Let me explain the process I follow to create a trade paperback version and the Kindle version of my novels for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This may surprise you.
I write with Scrivener 3 (from Literature and Latte). I have been for years now and I LOVE the programme. The new Scrivener 3 boasted an improved compiler from that found in Scrivener 2 and I was excited about it. Excited until I started using it. It is supposed to be more user friendly. It’s not. It’s supposed to allow you to format your novel in whatever manner you wish. I don’t find it does. You need a PhD. It is NOT intuitive. Try something like Vellum and you will immediately see where Scrivener fails to support the author in formatting what should be a simple thing.
So what I do is compile to a Microsoft Word docx format and an ePub3 format. The docx is for the paperback and the epub is for the Kindle. With me so far?
The paperback version of my novels is so easy to do. I open the Word doc and tweak it. I make sure chapters start on the right side page. I add drop caps (where the first letter of the chapter is enlarged), correct fonts, add blank lines, etc. Once I am happy, I export to PDF, upload to KDP, preview how KDP processes it, and nine times out of ten it is perfect and I can publish the paperback. For those in the know, yes, KDP accepts docx. The conversion is poor though and I find PDFs almost are never modified by KDP and come out exactly as you wanted.
The Kindle version is not so easy. First, you need to understand that Kindle publishes eBooks in their MOBI format. KDP will convert your epub to a mobi when you upload it. KDP has been criticised by many for not describing the specific html code it uses to format the Kindle and invariably the mobi will not match what you formatted the epub to look like. It can be quite frustrating.
What I have been doing is the following:
- I compile from Scrivener 3 to ePub3.
- I open the ePub3 in Sigil (software to format ebooks). I spend around 2-3 hours formatting the epub with html code until it looks right. I save the epub.
- I open the epub in Calibre (an ebook library programme) and CONVERT the epub to mobi.
- I upload the mobi to KDP and cross my fingers. Nine times out of ten it looks the way I want the mobi to look (with drop caps, etc.)
I just did this with Cill Darae (Volume 5 of the New Druids series, pick up yours on April 30th!). After I was done, I noticed a little hyperlink on KDP introducing Kindle Create. I was like “wuh?”. I downloaded it, opened it, and cried in joy. Now, I know this has been around for a while (now I do, anyway), but to me this was NEW and SHINY! The good news is all I need to do now is load the docx paperback version, tweak the content to my ebook content (i.e. the ISBN for Kindle is different than the paperback), and save the file in the KPF format. I upload the kpf and BAM! I have a perfect mobi version of my novel.
I’m so happy right now. Time for wine.