Creating Epub Ebooks with Sigil: #3 – Images, Metadata, TOC, Finalization

This is a last part of the Sigil tutorial by Paul Salvette. You’ll read about how to add images and metadata to an ebook, how to deal with table of contents, and finally – how to convert epub file to mobi format, if you want to make it available for Kindle devices.

You can read two previous articles here and here. For more helpful tips on ebook formatting, check Paul’s book How to Format Your eBook for Kindle, NOOK, Smashwords, and Everything Else.

Adding images

The EPUB format supports JPG, GIF, PNG, and SVG images. The JPG format is good for photographs and has a small file size, the GIF format is good for text, line art, and tables, and the PNG format has a large file size that is good for images you want to look sharp (like a company logo). To add an image click on this button in the menu:

Adding metadata and a table of contents

Metadata is information about the eBook that is embedded into the EPUB file. This includes the eBook’s title, author name, publishing date, etc. You can even add relatively obscure data like the name of your photographer. This metadata is important for search engine optimization (SEO) for potential readers to locate your eBook, so do not neglect it. To access the Metadata editor, click on “Tools” and then “Meta Editor”.

Many eBook retailers (like NOOK and iBookstore) require certain information in the metadata. As a best practice, you should add the following meta as a minimum: title, author, language, description (the back jacket blurb), date of publication, date of creation, and subject (you can add multiple subjects and they function like keywords). Some sample metadata is as follows:

The next step is to add a meta Table of Contents (also called the NCX Table of Contents). To do this, you simply pull up the Table of Contents under “View” or press Alt+F3. Then, you click on “Generate TOC from headings”. Sigil will look for anywhere that you defined text as “Heading X” and incorporate that into the Table of Contents.

Finalizing your EPUB and a trick to make a file for Kindle

Now you simply click “Save” and you will have a valid EPUB file. Try opening it on your PC using a program such as Adobe Digital Editions or NOOK for PC and see how it looks. If you aren’t happy with it, you can always adjust it in Sigil or learn about XHTML and CSS coding to accomplish more fine tuning of your eBook.

You may be disheartened that the Amazon.com Kindle Store does not accept the EPUB format. Amazon.com uses the proprietary AZW/PRC/MOBI formats for their eBooks rather than the open standard EPUB. However, it is a relatively simple process to convert and EPUB to MOBI, because they are quite similar formats. If you unzip your EPUB file using a program like 7-zip, you can open the content.opf file with MobiPocket Creator, which is free. Alternatively, you can use a command line program from Amazon.com called KindleGen to easily convert the EPUB format to MOBI format. If that is not working for you, try using the open source eBook management system Calibre.

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Thank you very much to Piotr for allowing me to guest post, and I hope that this quick tutorial on Sigil will be helpful for the self-publishing community. If you want to learn more about eBook formatting, please visit my website at http://PaulSalvette.com or say hello on Twitter @PaulSalvette.

Paul Salvette is an author who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, with his wife, Lisa, and newborn daughter, Monica. He grew up in the United States and served in the Navy from 2002 to 2009, with some time in Iraq. His day job involves working at a Thai foundation that focuses on poverty eradication, philanthropy, and education. He hopes to stay in Thailand until he is deported or dies of natural causes, whichever comes first.

Learn more about Paul at http://paulsalvette.com or follow him on Twitter @PaulSalvette.

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