From Manuscript to (e)Book: Your Self-Publishing Adventure Guide

Convert Word to MOBI, ePub, Smashwords

Many writers want to get in on the eBook revolution, but they don’t know how to convert a Word file to an eBook, or how to format a file so that Amazon and Smashwords won’t horribly mangle it during their conversion processes. If they want to upload to a venue that only accepts ePub files, that’s another format to worry about. I’ve written several posts about eBook formatting because there’s a lot of confusion out there.

If you’re wondering how to do any of this, then run, don’t walk, to Amazon, and pick up How to Format Your eBook for Kindle, NOOK, Smashwords, and Everything Else by Paul Salvette. At $2.99, this book is an absolute steal! As one of the reviewers said, buy it before the author raises
the price. You don’t need a Kindle to read the book. I read Kindle books using Kindle for PC, and there’s a free Kindle reading app for just about every platform out there.

Salvetti’s book covers everything you need to know to format your book for the Kindle, Smashwords, and venues that accept ePub files, like Barnes & Noble. Even if you’re an old hand at this, you might pick up a couple of things.

Want to convert your Word file to MOBI or ePub? The book walks you through how to create clean XHTML from your Word file, and how to run that XHTML through Calibre. Now, there’s plenty of free information around the Net about this, but, as usual, it’s in bits and pieces. For $2.99, you can get a detailed guide in one place that leads you through the steps.

Want to upload your Word file to Smashwords? Follow the steps in the book and you shouldn’t have a problem with the meat grinder or having your book approved for the premium catalog.

I like that the book has a chapter on basic XHTML. It’s great to tell people to do the conversion using Calibre, but what happens if the end result has formatting problems? What do you do then? If you don’t understand some basic XHTML, you won’t be able to tweak the formatting. Having said that, following the steps in this book means that you probably won’t encounter that problem in the first place.

I’ve formatted four books for the Kindle and Smashwords, and I’ve still learned from this book. For example, I didn’t know how to preserve formatting like italics and bold when I prepare my Word file for Smashwords. After nuking all the formatting, I’d go in and manually add the italics back. Salvetti explains how to use Word’s Replace feature to add back the italics in a second. Just that one tip will save me about two hours every time I prepare a Word file for Smashwords.

The book contains tons of images, and links to a bunch of video tutorials recorded by the author. Seriously, spending $2.99 on this book will save you time and, if you were planning to hire someone to format your eBook, money.

And yes, the book is impeccably formatted.

How to Format Your eBook for Kindle, NOOK, Smashwords, and Everything Else

About Sarah Ettritch

Canadian author Sarah Ettritch writes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books. She's also the author of Self-Publishing for Canadians, a comprehensive guide that teaches Canadians how to publish print and ebooks. Visit her at


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you so much for your detailed information. I am following through with your suggestion to use Paul Salvette’s ebook. I’ve done everything to format for Smashwords, but I need a book cover–here’s to hopeful conclusions/beginnings. I emailed Karen Woodward, fellow blogger and ebook author, and she, too was most helpful. Truly, a kind community of folks helping each other. My First Day is starting with an extra warmth of heart. —Barb–

  2. I’m glad you found the information useful, Barb. I agree–the self-publishing community is a generous and supportive one. I could never have published my first book without the advice and tips offered by experienced self-publishers.

    If you haven’t found anyone to do your cover yet, you might want consider Patty Henderson. I use her for my covers. You can reach her through her website at

  3. Thanks for the nice write-up, and I’m glad you found my scribblings useful. Please let me know if you have any questions about eBook formatting.

  4. My pleasure, Paul. Your book is so comprehensive that I couldn’t resist telling others about it! 🙂

  5. Peter Connor says:

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your piece. It was really interesting. Just letting you know about a friend of mines blog. Despite being a best selling author in the UK she has decided to self publish her book as an e-book in the US. Anyway, she’s blogging about her experience of the whole thing and I thought you, or your readers may be interested. The blog is I think writers like this are changing the game.
    Best Peter.

  6. Thanks for letting us know, Peter.

  7. I recently finished my first book, the “No-Carb Revolution”. I am already selling it as a pdf on my own site (check it out here: but I also want to put a version on Amazon.

    I came across a $97 product called ePubTemplates that says it will do all the conversion for me, but before I could get it I stumbled upon your delightful site which is telling me that for the price of a $2.99 ebook on Amazon by Paul Salvette and the FREE program Calibre that I will have everything I need to convert my book to the Kindle!

    There’s gotta be a catch somewhere, right?! It can’t be this easy, lulz!

    Thank you so much for your help in this area!

  8. Nope, no catch. I use a free program called eCub to convert my files to MOBI (Kindle) and ePub formats, but it requires some knowledge of CSS/XHTML to tweak the output. Paul’s book guides you through the process of preparing your files for Calibre, which is another common way of doing it.

    If you decide you need a paid tool, I’d check out Jutoh. It’s a spiffier version of eCub that doesn’t require any CSS/XHTML knowledge, and it’s only $39 USD.

  9. I like writing, and have a tremendous library of documents on my computer. That said, I like reading on my Kindle, especially at night. Right after I got it, I wanted to be able to move documents over and read them, then I found that it wasn’t as easy as it first sounds.

    That said, I did figure out a rather efficient process to do ‘all the above’, and it actually is free to do. First off, if you have WORD documents, then you can format the document to actually fit and display properly on a Kindle. Change your ‘paper size’ settings to A5 (instead of letter), then set your margins at .13 for top and sides, and .5 for bottom. This will give you a good presentation.

    Now that you have it formatted to size, you can use a very nice ‘total solution’ program to manage your Kindle, that can also convert WORD documents to MOBI format, that being Calibri. Calibri is free to download and use, and works great not only to manage your library (while not messing with your online Amazon library), and it also allows for online subscriptions of newspapers and journals, as well. It can also convert documents, albeit rudimentary, if you only have the right format…it comes out quite well.

    If you don’t want to dump a lot of money into making document reading on Kindle possible…this is the ‘free-est’ it can get.

  10. It sounds like you have a great system worked out for converting documents that you want to read on your Kindle. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

    (Did you mean Calibre, rather than Calibri? I can’t find a tool called Calibri that does what you’ve described.)