Publishing books with LibreOffice, CreateSpace, and KDP

Slashdot it! Delicious Share on Facebook Tweet! Digg!
Marek Uliasz, 123RF

Marek Uliasz, 123RF


In the past, publishing a book meant sending it to a publishing house. With Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, you can now publish on your own. This article will guide you through the process.

Before a book can appear in printed or electronic form at a book supplier, it must go through several steps. To begin, the process requires a manuscript; the author creates the book using a text editor that later becomes the basis for publication. Next, submitting the manuscript as a file to a publishing house involves the time-consuming work of an editor to create a well-formatted and publishable document from the writer's jumble of text.

If you prefer to self-publish with Amazon's CreateSpace [1] and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) [2], however, the editing work is up to you. In practice, the free office packages LibreOffice [3] and OpenOffice [4] are available as extremely powerful tools for this purpose.

The publishable files – not to be confused with the raw manuscript – make up the published book, now completely formatted in an acceptable way. In the case of CreateSpace, these are PDF files, whereas KDP works primarily in the HTML format. Again, LibreOffice and OpenOffice are especially well-suited here, because they can export manuscripts to PDF or HTML. (See the "Error Correction" box for more information.)

Error Correction

The two major office packages handle error correction extremely well. The highlighted ones are best addressed immediately. At the beginning, the spell checker is likely to pick up many terms as misspelled that are actually quite correct. Add these terms to the dictionary early on to save yourself effort over the long term.

Additionally, exotic contents, such as tables, images, and formulas, are not lost in the process. The office packages export these with cross-references so that CreateSpace and KDP can correctly process them. But, more on that later.

Creating the Manuscript

Make sure that your office suite is installed with all its components. Many of the leaner Linux distributions dispense with a large office package or leave off seldom used components such as formula editors. You can get these through the package manager later on. Creating a manuscript begins with a fresh ODT document in Writer for which you define the page style (Format | Page | Page ) in your desired format. With the proper format, the final printed book will look it does on the computer monitor.

When choosing a page format, it's important to follow the guidelines of CreateSpace or another self-publishing platform. In Figure 1, you can view the page format the author selected for his books. Equally important is the choice of fonts and font sizes for different parts of the text. Here's where your personal preference prevails. Beginners are best off keeping with Writer's default format settings.

Figure 1: Setting the page format is the first step in creating a successful manuscript.

Be careful when formatting with Format | Styles and Formatting that you don't use too many fonts (Figure 2). A rule of thumb is to have a maximum of two different fonts, or the reader's eye may find the text too chaotic.

Figure 2: With help from F11, LibreOffice and OpenOffice show the current format templates for your document.

To change the format settings or create a new style, right-click the entry to change and choose Modify… . To create a new paragraph style, right-click the desired style and choose New… .

Figure 3 shows the choice of fonts for the Heading 1 , used for chapter titles. A chapter section title would then be Heading 2 and a subsection title would be Heading 3 . Be sure that the heading styles follow the format hierarchy, so that a Heading 2 doesn't have a larger font size than a Heading 1 , for example.

Figure 3: After choosing a format template, determine the font type, style, and size as you wish.

Paragraph text should be in Default format, which should be activated automatically when pressing Enter after a heading style. You can ensure this by setting the Next Style on the Organizer tab to Default (Figure 4). Keeping the paragraph format clean lets you fix any poorly chosen styles without having to reformat the entire document.

Figure 4: In defining a heading paragraph style, you can set what the style that follows it should be.

Important Rules

Following the basic format settings, a few conditions should apply:

  • Make no more manual changes to the formats.
  • Use only the defined styles in the book.
  • If the result is not how you imagined it, adjust the corresponding styles as appropriate.

References to page numbers, figures, tables, numbered equations, or other manuscript elements should always be done through the automatically updating cross-references you create with Insert | Cross-reference . The resulting dialog (Figure 5) lets you choose the type, its corresponding selection element, and the data type of the cross-referencing text (page, number, or reference text).

Figure 5: Cross-references are automatically updated with changes.

Never add page or figure numbers manually or as cross-references in the body text. All too often, changes in the manuscript totally reorganize the document. Use the cross-reference method at all times, which automatically adjusts the references for you.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 8

Price $0.99
(incl. VAT)

Buy Ubuntu User

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content