Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Self Publishing Tips #4 with Lyn Horner: E-Covers and Table of Contents

For the last time this year, self-publishing guru Lyn Horner returns for her fourth series on how to embed book covers and create table of contents for Amazon publishing. Lyn has had resounding success in self-publishing on Amazon. 
Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Lyn!

Amazon requires a book cover to be uploaded twice, once for the marketing image, the one customers see when they shop on Amazon. The other image is the internal one readers see when they open a Kindle book on their reading device. There is a specific place in the KDP uploading process where you add the marketing image, but the internal cover image must be embedded in your book file.

There are various ways to embed the internal cover image. You will find numerous discussions on this topic on the Amazon KDP support pages. Here’s one you might find helpful. It’s a long post, but there is a section about including a cover image. Be aware I have not tried this author’s method, so I can’t guarantee it.

More reading: If you haven’t done so, please download Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Guidelines. Open the pdf file and go to page 13. There you will find Cover Image Guidelines. Read this section carefully. If you have trouble understanding the technical jargon, as I do, you may need to enlist a friend or relative with html experience.

As you know, I employed Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer to perfect my text formatting. Each time I ran my book through Kindlegen, it converted the html file into a mobi file (a format used for ebooks) but with a warning: “No cover specified.” I had to embed the cover before I could look at my book on the Kindle Previewer.

The Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines state, “Define covers in the OPF file . . .” What’s an OPF file? From my son, I learned it’s an “open package format” file which tells Kindlegen where to find all parts of a book, including the cover. Since I had no idea how to create an .OPF, my computer savvy offspring did the job, using html coding that’s way beyond me.

(FYI, Mobipocket Creator can be used to create mobi files, per discussions on Amazon’s message boards. This app is available on the internet. I think it’s free. I’ve also read that it can be a bit persnickety.)

Once the OPF file is in place, Kindlegen will tell you your mobi file is complete. Great, but you’re not done yet. You still need to create a table of contents (TOC), two actually. The first is an HTML TOC. This the table of contents readers see in the front matter of a book. It allows them to jump to whatever chapter they wish. You need to use hyperlinks to set up the HTML TOC.

First, use a page break to insert a blank page after your title page. Title this page Table of Contents, then list your chapters, including the prologue and/or epilogue if you have one. I like to bold the chapter titles and increase line spacing (do this under Paragraph in your Format menu.) Next, highlight the first chapter in your list, click the hyperlink icon on your toolbar, then go to your html book file. (You need your chapters to be separate for this, not saved as one big book file.)  Click on the corresponding chapter in your file and hit Okay. Go back to your TOC page and try the link. It should take you to the chapter. Do the same for every chapter, the cover, title page, dedication page if you include one, and any other extra features. You have now created your html Table of Contents.

Next, you need to set up a Logical TOC (NCX) for easy navigation through your book. Read page 14-15 in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines for an explanation of how the NCX TOC works and why it’s necessary. Amazon has included an example of how to set up an NCX in html code. I won’t try to explain it here because it’s one of those tech subjects that flies over my head. Again, if you are unfamiliar with html code, you will need help with this.

NOTE: Both TOCs must be included in your OPF master file. Once your OPF is complete, you are ready to upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

I’m sorry this has gotten so technical. There are quicker, easier ways to publish your book on Amazon, but this is the method I stick to because I want to be sure my books are well formatted and easy to read. In other words, I want them to be as professional as I can possibly make them.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back in 2013, providing the ladies of As We Were Saying want me here. At that time I’ll go into copyright, royalties and book promotion. Until then, enjoy the holidays and keep writing!

Of course we'd love to have Lyn back in 2013! Thanks so much for stopping by and we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! For more helpful tips on self-publishing, check back in January for more from Lyn Horner!


Lyn Horner said...

Hi everyone, just a quick note to let y'all know I'll be away from home for part of today. It's a shopping trip with a friend to buy Christmas gifts for two little twin boys we're playing Santa for. Should be fun!

I'll check back here later in the day. I hope you'll leave me some comments. I love hearing from you!

Ruby Johnson said...

Happy shopping.
That's got to be lots of fun trying to find the right gift.
I've copied your posts and filed them for reference. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

Lyn Horner said...

Hi Ruby,
Thank you for stopping by and for inviting me here on As We Were Saying. And you're very welcome! See you soon.


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