by Marcia Yudkin
If you've self-published a short report that you're selling in PDF format, consider converting it to Kindle format and selling it in Amazon's digital downloads store. Prices you can realistically charge there range from $.99 to $9.99, with your share of purchases either 35 or 70 percent. But perhaps the greater benefit than the income is the opportunity through the Amazon Kindle store to get your material in front of customers from around the world who wouldn't otherwise ever run across your ideas and talents.
About a year ago, I struggled to take a paperback book I had nicely designed using the powerhouse publishing program InDesign and convert it so I could sell it on Kindle. I tried three different conversion tools, and all of them produced grossly unacceptable results. Frustrated, yet not ready to shell out the cash to hire someone else to reformat the book, I put this project on the back burner.
More recently, tempted by tales of colleagues experiencing results with short ebooks on Kindle, I decided to test the waters with a collection of articles that I'd compiled into an ebook. After sifting through many how-to articles and videos on Kindle conversions, here are the steps I followed that worked out perfectly not only for my experimental 30-page ebook but for several other short works and then the more complex paperback that had earlier stumped me.
Step One: Setting Up Styles in Your Word Document
One key to success is keeping your Microsoft Word formatting as simple as possible. Don't worry about selecting fonts or defining fancy formatting. Instead, define and use what Word calls "styles."
To do this, click on "Styles" from Word's "Format" menu, then one by one define the following three basic styles:
1) Body Text: Times New Roman 12, single spacing, no other special effects
2) Heading 1: Based on no style, Times New Roman 16 points, bold, page break before
3) Heading 2: Based on no style, Times New Roman 14 points, bold, no page break before
Then code all regular paragraphs in your manuscript as Body Text by highlighting them and clicking on "Body Text" for them in the "Styles" menu. Code your chapter titles as "Heading 1" and any subheads as "Heading 2."
If you need additional formatting styles, define a new style for it in the "Styles" menu instead of manually clicking buttons on your computer keyboard to make the text look the way you think it should. Unless everything in your Word document is coded consistently in such styles, you'll see chaos in the Kindle version.
Step Two: Save Your Word File as RTF
When you have finishing coding everything in your Word manuscript, save the file first as a ".doc" file, then as a rich text file - ".rtf." The RTF file is what you need for Step Three.
Step Three: Convert to Mobi Format using Calibre
Calibre is a free ebook conversion program you can download at calibre - E-book management. Open the program and click on the "plus" icon in the upper left to load the RTF version of your ebook into Calibre. Then click the "i" icon" in the upper left to fill in such information as your name and the title of the ebook.
With your book title highlighted on the main screen of the program, click on the next icon, with two curved arrows, which gets you to the conversion function. There are a lot of options that come up, but you only need to concern yourself with two of them. In the upper right corner, where it says "Output Format," select "MOBI." Then in the left column, click on "Page Setup" and then under "Output Profile," select "Kindle."
Click "OK," and the program converts your file to something you can upload to Kindle. When the rotating circle in the lower right corner stops spinning, double-click on your title on Calibre's main screen to see how your file will look in the Kindle e-reader.
If the e-reader shows formatting that looks wildly wrong, then you didn't define and code your styles in Word carefully enough. Go back to the ".doc" file that you saved at the beginning of Step Two and check your styles, then repeat Steps Two and Three. You may need to do some trial and error in redefining the styles to get things like bulleted lists looking right in Kindle.
When your text looks fine in Calibre's Kindle simulator, you are ready to upload the .mobi version of your ebook to Amazon. You can get that process started by going to http://kdp.amazon.com/. In just a day or so after you've uploaded your ebook, you and the rest of the online universe will see it available for sale in the Kindle store. Happy ebook sales!
The author of 15 books and nine multimedia home study courses, Marcia Yudkin has been selling information in one form or another since 1981. Download a free recording of her answers to the most commonly asked questions about information marketing by entering your information into the privacy-assured request box at http://www.yudkin.com/infomarketing.htm .