How do I turn my Word file novel into an Amazon listing?
March 11, 2012 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Years ago, I wrote a novel. I am not interested in seeking out a publisher for it - rather, I'm hoping to sell it on Amazon as an e-book for a few bucks. From someone who has done it, how can I transform my Word file into an Amazon e-book listing which I can direct my friends to?

All I have is a 100,000 word Microsoft Word file. I am looking for step-by-step instructions. People have directed me to things such as this, but I don't have a kindle to even download it onto. I would be interested in hearing from people who have already done this, and I would also like to hear about any unexpected difficulties you may have encountered during the course of doing it. While I have a pretty good knowledge of computers, I don't really understand html that well, or programming in general, which is something I have heard that you may need to know in order to do all this. I would be appreciative of any advice anyone has regarding this.
posted by Sully to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
If you would like to read that guide, you don't need a physical Kindle, you can use the free Kindle app on your computer.
posted by KateViolet at 12:43 PM on March 11, 2012

Jim MacDonald is a (traditionally) published author who also self-publishes e-books from his back catalogue. He's active at Making Light and has written a few posts about the process, touching on recommended software, workflow, and where to publish, among other topics.
posted by johnofjack at 1:16 PM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: For the nuts and bolts of setting up an Ebook file, I suggest this guide.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:39 PM on March 11, 2012

I've done this... I tried various different methods I found via google but in the end the simplest (ie follow what amazon tell you) worked for me. You may need to do a little trail and error regarding font sizes, chapter heading and paragraph format in order to get right layout that you want.

First thing I'd says is to make sure you've got a clean copy with no weird layout glitches (and no tab spacing/indents) - so cut and past into a plain text file, make sure there's nothing screwed up then paste it back into a new word doc

After that, the instructions on amazon's own site are pretty good and worked for me. It's a bit fiddly to do a table of contents but you don't need one if you don't want the hassle. You just step up an account and upload your file. You can check the formatting and if you are happy you can then publish it and a few hours later will appear on Amazon's site.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:24 PM on March 11, 2012

The Smashwords Style Guide shows you how to properly format your manuscript for e-publishing. You will need to save it in html but that is easy, you just choose save as -> web page.

Smashwords also has the ability to publish and submit your book to many of the other retailers (B&N, Kobo, Sony, etc.).
posted by magnetsphere at 2:38 PM on March 11, 2012

Seconding fearfulsymmetry's link. The Kindle Direct Publishing page also has a spot after you upload your Word document but before you push Publish where you can download a preview version of the Kindle document, and some software to open it if you don't have a Kindle.
posted by JDHarper at 8:23 PM on March 11, 2012

I've published several books on Kindle, direct from Word documents. All you have to do is upload the doc or docx file, then preview it in the little app on the upload page. It's really easy. You don't have to know anything about html.

Make sure document looks good in Word. Use real (curly) quotes and em dashes, boldface and italics as necessary, chapter headings on a new page in bigger type. However, Kindle will strip out different font choices, justification, pagination, headers and footers. (It's OK if these are there, but they won't be included in the Kindle version.)

It will respect page breaks, but be aware that the Kindle screen is small and can't be nicely formatted. So keep the front pages simple.

If you want (say) the title page in a particular font, you can include JPEGs.
posted by zompist at 10:37 PM on March 11, 2012

You can use Calibre to do it really easily. Or you can email it to me (memail me for contact details) and I'll do it for you. I've done it a number of times.

I also recommend The Creative Penn for info and advice on e-publishing. She has an Author 2.0 guide on there which is great.
posted by LyzzyBee at 12:15 AM on March 12, 2012

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