Indie Publishing: Best software for creating eBooks


What Windows application can I use to create beautifully looking e-books, withe possibility to export in both PDF and Kindle?


There are a few options.

But first: PDF isn’t an ebook format. Please don’t make the mistake that others have by trying to sell a PDF file. If you want to create an ebook, there are two formats: ePub and Amazon’s format.  That’s it.  PDF is for creating fixed-format documents; eBooks are reflowable files that allow a reader to read them in the most comfortable way possible; larger font, smaller font, font they like to read the most, landscape or portrait, etc.  PDF files don’t play well with eReaders or apps, and they’re – ultimately – a format for making a document look the same on screen as it does if it were printed; it’s a print format, not an ebook format.

To your answer:

The first option is to use LibreOffice with the Writer2ePub extension.  This option is free.  I use it.  LibreOffice will allow you to create a file that isn’t full of the dreaded “Word Bloat” (Word really, Really, REALLY likes to put all kinds of unnecessary formatting into their files.  It’s a poor choice for creating an ebook, because any ebook converter will just convert all the extra stuff as well and you’ll end up with a HUGE file – and you’ll be charged for the extra MBs by virtually every eRetailer, including Amazon).  Build out your file in LibreOffice, create the PDF (that you won’t SELL, but that you will upload to Createspace so you have a physical book.  Your physical book is your loss leader), export the ePub and you’re mostly done.

You can get LibreOffice HERE.

You can get the Writer2ePub extension HERE.

The NEXT option is to use a terrific program like Scrivener.  I can’t recommend this program enough as a writing tool; it allows you to organize your thoughts, put everything where you want it, design your book, and create it.  Scrivener isn’t free – it’s $40 as of this writing (for Windows. It’s $45 for Mac) – but it is a terrific program and well worth the price.  If you’d like to get a discount for the product, sign up for NaNoWriMo.  You write 50,000 words in a month and you WIN!  One of the prizes is usually a 50% discount on Scrivener. I use Scrivener to write all of my novels, articles, and screenplays.  I don’t write in a linear fashion, so having a program where I can just write a scene or a specific chapter that happens later in a novel is a Godsend!

You can get Scrivener HERE for Windows or HERE for Mac.

Another great option is a program called Jutoh. Jutoh is an excellent tool for creating beautiful eBooks.  Some of my customers only want an eBook, so going through the process of building the book out in LibreOffice is kind of overkill; Jutoh allows you to quickly build out an ebook that is easily as good looking (if not BETTER looking) than any eBook from any major publisher.  Jutoh isn’t free; it’s $39.

You can get Jutoh HERE.

Once you’ve created you final document – unless you’re using Jutoh – run your eBook file through Kindlegen and you’ll have an ePub, Amazon format eBook, and PDF file for your physical book.  With these three files, you can upload your work to the Holy Trinity of Indie Publishing: Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Createspace.  KDP gets your work up on Amazon, Smashwords gets your ePub up on most every other major eRetailer. Createspace allows you to create a POD physical dead-tree book.

Those are the best options.  I use them, and I do this stuff for a living.

Leave a Reply