Until recently, the main formatting tools that self-publishing writers could use to create e-books were expensive desktop-publishing applications that cost a lot of money to buy and a lot of time to learn. (I’m not counting Calibre here because Calibre is a conversion app—you still have to do the actual writing and formatting in something else.)
However, the $50 writing and note-keeping app Scrivener has changed that. Scrivener can export e-books in PDF, Kindle, EPUB, and Word (required for Smashwords) formats, among others.
On his blog “Writing is Hard Work,” independent author and English teacher Roger Colby has written a brief guide, illustrated with screenshots, that describes how to create an e-book file in Scrivener. It’s really quite simple, and largely consists of checking some boxes in a dialogue screen. Of course, the actual process of writing and formatting the book itself isn’t covered here, but I’ve found Scrivener has some very useful tutorials that help a lot in that regard.
I’ve been using Scrivener myself for some writing lately, and have found it is well worth the money. I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book for publication, but Scrivener certainly brings me one step closer to it.