Another question I get a lot is how to edit our existing ebooks in order to correct small mistakes. (Another reason you might want to download an already-published ebook is to update the back matter with links to new releases.)
While I enjoy paginating my own print editions, I prefer to have someone else create my ebooks. There are little things that can go wrong with ebook creation that causes issues for readers on older devices. I swear by the folks at Polgarus Studio. You get perfect .epub and .mobi files without paying an arm and a leg.
But sometimes you just need to make a small fix to an existing file. For this tutorial, I started with an email from Amazon notifying me of errors in one of my ebooks. I then show you how to download that ebook file, convert it to an .epub with Calibre (download here), and then edit it with Sigil (download here).
Both programs are free. Donate to the developers if you can!
29 replies to “Fixing Typos in Your Uploaded Amazon E-Books”
I like Sigil, but the project was abandoned earlier this year, and I’d suggest learning Calibre’s book editing tools instead. They’re committed to making it a full-featured toolset, and I’ve been using it for all my books.
Basically where you go to Sigil (at 8:20), you can right click on the book and hit “Edit Book” in the drop down menu, and it will already be open.
It’s fairly similar in the way it looks and works. You can search and check your results directly in your Calibre file.
Wow! Good to know. I’ll play around and may update the video to reflect. Thanks, Andrew.
That’s too bad. I really liked Sigil. I had a hard time getting the hang of Calibre. :(
Guess I’m going to have to put my big girl pants on and learn it now.
After checking out Sigil’s blog, I can understand where that idea came from, but I think the report of its death was an exaggeration…
Sigil is open source and the original programmer hasn’t had time to keep it current. On top of that, Google Code has stopped allowing new downloads. They’ve moved the code and another programmer has graciously stepped up to help fix bugs and update the software.
Per the blog: “Sigil isn’t dead. It’s recently had a lack of contributors making development stalled. As long as people are willing to contribute to Sigil it will continue to evolve and move forward.”
They just released an update in November, so it looks like things are still moving over at Sigil.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Hugh.
I thought you (Hugh) used Scrivener as your word processor. Is there something you found with it’s publishing function that is a problem with creating epub or mobi files? Just wondering as I’m in the midst of writing a novel and was planning on using Scrivener as a publishing tool.
I don’t like Scrivener as a writing tool. It works for others, but for me, it’s too cluttered and distracting. And I don’t like the chapters being broken up into separate documents. Again, that’s just my preference. Plenty of people swear by Scrivener.
Thanks so much for this, Hugh. If you ever get sick of writing you’d make a great teacher!
Thanks for this Hugh. In SIGIL there is a book-view preview pane you can open and leave open so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth, if you have the monitor real estate its pretty handy.
Just a quick question about the HTML of your book. I noticed that you used straight quotes in your text but that they came out as curly quotes when you previewed. What is this dark magic where you don’t have to use “ and ” ? And just in case this blog converts HTML I’m talking about the Ampersand l d q u o ; HTML code for left curly quote.
Hah, it did convert the HTML. Glad I added that last sentence.
I thought it was the previewer doing that. But maybe it’s in the style sheet? I don’t know.
The straight-quotes to smart-quotes is one of the things we fix when formatting :)
I used to use Sigil, and then Calibre for my conversions. Now that Calibre has the ebook editor, I use that and it’s simplified my process flow tremendously. It’s still a little quirky, but so far it works great!
I hope you are keeping copies of all your writing advice, I imagine there are thousands of writers who would buy that collection if you ever make a book on writing. Maybe not this year, maybe in a few years if the well of ideas ever runs dry you can do it…
Wish you did more of these. They’re great.
Awesome! I was looking forward to this vid, very useful info all the way ’round, and I *really* appreciate the added bonus tip about Polgarus – I formatted my first ebook myself and it cost me a LOT in terms of time and stress – now that I know there is a reasonable alternative, my upcoming books will almost certainly be in their hands. Thanks Hugh!
I have developed a streamlined workflow that lets me go straight from MS Word to MOBI (Amazon) and EPUB (Smashwords). I fix typos, bump the version number in my Copyright notice, and upload. Seems to work well. I’ve never received complaints from folks using older readers, probably because my books are fairly simply, primarily text.
I can’t thank you enough for this. I’m generally hopeless with technology, but I needed to add back matter to several books and wanted to learn to do it myself rather than pester the formatters every month. One book down with no yelling or pounding on the table ~ my family thanks you!
I swear by LiberWriter. I can go back in after publication of Kindle version and change anything, as often and as many times as I like and re-upload back to Kindle Direct Publishing.
I know how to fix typos in an e-book. What I *DON’T* know how to do is get Amazon to upload those fixes in a timely fashion. Every time I submit a revision to a book, it takes them like 8 weeks to push it through.
And one time, I uploaded a revision so critical (fixing display on Android devices) that I asked that it be offered to previous buyers as an upgrade. Amazon played me out for a month before basically flat-out refusing. They did the same thing later when I wanted to update the book to add new frontmatter. I just wound up sending out the new version out for free to all my mailing list users.
It’s really frustrating, to feel ignored. Like, I can upload a new book and start selling it and it’s all automated…but if I want to offer an optional free update to people who have already given me money, suddenly Amazon has to have a human being vet that personally?
This was SUPER helpful! No more sending it back to the formatter and paying another fee each time I need a change. Thank you!
Thank you! Just sat down and followed this step-by-step. One more thing off my to-do list (although two more things went on it while I was doing this!). Appreciate your generous support of other writers.
You, sir, have just saved my butt. Thank you.
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Is there something you found with it’s publishing function that is a problem with creating epub or mobi files? Just wondering as I’m in the midst of writing a novel and was planning on using Scrivener as a publishing tool.
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