Over 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that you are ready, you can click on the Compile button as shown in the following screenshot:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Download this post to read on other Tablet devices, e.g. Google Play books.