Following the success of our last article on ebook editing tools, we decided to create an Ebook formatting 101 with the most popular book editing services. If you are aiming for a valid epub, we usually direct people towards the professional Sigil.
Although it is not difficult to use, many people feel disheartened when they are asked to edit some html or change something in the css. I don’t blame them. Creating beautiful epubs is a serious profession, especially if you are trying to convert picture-heavy or interactive books. Today, however, there are multiple great, accessible and easy-to-use options at the table.
You don’t need to learn how to code (or how to set the margin, for that matter), as Reedsy Book Editor can do this for you. The online author-marketplace (pairing writers, published authors, professional editors, etc.) has a free and easy to use ebook editor. On top of the smooth editing process, it exports into a valid epub or print-ready pdf.
(If you need your manuscript converted to an epub during your publishing process, PublishDrive can do it for you: simply save it as a .docx file, and drag & drop it to the “Content file” field.)
To use Reedsy Book Editor, you’ll have to register at the author website, or simply sign up with Facebook or Google. Don’t worry, it is free to use! It took me a while to actually find the book editor once I was in: it is hidden in the left panel, under My books.
Just enter the title of your book to start!
Unfortunately, you can’t simply drag and drop your whole book there. You’ll either have to use the book editor to write your book (if you are OK with writing it in their cloud instead of MS Word or Google Docs, or wherever people write nowadays); save your chapters separately in Word and drag and drop them to the platform; or simply copy and paste it in.
If you decide to drag and drop your chapters or copy and paste it, don’t worry: your formatting will stay as you intended it to stay.
Format your book
In order for the typesetting to work properly, your formatting options are limited: you can choose between standard paragraph (‘normal’) style, three levels of headings, quote, lists and some basic character formatting.
From the typesetter’s point of view, this is like a dream: there is nothing that can go wrong! This layout is perfect for a professional, style-based formatting.
As a user, however, I sometimes miss some fairly simple features. For example, while Reedsy generates your copyright page automatically, it still gives you the option of adding your own front matter. However, that extra front matter looks rather dodgy, with forced first-line indents.
Reedsy Book Editor is not only a good solution if you have a fiction novel, but can work with some non-fiction or short story picture books as well. I really like their way of handling notes: you enter the note at the top of the page, and it goes to a ‘notes’ section. You can decide between having your notes at the end of the book or at the end of the chapter upon exporting.
Unfortunately the app is still very beta, so neither of the other amazing-looking functions work just yet: I miss ‘insert chapter break’, but I can probably enter *** by myself
Add front matter
To insert your data in the front matter, go to the export (download) page and select ‘book settings’. You can enter the title, subtitle, author’s pen name, edition, description, different kinds of ISBNs (for the print, epub or mobi versions), upload your cover, credit your contributors (translator, illustrator) and your publisher.
All the information you give here will be included in the automatically generated copyright page.
Export your book
Once you set everything, go back to the export page in the left panel.
Select the level of Table of Contents you require and choose from some additional features, such as drop caps and hiding chapter numbers.
You can select the positioning of the end notes after you have selected the file format. Choose a template—there are currently three options with different fonts—then press export.
Reedsy will email your file within a few minutes. It looks professionally edited—except for the aforementioned front matter. After checking the book visually, I also check it using the official epub validator, and it passes.
Convert Your Book Free
By the way, you can use PublishDrive’s free ebook converter here. All you need to do is have your .docx file ready and simply upload it. The simple tool will convert it to a high-quality mobi or epub file.
Don’t forget to prepare your manuscript before. This includes checking for items such as numbered lists, page numbers, paragraph indents, and more. For an informative guide on formatting your file, see here.
If you already did the work, take a look at this list to ensure you haven’t missed anything:
- There’s no break between numbered items
- Automatic lists are signaled with dashes
- Page numbers are removed from the footer and header
- Table of Contents is generated with an Automatic table
- Unnecessary forced line breaks are removed
- Double spaces are removed
- Double paragraph breaks are removed
- New chapters start on new pages
- Tabs are not used for aligning paragraphs
- Image wrapping is off
- Footnotes are converted to endnotes
- By default, the body is styled as “Normal”
- All headings are marked (e.g. “Heading 1”)
Once you’re ready with everything, be sure to check out PublishDrive, a platform with various publishing services. You can get your published book(s) distribute to thousands of stores worldwide. It’s free to create an account: