Many options exist for how to publish on Kindle, and making changes to a book that has already been published comes with its own set of challenges. Novelist Larry Crane would like to share some tips and tricks he’s learned along the way.
How to Revise Your Published Kindle eBook – Is that Clear?
My “Perfectly Prepared” eBook Turned Out Not to Be Perfect
I submitted my eBook to Amazon at the beginning of June this year, thinking it was as good as I could get it. After a month or so, I discovered some problems with the book of my own making. I revised it and re-submitted. On the following morning, it was “up” on Amazon with all of my corrections. Great. However, I had spent hours trying to figure out how to do it. In this post, I will explain how I finally accomplished this revision. It may make someone else’s revision easier.
Narrowing the Focus
Rather than trying to provide comprehensive instructions covering every possible situation, I will restrict my focus to my specific case, one that fits a lot if not most people publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing. First, I have a Windows PC. Second, I originally submitted a mobi file to Amazon that I paid someone to prepare for me. This should be a warning sign to readers who are having problems with complex formatting issues. My instructions are not for you. My revisions were all simple deletions, corrections, and rewording. Nothing complicated.
Trying to Make Changes to a Mobi File is Too Complex
No matter what format you used in submitting your book to Amazon initially, once Amazon successfully converts it, it exists in mobi format on your computer, assuming that you downloaded a copy from Amazon. Now you want to make simple changes to it. This is the file you make changes on. You correct your file, then you upload it to Amazon and it is converted by them, overwriting the original file.
To this day I still do not know how to open a mobi file for editing. Everyone knows it’s simplicity itself to “unzip” the mobi file as some Google whiz instructs, correct? Well, not really. It’s more complicated than that. At least to me it is. I recommend you work with an ePub file to make your corrections. It is easy. Let me tell you how.
Download Helper Programs From the Internet
You need to download two free programs from the internet. Calibre is a comprehensive program that among many other cool things can “move existing content and layout from one format to another.” It can convert a mobi file into an ePub file. This is essential because there is a second program that makes it possible to revise a document that is in ePub format. It’s called Sigil.
To use Calibre to convert your mobi file to Epub format, you select Add a Book from the calibre menu. You navigate in your computer to your mobi file and select it (click on it) as the book you’re adding. It now appears in the Calibre Library. You then highlight your mobi book in the Calibre Library. Select Convert Books from the Calibre menu. The Conversion Window Opens. Make “MOBI” the input format and “EPUB” the output format in the Conversion Window. Click “Okay” at the bottom of the window. Voila.! You now have your book in ePub format. Now you can make your corrections using Sigil.
Go to Sigil. Select File Open and navigate on your computer to your ePub Book. Click on it and wait for it to open in Sigil. The program creates sections of the book that are listed on the left. Click on the sections to locate the part of your book you want to revise. Make your simple revisions. A this point, I recommend saving one copy of your revised Epub file to your desktop for uploading to Amazon, and another identical copy to a folder on your computer where you can easily find it should you want to make other revisions to your book in the future using Sigil without having to convert it first.
It is at this point that you go to Amazon and follow the instructions for submitting your book, just as you originally did. When you reach step 6 of the KDP instructions for correcting your book after it’s been published, it’s your corrected ePub file on your desktop that you can upload from your computer, even if the original file you submitted was not an ePub file, as was the case with me. Amazon will convert this ePub file of yours. And as Amazon says: “The new converted file will overwrite the old file within 24-48 hours”. Is this all perfectly clear?
Have you had to revise a published Kindle file? How was your process similar or different than the one Larry just described?
You can connect with Larry Crane and his social websites via his blog
Larry’s thriller, A Bridge to Treachery, and his new collection of short stories and plays can be purchased via Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Transplanted Mid-westerner Larry Crane brings a Heartland sensibility to his writing. Larry graduated from West Point and served nearly seven years in the Army. He commuted to Wall Street for nearly 20 years from his home in New Jersey, and did much of his early writing on the train. His writing includes articles for outdoor magazines, plays, short fiction, and his most recent thriller novel, A Bridge to Treachery. In his spare time, Crane is a hobbyist videographer for his local Public Access Television Station and is a volunteer at his local historical society. Larry and wife Jan live in splendid isolation on the coast of Maine.
All other images and permissions appear courtesy of Larry Crane.
Great information! I haven’t had to update my eBook file, but this information is good to know.
When I created my eBook, I formatted it in HTML and then converted it to Mobi and uploaded. Calibre is a great FREE software to use when it comes to conversions.
Your steps will help others, and I’m going to check out Sigil.
Very cool advice. This may be helpful to me someday! Thanks Jeri, and Larry!
Tank you, thank you, thank you. I am working on a few books at the moment. I have bookmarked this for the future because I KNOW I will need this.
Hi Susan – No matter how many times you go over your manuscript, something always pops up as an error. Then you just have to fix it. When you publish on Amazon and discover an error, you’ll never rest until you fix it.
Will it only take an epub file for the corrections upload? When I put up my book I did it in HTML. Amazon did the conversions from there.
Hi Jon – I submitted my revised version in ePub, and Amazon converted it and overwrote the previous version. This doesn’t mean that they only take ePub for revisions, but it just seems to me that revisions are so easy using Sigil that it is a good way to go, no matter what format you originally submitted to Amazon.
That’s a nice explainer, Larry. It’s also worth noting that Amazon will work with a Microsoft Word document as well. You can upload it as Word and Amazon will convert it. Then, if you have to make changes, you can just make changes to the Word file.
Sounds like if you pay someone to convert it, you may want to ask for the HTML version (which is probably what they used to convert it to mobi) as well as the mobi version, and then you can make changes to the HTML version and use Calibre to convert that back to mobi for upload to Amazon.
Hi RJ – What you say is correct, but I guess my whole point is that doing your revisions on an ePub file in Sigil is so direct, intuitive and easy, that all other choices pale in comparison. I wanted to make revisions but I couldn’t deal with doing it on the mobi file. You seem far more advanced than I am. If other readers of this are intimidated by revisions methodologies they may find in Google or other places, can probably handle the method I laid out as a last resort.
mthod I’ve laid out
Thanks for the info Larry. Like Jon just mentioned, I too have formatted my two eBooks in HTML and then uploaded them to the Kindle store. From there, Amazon does the necessary conversions. When I’ve made corrections to my publications, I always correct the original World file first, and then reformat it into an HTML file.
It’s my understanding that ePub files can be uploaded for use on various devices, such Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s eBook storefronts. Is this correct?
I’ve yet to offer my titles on more than just Amazon, so I know I still have a lot to learn!
Hi Jeri – HTML intimidates me. I can work in Word, but my word processing favorite has been Word Perfect. Word Perfect then converts a file to Word after I’m done with it. I’m beginning to work with Scrivener, so more adventures are in the offing.
Well I am glad I am going to be writing any books. I don’t know where I find the time to blog. I envy people that can write like you do. What is amazing to me is that Amazon is a machine and was able to make the corrections immediately. Now that is cool.
I use Calibre myself to create .MOBI files. I am not familiar with the other program. Because I use a Mac I have to jump through extra hoops when uploading to Amazon. Using a PC makes things much easier.
Excellent information to share. I bet authors get stuck all the time trying to make revisions and are unable to access their books. I hope I need to use the information myself one day…well I don’t want make revisions…you know what I mean. 🙂
Oh my, this e-publishing business is complicated! I have a lot to learn before embarking down that road (not to mention finish my book). Thanks for this information–I’m sure it’ll prove valuable someday. I’m writing down the software programs you identified for reference.
Thanks Jerri, I was thinking about publishing an e-book and I’ve heard a few authors complain about getting the formatting correct. I’m bookmarking this page for when I’m ready 😉
Bookmarking this one as likely will need it in the future!
Valuable tips Larry. Jeri, thanks for inviting Larry to blog this.
To tell you the truth, after my 1st of now (I think) 5 Kindle books, I’ve used Fiverr. I found someone who is absolutely fabulous. And works with you until you are satisfied.
And since as we writers are creative types we are never satisfied! Keeps the Fiverr folks willing to make a happy customer.
It’s great to know what the options are concerning Amazon books as this is fast becoming a great outlet for online freelancers like us. I am not at the stage of creating a book yet, but in the future……..perhaps!! Thanks for the tips
I am working on my second ebook. I paid for someone to edit it last time. I will be following these steps this time.