Note from Jane: This post has been updated to reflect changes in tools available on the market.
So your book is sitting in Microsoft Word, and you’d like to get that material converted into an ebook format you can sell through ebook retailers such as Amazon. Unfortunately, your basic version of Word doesn’t offer that functionality. So what do you do?
If you’re patient and willing to format your Word document carefully, you can use the automated conversion processes of Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Pronoun or similar ebook retailer and distribution services. They want to make it easy for you to get published, so they’ll convert your Word document into an ebook (EPUB) file instantly, as soon as you upload it.
But the results may look terrible. Much depends on the quality and complexity of the document you start with.
Thus, the following list offers workable options I’ve found that (1) don’t involve hugely expensive software, with one possible exception, and (2) don’t get you knee-deep into Word formatting. My assumptions are that you don’t want to become a Microsoft Word ninja and that you may desire to edit your ebook file outside of Word.
Note that most of these methods will only be appropriate if your book is predominantly text, with few images and specific formatting requirements.