I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. As a consumer, I love the ease of shopping with them. As an author, I am in no way happy with their changing book-selling landscape, their elusive algorithms, the near impossible discoverability on their search engines, and how difficult it is to make sure I’m getting paid correctly. I’m very much aware of pirate sites and scammers hanging around on Amazon and stealing MY money. And I am aware Kindle Unlimited is flawed. But I had no idea just HOW flawed. I have been apparently (and blissfully) clueless of scammers that are also authors. Clueless of clickfarms. Clueless of the unethical manipulations of popular Amazon lists—the coveted lists that also help spread author names and titles to more Amazon readers. This not only affects hard-working (starving) authors, it affects readers, too. So why isn’t Amazon doing anything about it?
So, you finished a book and have decided to take the indie publishing route. Now you’ve done it, wandering into unfamiliar territory.
So much goes into setting a book up for sale on Amazon. Little details and nuances that you find along the way can be daunting. From formatting to metadata, some processes are easy, others make you feel like you are throwing knives at a moving target, blindfolded, in a wind tunnel.
Well, my dear word slingers, I’m hoping I can help ease the hemorrhaging just a bit. I’m going to show you in easy, bite size chunks (with handy, dandy screen shots!) how to create an active Table of Contents (TOC) in Word for Kindle.
But I must add a disclaimer here. Yes, I must. Because sure as sh—, er sure as the sun rises, someone will cry foul and say it doesn’t work. Or claim there’s another way. I am not a techno goddess. A goddess, yes. A techno goddess, no. But if you follow these instructions, you should have no trouble ‘tall.
Also, please note that there are services provided by Amazon, and the like, that can create an active TOC for you. Sure can. But wouldn’t you rather learn to do this at no cost? It really is pretty simple.
One last thing I must blast before I get started. Do not use Word’s Table of Contents generator. It’s a trick. There are more steps involved, and, yeah, more steps means you’re given more opportunities to screw up. Let’s not be a screw-up.
Ready to begin?
I’m using a book I already have for sale on Amazon, but does not have a table of contents. Once done, I can upload the new version. (Sweet!)
First up, insert a page break where you want the TOC to be placed. This could be after the acknowledgments, copyright page, or other book matter. Type Table of Contents, then type in the names you’ve given your chapters—Chapter 1, Chapter One, The Seize, you get the idea. If you include an Acknowledgment page, About the Author page, or other significant page, be sure to add it in the TOC, as well.
(Click on image for better viewing.)
Okay. Pay attention. Here is where the work begins. Find your first chapter and highlight the chapter title.
Bookmark the destination. By doing this, when the reader clicks on the TOC entry, they will be directed to that spot in your book. Cool, huh? So how do you Bookmark? Click the INSERT tab in the toolbar and scroll over to BOOKMARK. (Some Word versions you’ll need to scroll down the drop menu.)
Surprise! A new window pops up. You will be prompted to give the bookmark a name. For the sake of your sanity, I’d recommend naming the bookmark exactly what you’ve named your chapter. No spaces are allowed in naming your bookmark. PITA, I know. If you want spaces, use the underscore key.
Next up, go back to the TOC and highlight the chapter you just named in the Bookmark. Go to INSERT and select HYPERLINK. Another window pops up.
Now select PLACE IN THIS DOCUMENT on the left side of the box (or DOCUMENT in the middle of your screen). You are ANCHORING the hyperlink inside a document. Select the chapter you are anchoring. Click OKAY. Booyah! (In some Word versions – like Word for Mac – you may have an ANCHOR blank where the bookmark would appear, then you’d click LOCATE to finish the step. A new window would appear. Click the BOOKMARK arrow down key and select chapter. Done.)
Tah-Dah! You have now hyperlinked your chapter title in your TOC to its location within your document/manuscript. When you click on it, you will be directed to the beginning of your chapter. Repeat the process for Acknowledgment pages, About the Author pages, or anything else you have added to your TOC.
Instead of toggling back and forth through all the different windows, I bookmark and name all items in my TOC and then go back to anchor and hyperlink. I also use the FIND feature to get me to the chapters in the middle of the document faster. That’s just me, though.
If you’re feeling extra frisky, you could even hyperlink the chapters in the manuscript back to the TOC. This will allow your readers to go back to the TOC and hop around to different chapters with ease. Just go to your TOC page, highlight the TOC title, bookmark/name it—same steps as before. The difference is finding Chapter One in the document (instead of in the TOC), then highlight, anchor, and hyperlink. Repeat for every chapter.
It might seem laborious, but once you do it a couple of times, it becomes quite easy-peasy. Don’t forget to check all your hyperlinks to make sure they go to the right chapters, and vice versa.
And now you know!