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.
If you’re patient and willing to format your Word document carefully, you can use the automated conversion processes of Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, 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 file instantly, as soon as you upload it.
But the results may look subpar if you don’t prepare your document first. I’m grateful to Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur for sharing the following information on how to prep your Microsoft Word file to convert cleanly into an ebook file. Although it won’t have all the bells and whistles you’d get with professional book formatting software (e.g., Vellum or InDesign), it is cost-effective and used by many novelists. (This method will not work well if your work is highly illustrated or has many different styles, charts, etc.)
Side note: It’s possible you’ve also heard of MOBI files. These used to be the preferred ebook file format for Amazon. However, in 2021, Amazon announced that they would stop accepting MOBI files and prefer EPUB.