How to create a Kindle book from scratch and WofV Episode 1

On November 1st, 2016, after twenty years since its conception, I have finally released Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Episode 1: Text Edition (WofVE01T) for sale on Amazon Kindle.

Warriors of Virtue Episode 1 Kindle Cover Art

Then, as life would have it, before I could properly celebrate, I got sick. At first I thought it was just the regular kind of cold, or flu, but as it turns out, I caught the Flu From Hell. There were days I thought I was going to die; then, there were days I wish I would die. Two weeks later, I am still not well. I’m better, but I’m not well.

I’m letting you know this as a way of apologizing for my long absence.

And it has been a long absence. Not just these past couple of weeks, but two months+ of absence. The reasons for the long absence is that I have been far too busy to sit down and write a proper post as I was trying to make sure my first episode release was absolutely perfect, while working on the Inktober 2016 challenge for the first time in my life. Add to that the responsibility of being the head of the household for the month of October… Well, all I could manage were short post on Social Media.

Phantom, Erik, ink sketches for Inktober 2016 Day 21.

For Inktober 2016, I’ve decided to sketch one of my favourite books and my favourite musical of all time: The Phantom of the Opera. You can see more photos on Instagram, Twitter, Mili Fay Art Facebook Page, or artofMilica Deviant Art Page. I hope to scan, edit, and release the whole sketchbook soon.

Of course my first release was not “absolutely perfect”. I’m amazed by the fact that no matter how many times I checked, and rechecked, and proofread everything, tiny errors still cropped up. Thankfully, most of you will never know them, because they have been eradicated ASAP.

The most bizarre of these errors was that the cover art for Episode 1 read Episode 2. I have no idea how this happened, especially since the cover attached to the actual Mobi file said Episode 1.

Publishing on Amazon’s KDP

If you have followed my work from the beginning, you know that WofVE01T is not the first book I have ever published with Amazon’s KDP. That honor belongs to my picture book, Animals In My Hair. However, when I created the digital version of Animals In My Hair, I was using Amazon’s Kid’s Book Creator. This is a wonderful program that allowed me to upload a PDF file of my book and visually prepare it for Kindle. I did not have to write a single line of code or markup. The program did everything.

WofVE01T is the first book I marked up then published from scratch.

How to create a Kindle book from scratch?

This question has bugged me since the first day I decided to try out Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), because I did not have hundreds of dollars to spend for someone to do this service for me — especially since I wanted to create many books, not just one or two. I’m also the type of person who needs to know how something is done, because if there are errors that need to be fixed, I’d want to be able to fix them myself and not depend on someone else’s whims. I am not wealthy and I’ve taken quite a financial and emotional risk to bring my fantasy story to light; I could be working and earning a living, but instead I chose to take time off work to share this story with you. I believe in it that much.

At this time, Amazon does not have a program for publishing non-picture books on Kindle. The files that convert best into Kindle books are ePub and Mobi.

I’ve searched for Templates online that I could use, but the templates I found were overly formatted for Kindle books; the universal truth I’ve come to accept is that the more formatting there is, the more likely it is that the documents would not display properly on most devices.

So, I went back to school. I took Ryerson’s Digital Publishing and Design course, and I’ve learned everything I need to know to create a digital book (in ePub and Mobi formats) like a pro.

The steps I took to create WofVE01T Kindle Book

Step 1: I typed up my book in MS Word.

Step 2: My professional editor (who has a PhD in English) edited my book in MS Word and sent the files back.

Step 3: I applied my editor’s edits to my book in MS Word.

Step 4: I copied the 1st chapter of my book and pasted the text into a new Notepad++ .txt file. This got rid of all the MS Word formatting.

Step 5: Since the text in an eBook is comprised of XHTML documents, I had to make sure to remove all the characters in the text that would interfere with XHTML markup. All the ; # & ” etc. had to be replaced with their Unicode codes, which can be found online. This was done using the Find and Replace Window. I also used a simple Regular Expression to add basic paragraph XHTML markup to the text. If you have a blog, you may be able to see this markup if you click on the HTML tab instead of the Visual tab for your blog.

Step 6: I created a WofV ePub Template using the basic ePub Template I saved from my classes at Ryerson.

Step 7: I cut and pasted my Notepad++ text into WofV ePub Template.

Step 8: I went through my MS Word document, and added all the text decoration (italics, bold, etc.) to the document in the WofV ePub Template. Then I repeated the process for every chapter, and all the front and back matter.

Step 9: I edited the Table of Contents, the .opf file, and added my cover image (the one I created earlier this year in Photoshop) to the WofV ePub Template.

Step 10: I zipped up my ePub Book using the eCanCrusher.

Step 11: I used an ePub validator to make sure the book was working and then I uploaded it to my iPad to see if it worked visually.

Step 12: Now that I had an eBook (I may wish to publish an ePub version in the future), I went back to Notepad++ and removed most of the formatting from the book, added the ncx file for Kindle’s Table of Contents, removed ePub Table of Contents, then I zipped up another ePub Mobi Book using eCanCrusher.

Step 13: I uploaded the resulting ePub to Amazon’s Kindle Previewer. This program created a Mobi file for me, and also an AZK file I could upload to the Kindle app on my iPad, so that I could preview my book on an actual device.

Step 14: I went to my Amazon KDP account, added the necessary information, and uploaded my Cover Art and Mobi file.

Step 15: I published my book.

What can an author who has no XHTML markup experience do to create a Kindle book?

Before taking the class at Ryerson, I remember my frustration with trying to find a simple Template to help me publish my book on Kindle in such a way that I would know what was happening “under the hood”, so that I can make any changes necessary.

For this reason I took extensive notes and images as I was creating WofVE01T. I also added extensive notes to my WofV ePub Template, then I created a WofV Mobi ePub Template as well. I intend to make these templates and notes available for fiction authors soon. As a self-publishing author, all you’ll need to know to use the templates is how to cut and paste your work.

These templates will not be free. As you can see, it took many hours of work for me to create the templates, and it will take more time to create a PDF instruction file. However, I will also not sell my template for a huge sum of money. As a self-publishing author what do you think would be a fair price? What can you afford? Let me know in the comments.

For a chance to test out these Templates for free, join Mili Fay Art Fan Club.

Note: These templates are for fiction authors only — authors who do not have illustrated books. I may create a Template for illustrated books later on, but for now, these templates supports text, a single chapter-end (or chapter-beginning) decoration image, and the cover image.

To view the ePub, feel free to download the WofVE01T Sample book here. To see how it looks on Kindle, I’m afraid you’ll just have to buy WofVE01T;  it’s only $0.99.

That’s it for today’s post.

Wishing you only the best!

Mili

Mili Fay--Portrait by Catia Da Costa of CDC Photography

© 2014 CDC PHOTOGRAPHY

Mili Fay, an award winning artist, trained as a classical animator at Sheridan College, but when computer animation took over the field, she decided that she loved drawing more than animating. In November of 2011 she created Mili Fay Art determined to support the world one artwork at a time. Today, she passionately creates imaginative artwork and stories, always graced with a humorous modern twist.

Currently, Mili is working on an epic YA fantasy series, Warriors of Virtue, about a reluctant princess, Lauraliee, who learns to become a queen as she defends Ardan from dragon-people (people who turn into dragons).

Warriors of Virtue Episode 5 CoverArt ThumbnailWarriors of Virtue Episode 4 Cover Art ThumbnailWarriors of Virtue Episode 3 Cover ArtWarriors of Virtue Episode 2 Cover ArtWarriors of Virtue Episode 1 Cover Art
“Together we support the world one artwork at a time.”
This entry was posted in Amazons Kindle Direct Publishing, Ryerson Digital Publishing, Uncategorized, Warriors of Virtue and tagged , , , , , .

4 Comments

  1. Kateryna Kei November 14, 2016 at 09:18 #

    Thanks for sharing, Mili! That’s precious information for all the authors 😉
    I am sorry to hear that you caught a flu. I am experiencing right now how it feels… 🙁 I wish you to get well quickly!

    • Mili_Fay November 15, 2016 at 10:18 #

      You’re welcome. I hope it helps.

      Thanks, Kate. It’s been over two weeks and I’m still recovering. Get better soon.

  2. Karim January 19, 2017 at 06:44 #

    Great post. I’d advise you to try out Kotobee Author. It’s an interactive ebook creator that allows you to export to almost all formats. No need for XHTML knowledge.

    • Mili_Fay January 19, 2017 at 11:57 #

      Thank you for letting me know about Kotobee Author. The pitch and the website looks really cool, but I cannot seem to find any independent user reviews.

      When you say “almost every platform”, does it allow you to publish on Kindle? Are the books reflowable or static like PDFs? Working with other programs that claimed to produced eBooks for every platform, I encountered so many errors that I was staggered by the amount of time it would take to edit the code. Books did not display properly at all. This is one of the reasons I went back to school and learned how to create my own Template that produces an ePub and a Mobi without any extra code or branding, or any such nonsense.

      Also it says the program is free, but then you will have to pay $100 to remove company branding from the books? Then there is an annual charge for upgrades?

      What would the annual cost be if I decided to use this publishing platform to keep the program running as advertised?

      Looking at the versions available, there have been a lot of bugs that needed to be fixed.

      It looks like an amazing platform, but I have been crushed in the past. Now I am weary of anything that sounds too good to be true.

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