Archive for the ‘Micropublishing’ Category

Kindle books from Word: A micropublishing tutorial

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

When I wrote The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, which primarily focuses on physical books, I didn’t attempt to cover EPUB or Kindle’s ebook format in depth because there were no clear, simple, valid free ways to get from a formatted book in Microsoft Word to a good-looking EPUB or Kindle ebook.

As far as I can tell, that’s still the case for EPUB, although that’s also likely to change fairly soon.

Meanwhile, if you plan to use the Kindle Direct Publishing program for Kindle versions, there’s now a straightforward, simple way to get from a properly-formatted Word document to a good-looking Kindle publication. I’ve tried it. It works.

Here are the steps.

Beforehand: When preparing your book in Word

  1. Complete your book, preferably following the guidelines I used in my book. Specifically: Use styles for paragraphs, not tabs or manual formatting. Include a Contents page that’s generated using heading styles–not prepared manually. Include front matter (title page, etc.).
  2. Don’t use special character sets if you can avoid it. (Special characters such as em dashes are fine.) If you can simplify bullets, that’s good: They won’t come out looking great anyway. (KDP says bullets are ignored. That’s not quite true.)
  3. You can use tables–formatted using Word’s table mechanisms or imported from Excel, for example, but not manually formatted.
  4. You can use images–but in that case, there will be an extra step, which KDP covers in its advice. (To wit: Once you’ve generated the filtered HTML, see below, you’ll have to combine that and the folder containing image files into a single .zip file, and upload the .zip file. If there are no images, you can just upload the .htm file.)

During: Making it Kindle-ready

  1. Save the book under a different filename so you can keep the original. Do all the rest on that file.
  2. Delete all headers and footers. The easiest way to do this is to double-click in the footer, delete the line, go to the Next section, delete the line, and so on until there are no more sections. Then do the same for the headers. You may have to do this process separately for first pages of sections (chapters), odd-numbered pages and even-numbered pages. It took me 10 minutes to do it for a 20-chapter book.
  3. Save the file for later revisions.
  4. Save as Web page (filtered), which produces an .htm file. (It’s one of the file choices on the Save as… dropdown menu). Word will caution you about features that you lose in the process–e.g., small caps turn into all caps. Ignore the caution.
  5. You might want to look at the results using your browser; you should find, among other things, that the Contents page is now a set of live links to the headings and subheadings.
  6. That .htm file is now ready for the KDP uploader, which will turn it into a proper Kindle file. (You probably also want to upload a cover image; see the KDP guidelines for that step.)
  7. As noted: If you had images, upload the .zip file instead of the .htm file.

And that’s it.

On the other hand, if you’ve published a book using CreateSpace and accept the suggestion to offer a Kindle version via KDP, don’t accept the offer to translate your PDF into a Kindle book. The results are awful, partly because all the page headers and footers turn into text, partly because of other issues. Taking the extra half hour to create a filtered HTML file from Word, after stripping headers and footers, will yield a much better Kindle book.





Full-color books on Lulu

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

When I was writing The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, I mentioned books with full-color printing throughout but admitted that I didn’t have any actual experience using Lulu or CreateSpace for full-color books. I anticipated that Lulu’s would look nicer because Lulu uses a heavier matte-finish paper specifically designed for color reproduction (but the pages also cost $0.20 each, where CreateSpace’s cost $0.12 each–in both cases, much more expensive than black-and-white books).

Do note that neither service offers the option of inserting a few full-color pages in an otherwise black-and-white book. It’s all or nothing.

Actual Experience with Full Color

I now have actual experience with Lulu’s full-color production–and it’s a fine example of the kind of thing micropublishing is ideal for.

Anna Julia Young — Autobiography is …well, here’s the description from the Lulu store page:

Autobiography of Livermore pioneer Anna Julia (Simmons) Young, who came to California from Illinois by covered wagon in 1862 and settled in Livermore, California, in 1869. Includes a foreword by Jo Eileen Presley Voelker, Anna’s granddaughter. Compiled and edited by Linda A. Driver, with genealogical notes by Nancy Glaiberman. Appendix includes genealogical information for the Young, Simmons and Rogers families. Illustrated, with footnotes, selected bibliography and index.

It’s quite a story–readable and compelling. My wife, Linda Driver, is related to Anna Julia Young (on the Simmons side). She got permission from the owner of the manuscript and gathered appropriate photographs from various sources–some of the photographs color or sepia. She also did all the layout (in Microsoft Word 2010–using Corel Paint Shop Pro to do the photo editing and prepare the front and back covers).

An interesting family story, fleshed out with further research, appropriate illustrations and an index–and transformed from a set of typed 8.5×11″ pages to a sleek 87-page 6×9″ paperback.

And it came out beautifully–we were delighted when the first color copy finally arrived.

This is exactly what micropublishing is all about–or at least it’s one of the many flavors: Making history more accessible and permanent.

There’s also a hardcover version and it also looks great.

I can recommend it if you’re one of the many who’re related to Anna Julia Young or if you’re interested in a real-life story of Northern California pioneers after the gold rush. And now I can confidently say that, if you make sure not to compress your photos (in Word) and don’t mind paying the price, you can get good full-color work from Lulu.

If you don’t mind paying the price…

There’s the rub, of course. If you follow either link, you’ll see that the prices aren’t modest: $28.50 for the paperback, $38.50 for the hardcover. My wife won’t be getting rich from her share of that price: We get less than $6 from each sale. (I think we’d need to sell 30 copies just to cover the copies she’s giving to historical societies and the people who provided permissions and material.) Full-color books done one at a time are expensive. But sometimes worth it.

Oh, and by the way: If you have something like this that you really want to do, but feel you lack the editing, layout, indexing and other skills needed (or the patience to fight work with Word on making sure illustrations and captions appear where they should)…my wife might be able to help. For a price, of course. You can reach her through email: lindadriver at gmail dot com.

Micropublishing Guide 40% off!

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I believe The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing may be the most important book I’ve ever written–one that can serve every public library (no matter how small) and most academic libraries, making it possible to add a new patron/community service without new equipment or expertise.

And now, you can get the book at a substantial discount: 40% off (not including shipping & handling).

Just use the code LGMP1 (that’s LGMP followed by a one) when you order The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing (follow the link!).

The discount’s good through July 30, 2012.

Quick Background

The new service: supporting micropublishing–that is, using print on demand fulfillment services to publish books that may serve niches from one to 500 copies, by producing books individually as they are needed.

The book shows you how and provides a starting professional-quality book template for Word, the same template used for the book itself. (There’s also a slightly simplified template for LibreOffice.)

Every public library has community members who have family histories and other specialized books in them–probably more than you’d ever guess. With this book, your library can make those books feasible and attractive (it’s enormously more satisfying to publish a family history as a professional 6×9 book than as a stapled or Velobound set of 8.5×11 pages!).

For smaller academic libraries, this may be a service faculty and staff would find useful–there are a lot of people out there who have special-interest books in them. For many academic libraries, there may also be another service, if (or as) you start to publish new open access journals in cooperation with campus departments: Micropublishing offers a no-cost way to make print copies (say of the journal’s annual compilation) available for those who want them.

There’s more detail on the blog post announcing the book.

Remember: Code LGMP1 for 40% off The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing.

Micropublishing Tips: 2. Photos and Word’s Save as PDF

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

There should probably be another bullet on page 121 (“Photos”), just above the final bullet in the list:

  • If good quality photos are essential to your book, you probably won’t want to use Word’s PDF creation capabilities. The PDF option (at least in Windows) does not offer choices on image quality, and initial tests suggest that photos are degraded considerably when this internal capability is used. You should probably invest in a PDF program, preferably one that integrates well with Word and offers options to ensure that images are at least 300 dpi.

I have not tested PDF creation programs other than Acrobat, but there are much less expensive alternatives on the market.

This is the second in a series of Micropublishing Tips to expand the content in The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing.

Micropublishing Tips: 1. Save Paper on 6×9 Review Drafts

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

The Word and LibreOffice/OpenOffice templates provided as part of The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing are designed to create 6 x 9″ (36 x 54 pica) books, the most common size for trade paperbacks and hardback books in the U.S. It’s an excellent size for books with ample margins and readably short text lines.

You’ll probably want to print out at least one draft version, to do your own editorial review and to gauge overall appearance. But printing 6 x 9″ pages on letter-size (8.5 x 11″) paper wastes a lot of paper–and most duplexing printers won’t automatically duplex in a case like this, so that you have to manually refeed sheets in order to use both sides.

There’s an easy way to save paper and still have fully usable editing and review drafts (more so in Microsoft Word than in LibreOffice/OpenOffice)–and, at least for Word, this technique still allows for automatic duplexing.

Two Pages to a Sheet

That’s what it’s called in both Word and LibreOffice, although that’s a slight misnomer: It’s really two book pages to a printout page, which means you’ll get four book pages per sheet of paper if you have a duplexing printer.

The technique’s simple. I’ll show the method for Word2010 and for LibreOffice 3.3, but it should work equally well in all versions of Word and OpenOffice/LibreOffice, although the steps to get to a detailed print menu in earlier versions of Word are different.

Microsoft Word

Here’s all you need to do–and your printer should already be on when you do this.

  1. Click on the File tab, the leftmost tab. (For Word 2007, that will be the Office icon, and the next step may be different. For earlier versions of Word, it should be the File menu–and the next step will be different.)
  2. Click on the Print tab on the left-hand side of the resulting overview page. (By now, you probably know that this page gives you a great summary of your word count, page count and…sigh…just how long you’ve actually spent editing this masterpiece!)
  3. Here’s a portion of the resulting dialog box, with the key setting already changed (highlighted), by changing the pull-down menu from the default “1” to “2.”

    Word2010 Print Options menu (partial)

That’s it. Click on Print at the top of the page (above the portion shown here) and your chapter or book will come out at two pages to a side or four pages to a sheet.

In my own tests, the resulting pages are 90% of the original size. That’s big enough so that you should have no trouble editing and considering overall layout. If you’re also saving ink by using draft mode (my printer calls it “Quick Print”), that should work fine as well–but do note:

The printed results are not precise replicas of the actual pages. You should print out at least one page full size and with normal/full quality printing to get a better sense of how your typeface looks on the page.

It appears that Word retains print settings throughout a session, but not between sessions. Check the Print menu each time you’re printing a document.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice

While LibreOffice requires the same small number of steps, the results aren’t quite as good.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Click on (open) the File menu.
  2. Click on Print.
  3. Here’s part of the Print dialog box:

    Portion of LibreOffice Print dialog box

  4. Click on the Page Layout tab, which will bring up this dialog box, shown with the relevant change (Pages per Sheet) made:

LibreOffice Page Layout dialog box

That’s it. You can click Print directly in this dialog box.


In my testing, the resulting pages are only 77% of the original size. That may be a little too small for comfortable editing–or it may not be.

I imported a fully-formatted book chapter, created in Word2010, to test this process. I noted that not only was the chapter a page longer than it had been in Word, all of the grid and border lines in tables had disappeared, as had all bullets. While this is another example of the limitations in LibreOffice/OpenOffice’s vaunted Office compatibility, it’s not something that would affect most users: Presumably you use LibreOffice because you don’t own Word, so you’d do your table and bullet formatting directly within LibreOffice.

This is the first in a series of Micropublishing Tips to expand the content in The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing.