Sunday, February 22, 2015

Manuscript to EPUB or MOBI via Storyist

This is almost it! I have my publishing company set up, my Employer Identification Number (EIN), software that will export into EPUB and MOBI, accounts set up and approved at the various distributors, a bank account for all that money I’m going to make, a lovely cover image that can be embedded into Storyist, ISBNs purchased, a completed metadata sheet, and a squeaky clean manuscript formatted for export into an EPUB or MOBI.

Since I’ve read through all my contracts, I know that not every distributor will allow links in my e-book to be active. I make a Storyist copy that contains hot links (for iBooks) 

and one that doesn’t (for Nook, Kobo, and Kindle). I add this info to the file name so I can tell them apart.

(I'm using my published e-short story, Love to the Rescue file. My file name is Love2Res and then I just add the format to keep them straight. I also have a file for each distributor that contains the EPUB, MOBI, or pdf I've submitted to that distributor.)

With the Storyist software open and the project I want to turn into an e-book selected, I hit the drop down menu under “File” and click on Export. A window will open to show all the items in that project’s file. I’ll check the little boxes next to the manuscript I want to export, as well as the title page, and the cover image. Since I’m making an EPUB first, I’ll just hit eBook and ePub document will appear in the slot below Export. When I’m ready to export into MOBI, I’ll be sure to select Kindle document in the Format dop down menu window instead.
It’s possible to create a Preset file for your e-book with Storyist. It’s a short cut way for exporting if you need to make some changes to your manuscript and then export it again without filling out all the metadata. The Storyist manual explains how to do that. For now, I’m going to chose “Next” and continue with the export. 

The next window is Step 1 of 2 and this is where I can select the order of the various pages. It’s an easy drag and drop process. I put the cover image first, then the title page, and finally the book body. To help the program, I also tag them with the drop down menu as cover, title page, and book body. Since I’ve included all the information I want in the book body from an introduction to list of my previous work, I usually only have three items to arrange. 

BTW, I covered this process in the November 2014 blog post, Style Sheets: KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!).

I hit next and I’m now at Step 2 of 2. Here’s where your metadata sheet comes in handy for the first time. Storyist offers ten metadata items. These appear when I click the Add button at the bottom of the table. I don’t have to complete every single one, but it’s a good idea to complete as many as you can. A definition of the each selection is available in the Storyist guide.

The last time I hit “Next” I’ll be taken to my files and can name the story export and decide where I want to keep it. Once I hit “Export,” the file will be saved in that location with the suffix .epub for easy identification.

Yippee! I have a cute as pie EPUB! I'm not sure if this icon appears on all computers, but this is what Mac gives me. 
All I have to do is download it into the distributor’s program, right? 
Nah. Not yet. There’s one last check I need to run to ensure my EPUB will be accepted by the various distributors. I need to run it through a program called epubcheck.

It’s kind of scary because I have to go to Terminal in my Mac and do weird computer geek stuff, but if my manuscript passes muster with this program, it should slide right into distribution with no red flags from anyone saying something’s wrong with the e-book. 

I’m going to save epubcheck until next time since I need to do a little homework, first.

Oh, before I forget, making a MOBI edition, which is the format used by Kindle is very similar. On the first Export window, select eBook for Export and then change the Format drop down menu to Kindle Document (.mobi). The next window will be Step 1 of 3 instead of 1 of 2. Once again, arrange the items in the order they will appear in the published version. The second step is also the same, completing author, book, and publishing information from the metadata sheet.

Step 3 gives three Kindle options. Hovering the mouse over the list opens a box describing what happens if the first two are selected. The last item lists the location of the Kindle version just created. If I want to change where this version is stored, this is where I do it. Hitting next will bring up the window used to identify the name and location of the file, offering another chance to place the file somewhere besides the default location. Hit “Export” and the newly created MOBI file will be saved. 

The only way I know to check how the MOBI file looks prior to loading it into Amazon is to hook up my Kindle to my computer. I don’t have the Kindle app on my computer, but it may work that way, too. I also check out the EPUB on my Nook and Kobo e-readers by hooking them to my Mac. Just follow the instructions for your particular e-reader. To check my EPUB on my Mac to preview it, I just add it to my iBooks library on my Mac. Another option is to hook your iPad to the computer and load the EPUB into your library to read. 

And yes, it's a good idea to check how your e-book looks on whatever e-readers you can. 

epubcheck will be the focus of the next blog on this journey to self-publishing.