Best Software for Creating Ebooks On Mac
Whether you’re creating ebooks on Mac computers or with your iPad you’ll find we have great tools to do the job. What you need to think about is where the ebook will be consumed when it’s finished. You have to know the file format for the ebook store or the readers preference for the file type. I have created and published a number of books for the Amazon bookstore in the .mobi format. The best way to create that format on my Mac was to use the application Scrivener. Scrivener is the writers/authors workhorse which is excellent for organising all of your words into whatever format you need to produce at the end. You can produce EPUB, PDF’s, Word document files as well as have Scrivener spit out plaintext. Scrivener is a much better option than using Microsoft Word which is more suited to use in an office for business letters.
Scrivener or Ulysses
Another option considered by many authors is the application Ulysses, especially since the upgrade to version 2.5. This has a simpler interface to use and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you’d find in Scrivener. It is however, very easy to use. Ulysses works well for those of us who like to write in Markdown and has a number of output options. I love using Ulysses on my iPad and also on my Mac to create quick EPUB books. This software is a great option for creating ebooks on Mac computers and also on the iOS platform devices. Another option for creating ebooks is to use iBooks Author. I particularly appreciate the formatting options available within iBooks Author, whether I’m creating a book specifically to be read in iBooks or is a standard EPUB file. Another option for the creation of ebooks on Mac computers is to use Pages. When you are choosing the template to start your new Pages document you can choose the Digital Book (EPUB) Template. By using the paragraph styles in Pages you’ll be able to create stunning digital books. The same goes for when you’re using iBooks Author to lay out your digital book creations. It’s simple to be extremely specific with the book layout. I still recommend leaving messing with formatting until the very end of the process. In my tests of exporting out of Pages (Both mac and iPad) to ePub I was impressed with the look and the layout. I will certainly do more ePub creation with my iPad and Pages.
Creation of multiple book types from a single source
Conversion from one file type to another of the books is mostly easy and simple. When you upload your EPUB file to Amazon which you’ve created from whichever electronic book making software you’ve chosen to use it gets converted into a .mobi file as a result. EPUB is one of the file formats you can use to upload to Amazon. You’ll not normally have any problems if you go by Amazon’s file type suggestions. If you do your work in Scrivener you’ll have the option of exporting out directly to mobi format. (via KindleGen) It’s very handy to have software that’ll give you so many different types of file formats as the output. Where it gets a little bit more difficult is when you also want to have books on the Apple Store. It’s not a problem if you are happy for your books to go to the Apple Store in the EPUB format. If you want your book to be in the iBooks format and to make use of the iBooks speciality formatting there’s going to be more work to do.
To work first with iBooks could make more work for you
If you start working in the iBooks software with your book using the iBook format it will be more work to convert to other formats. With iBooks you have fantastic looking formatting and special tricks that will not convert well into other file formats. So don’t use the galleries, interactive images, popovers or 3-D if you’re planning to have your book promoted widely. This is something you definitely want to consider if you are planning to have your book in as many online bookstores as possible. I find it is best to have the creation of the iBooks version of the book done last of all. Using whichever other software you produce your ebook and import it into iBooks Author. Then would be the moment to add in extra iBooks only additions. In the file menu you have a menu item – New from EPUB File. If you’re working in the EPUB format in iBooks you’ll also see menu item entitled Reset for iBooks Store. I have tried that option and it doesn’t allow you to start putting in the fancy iBooks formatting options. If you need access to all of the widgets is necessary to start again with a new template suitable for iBooks. I have not found a good way to bring in a book made in iBooks into Scrivener.
A workflow for Creating eBooks on Mac and iOS
A good first step in the process of creating a book would be to get the ideas out of your head and a little bit organised. A great way to start is to use a mind map application such as iThoughts either on your Mac or on your iPad. The reason this is so good is because it is a way to tame the nonlinear thinking going on inside your brain. A mind map is a great place to get a visual on all of your ideas. By rearranging the dump of wild ideas in your mind in this visual version you’ll be able to create a list of possible chapters all content for your book.
The next step in the process is to export out of the mind application. You could send it out as an organised text outline into an outlining application. There are outline applications to do this specific job and I can recommend Cloud Outliner and another one called Tree. Another possibility would be to put directly into Scrivener. Within Scrivener you can do some further organising in the same way as you would within an outlining application. Either move things around in the binder or open up the virtual cork-board, whichever you prefer.
Now it’s time to do the writing. The best place for this will be in Scrivener or Ulysses. Jump into whichever document/chapter you wish to start with and crank out those words. You’ll never have to worry about writer’s block. If you feel you’re getting stuck in one area of your book, all you have to do is to start working on another different chapter. There is no need whatsoever to work in a linear fashion starting with chapter 1 and adding the subsequent chapters after that. With the software we have available, flexibility is the name of the game for creating ebooks on Mac.
Making an eBook with Ulysses
Words and ideas – the most important part of your book
We may want to have beautifully formatted books, but that is the final stage of the process of creating e-books on Mac. Until all of the words are in place and have been edited and possibly even a rewritten as part of the editing process, you don’t need to do any formatting. This is another reason why is good idea not to use Microsoft Word, Pages or iBooks Author. You’ll be tempted into fiddling around with the look of headlines and paragraphs instead of concentrating on the words. It’s much better to use plain text based applications like Scrivener, Ulysses or Byword when you’re creating ebooks on Mac and iOS.
Scenarios for creating eBooks on Mac or iOS devices
- As wide availability as possible for your e- book – you want to make your book available as a PDF, EPUB and also as a book made for iBooks. Get the first draft done, get it edited and if it’s very simple you will have your header one and header two sorted out for your chapters and headlines. It’s no problem at all to add pictures if you need to for your book in either Scrivener or Ulysses. You can export straight out to the PDF and EPUB formats. With Scrivener you may also create your mobi file for Amazon bookstore. Take the EPUB format and import it into iBooks author and then you can are some fun setting up the beautiful formatting of your electronic book. Put in the photo galleries, interactive photos and 3D widgets if you need them in the book.
- Just need an ePub book or just the PDF or you are publishing on Kindle Unlimited (Exclusive to Amazon with K.U.) Same as above to work with Scrivener for the mobi. Scrivener connects up to the Amazon app KindleGen. If working on iOS then Ulysses is your best option for the moment.
That’s all you need to know about making and creating ebooks on Mac. I have to admit I find it fabulous to have the software to create ePub books on the iPad. Just use the share icon, choose Open in Another App and use the Copy to iBooks in the share menu. Send the ePub to a storage app like Dropbox if you want. Use Transmit FTP app to publish to your web site.