Let me start by saying I’m not a very technical person. I know enough to get me into trouble and that’s it.
At first, I planned on paying someone to do this, but after spending a little more on the cover and promo graphics than budgeted, I decided to try to do it myself. As an indie publisher, I believe it’s better to learn to do as much as possible for yourself.
To those struggling, here’s how I managed to transform my manuscript into an e-book without spending a dime.
Software: Open Office, Google Docs, Sigil, Calibre
Hardware: Macbook Air running OSX Mavericks
Write your heart out in Open Office. Edit until your eyes bleed. Rinse and repeat until you’ve got a product ready to put on the market. You did this? Congratulations! The hard part is over.
You have a Google account right? Doesn’t everyone? If not, what are you waiting for? Get on that. It offers a buffet of helpful extras.
Ok. You’re set up with Google. Open up a fresh Google Doc file.
Go back to Open Office and Copy + Paste your first chapter into Google Doc. Google will automatically save your file, but you want to rename it. Go to File->Rename. Name it!
Now is when you’ll want to set up some things for future documents. Go to File->Page Setup. Here is where you set your margins. I use .7 on all four sides. Play around with it to see what works for you.
On the Page Setup screen you’ll notice a box in the lower right hand corner called “Save As Default”. Click it. This saves this layout for all the following pages.
After you Copy + Paste that first chapter, you’ll notice your paragraph indents have disappeared. Annoying, yes, but easy to fix. Go up to the ruler bar and move the little arrow to where you want your first line indent to be. I use a standard .5. Now comes the tedious part. You’re going to have to manually insert all your indents. It will try your patience, but it’s worth it later.
Copy + Paste each chapter into Google Docs as a separate file. Fix your paragraph indents. Do any page formatting to make it look how you want.
Save each of your Google Doc files in HTML. File->Download As->Web Page
Gentle readers, we’re halfway there. Sit back with your favorite beverage and give yourself a pat on the back.