How-to format your manuscript for Kindle KDP on a MAC

On the road to self-publishing a small collection of twisted fairy tales I stumbled upon the formatting for Kindle issue. That really is a feat if you have to go about it the traditional way, i.e. stripping the entire document from its fancy formatting, or turn it into an HTML file. This goes for uploading to the Kindle self-publishing site at least. Smashwords seems to be much easier, but that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve been reading up on the topic and found I needed a crash course in HTML before I could even begin imagining ever getting the formatting of my stories right. How terrible is that? The stories are written, edited, polished and have the lot checked and re-checked by a professional editor—who did a great job by the way and anyone looking for a line-editor who knows his stuff and doesn’t charge the skin off your back, drop me a note and I’ll hook you up with David. My work is ready to be transformed into my very first ebook. And what do I discover? It’s sheer hell to get the formatting for Kindle right. I’ve been sweating over it for days and what do I find after searching for an easier way? I hadn’t need to go through all that trouble. It can be much faster and less difficult.

Go to the KDP site and download Kindlegen for Mac. It comes with a very difficult description of how to install it, but ignore that and just follow these instructions on Youtube. Which basically comes down to drag and drop the extracted .zip folder to where ever you want to have it, open the Applications/Utilities folder and start up the Terminal. Drag and drop the Kindlegen.exe file into the Terminal and do that with the file you want to convert too, press enter and you’re done.

Now you can test the outcome by opening your Kindle Previewer and read the Kindle .mobi file.

At least that was true until I found out that when you have Scrivener—which I do—on your Mac it becomes a piece of cake, a walk in the park—a sunny park.

What do you have to do to get to that sunny park? Not much really. Download Kindlegen, drag the extracted .zip to where you want to have it and you’re all set, because the first time you select compile in Scrivener and choose “format as ebook” and “compile for Kindle ebook” a screen will pop up asking you if the location for Kindlegen is right or if it needs changing. If you haven’t moved it since after the download and first move it should work. Click compile and Scrivener does it all for you!

Check on the Previewer, or even better on your Kindle device. I haven’t got one myself, so I had to ask two good friends—thank you Lorry and Devon for checking both the slaved over version and the Scrivener one—who do own one, to see if the formatting came out fine. It did, and I am even more please with Scrivener than I already was.

Now I only need to find out how to combine the shorts into one book with a table of contents. That will be part two of this series. Shoot! I’m writing a how-to series.

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