Despite Lulu’s focus on providing the best in print book fulfillment and retail, it’s always been important to make it easy to offer EPUB ebooks too. And with the prevalence of Microsoft Word users, we designed our original EPUB converter to work with Word Docs. That was over ten years ago.
Today, there are a lot of ways to make an EPUB. Calibre and Apple’ iBooks Author are both popular and free ways to have more control over your EPUB. As the requirements for devices have evolved and reading apps have improved, it’s become simple to generate an EPUB file. Something Lulu’s converter has not done a great job keeping up with.
For the last couple years, I’ve been the “expert” in EPUBs. I say expert with quotes because, prior to working at Lulu, I didn’t even own a Kindle or Nook. The few ebooks I had read were on my laptop, borrowed from the library, and required reading for school. The idea of doing anything more complex than maybe a text link with HTML terrified me.
What changed was when I looked at EPUB code and realized it’s actually very simple. Which always bugged me because Lulu’s converter makes the process cumbersome. Particularly with our DOCX to EPUB conversion. So many paltry things that can cause errors; like content in the Header, which our converter should delete but doesn’t always. Or the way our converter started ignoring copyright information, breaking the metadata through no fault of the person uploading the file.
If we have frustrated you uploading a DOC or DOCX file for conversion in the last couple of year, I promise you are not alone. I’ve worked on dozens of files that our system should have accepted and didn’t for annoying and obscure reasons.
Well, we fixed that.
Okay, improved might be a stretch. But it will get a lot easier to create your ebook file the way you want and upload it to Lulu with no hassles. We’ve thrown out the old converter and we’re using one that actually works.
Our DOCX to EPUB conversion hasn’t changed. You’ll still need to create a DOCX file using Styles and avoiding a lot of formatting like columns and tables. Our Ebook Creator Guide is the best resource for building your DOCX file for conversion:
What we have done is clean up a lot of the annoying conversion errors that used to plague our EPUB converter. I still recommend making a simple DOCX to convert; that means primarily text using Styles and a minimum of images. Any complex elements like tables should be made into images and inserted, as EPUBs still struggle with complicated formatting.
Creating Your Own EPUB
Where the updates will really shine is for anyone creating their own EPUB. Have you used Calibre or iBooks Author to make a beautiful ebook and uploaded it to Lulu only to see something like this:
This should not be a problem now! Most errors came from elements and attributes that our old converter tried to identify. EPUBs can include a lot of variety in the coding and still work just fine. So we’ve improved our converter’s ability to handle EPUBs from most sources.
That includes the most common ways to create EPUBs like Calibre, iBooks Author, and Sigil.
DOCX To EPUB Conversion Requirements
Our Ebook Creator Guide goes into details about requirements and best practices. But I can summarize the requirements you must meet to achieve DOCX to EPUB conversion on Lulu.
- You must use Heading styles to create a Table of Contents, including the ebook title as Heading 1, on the first line of the first page.
That’s it. Yes, there are some specific distribution requirements you’ll also need to meet to use our Global Distribution to list your ebook on Amazon, iBookstore, B&N, and more. But to run a DOCX through our system, we’ve cleared out almost all the annoying roadblocks.
And since this converter is updated regularly, it should do a much better job keeping up with changes to Word’s DOCX formatting and producing EPUBs.
EPUB 2 And EPUB 3
The standard for EPUBs sold commercially is EPUB 2. But EPUB 3 is the newest version of this versatile file format, bringing even more customized and accessible ways to view EPUBs.
Because our distribution requires meeting the standards for a lot of retailers, we can only accept EPUB 2 for projects using distribution. And if we convert your DOCX to EPUB, we’ll make an EPUB 2 for the same reason.
But if you really want to offer an EPUB 3 and sell it on the Lulu Bookstore, you can! We won’t be able to do the conversion for you, but you can use Calibre to create an EPUB 3 with little effort at all.
Ebooks For All
While offering ebooks is not Lulu’s primary goal, we know it’s an important part of your author plan. Making it easy to create and offer ebooks was front of mind for us as we improved our EPUB converter.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.