Saturday, June 16, 2012

Calibre – Making an EBook by Author Barbara Custer

Calibre – Making an EBook

I’ve been making my own eBooks for some time through online software ( that will convert a PDF to an eBook format of one’s choice, be it EPUB, Kindle, LIT, etc. The files came out okay. Then my writer buddies suggested that Calibre would be a more efficient way to make eBooks. This is software you download to your computer from
Technically, the folks who make Calibre don’t charge, but they do request a donation through PayPal. So I sent them something when I downloaded the software.
I’ve always struggled with a learning curve with new software. Most companies provide a manual, but I’ve never been able to understand the directions. Some of the gadgets have remained in the box they came in. Others I managed by researching Google or learn by trial and error. This I’m doing with Calibre.
Whether you do Calibre or use the online software, you have to start off with a Word file. Let’s say you want to convert your novel into an eBook. Chances are that your file will have headers and page numbers. These have to go, because on an eBook, the reader can adjust the size of the print, so page numbers won’t mean anything. Ditto for the justified font because the lettering will look uneven on the reader. It’s better to stick with a left-justified format or you can center key phrases, such as your title, etc. The font should be consistent, like Garamond, Times New Roman, etc, with letter sizes no larger than 16 pt. The titles on my print book files are 22 to 30 pts, and this would look awful on a tiny eBook reader. Black print will be the easiest to read. I found I can’t insert interior illustrations yet – I can do it in a PDF file, but not EPUB or the other formats. Right now I work with bare text.
Avoid a lot of page returns between chapters. When I first tried Kindle, I uploaded a book with multiple page returns, and the eBook came out with empty pages between chapters. Now I only use one page return between chapters and sections of text, but I allow a 30 pt space. Some people indent the first line of each paragraph 0.3 inches. I do not indent, but I allow 0.6 pt space between each paragraph. Because of my vision problems, I find it easier to read a document with spacing between paragraphs, so I try to make my eBooks user-friendly to other people with vision challenges. Either style is acceptable, so long as you keep it consistent throughout the book. Smashwords comes with a style guide that tells you how to prepare your Word file, and I highly recommend it.
Calibre was better than the online software because I found I could add lots of metadata, including tags that would draw the browser’s attention to my book. They allow one section to upload the cover, and another for the book file. At first, I noticed that my EPUB documents had inverted question marks and other strange formatting. This I couldn’t understand because Calibre takes all file types. With my recent book, City of Brotherly Death, I tried using a HTML file, and the EPUB file came up looking cleaner. The print was consistent, without the strange symbols.
I still feel like I’m on the learning curve. I have a Kindle application on my computer, and I haven’t yet figured out how to transfer the Kindle files I made to that application. But getting a good looking file was a big plus, and now my book’s available in EPUB, LIT, MOBI (Kindle), and PDB.
Have you used Calibre? I look forward to hearing about your experiences with Calibre.

If someone called me a balloon, I'd get a ribbon and float. 

William Penn might climb out of his grave if he could read the tales Barbara Custer's been spinning about his beloved Philadelphia. Vampires, revenants, and zombies - you'll find them all in the City of Brotherly Death.

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