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!
Song of the Day: Prayer of the Refugee by Rise Against
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a workshop hosted by Northwest Houston RWA, my local Romance Writers of America chapter. The speaker, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.
Now this is not the first time I’ve met Mark, nor the first time I’ve listened to him speak. But I couldn’t wait to hear him talk again. He has a very impressionable way with understanding the world of eBook self-publishing.
With his permission, I’m going to relay the notes I took from his talk on the best practices for publishing an eBook.
1. Write a fantastic book. Honor the reader with a great story and satisfy them by moving them to an emotional extreme. It doesn’t stop there. Make sure you are fanatical about the entire process, including the editing and packaging.
2. Create a great cover. The cover is not only the first impression on the path to discovery, but a promise to the reader. Use a professional cover artist, or, if you plan to do the cover yourself, make sure the cover is comparable to what New York publishers produce. Make sure your cover targets your audience. The cover is merchandised as a thumbnail. It should look great in that size.
3. A no-brainer, but warrants repeating. Write another super awesome book.
4. Give some books away for free. By doing this, you eliminate the financial risk new readers face. Free books builds awareness and trust. This especially works well for books of a series. If you have a series, at least one book should be free, even if for a little while.
5. Patience, it’s a virtue. Retailers force books out of print before they have a chance because new books are kept on the shelves for only a few short weeks. Most don’t have an opportunity to gain an audience, much less a fan base. EBooks are immortal…and changeable.
6. Maximize availability—don’t be exclusive. Play the field, play with everyone. If you are exclusive, you limit discoverability and become dependent on the site of the exclusivity. Oh, and by the way, retailers see no stigma in self-published books.
7. Build a platform. The larger your platform, the more power you have over your career. Connecting with readers becomes a form of currency. There is no single right way to do this. Use all the social media tools you feel comfortable with. Have a newsletter. Some will want to connect using blogs, but it is difficult to gain readership this way. However, once you do, they are yours for life. And here’s a biggie, offer a way for readers to connect with you at the end of your book, aside from your website. It simply makes sense, but is often overlooked.
8. Architect for “virality”. “Spread the germ.” Get your fans talking about you. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful way to discoverability. Book marketing is always going to stem from word-of-mouth. Utilize viral catalysts that makes your books more accessible, discoverable, desirable, and enjoyable—story, cover, title, editing, targeting right audience, book description, pricing, broad distribution, formatting, proper categorization, just to name a few. Eliminate the friction that limits the catalysts (think exclusivity, lacking cover, bad editing, etc.).
9. Unit volume is a lever for success. Every book sale has two benefits: money and a new readers. The latest survey conducted by Smashwords indicated that $1.99 was a black hole, not performing as well as higher priced units, and $3.99 was the current sweet spot for all genres. Proper pricing can maximize money made and the amount of readers. Keep in mind lower priced units will sell more units, and higher priced units will sell fewer, but the lower priced units under-perform as income and higher priced units will get you more readers. Of course, experience may vary and it is encouraged to play around with pricing to find what works best for your book.
10. Don’t worry about piracy. Obscurity is the bigger risk. Those stealing your books weren’t going to buy your book to begin with. Who knows, you may even gain a super reader out of it. Most piracy is accidental—a lending of a book, picking up a book at a garage sale, etc. This type of discoverability is effective and cheap! The best way to combat piracy is to make your book easier to purchase than steal. This goes back to distributing broadly and pricing fairly. And it doesn’t hurt to add a polite license statement in the book. (See Smashwords’ example in their style guide.)
11. Take advantage of Pre-orders. This will be available soon through all distributors. In short, list your book for sale before it officially hits the virtual shelves. Allow a sample to be downloaded. It is highly suggested books should be completely ready before listing it as a pre-order. Some retailers will credit all the pre-sales on the day the book comes for sale. This will possibly shoot the book onto various best-selling lists. Let me add here SHAZAM! Putting a book up for pre-order sale 4 to 6 weeks prior to release gives you, the author, a chance to market the book generating interest. Capture the reader and get them to buy while they are still fired-up instead of waiting until release day when they most likely have forgotten or are no longer as interested. Check out Smashwords’ blog post on pre-orders.
12. Practice partnerships and positivity. If you discover something that works well, share it with others. This builds friendships and a good reputation. Don’t be a complainer or behave badly. Everyone, including the marketing peeps at retailers, have Goggle Alerts. You will be remembered.
13. Collaborate with fellow authors. Short stories, bundles, or boxed sets are a great way to share, promote, and gain new readers with existing fan bases of your fellow collaborators. Plus the retailers like them and they sell well.
14. Think globally. All retailers are expanding beyond the US. Aggressively. Over 40% of Apple sales are outside the US and looks to be trending higher. And these books are in English.
15. You are running a business. Business requires a profit. Most books don’t sell well, so control your expenses. Never borrow money to publish a book. Pinch your pennies. Invest in great service. If you can’t afford it, offer to trade services. Once you are profitable, reinvest in your business.
Whoa! That’s a lot of information. Absorb it! And to help, check out Smashwords FREE marketing books and style guides.
What do you think about these practices? Have you tried any? What has worked or not worked for you? Do you have other tips to share? Let’s hear from you.