writing

Sigil: Software for ePub Creation

I’ve been composing a post as part of a larger thread on a forum I frequent regarding how I create e-books. And I thought, since a number of people out there are creating e-books for all sorts of reasons, that I would share some thoughts on my favorite piece of software for creating them: Sigil.

For the record, I currently create the initial ePub file by formatting inside LibreOffice (which has improved quite a bit from the first time I tried it), save as an HTML file, convert it to ePub format in Calibre, then tweak it in Sigil.

It sounds more time-consuming than it is. The whole process takes just a few hours. The formatting inside LibreOffice takes the longest, but even that has become streamlined because all the styles are set up beforehand, so it’s a mostly a matter of selecting and double-clicking, with some copy-paste here and there for front and back matter (the stuff before and after the actual story). Calibre is where I add the meta-data (which helps search engines find the book), the cover, and put in little things like “no spaces between paragraphs” and “preserve cover aspect ratio.”  In the past I would change the outputs so that each shop got its own version, but I’m finding that the best option is to go, for the most part, basic and generic. E-books are meant to be dynamic, and the more that gets added, the more headaches show up in the process.

(In fact, I think that’s a key attitude makers of e-books should have: e-books are not print books. It isn’t supposed to be static. It’s supposed to be dynamic. But I digress…)

Once the e-book is created, though, Sigil is my go-to from that point on. I change errors in it, create the table of contents in it, tweak the code, change the header size, confirm the font-family, etc. I even use Sigil for removing the cover for the Kindle version (which adds the cover automatically in the conversion process).

Sigil even has, as plug-ins, support for Epub 3 and FlightCrew, which allows you to check for errors without having to go to the EpubCheck site.

The best part is that Sigil is a WYSIWYG editor: you can flip between the code and a preview of what your finished book will look like, or you can make changes directly (like turning a line that has the paragraph tag into one with a header tag with a click to the appropriate header button at the top).

The only editor that comes close, imo, is the one that now comes with Calibre. It puts the preview and code next to each other so that you can see the changes as you make them, but it doesn’t have nearly the shortcuts that Sigil has…yet. Until it does, Sigil is still my go-to. *hugs screen*

Sigil is available for Windows and Mac. Last I heard, though, there was no official binary release for Linux for this latest version.

I hope you found this useful. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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