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The question I would like to ask is this: does anyone else have their own process (or one borrowed from elsewhere) that they use for formatting and then creating their e-books? Are you using other software tools besides Calibre to create your e-book files?

I am currently using Guido Henkel's formatting guide for putting together my e-books, but I have modified it slightly. Having an extensive background in html, I didn't really need the primer on html formatting. However, once we get to the part where he has you copy everything to Notepad+ and then create the file in Calibre, I pretty much stick to everything he says.

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Is there something you find inadequate about the process you're using? Like, are you looking for a solution, or just sharing? –  Kate Sherwood Jul 21 '11 at 20:28
    
No, I just wanted to know if anyone was aware of any other tools that might be more effective/efficient. I do all my writing in MS Word, but I don't trust their conversion to html, so I do that part manually. If anyone knows of a better way to get the html portion to load into Calibre, I'd like to hear about it. –  Steven Drennon Jul 21 '11 at 20:40
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I do all my composition with MiKTeX. I like the output options. I usually just make pdfs, but the community is working toward an eBook oriented output format. –  KitFox Jul 22 '11 at 0:16
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Scrivener will export your manuscript as an e-book. I use it on a Mac, but I understand there will be a Windows version if there isn't already.

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So you create your manuscript in Scrivener instead of MS Word or some other word processor? I haven't ever used Scrivener, but I've heard good things about it. –  Steven Drennon Jul 22 '11 at 3:51
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Absolutely. Word and word processors are a thing of the past for me. Check the link and look at the features. –  Robusto Jul 22 '11 at 10:59
    
I just went and got the beta version of Scrivener for Windows. It looks very impressive, and I like that it can export directly to mobi and epub formats. Thanks for the tip! –  Steven Drennon Jul 22 '11 at 15:13
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This may come across as a bit odd, and like a lot of work, but I do all of my writing in a WordPress blog. I am producing 2-4 ebooks a month for clients right now, so I needed a system that was efficient in the long run, if work intensive to set up.

Organization

I create a new category for each work and subcategories for chapters. I use an exceptionally minimal theme that was simple to modify to use my own css class naming conventions and html tags.

Manual Workflow

My original workflow required that I view-source and copy/paste the relevant portion into a text editor. The benefit was everything had the correct css classes and html tags already.

Beyond the Manual Workflow

I've since written a plugin that will take an pull all of the subcategories out of a main category and compile it into a single html document and embed my default styles.

Tertiary Benefits

  • Versioning
    • Using WP to write also nets me the benefit of auto version saving so I can always go back and check out where I've been.
  • Existing Plugins
    • There are also a number of WP plugins that I find extremely useful like language complexity analysis, passive voice checking and some style checkers.
  • Customization
    • The immense power of WP's plugin engine means that you can really make it do just about anything you'd like it to.
    • I wrote a plugin that essentially does 90% of the manual work for me. I usually end up opening the output file in DreamWeaver and customizing the css a bit before submission to my clients.
    • Some of my clients require documents delivered in LaTeX format. I was able to write a plugin that also exports in that format as well.
  • Body of Work
    • Using WP also allows me to store my entire body of work in my WP database. It is searchable, well indexed and available on anything from my desktop to my telephone.
    • This centralization also makes it very easy for me to ensure my work is backed up by a world class technology company.
  • Note Taking
    • I also use my WP for taking notes on things I am either writing about or thinking about writing about. I find this to be very convenient.

Conclusions

I find the manual method to be more efficient than MS Word. The automation I now have is so much better that I shudder at the thought of losing it.

--Edit-- I just finished reading the link that the OP gave as their process. I basically do the same thing but I use my WP tools to handle most of it. I agree that controlling the html and CSS is the only way to ensure that you are getting what you want.

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This sounds like a very interesting process, and I can see how it would work. However, I feel that it introduces more work rather than saves work, which is ultimately what I was hoping for. –  Steven Drennon Aug 31 '11 at 17:50
    
My workflow goes something like this. Create a new category for my new project. Start writing posts in that category. Add posts to subcategories which might be chapters or sections. When I'm ready to output it, I open my plugin page and it gives me back a zip file with everything I need. I point calibre at that and you know the rest from there I'm sure. This system works especially well for me due to volume. If you aren't producing multiple books/month then it's probably more setup work than it's worth. Because I do a high volume it is an indispensable part of my workflow. –  JS Maxwell Sep 1 '11 at 16:01
    
Scrivener is pretty good, though it's export features don't offer much control. I had to keep extracting the output epub file and fixing it and then repackaging it again. But if you aren't doing more than a few books a year, it's not a bad option. The organization features are awesome during the writing process though. I really enjoy using scrivener + OneNote for research intensive projects. I don't use all that many of scrivener's features so I'm certain I'm not using it to its full potential. –  JS Maxwell Sep 1 '11 at 16:04
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I use LaTeX for any and all writing, short, long, mathematical or otherwise. It gives fantastic control to the user and you can set the output to be any one of a myriad of types, including pdfs of all sizes. Here is a showcase of some of its capabilities. Also, this is a nice compendium of examples.

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This looks interesting, but ultimately what I am looking for is a quicker and easier way to get to a finished .mobi or .epub file, and I didn't see anything that indicated the ability to export to those formats. –  Steven Drennon Jul 22 '11 at 15:17
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I use LaTeX for (almost) all of my writing. Since I am a fan of using \include statements to structure my longer works (essentially one file per chapter), I ended up rolling some code to emit 9among other formats) EPUB files. –  Vatine Jul 28 '11 at 14:49
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