Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Convert Your Properly Formatted WORD document into eBook Formats

copyright Aaron Paul Lazar and Morgan Blaze, 2015

Several years ago when I decided to take back the reins and start publishing my own books, I needed help. I had never formatted my own eBooks (or print books) and I was grateful when my longtime mentor and critique partner, Morgan Blaze, came to my rescue.

She had been happily self-publishing for a while, having received rights back from her publisher and also having written a ton of new books. You can pay people lots of money to do this, but once you get the process down, it’s really not that hard.

First of all, download a free copy of Calibre. That is the program I use to convert my Word docs into eBook format for uploading to Amazon Kindle or for sharing with readers when I give out eBooks as a prize at one of my events. If you have the mobi (Kindle), epub (Nook), and pdf (for those who don’t have an ereader), then you are all set.

  1. Save a copy of your manuscript as filtered HTML: (in Word 2007 & up) Office button Save As; Other Formats. Choose “Web page, filtered” from the dropdown menu in the dialogue box. {On my MacBook Pro, the steps are “File/Save As/Web Page (htm)” and click the button for “Save only display information into html.”}
  2. This will create a file with the suffix “.htm” instead of “.doc” or “.docx” that you need to be sure to save in a folder with your original manuscript document. I find that if I create a folder for “V1” of my current manuscript, to represent “version 1,” it helps to keep each version separate. In the beginning, you may have to do this process several times as you discover little typos, etc. or want to change the back matter of your book. So next time, create a V2 folder, and so on. In the end, you can go back and delete the earlier versions so you don’t load up your computer with too much data.
  3. (Note: Do not use spaces or characters in the file name)
  4. Open the Calibre Program
  5. Click on “Add books” (red book icon at top left) and add your “.htm” or filtered web page file to Calibre
  6. The book will appear in the Calibre library as the title of the file, with “unknown” for the author name. Highlight the book and click on “Edit metadata” (blue circle icon at top)
  7. On the edit metadata screen, fill out your book title and author name, and add other metadata (add keywords that are relevant and will help readers find your book on Amazon, separated with commas; there is no limit to the number of this field. Next add the book blurb to the Comments box on the right. I use the same blurb that I put on my back cover for the print book here).
  8. While still in “edit metadata” you will note that there is a field for “title sort” and “author sort.” If your title begins with a small word like “The,” for example, “The Liar’s Gallery,” you may enter, “Liar’s Gallery, The” for that field. For my name, Aaron Paul Lazar, I enter “Lazar, Aaron Paul” for the author name sort.
  9. If your book is part of a series, enter the series name, such as “Bittersweet Hollow” and then the number within the series. Enter the digit “1” if this is the first book in the series, etc.
  10. While still in edit metadata, add your cover (Amazon won’t accept the file without a cover image). Be sure this cover is in “.jpg” format and has been sized to properly meet Amazon’s guidelines. Click on “browse” at the top of the center frame in the “Change Cover” section, and navigate to your cover file. You will see the cover show up in the large frame to the left of this section.
  11. Click on OK (green check mark in box on the bottom right.)
  12. Now the file is ready for conversion:
  13. With the book highlighted, click on “Convert books” (brown icon, third from left at the top)
  14. Click on Page Setup on the left-hand menu. Choose “Kindle” on the output profile, and make sure the input profile is set to “Default input profile”
  15. Click Table of Contents in the left-hand menu
  16. Next to the Level 1 TOC line, click on the magic wand
  17. In the dialogue box under “Match HTML tags with tag names,” choose H1 from the pull-down menu (NOTE: you must already have formatted your chapter headings with the style “Heading 1” in your original document)
  18. Click OK – it should now say “//h:h1” under Level 1 TOC
  19. At the top right, use the dropdown box to change “Output format” to MOBI
  20. Click OK on the bottom right (the program will return to the main screen), and wait until the readout in the lower right corner finishes (changes from Jobs:1 to Jobs:0) You will get a notification that the file is complete.
  21. To convert the file to EPUB from this point, click on “Convert books” again and make sure EPUB is selected in the top right corner next to “Output format”, and then click OK
  22. If you’d like, you can also convert the same file to PDF in Calibre (click on “Convert books” again and select PDF from the top right corner)
  23. Save the converted files to your hard drive by highlighting the title and at the top of the page, click the dropdown arrow next to “Save to disk” and select “Save to disk in a single directory”
  24. Navigate to your preferred save location (for example, your “V1” file) and click “Select Folder”
  25. The folder where you saved the files should open automatically and display the converted files – you’ll have EPUB, MOBI, a jpg that’s just the cover image, a file ending with .opf, and a zip file (and PDF, if you’ve done that conversion as well)
  26. Rename the files you’ll upload to Amazon and BN with single word file names, no spaces or special characters. For example, when the files come back as “Write Like The Wind – Aaron” I change them to
  27. Now you are ready to upload your mobi file (or others) to the place where you will sell them, like Amazon Kindle Direct. You’re done!

Thanks again to Morgan Blaze for giving us this “secret” information. Now we can all format our own eBooks and save more of the profits for our own families.


Aaron Paul Lazar is obsessed with writing. He's completed twenty-four books to date, and has earned nineteen literary book awards. He writes mysteries, suspense, love stories, and more. You'll usually find him writing his heart out in the early hours of the day - preferably in the dark, quiet hours when no one else is awake in his bustling household.         

“Addictive, award-winning fiction.” 

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