Sigil in it’s description, but the download pages have been moved.  This is the new link for the latest releases of Sigil.  Sigil is also free.

Latest download releases of Sigil

Kindle Previewer

You can dowload the free Kindle Previewer at the following link:

Kindle Previewer program


How to watch online TV in any country

Highclere Castle

Image Credit: This image was originally posted to Flickr by Richard Munckton at http://flickr.com/photos/31177003@N02/5673042848

Okay I admit it, I’m addicted to Downton Abbey.  Season 5 hasn’t aired in Australia yet but according to my online research it aired in the UK a couple of months ago.

It’s also currently screening in the USA on PBS.  Australians still need to wait a bit longer to see it.

For those who just can’t wait, it is possible to watch online TV in another country if you you know how.

What you need is a VPN program with a company such as IPVanish.

First you’d need to buy an account, download and install their software on your computer and configure that program with your VPN account details.

Then close the web browser that you intend on using to access online TV in another country.

Once that program is set up, open it.  You will then be given a list of Cities and servers – connect to the country you want to look like you are in.

IP Vanish connect to international server

Once IPVanish displays you are connected in Green, you can then open your web browser and visit the online site that has the TV show you want to watch.  It’s that easy.  To find out what is screening where use Google to research it.

The thing is, without a VPN you can’t watch videos and other content on some international sites because they can tell by your computer’s IP Address what country you are in.  IPVanish gives your computer a new IP Address, which corresponds to the country that hosts the content you want to view.  It’s pretty cool and suddenly the big wide world isn’t so small.


How to make your own eBooks for Amazon Kindle

How to make your own eBooks for Amazon KindleOver the Christmas break I had a wonderful time doing some writing and I decided to do some more research on how to make eBooks.  In particular I wanted to master the art of creating eBooks for Amazon Kindle.  Last time I looked into how to do this with an author friend of mine it all just got too hard for both of us.  That was a few years ago.  Now it’s very easy to to do once you know how!

This time around I began with my Scrivener Program.  Scrivener is a writer’s program and you can use it to write anything from short stories to full novels – it’s uses are limitless when it comes to writing.

Scrivener will also let you ‘compile’ your book into .mobi format which is the format Amazon Kindle require, and .epub for Google Books and other eBook platforms.  I wanted to test out Scrivener for both formats and then test them to see how they look.

The rest of this article is about getting your file ready for Amazon Kindle with the Scrivener Program.  In a future Blog post I will explain how to do it for other eBook platforms.

From all of my research and testing these are the key important issues that you need to be aware of for Amazon Kindle.

1.  Formatting

When I reviewed Amazon’s requirements for eBooks I understood that there are several formats where you can upload your book file into the Kindle publishing platform and they will convert the file for you.  They outlined a number of options including Microsoft Word format and HTML format.

With the Microsoft Word format it was suggested not to add any formatting to the book, such as specifying fonts as these would conflict with Amazon’s defaults during the conversion process.  You may wonder why I didn’t just try to convert a Word File in their system?  Well the answer is because I would have to publish it and  I don’t want to publish anything yet.  I wanted to create test Kindle files first and look at them first, before attempting to publish.

I did not want to create HTML files because this is old school web design.  It’s slow and it’s boring.  And fiddly inserting links and images and getting them to line up properly.  I was looking for the easiest path possible.

In the end I decided on Scrivener because I could produce both .mobi format for Kindle and .epub for other platforms such as Google Play Books and I could test them thoroughly without actually going down the publishing path.  For example if I was creating an eBook for a client I would want to view the final and have the client approve it long before uploading it to publish.

Scrivener seemed like the best program so far that I have found so I decided to use that.  Now where formatting comes in, I decided to follow the Word rules and I did not add any specific formatting in my test eBook other than creating a Heading at the beginning.

To test my eBook I looked for a long post on my site that had lots of images in it.  I was particularly interested to see how an eBook would look with images inserted and whether there was anything specific I needed to know or do.  The Blog Post that I chose for my first test eBook is the one on this site titled Windows 7 Has Voice Recognition Software.  I just copied and pasted all the text and images into a Scrivener file and then ran the conversions to the two different formats.  I then looked into how to upload these files to my Amazon Kindle Reader so I could view their format, and the other I wanted to view in Google Play Books.

The following information is what I discovered along the way and how I went about outputting my first test eBooks.  I want to say I was thrilled with the results although there was a bit of a learning curve involved and some kinks to iron out.

2.  KindleGen Plugin

To compile your eBook to Kindle format you need the KindleGen plugin from Amazon setup in your Scrivener Program.  You can download this KindleGen Plugin here.  It will download as a .zip file.  Just unzip it and keep a note where it is unzipped to on your computer.

To configure your Scrivener Program to work with the KindleGen plugin watch this video and it will explain how to link it up.

3.  Adding Your Book Cover

It was initially difficult for me to figure out how to add a book cover to my test eBook in Scrivener, so I did a search and came up with this video.  As you can see, all you need to do is create your eBook cover and then drag it into the Resources folder in your Scrivener book project.  Your eBook cover needs to be an image file such as image.jpg or image.jpeg .  If you have a graphic designer making your Book cover ask for an image file to go with your eBook.  The recommended size is 600 px X 800 px for Kindle eBooks.  I used this size and it looked beautiful on both Google Books and the Kindle eBook reader on my Tablet.

When you compile your Kindle eBook you can select your Book Cover from the images in your Resources folder – locate the image which is your Book cover and then choose the Kindle format and you can generate your eBook.

Watch this video to see how easy it is to add your Book Cover.

4.  Compile your eBook in Scrivener to Kindle Format

Once you’ve written your book or created a test file like I did you need to use the Compile Feature of the Scrivener program to output your .mobi Kindle file.

With your Scrivener Project opened go to the File Menu and from the drop down menu select Compile.  Here is a screen shot to help you.

Scrivener Compile



The next screen that appears is where you will choose which type of file option to compile.  Also this is where you will select your eBook cover and can apply the other various formatting options for other types of files.

Compile Options in Scrivener



As you can see in the above example I copied a Blog Post I wrote last year about Windows 7 Voice Recognition Software  into my Scrivener program for my test eBook project.  This post had a few images in it and I wanted to see how my eBook would look with images and text, not just plain text.  I also knocked up a quick book cover for it as well, just to see how it would look.  And for a test file I was very happy with the results.

So the next step is to choose the format that you want to compile your eBook.  If you look at where it says Compile For on the image above and click on the drop down arrow, you can select the format for your eBook.  In this example below I am going to choose the Kindle option.

Compile formats in Scrivener






The next step is to select your Book cover.  To do this click on Cover at the side and then select the cover image you want to use.  In the drop down list a full list of images in your Resources folder will be displayed.

Select Book Cover in Scrivener




The last option you want to choose for your eBook is the Meta-Data section.  This is where you add in all the information about your eBook such as your Author Name and the date you wrote it.  Here is an example of the Meta Data screen in Scrivener.  You can fill out any information that you want to appear so that you are identified as the Author.

Author Information





Now that you are ready, you can click on the Compile button as shown in the following screenshot:

Compile to Kindle format



You will then be prompted to give your eBook a name and Save it.  Name your book where it says File Name and then click on the Save button as shown in the screen shot below.

Save in the Kindle Format




Now that you’ve created your eBook you can now test it.

5.  Testing, Testing, Testing

Once you’ve generated your .mobi (Kindle) file you would probably like to see it in Kindle before you officially publish it.  This way you can scroll through the pages on your Tablet or phone and make sure it looks great.

This is how to test it in Amazon Kindle without Publishing it.

In order to test it, make sure you have a Kindle reading app on your Tablet or Phone.

Make sure you have an Amazon account.  A standard Amazon account will do for testing.  You can test it this way even if you are not signed up with them as an Author yet.

Log in to your Amazon account where you buy books and go to your Your Account at the top right of the Browser screen and select Manage Your Content and Devices.  Here is a screen shot of that.

Amazon Account Screenshot



















Scroll down a bit in your web browser and you will see three Tabs called Your Content, Your Devices and Settings.

Select Your Devices and then highlight your Tablet and then look for the Kindle email address Amazon have allocated to you.  With this email address you can email your .mobi book to your Amazon Cloud Account and your Kindle App should pick it up as an available book to read.

Here is a screenshot of where to find your Kindle email address – note I’ve blacked out mine.  This is the email address you need to locate.  With the same email address that you use for Amazon you can email the .mobi book to your Kindle email address.  For security reasons only nominated email accounts can email your Kindle Email address and by default it’s your email address that you signed up for your Amazon account with.    After emailing it to youraddress@kindle.com give it some time and then check your Amazon Kindle App on your Tablet.  You will see your new eBook and can open it and read it.  The first time my eBook was uploaded I couldn’t see the Book cover but don’t stress.  Once I opened the file, the book cover was displayed the next time I opened it on the Kindle Reader.















Once you are happy with your eBook you can sign up as an Author with Amazon and upload your first eBook for Publishing.  As I have not yet published anything on Amazon I have not included these instructions however I may write future Blog posts on this subject, so subscribe to my Blog if you want to get that information.   Amazon has a tonne of information about what to do and how to do it for Authors, so once you’ve got an Author account you should also be able to follow their instructions.

Ideas for eBooks

With Scrivener, not only can you create Novels and other great works of literature, you can use it to compile other types of books.  For example, if you have a successful Blog with lots of information on it about a particular topic, why not compile some or all of your Blog Posts into an eBook to give away to your Readers?

People love reading on their Tablets.  You could offer them in numerous formats with Scrivener – that is PDF format for computers, .mobi for Amazon Kindle and .epub for other eBook platforms.

Or, write a thorough How to Guide on any subject you are an expert on and sell it in the Amazon Kindle store.

Learning Scrivener will be a big learning curve for many writers, however, I feel it’s worth the time investment given that you can take control of your own Publishing and self publish in numerous formats.  Their website has many video tutorials on how to use their program and Scrivener comes with an extensive Help Manual.  Also the Scrivener program is not expensive to buy and once you own it you can get all the updates as well.

And the writing and income generating opportunities are endless.  You can sell eBooks from your own Website, or on the Amazon Kindle Platform, Google Play Books, Apple’s iBooks or Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

Download the ebook versions of this post

Download this post to read on Kindle or your Tablet device.


Kindle Version

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Download this post to read on other Tablet devices, e.g. Google Play books.



ePub Version

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Windows 7 Has Voice Recognition Software!

Over the last few years I have been suffering the most unimaginable back pain due to working on a computer all day.

It’s not unusual for me to reply to 40 or 50 emails some days.  Some of those emails might just be short responses such as “see you tomorrow” or “thanks for that” and others could be quite detailed such as instructions on how to do something, not to mention giving advice.

Just recently I had an occupational therapist vist and give me advice as to how to adjust my Work Station.  It turned out that I had the keyboard and the monitor too far away and so I was hunching over unnecessarily.  The other issue is that at night I also watch TV on my computer and that’s why I had it so far away.  One of the great things about online TV is that there are a lot less commercials than regular TV.

Also the occupational therapist said that my desk was too high so luckily I had another desk that I could use which was lower.

That all said when I opened a chat window on the weekend and spent a few hours talking to a friend overseas I found myself in agony once again.

Voice Recognition Software

I don’t know how I thought of it but suddenly I had a brain spark about voice recognition software  and  I did a Google search. Dragon Naturally Speaking came up first in the list on Google.  I checked it out and prices started at about $100 Australian dollars.  I then came across a video on YouTube about the fact that Windows 7 has voice recognition software and I was really impressed.

At first I couldn’t get it to work but not one to give up I downloaded a bunch of Windows updates that I figured might bring in some updates to that program.  It seemed to work a little better but then what I did is go through the voice training exercises and then it started working much better.

So while my back is in recovery and I seek out continuing treatment I am hoping that this voice recognition software in Windows is going to be a very big help particularly when I have to do a lot of typing.  It will save my back muscles for the real web development work which I doubt I can do with voice recognition.  (Not yet anyway!).

Using Windows 7 Voice Recognition Software with Gmail

I also tested the Windows 7 voice recognition software in Gmail and it works a little differently.  What happens is that once you start speaking a little box opens and when you speak the typing is inserted into a little box.  At anytime you can click on the insert button and that will insert the text into the Gmail message.  You can type your whole e-mail message into this little box or you can add paragraphs as you go.

I am going to persist with training  this software with my voice because long-term it’s going to be very useful.

For me it was a revelation that Windows 7 has voice recognition software.  I really can’t wait for the day that I can just to rattle off a whole heap of information and it just works without having to make too many corrections.

How To Setup Windows 7 Voice (Speech) Recognition

If you want to activate Windows 7 Voice Recognition Software, go the the Control Panel and you’ll find it.

There are also heaps of pages where you can print out of the Voice Commands it recognises as well as the setup processes for your Microphone and training it to understand your voice.