Articles by Alex

eBook Distribution 101: Table of Contents

If you haven’t discovered it yet, check out our new Word to EPUB Converter on the eBook publishing page. This is our fastest, most streamlined way yet for you to create an eBook from your manuscript and send it out into the world. Go ahead and play around with it– you can have an eBook for sale in an hour!

The EPUB Converter is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility– so we’ve written an eBook Creator Guide to help you format your Word DOC into the best shape for conversion. Why should you bother? Think of it as getting your book ready for a race. Sometimes a runner can win after barely training. But most times even the greatest athletes will collapse on the track unless they’ve prepared for the event. (Or, in your case, create an eBook that can’t be sent to distribution channels.) While our wizard isn’t as demanding as a race, a little preparation never hurt anyone, or any book.

One essential retail distribution requirement (which takes little prep work) is to have a working Table of Contents. This Table of Contents is not the same as a print book, but a file inside your EPUB called the NCX. (That’s the Navigation Control file for XML, for technical folks.) The NCX contains links to the sections or chapters of your eBook, which makes for easy navigation between one part to another. It appears on e-readers as a vertical list of links.

A very common problem is an NCX that has only one link named “untitled”. When this happens, your eBook needs to be styled with headings that point out its sections or chapters. Letting the wizard know you need an NCX link isn’t hard: just format the name of each section in your Word DOC as style “Heading 1″. (You can do this through the “Styles” options, listed in the Word tab “Home”.) Then, you can change this style’s settings (font, size, etc.) to reflect the styling of your book. If you want to create subsections, use “Heading 2″ and “Heading 3″.

NCX links that aren’t correct are another problem; for example, a phrase in your manuscript becomes a link in your eBook. This means that parts of your book other than chapter headings are styled as “Heading 1″, etc. Weeding these out is as easy as styling them back to “Normal”. And if you’d like more information on NCXs, our Connect page can help you out.

Of course, always check your EPUB in an e-reader like Adobe Digital Editions to make sure it appears the way you want it to, and it follows the retail distribution guidelines.

Keep playing with the tool, and don’t forget to consult our handy eBook Creator Guide for all things eBooks. Happy e-publishing.