Eping Wang of Epingsoft was kind enough to provide me with a license for his ePub Maker application, so I could try it out. ePub Maker converts Word documents to ePub books. I used my fantasy novel as a test case. I converted the Word file that I uploaded to Smashwords.
- It’s easy to use. You load your Word document into ePub Maker, press “Make ePub,” and voila, you have an ePub file
- It has a friendly user interface
- All formatting is preserved
- It has an option for starting chapters on a new page and generates a linked Table of Contents. To take advantage of the auto-chapter split feature, you have to mark each chapter as a new section in Word, but it took me literally five minutes to go through my Word file and mark each chapter
- You can include a book cover
- The licensed version costs $39. If you don’t buy a license, you can still generate ePub files, but an ePub Maker advertisement is inserted after each chapter
- The generated ePub file doesn’t pass epubcheck, a program that checks ePub files for compliance with the ePub standard
- I didn’t see an option for saving a project, so you have to re-enter book information every time you want to regenerate an epub
- As I mentioned, I tried the product with a fantasy novel—straight text, no fancy formatting beyond italics, no images. If you have an image-heavy book, a lot of mathematical equations, or other special formatting requirements, the generated ePub may or may not be formatted as well. You’ll have to download the trial version and try it out.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to convert Word files so you can read them on your eReader, ePub Maker might be for you. But if you’re a self-publisher wanting to convert your Word files so you can submit them to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and other stores that require ePub files, ePub Maker isn’t ready. Places like Apple will reject files that fail epubcheck.
There’s also the $39 price tag. But hey, if you’re not tech-savvy and you’d have to hire someone to convert your books for you, ePub Maker is a bargain (once the epubcheck problem has been fixed). It will cost you at least $50 (probably more) for someone to convert ONE book. In that light, $39 for ePub Maker could save you a lot of money in the long run.
But unfortunately I can’t recommend it for self-publishers until the epubcheck problem is fixed. I reported the problem to Eping Wang. At first he said that he wasn’t planning to do anything about it, since the epubcheck messages aren’t serious and the generated files can still be read on eReaders. That’s all true. But…
I responded that if he hopes to target the self-publishing market, the generated ePub files have to be compliant; otherwise they’re useless to those hoping to submit them to online bookstores. He wasn’t aware that bookstores are strict about compliance and use epubcheck as part of their validation process. Now that he is, he’s planning to work on the problem.
This is definitely a tool worth watching.