As you know I have been working on the nuts-and-bolts end of the indie publishing business for a while now, but not really long in terms of my career. I only dove into this in 2011, and in the last two years of sometimes floundering I’ve picked up a few useful tricks. One of the most useful in terms of a finished manuscript is how to create a table of contents for your eBook that is “clickable”, a Smart TOC.
When I read an e-book I really like it when I can easily navigate within the ms by using the hyperlinks embedded in the table of contents. This is a “Smart TOC” and is very easy to create when you are formatting your ms for publication.
First make your table of contents. The one I am using for this is an old file for the original version of Billy’s Revenge, so ignore the page numbers. I didn’t know that page numbers are like prisoners—they just weigh you down!
Your print manuscript will most likely not have a TOC as most novels don’t waste precious pages on such things. Technical manuals and textbooks must include a TOC, but every page you can do without when publishing your novel in paper form will keep the final cost down and make your paperback more affordable for your prospective reader. Very few people will pay $18.99 for a book by an unknown author.
The first thing you want to do is create a bookmark. First highlight the words “Table of Contents” and then go to your ‘Insert’ tab. Click on ‘Bookmark’ in that ribbon. Type in the words ref_TOC
Then click “Add”. In every ms it is important to name the Table of Contents bookmark exactly that, including the underscore, because that’s what Smashwords looks for and it is simply a good practice to have a uniform system for naming files. See the next picture for how it will look and ignore the page numbers:
Now it’s time to bookmark the prologue. Scroll down to your prologue and do it exactly the same way as you bookmarked the TOC, but for this ms let’s name it BR_prologue. You will name yours with your ms initials and the word prologue. If you have no prologue, skip this step. See the picture below:
As long as you are there, with the chapter title highlighted, click “insert Hyperlink” on the ribbon. On the left, you want to ‘Link to:’ “Place in this Document”. That will bring up your bookmarks. Select ‘ref_TOC’ and click OK. This will turn your heading blue, which is called a ‘hyperlinky’. Press control and click on the link. it will take you back to the table of contents. Once you have used the hyperlinky it will turn purple. How cool is that! This is how that screen looks:
Now that you are back at the Table of Contents, highlight “Prologue and click “insert Hyperlink” on the ribbon. On the left, you want to ‘Link to:’ “Place in this Document”. That will bring up your bookmarks. Select ‘BR_prologue’ and click OK. That will turn it blue. Press control and click on the link. it will take you back to the heading of your prologue.
Do this for the entire table of contents, always remembering to link your chapter heading back to “ref_TOC”, and test each link as you go. Four more pictures just to help you remember:
I hope this helps you in formatting your eBook manuscript. I just redid all my books so that they have Smart TOCs and will be building the TOC into my future manuscripts as I go. This is an incredibly useful too to help you navigate within any long manuscript, and although I had used book marks before in the course of my work, I didn’t realize that the fancy TOCs I admired so in other people’s e-books was such a simple thing.
But that’s the way it always goes–things that seem like they should be hard are often the most simple, while something that should be easy turns into a drama of epic proportions.
Here’s to less drama and more simplicity! Learning how to format an e-book isn’t really that hard, and the wonderful people at both Smashwords and at Amazon have a lot of information freely available to you. Remember, as an indie, you are your own publisher, and what you put out there has to be the best you can make it.
Making use of the free information that is out there on the internet can only help you in this regard!