Business Resources for Authors

Converting & Validating eBook Files

by Amy Atwell

After formatting your manuscript in preparation for digital publication, you may still need to convert it to another format for uploading to the various retailers. (See Publishing Your eBook for a chart of distributors or click on distributors in sidebar at left.)

Below is a list of softwares—some free—you can use to convert your .doc file to other formats. Once converted, the newly created file may be a format you cannot read on your computer. You may be able to “cross-load” the file to a digital device (ereader or smart phone) that can read the new format. Or, you can download free versions of Kindle software or Adobe Digital Editions to your computer to potentially open the new file.

If you want to ensure a newly created ePub file is valid, see Validating an ePub File below.

Conversion Softwares

  • Calibre — converts from a variety of formats to other formats. Free downloads available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. See full list of formats.
  • Jutoh — converts from a variety of formats to popular ebook formats. Works on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and FreeBSD. $39 for basic version, $80 version supports scripting to automate tasks. Employs a “Wizard” that is a user-friendly interface.
  • KindleGen — Amazon-approved, this converts files to a Kindle compatible format. Free downloads available for Windows, Vista, Mac OS X and Linux. (note, this doesn’t create an ePub).
  • Legend Maker — Mac OS X only, converts documents to Kindle or ePub format. Preview or download the User Guide.
  • Mobipocket Creator — available for Windows only, free download converts .doc, .txt and .pdf files to HTML.
  • Pages — Apple’s word processing software that’s part of iWorks will export the file as ePub. Currently retails for $19.99. Pages will allow you to use Styles and Apple has a template available to help you properly format your text before exporting.
  • Scrivener — Project management software that exports to both Kindle and ePub formats.  Available for Mac and now for Windows. (Offers a video and introductory tutorial on exporting.)
  • Sigil — free software that offers versions for  Windows, Mac and Linux; will create and can be used to edit ePub files.

Conversion Services

  • Book Brewer — will create a non-DRM protected ePub file for a flat fee (currently $29.99).
  • Lasting Impressions — will create multiple formats of your ebook, including ePub, PRC, HTML, PDF and LIT. Price varies with book length but currently $30-$50. Payment to them can be made in $ or £. Other services also available.
In addition to these sites listed above, Dan Poynter has a complete page devoted to ebook Conversion Services on his Global eBook Awards website. The page was posted February 2011, so we can’t guarantee all links will work.

Validating an ePub File

If you’ve converted a .doc file to an ePub format for uploading to retailers, you may want to verify that your ePub file doesn’t have any errors. Apple, Kobo and NOOK Press all recommend using an ePub validator before uploading. ePubCheck has created a validation tool that’s fairly easy to use.

You can quickly upload an verify a single ePub file online at International Digital Publishing Forum. They recommend that files be 10MB or smaller, and that you validate no more than three files per year.

If you have multiple files to check or you expect to need to validate ePub files regularly, you should consider downloading the free ePubCheck software and running your validation checks on your own computer. The download works with both Windows and Mac OS X. Step by step instructions are available from Three Press.

*Note: validating a file on your computer may take some time to set up and master the multistep process. Those who work on Macs will have to use the Terminal utility (it opens a window that replicates DOS commands). The instructions linked above are straightforward. The first time could take you 30 minutes or more, but once you master the process, it will take less than 10 minutes to validate a file.

If your file is clean, the ePubCheck software will tell you there are No Errors. If errors do exist, visit the ePubCheck Wiki to help interpret what the error messages mean.

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