Useful Procrastination – DIY Self Publishing

I’m no technical expert so here is how, step-by-step, I turned my writing into something that resembled a book.

Step one – Download Sigil

It’s an ePub editor/creator that’s fairly simple to use. You can type straight onto it, copy and paste into it or open other files.

Step Two – Copy and Paste without formatting.


Some word processors *cough* Microsoft *cough* Word will add lots of fancy formatting to your work. If you Paste into Sigil it will prompt you to paste without formatting. Do this! It will save you a headache.

Step Two Point One – Copy and Paste each chapter into separate XHTML files

This is so when your chapter ends, the next one starts on a fresh page. To create more files, right click on the Text folder and click on Add Blank HTML File. You can also right click on these and change their names for ease of reference.


Step Three – Headings

Change all your chapter headers and titles to Headings. I suggest H1 for chapter number and H2 for chapter title. Above the “Book Browser” panel you will find all the heading buttons you need.

Step Four – Table of Contents

Go Tools > Table of Contents > Generate Table of Contents.


Choose which headings you want to appear in your table of contents. H1 or H2 depending if you want it to read as Chapter One, Chapter Two etc or as their titles. Please note if you choose H2, when you navigate to each chapter from the TOC page on your eReader, it will cut off H1 on the page and put the chapter title at the top. (Minor issue but it really bugged me.)

Then go Tools > Table of Contents > Create HTML Table of Contents.

Step Five – Add a Cover

If you need a professional looking cover for free, head over to and follow their instructions. It’s a few clicks and will give your book a finished feel. Alternatively, get a professional to design one for you (it’s very expensive) or brush up on your Photoshop skills. Can’t help you there, I’m no artist at all!

Step Six – Metadata

Double click on the bits you need to change. Click on “Add Metadata” to add any additional information. There’s useful ones like ISBN, Author, Rights, Publication Date for example that fiction books should probably have.


Step Seven (Optional) – Remove the paragraph spacing.

This is a bit technical so bear with me. (I really hope that’s the right word, I can’t stop picturing a grizzly.)

  • Under Book Browser, right click on the Styles folder and click Add Blank Style Sheet
  • Right click on the sheet and rename it to “chapter.css”
  • On the blank style sheet, copy and paste the following:

p {

margin-bottom: 0em;

margin-top: 0em;


  • On all of your chapter XHTML files switch to the code view. Near the top look for the bit that says </head>.  Put your cursor right before this and press enter a few times to create a blank line. On this blank line, copy and paste the following:

<link href=”../Styles/chapter.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css”/>

Hey presto, all those pesky blank lines should have disappeared from your book.

Now the fun part.

Download Kindle Previewer from Amazon. This is a handy little programme that will show you how your finished book will appear on every Kindle device before you release it to the world.

Choose Open Book, and then select your ePub file you have been editing with Sigil. Kindle Previewer will automatically create a Mobi file and save it for you.

You can now copy and paste the Mobi file directly onto your eReader as you would a normal file.


This whiled away several hours for me. Six of those were spent trying to get rid of the spaces between the paragraphs. CSS is not my strong point; perseverance apparently is. If only I could apply that mentality to my actual writing…

Please note, I don’t recommend that you “publish” this to world. I’m no expert, these steps just worked for me. Your readers will not appreciate a badly formatted book, especially if they have paid for it. If you want to self-publish learn how to do it properly or get expert help so as to avoid angering your precious fans.


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