Creating a Kindle E-Book using Sigil and Google Drive (Formally Google Docs)

Note: this guide assumes you have an understanding of how to use the free e-book creator software, Sigil. Do not attempt to create the HTML file using MS Word (or a similar software), as, while on the surface it appears to do the same as Drive, it is not and can mess up your formatting.

Step 1: write all of the text you want to be included in your e-book (including text such as the title page, copyright page, acknowledgements, etc.) and make sure to use whatever formatting, such as bold and italics, is needed. Also, ensure that you're using Drive's "styles" at the top to set your text's size and font. If you don't follow that last bit, your HTML file won't show the font and font size you expect it to. Trust me, I learnt this the hard way.

For me, I make the “normal text” style Times New Roman pt. 12 and my “title” style pt. 21. Your own styling is up to you, but this is what I use.

Step 2: go to “File” and then “Download as” and select “Web page”.

Step 3: open up the downloaded HTML file and ensure that all of your formatting is correct and that it looks how you want it to.

Step 4: open up Sigil and either create your own file from scratch (creating appropriate sections for each “page/section” of your book or use my e-book template.

Step 5: Once you have created and named each section, go to your HTML file and simply copy and paste parts of the text from the HTML document into each section.

Step 6: now you have to add semantics to each section by right-clicking on them. All of the semantics are self-explanatory, except the one named “Text”, which simply identifies which page to send the reader to when they select “Go to Beginning” in the Kindle “Go To” menu. Technically, this choice is up to you, but I choose this to be the first page of my story content, which, if you’re using chapters, would be either chapter one or your prologue page.

Step 7: now we need to add the “virtual” Table of Contents (ToC). This is separate from your actual ToC, which may or may not be a section in your book with hyperlinked text for each item, linked to each associated section using Sigil, depending on your decision to include one. The virtual ToC may or may not be available to the reader, depending on the e-reader or application (for example, the Kindle mobile app does not grant access to the virtual ToC, but the PC application does). If you look at the template's virtual ToC, there are only two items in the list. This is because I wanted the Kindle Go To menu and virtual ToC to match, but you can add each of your book’s pages/section if you want.

Step 8: now you need to add your meta data. Now, granted, you can add as much info here as you want, but for Kindle it doesn’t really seem to do much. The only meta data which is required is a title and the author’s name and the automatically-generated modification date. Besides, Amazon asks you to fill out all of this information before uploading the file.

Notes: for uploading the EPUB file to Kindle for publication, do not include a book cover image/page, as Amazon required you to upload that as a separate image. They will add the book cover page themselves during the conversion process.

My experience with publishing to Kindle has learnt me that the Kindle e-book format itslelf can be hit-and-miss. When reading the e-book offline (meaning through the file, not when buying it from Kindle), the Go To menu for “Beginning” sends the user to the actual ToC page, instead of the beginning page when reading it on an Android phone (Nexus 4 to be specific). This is odd, as the “online” version works correctly. In addition, according to Amazon's Previewer software (used to see how an e-book will look on different Kindle devices), the first page to appear when opening the book for the first time, is inconsistent. This “issue” also applies to the Go To menu. Conversing with members of the KDP community reveals that this is a common occurrence and they say that the Kindle Previewer is not always representative of the reading experience on the actual device.

If you have any questions, concerns or contradictions, please leave a comment or contact me via e-mail.

E-book template:
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