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How To Build A DIY E-Book

How To Build A DIY E-Book

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How To Build A DIY E-Book

145 pages
59 minutes
Aug 12, 2014


The simple and easy way for a new author to sell a book nowadays is to publish on one of the many digital book websites. But there's a catch. Publishing websites only want e-books in the finished form sold to readers.
That means all the publishing work falls in the lap of the author. Sure, a writer can pay someone do the job, but it's not necessary— you can do it yourself, get published, and start earning money. E-acceptable authors can earn up to 70% in royalties. This DIY E-book is an up-to-date explanation of how to create EPUB and Kindle e-books.
How To Build A DIY E-book uses itself as a model to explain the steps used to build an e-book by examining the "behind the scenes" digital instructions used in its own creation.
From manuscript to finished product, the DIY E-book shows you what to do—and you can copy from the examples to create instructions for your e-book. Only your author details and book content must be changed.
Become an independent publisher: desire to fulfillment in one book. What could be easier.

Aug 12, 2014

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How To Build A DIY E-Book - Bruce Anthony

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Bruce Anthony © 2013, 2014

ISBN 978-0-9784565-8-0 - 2013

ISBN 978-0-9937298-0-5 - 2014

All rights reserved.

Permission is granted to the original purchaser to copy the

example code pages for use in creating their own e-books.

Katie Books Canada

This book is intended for personal and individual use only.

If you wish to draw attention to the contents of this book,

please use a link to:

Cover e-book reader image © koya979 / Stock Photography

Table of Contents


Other Books

Title Page


The Good Ol' Days


Tools You Need

E-Book Images

Your Story


The Basic Page


The CSS File

The Cover Page Example

Validating HTML

The Work Process

Front Matter

The Title Page Example

Copyright Page Example

Book Contents Example

TOC Example

EPUB Folder Structure

The OPF File Example

The NCX File Example

Building an EPUB

Zipping the EPUB

Validating the EPUB

Kindle Previewer Testing

Documenting and Cleaning Up

Taking EPUBs Apart

2014 Update

The Good Ol' Days

Back in the good ol' days, authors worried about writing perfectly formatted manuscripts because anything less went straight into a publisher's waste bin. Writers were concerned with margins, headers, footers, titles and all the other things that distinguished a professionally written manuscript from amateur trash.

The good part was that if a manuscript was accepted, the publisher did all the rest of the work to turn an author's book-child into a best-seller. For that service, and the financial risk of printing copies in advance, publishers kept 80-85% of the proceeds. Authors needed representation, before they were published and an honest agent was paid 15-20% of the author's royalty. That left the author with 8-12% of the profits.

There are still many publishers who will be happy to do the work for you if you're willing to pay for their services. And many author representatives will promote an author's work for an up-front fee. But the chance of recouping your publishing costs from this type of vanity exercise is slim. You'll end up giving free samples to your friends and family, and storing dozens of boxes of unsold copies in your basement where they will slowly molder away.

With e-book publishing, you need to know how to do-it-yourself.

Important: Because this book contains and displays large sections of code, it is best viewed on a desktop computer. Adobe Digital Editions is recommended. It is a free download from: If read on a hand-held eReader, set the screen orientation to landscape and use the smallest font size available to view code examples.


The simplest, easiest and cheapest way for a new author to sell a book nowadays is to publish an e-book on one of the many digital publishing websites. But there's a catch.

E-book publishers don't want to do anything except sell your finished book. They don't want to bother with formatting or artwork, editing or proofreading, copy-writing or titling, indexing or linking, or anything that takes time or money. They want authors to submit finished e-books in the exact form sold to readers—or pay them for their trouble.

That means all the publishing work falls in the lap of the author. Sure, a writer can pay someone do the work, but it's not necessary—you can do it yourself, get published, and start earning money. E-acceptable authors can earn up to 70% or more in royalties

The DIY E-book provides a simple example of how to overcome the barrier of creating an e-acceptable book from a manuscript. The DIY E-book is self-explanatory. It uses itself as a model, and explains the sequence and instructions used to build it. You are shown how the DIY E-book was put together by examining the behind the scenes digital instructions used to present and display the book. The knowledge and skill you gain is yours forever, as is the pride of doing it yourself while other authors flounder, unpublished and unpaid, behind a barrier of inability and lack of knowledge.

The DIY E-book shows you what to do, AND you can copy directly from the examples to create instructions for your own book. You only have to fill in your particular details and add your own book content. What could be easier.

There is one more advantage to doing-it-yourself, you can keep up to date with changing standards and e-reader capability without depending on obsolete conversion software or the services of others. You'll be able to include the latest innovations in your state-of-the-art e-books when other authors are losing sales because their books can't live up to reader expectations. This DIY E-Book won't make you an expert, but it will give you a head start to becoming one.

Authors and literary people seldom understand digital technology. They're interested in other things. But technology rules our world so authors need to understand how to use the literary tools of today. DIY E-books starts at zero and assumes the reader knows nothing or very little about building e-books. The learning curve will seem steep and full of information because the reader must absorb some basic facts before it begins to make sense. A little perseverance is all it takes.

If putting an e-book together was all there was to learn, the task ahead would be simple. It would be prefaced with the need to learn some Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML); using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); and the steps needed to assemble an e-book. But—

HTML and EPUB standards are under development by separate groups proceeding at different speeds in the direction each believes is most important to their task. HTML and EPUB requirements are implemented by eReader operating systems developed by many different companies to support various reading devices, and the situation is further complicated by the millions of eReader devices in the hands of readers which do not meet current standards. Consequently, preparation of e-book code is in continuous flux. The creation of e-books is sometimes tricky in such a variable environment.

Where to Start

This book is not about writing, but that's where we're going to start. The first step in creating an e-book is to make sure your content is ready. The next step is to learn enough HTML and CSS to format your work. This is followed by creating the separate pages for the cover, copyright, title and table of content pages. Then we'll tackle the book content and linking it to the in-line table of contents. That is followed by HTML validation to make sure everything fits together and follows the HTML rules.

EPUB (.epub) and MOBI (.mobi) are the two principle file formats used by eReaders. EPUB is considered the standard e-book format and .epub files can be read on most e-book devices. The elephant in the room is the Amazon Kindle which uses the .mobi format. If it wasn't for the market presence of

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