General eBook preparation advice?

(Shameless promotion acknowledged :face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth: ) Despite the very first beta reader reviewing The Amygdala Effect thriller as “A great vacation read!”, (followed immediately by full disclosure :disappointed_relieved:) literary agents are so far unmoved, so I am preparing to put it out as an eBook for Kindle/etc. just in case there are no last minute takers.

Hence the question: what’s the best advice you would give (directly or indirectly via something someone else has said/written, etc.) on producing a high quality eBook for sale (any other advice, for example on the mechanics of getting ISBN etc., is also welcome! Ditto promotion, but that’s not really Scrivener related so maybe I should ask that somewhere else?)

I have compiled successfully to eBook format (that was one format made available to beta readers) , but apart from making sure it was fit for purpose I didn’t do anything special then.

What should I really pay attention to for compiling for publication?

Thanks, Julian

Pay someone. At the minimum, pay a professional editor and a professional designer. Most authors are neither of these things, and it shows.

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Not an option right now.

You might want to run some numbers before you commit to self-publishing, then. From what I have seen, successful self-publishers either are targeting a very specific community in which they are already well-known, or are spending at least as much on marketing and presentation as a traditional publisher would.


Download Sigil
Enter as much metadata via the Tools > Metadata editor as you can.
Divide your book in different files where you need a pagebreak.
Avoid empty pages by removing all whitespace at the bottom of pages.
Insert all three kinds of ToCs: toc.xhtml, toc.ncx and Content.xhtml. Generate the ncx from the toc.xhtml.
For Kindle, dumb down any fancy design using the media query @media amzn-kf8 { className { property: value; } }

Hope this helps


Oh, yes, that definitely helped! I remember the name Sigil but haven’t seen/touched it for a long time… that’s my next destination.

Would I be right in thinking that “Divide your book in different files where you need a pagebreak” is a specific Sigil capability? (I only ask because obviously the ePub or whatever has to end up as a single file.)

And… “For Kindle, dumb down any fancy design using the media query…” → “that uses the media query” or “by using the media query”? I’d like to understand that key recommendation better – can you tell me where to look?

Thanks again – very specific, very concise, very on-point. Much appreciated!

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No, it’s not a Sigil thing. Breaking the book up in chapters in different files forces a page break. Relying on “page-break-before”, and “page-break-after” doesn’t work in all e-readers en apps.
The e-book is a ZIP-file with a different extension anyway, so multiple files are not a problem.

By using the media query, you can create exceptions for Kindle in your Stylesheet:
Kindle Media Queries

Use this CSS-statement to remove all whitespace from the last element in the body of your files:

body > *:last-child {
    margin-bottom: 0;
    padding-bottom: 0;
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Having now downloaded Sigil and opened it, I remember.

It’s all coming back to me now: ePub as zip (like .docx if you change the file extension to peek inside), the files, the CSS… and finally Media Queries. I had quite forgotten about that aspect of CSS – and thanks fot the whitespace removing CSS.

Once upon a time I knew all about selectors and stuff. Guess I’ll be re-skilling… after I’ve deal with a batch of notes from a beta-reader (nothing too heavy, but pointless to polish first).

Thanks again for the very clear, concise and useful answers.

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Also, for the benefit of others I have checked out the Sigil Plugins listed here (which work in a Sigil-supplied Python environment, so no further burden on the non-technical user) and there are some very useful extension capabilities there, including:

  • Kindle media query addition
  • CSS linting
  • DOCX importing

and, to sound like an old TV ad, “many, many more!” (83 plugins in total when I checked)

(Thank you @AntoniDol for not a mere rabbit-hole but an entire warren of potential distractions! :rofl:)


What is “CSS linting”? Is that a dumb question? I’ve never heard the term.


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Good question!

Not dumb at all! If you’ve never heard of it, it sounds very odd, but Lint in this context is “programmatic fluff” – typically syntax errors, such as missing “;” as may be found in CSS.

Linting in the process of identifying such errors (by so-called “static analysis”) so the programmer can correct the code. See Wikipedia here for the exciting story of Lint :grin:



It does indeed. Many thanks. :slight_smile:

Do install the ePubCheck plug-in voor Validation of your e-book.

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After confirming the python environment was OK with the check-python-environment plug in, that was the first thing I did.

(Found a missing “;” in some CSS… probably my bad in a compile config. To be checked.)

Dank je :wink:

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Graag gedaan, hoor. :wink:

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