eBook Conversion

eBook conversion for Kindle and ePub readers

Recommended software

The good news is that you can generally do your self-publishing project with open source and free software. I imagine better, paid-for software is probably available, but I’ll leave that for other people to comment – sadly, I’m not in the pocket of Big Publishing (although I would like to be).

In this area, the PC platform is generally better catered for than the Mac.

Word processors

Many people will be using various versions of Microsoft Word. Free alternatives to Word are Open Office and Libre Office.

Libre Office is a fork of Open Office, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems. At this point in time, they are still pretty much identical, but the consensus is that Libre Office is slightly better, so if you’re downloading for the first time, it’s the better choice. Both programs are available for Mac and PC.

If you use Google Docs, I’ve found the conversion process to be better if you export your file to ODT format, then do it via Open/Libre Office. Google Docs has fewer features than other word processors, but it has advantages if you’re working across several computers (or devices) or if you’re working on a collaborative project.

Text editors

I’m a fan of Notepad++, which is a free text editor for the PC. It’s better than Notepad or WordPad because it can both tidy up code and display it in a way that’s much easier to understand. Unfortunately, their latest version removed some useful HTML tools in the final build and it’s too complicated to explain how to restore them. So I would recommend downloading Notepad++ 5.8.7 and ignoring the update messages.

Mac users may wish to try Text Wrangler.

Some Notepad++ tips

  • If you go to Plugins > Plugin Manager > Show Plugin Manager, there is a useful plugin called WebEdit, which displays a toolbar that lets you quickly apply HTML tags by selecting the text and clicking on the buttons.
  • When you use Find and Replace, the program searches (usually downwards) from wherever the cursor is, even when you press Replace All. Selecting Replace All in All Opened Documents is recommended, but make sure you don’t have another tab open that you don’t want to change
  • If text is going off the page, select View > Word Wrap
  • If you select some text, then press Find (Ctrl-F), it will appear in the Find box

Kindle conversion tools

The two main products for format conversion are Calibre and Mobipocket Creator.

I prefer Mobipocket Creator because it’s easier to use (there are fewer options to worry about); however, Calibre also works well and does all sorts of other things besides. (Calibre also formats to ePub, but I haven’t tested this yet.) So I would download both.

Mobipocket Creator is PC only (this site discusses the free publisher edition); Calibre is available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Kindle Previewer

Kindle Previewer is Amazon’s free tool for emulating the Kindle on a computer (it is recommended you use this rather than the Kindle application). There are versions for Mac and PC.

Image editors

The most fully featured free image editor is GIMP, available for Mac and PC. However, it is not particularly easy to use for the novice.

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One Response to “Recommended software”

  1. Alki Nea
    on Aug 30th, 2012
    @ 3:19 am

    On my way to publish my first novel “Kea, The Third Way” I tried many softwares to convert my LibreOffice book to Amazon format. It was a tedious process, and the resulting ebook was quite bland.
    This prompted me to write a software that converts OpenOffice or LibreOffice files to Kindle and Nook formats. It’s very easy to use and doesn’t require the author to learn HTML and CSS.
    It is free and can be downloaded from here:


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