Sigil. calibre (yes, with a lower-case first letter.) There’s even one called Hamster.
If you’ve ever searched for a tool to convert your manuscript to an ebook, you’ve come perilously close to drowning in geekness.
Stop. Step back. Put down the chainsaw; you don’t need one to make a toothpick. Especially if you already have a box of toothpicks.
Everything I say in the rest of this post will have exceptions. I’ll mention a few at the end, but if your manuscript doesn’t fall into the exceptions, don’t go to exceptional lengths to get the job done.
You only need your digital version 2 places: Kindle, and Smashwords. Yes, “Smashwords” is a funny name. The company is not so funny. They distribute your book to every other outlet on the planet that’s not Kindle. (Including the notoriously difficult and demanding iBooks, for which otherwise you must upload your manuscript from a Mac; no PCs allowed.)
But we’re talking about conversion, not distribution. To convert your manuscript for Kindle, upload it to your Kindle Desktop Publishing account.
There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?
The Kindle conversion tool Amazon provides does the best possible job with zero effort on your part. No geekery required.
Ah, but Smashwords. They have things called “requirements” and something called an “Autovetter” which tells you when you’re wrong.
And that’s the thing: not only does the Autovetter give clear understandable explanations of what might be wrong with your files, the process to get your book into the Premium catalog (free, and also vital) involves feedback from real live human beings.
If you are capable of composing and sending an email, you probably have the technical skills to convert your word processor document to an ebook. And your readers only need a computer, if they don’t have an ereader already. There are free readers for Mac and PC for any format you want (although there are really only three formats: PDF, support for which is built into every computer on the planet, Kindle, and ePub.) Search for “Kindle for PC” or “Kindle for Mac” or a similar search for ePub readers, “Nook for PC” or “Kobo for Mac” or whatever your favorite ereader and computer platform combination might be.
If you have lots of images, or images whose relation to specific portions of text is important (like diagrams) you may need help adjusting those images and their placement in the document.
If you have advanced formatting (tables, columns, callout boxes) you may run into challenges, all of which can be solved (because I’ve done them all.)
If you depend on font styles beyond bold and italics. For instance, I’ve written two books in collaboration. We indicated which voice was which with different fonts in the print versions. That’s tough to do digitally because most readers leave font choice entirely in the hands of the reader (that is, the human being reading the book.)