Let’s All Gather Together at the EPUB!

Use Sigil to assemble the files for the E-book anthology.

illustration of files into epub

Our files are back together like peas in a pod.

You can, if you wish, use a text editor and a compression utility to make the EPUB .zip file. You can, that is; I sure can’t. And I see no clear reason why anyone would want to, not when Sigil is back in active development.

As Sigil is (kind of) an HTML editor, I could have used it all along for making the HTML/CSS markup in Steps 3 and 4. That wouldn’t have been a particularly awesome idea, though. As of this writing, Sigil hasn’t fully transitioned to HTML5. I feel it’s better to code in an HTML5 setting such as Dreamweaver, then step backwards a little bit closer to the end, rather than to do a whole project soup-to-nuts in an older specification and have more to re-code if you ever update the book to modern standards.

The first move is to download and install Sigil. If you need an older/more compatible version, those are still available, too, although they have been deprecated. I’ll wait…got it up and running? Great! Here’s what we’ll do next:

  1. Dump our files into a new Sigil document.
  2. Put the files in the proper order.
  3. Input some metadata (I’ll explain).
  4. Create a table of contents, again.
  5. Validate the files with FlightCrew.
  6. Rinse and repeat.

This post will cover 1-3. It’ll be fun. Ready?

1. Dump our files into a new Sigil document.

Here’s the Sigil window:

sigil window screenshot

A fresh, crisp EPUP shell, ready for us to fill.

That “Section0001.xhtml,” by the way? Don’t delete it, at least not yet. Your epub has to have at least one file in it or things get weird. So leave that little file in there. It’s like the cotton in the aspirin bottle, or the expletive that: it has no meaning, yet it has a purpose.

sigil plus iconFrom here, I go to the menu and select “FileAdd Files → Existing Files…” (or I can just click on the little plus icon on the top Sigil toolbar). Either way, I want to add in all of the .html files we’ve made. I don’t need to worry about the .css files, the image files, or any javascripts (Heaven forfend!); Sigil will find and grab those automatically.

screenshot importing files to Sigil

Grab all the .html files at once; leave the rest.

Once I import those files, then I can safely delete  “Section0001.xhtml.” The only way I’ve found to delete files from Sigil is to control-click or right-click on the file in the “Book Browser” window, then select “Delete.”

2. Put the files in the proper order.

sigil book browser window

My CSS and logo made it safely into their proper folders.

The remaining files are in alphabetical order. Since the E-reader will display the book as arranged, I’ll drag the files into their proper order: Frontmatter, Preface, Contest, Contributors, Backmatter.

Once I’ve got those arranged properly, I’ll save our file as “YBR_No1_1.epub.”

3. Input some Metadata.

Metadata “data about data” makes our E-book more accessible for people with reading impairments and easier for various E-readers and file management systems to track. Spending a few minutes on metadata will help customers find our book on digital stores, and will help readers find and file the book properly on their own devices.

screenshot sigil metadata editor windowTo edit metadata in Sigil, I go to the menu and select “Tools → Metadata Editor…” which brings up the metadata window:

How much or how little I add depends on the project. At a minimum, I should add the basic “library card catalog” stuff that would enable someone to find this file on his or her Kindle: Title and Author. Notice that I have to do the last-name→first-name switcheroo in the “File As” field. I’ll click on the “Add Basic” button to add a few more fields.

Iscreenshot of sigil metadata editor window‘ve added a few more fields, but really, what you put in here is going to vary widely depending on where you intend to publish your E-book. While most mainstream E-book stores will ask you for this information all over again when you list your book there for sale, it’s better and more reassuring for search engines if you’ve made such data part of the book itself. You’re helping your book stay findable and readable in a changing digital world. As Internet archivist Jason Scott once said, “Metadata is a love note to the future.”

That’s it for today. Next up, we’ll tackle steps 4-6 and finish the EPUB part of our E-book poetry anthology!

Want to poke around yourself? You can download all the Yellow Buick Review source files for free.

1 Comment

Filed under Organization and Data

One response to “Let’s All Gather Together at the EPUB!

  1. Pingback: Go Back to the EPUB and Check Who’s There | The Yellow Buick Review

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