I’ve posted quite a bit about creating ePub files from Word files, but not much about creating Kindle books. The good news is that you don’t have to be technical to convert a Word file to a Kindle book.
Unless you’re going to pay someone to convert your file, your first step is to apply styles to your Word document. Conversion tools aren’t mind readers. If your Word file doesn’t contain any hints about how to format your chapter headings, your scene openings, etc., then don’t expect a tool to magically figure things out and generate a wonderfully formatted Kindle book. If you don’t know much about Word styles, your favourite search engine should be able to point you to helpful articles around the net.
You also don’t want your Word file formatted for a print book. You have to throw your notion of a “book” out the window when dealing with an eBook.
Once you’ve applied styles to your Word document, what options are available to convert the file to a Kindle book?
Amazon DTP will convert several file formats to the Kindle format, including Word files. To go that route, you have to sign up for an Amazon DTP account and set up a title. At some point in the setup process, Amazon will ask you to upload your file and will then convert it. You’ll be given the chance to preview the converted file, and if there’s a problem, you’ll have to tweak it. Visit the Amazon DTP forums for help.
Use Mobipocket Creator to convert your Word file to a MOBI file and upload the MOBI file to Amazon. Kindle books are actually MOBI files. So if you have Kindle for PC, you can use it to read MOBI files.
One advantage to all the methods that generate MOBI files is that if the MOBI file looks good, the Kindle file will look good, since they’re pretty much the same thing. So you can view the results and do any necessary tweaking before setting up your title with Amazon DTP.
Calibre is a popular tool that converts between many different document formats. If you look at the supported formats, you won’t see .doc there, but you will see TXT and PDF. So save your Word file as a TXT or PDF file and there you go. You can use Calibre to convert to a MOBI file.
Use one of the many other conversion tools out there. I posted about Jutoh in regard to creating ePub files, but it also creates MOBI files, and you can use its WYSIWYG editor to tweak the resulting files, if you want to fix any formatting problems.
If reading all this gave you a headache and you’d rather pay around $50 to have someone do the conversion for you, I’ve heard good things about the following two conversion companies: eBook Architects and Jim & Zetta.
You might also want to use a conversion company if your file contains lots of tables, images, or fancy formatting. Most of the conversion tools work best when dealing with text and simple formatting—a typical novel. Try out the different options, and if you’re not pleased with the results, consider paying someone (or tweak the generated files yourself).
See you in the Kindle store!