How to Create a Fixed Format Ebook (Part 1): Setting Up Your Ebook

I’m finally working on the second book in my “How to Ebook” series, and I’ve decided that this time around, before I ask for beta readers, I’m going to blog the book. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting articles that detail how to create fixed format ebooks, which are most commonly used for children’s picture books. These weekly articles will assume that you know the basics of how to make an ebook (if you want to learn, you can either pick up my book or try out my course on Udemy).

My favorite ebook creation tool is Sigil (which happens to be free), and although it is no longer being updated, I still think it is currently the best program to use. It is possible to make ebooks in other programs, or even just using a text editor, but for these posts, I’ll be explaining the steps using Sigil.

In this first post, I want to go over how to set up an ebook file and get it ready for the fixed format. All the images are screenshots taken from a children’s picture book I’m working on, called “Apple’s Adventures.” It’s about a fun snail that lives in an aquarium, and if you’re interested in seeing the final product, please sign up for my New Books Newsletter

If you open up your ebook in Sigil, the first thing you should do is add this line in the <head> section of each page in your ebook so that it is in the heading of each page:

  <meta content=”width=800,height=800″ name=”viewport” />

That will tell readers how big to display the page, and you can change the 800 to whatever size you need, though in my experience, 800 x 800 looks the best.

You will also need this line:

<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml&#8221; xmlns:epub=”http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops&#8221; xmlns:ibooks=”http://apple.com/ibooks/html-extensions”&gt;

before the <head> tag to make it fixed format.

In Sigil’s code view, it looks like this:

ebook_metadata

Last, you will need to add the file called com.apple.ibooks.display-options.xml in the META-INF folder. You can create this file in a text editing program such as Text Wrangler. Create the xml file and add this code:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<display_options>
<platform name=”*”>
<option name=”fixed-layout”>true</option>
<option name=”specified-fonts”>true</option>
</platform>

</display_options>

And now you are ready to make a fixed format children’s ebook. Next week, I’ll go over how to embed fonts, so you can match the text with the mood of the story.

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