Self-pubs, have you discovered Jutoh? Jutoh is an elegant and inexpensive piece of software ($39 USD) that allows you to convert Word docx files or ODT files (for those of you using Open Office) to EPUB and Mobi ebook formats, without tearing your hair out. And the creator, Julian Smart (aptly named), provides incredible customer support should you run into any snags. Case in point: I ran into a little snag when I was using Jutoh to create an ebook, and Julian Smart tweaked and updated the program. Now that’s customer service. I really can’t say enough about this tool (or its creator).
I recently formatted a nonfiction ebook that contained lots of images, lots of heading levels, bulleted and numbered lists, and plenty of internal and external hyperlinks—a potential ebook formatting nightmare. Jutoh managed all of this rather handily. The beauty of Jutoh is that it allows you to begin with the tool that many authors are already using: Microsoft Word. If you know how to properly format your book in Word using Word Styles, getting from docx to EPUB or Mobi is dead easy.
To borrow an expression from author Karen Bergen, if you don’t “have a hot sweet clue” about what I mean by Word Styles, check out the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker. (For those of you following this blog who have taken our Editors and Ebooks course, you know everything you need to know to begin using Jutoh).
Below is my current Word-to-Jutoh workflow. Unless otherwise stated, I performed most of these steps in Word 2010.
1. Tag any special formatting that you’d like to retain, such as headings, italicized and boldface words, and hyperlinks. JW Manus suggests a system for tagging special formatting. Use what works for you. The idea is that you want to be able to search and replace for these items later.
2. Nuke your Word doc. Word is infamous for creating formatting gremlins that can show up in your ebook. Zap ’em. Copy your entire book into Notepad (comes with Windows) or another text editor and paste it into a brand new Word document. I then execute a Clear All from the Word Styles menu for good measure. A bit much? Maybe. But I’ve noticed that a nuke doesn’t always remove hidden fonts. How do I know? CrossEyes (free for PC users) helps me to see what lies beneath…
3. Clean up any extra uses of the space bar and Enter key, such as extra spaces between words and after end punctuation, or extra paragraph spaces. Clean up tabs, too. You can use a copyeditor’s trick and do this automatically by using tools like the Editorium’s File Cleaner or the Wiley Publishing Cleanup Tool (free). You can also use Word’s Find and Replace feature to clean up extra tabs and spaces.
4. Set heading and paragraph styles in Word. If you want to use an indented paragraph style, be sure to set your indents in your paragraph style. Use fonts that are ebook-friendly and copyright free. Times New Roman is always a safe bet. Remember, readers can adjust fonts on their e-readers—you want to choose a font that plays nicely with conversion software.
6. Insert images into your Word file (Insert > Image). Images can really increase your file size so remember to compress them. You can compress them in your image editor by setting the image quality to 75% or you can compress them in Word 2010 using the Picture tool.
7. Insert external, or off-book hyperlinks where you’ve tagged them. Shorten links using a link shortening service, like bit.ly. Shortened links have a better chance of surviving your chosen distributor’s converter.
9. Page through your document with with the Show/Hide feature activated (Pilcrow). Look for any extra spaces you may have missed (or re-introduced—it happens).
10. Import your file to Jutoh. If you’ve carefully formatted your document in Word, your file will import almost seamlessly, with styles, images, and hyperlinks attached. Tip: some font styles won’t import. If you use the ebook-friendly fonts recommended by the Jutoh manual, your fonts will transfer over.
Bottom line: Julian Smart has designed Jutoh to play nicely with Word. If you follow good ebook formatting practices in Word, your book file will convert seamlessly.