Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to add a Table of Contents for Amazon using Word, html and Mobipocket


Recently, Amazon began insisting on a Table of Contents for their books.  They don't want just any table of contents, they want one that registers with the Kindle devices.

It's taken me two years to figure out how to do this, largely because I figured out a different system that worked well enough.

Note:  This tutorial is on how to make a working Table of Contents starting with Microsoft Word.  There are other ways of making it if you use other programs.  Also, if you are an expert at html, then I'd recommend using Sigil or some other way of editing your html document.  You'll probably get a much cleaner file.

However, if you're a self-taught self publisher like me who doesn't wish to break their brain, I'm making this about as simple as possible. :)


This is not how you do it with Smashwords.  They primarily take Word documents and they don't want Microsoft Word's pregenerated Table of Contents.  If you want to make one for them, I recommend using this tutorial:

Table of Contents in Microsoft Word.

Note:  I'm using Word 2010.

Okay, so the first thing you need to learn about is heading styles in Microsoft Word.  You need these to get the rest of it to work.  I'm going to show you how to add heading styles to your Title and Chapters.  If you already know how to do this and have it in your file, you can skip to the next section. :)

1.  Up at the top of your document, you'll see heading styles. (Image 1)  You'll want to modify your heading to your preferences.  I modify Heading Style 1 for the Title and Heading Style 2 for the Chapters.  If you don't have chapters, you can still do this for the beginning or any section breaks.  Usually, you need at least two points of reference.  I use "Beginning" and "Author Notes" if I don't have chapters as in this story.  (If you don't have author notes, I recommend adding them.  Tell the readers who you are and what other books you have for sale)

Image 1

 2.  Okay, so I have "Beginning" and "Author Notes" under Heading 2 style.  Now lets add the Table of contents.  If you go to your "References" tab, there's a section to create a Table of Contents.  Click on that and go to "Insert Table of Contents" near the bottom.  (Image 2)

Image 2

3.  In this next image, there's a lot going on.  At the bottom left, you'll see "Show levels:".  I only use 2 levels.  If you have a reason to use more do so, otherwise, switch it to 2.  We'll come back here in a minute.  For now, click on "Modify".  (Image 3)

Image 3

4.  This opens up the different styles for your Table of Contents.  You can check them each out, or you can click on "Modify" in the style box to modify the style of your selection.  In this one, you can center your table of contents, change the font, make it bold or many other things.  If you click "Format" at the bottom left corner, you can change the paragraph stylings, such as indentation and spacing before and after lines.  (Image 4)

Image 4

5.  Next, you want to click on "Options" (Image 3).  This will bring up "Table of Contents Options."  Here, I get rid of the "1" in Heading 1.  You don't want the Title in your table of Contents . . . unless you do, in which case you can leave it.

Image 5

6.  Okay, once you have everything set to the way you want it, click okay and go back to the Table of Contents (Image 3) and uncheck "Show page numbers".  Ebooks don't have page numbers, so you don't want them in there.  You do, however, want to make certain that the box on the right "Use hyperlinks instead of page numbers" is checked.  Click "OK" and you will have this:  (Image 6)

Image 6

7.  You'll find that if you hover over "Beginning" or "Author's Notes", you'll be able to ctrl-click to each section.  If you have chapters instead of "Beginning", they'll all be there.  On the line above that, I manually type in "Table of Contents".

8.  Next, you want to save your document as "Web Page Filtered".  (Image 7)

Image 7


9.  Now you want to go to the html version of your document and open it with notepad to edit it.  You'll get a page like this:  (Image 8)

Image 8

10.  The thing you want to add here is  <a name="toc"></a>  (You can just copy and paste that) before the line with Table of contents.  (Image 9).  You can do a ctrl-f to find the words.  What this does, is it tells the next program, and Amazon that this is where the Table of Contents is.  After you've done that, you want to save the file.

Image 9


Mobipocket  is the tool I use to convert the html file into an ebook that I can upload to Amazon.

11.  Open up Mobipocket and you'll get a screen that looks like this (Image 10)  Go to the section that says "Import from Existing file".  Choose "HTML document".  That will lead you to a page where you add your document.  In the section that says "Choose your file" click "Browse" and find the html version of your book. Once you've selected it, click "Import". 

Image 10

12.  Next you want to add a cover image.  Click on "Cover Image" and add the file (Image 11)  Then update. 

Image 11

13.  Next, you want to click on "Guide".  (Image 12)  Add a "New Guide Item".  Under "Type", click the drop down menu and select "toc".  Then, next to Filename, is another Browse button.  Click on that and find the document folder that Mobipocket has created.  Mine is under "Documents", "My Publications", "Phairyphant".  Then you go in there and select the new html version of your book that Mobipocket created.

Image 12

14.  Now you edit the section with the file.  Under "Filename" you want to go to the end of the filename and add #toc behind "html".  Then click "Update".   (Image 13)

Image 13
15.  Now you go to the little gears at the top where it says "Build".  Click on that and it'll put all of it together.  You'll have the option of "Open folder containing book".  You'll want to make sure that's checked.  There, you'll find your book.  (Image 14)

Image 14

16.  Next, you'll want to check it in the Kindle Previewer.  (Image 15)  At the top, click on "Go To".  Then you click on "Table of Contents".  If it takes you to the Table of Contents, then you've done it all right. :)  If it gives you an error message, then something went wrong along the way.

Image 15

17.  Upload that file to Amazon and hopefully sell lots of books. :)

I hope this helps.  If you have any questions, you can leave them in a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to start a story

Beginning failure

Yesterday, I sat down at my computer and opened a document that already had a short story idea.  I had convinced myself that I would bust it out in a day or two.

Then I sat there, staring at the screen, wondering how in the world to write it.  Keep in mind, I've written 8 short stories, 2 novellas and 7 novels by this point.  Yet I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to write this one.  I mean, I knew the plot.  I knew the characters, I knew what was going to happen and everything.  But I didn't know how to write it!

This was very disturbing to me, to say the least.  So I've spent the last day trying to figure out what happened.  Why couldn't I write a story?

It finally came to me that I desired to just dump the entire story onto the page.  I just wanted the words there and magically delicious.  "Poof!" as Vevin (One of my characters) would say.

However, writing doesn't work that way.  It's like a fine wine that is best sniffed and sipped at first and then rolled across the tongue and savored over time.  I wanted to chug the bottle in one gulp. *sigh*

So I tried to figure out how I was supposed to start the story and then it hit me.

I said, "Ow".

Beginning success

Starting a story isn't really all that easy, but I have a method that's worked for me in everything else I've written.  However, I never realized before that that's what I was doing.  What is it you ask?  . . . Or perhaps you don't ask? . . .  Hmmm . . . I'll take a chance that you are asking.

I get to know my first character.  When I start a book, nothing else matters but that first character in the scene.  I begin by telling where they are and how they feel about where they are.  I find out if there's danger or a person to talk to.  I find out what the weather is like and how my character feels about it.  I find out why the character is there.

Nothing else matters, not the story, not the plots, not the ending; nothing.

Once I know who my character is and have a basic understanding of them, then I begin developing the story.  It really doesn't matter if I have an outline or an ending, because the character I've created may choose not to follow that path.  If I try to force the character along it, then I find myself losing interest in the story.

My characters are the most important aspect of my books.  Everything else is secondary. When I say character, it doesn't actually have to be a person or an animal.  In the Dralin Trilogy, the city itself is just as much of a character as the people within it.  It starts with a young couple named Sheela and Frath, but I'm introducing Dralin to the reader just as much as anyone else.

I have a few stories floating around, ready to write.  Now that I realize what my own method is, I'll be sure to remember to slow down at the beginning.  I won't worry about what's supposed to happen next, but instead, I'll get to know the character.  I'll let them tell me their story instead of me trying to tell them.

It's fun to write this way.  I think my characters become more real when I let them have their personality and be who they want to be.  Instead of working, I'm listening to a story and taking a journey.

Author's note:

Writers spend far too much time telling how things must be done to write a book (*cough*StephenKing*cough).  What I've told you here is merely how I write.  Perhaps something similar would work for you, perhaps not.  There are just as many methods of writing as there are writers, I believe.  I talk about my methods largely because this entire process is a journey for me. I often have revelations and like to write them down so I understand myself and can improve in the future.  If it helps others, well, that's just a bonus. :)

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why many of my short stories are no longer free

Sad Day

Most of my short stories are now $.99 instead of free, in spite of the fact that I originally intended to leave them free forever.  In addition, I will be charging for future short stories that I write, including the Demented Children stories. :(  I'm still leaving the first books of my trilogies free and one of the Demented Children books free at a time.  It'll alternate throughout the year.

Why they were free in the first place.

For two reasons.  One was the obvious marketing aspect.  Most readers buy the books of the authors they know.  The best way for me to get people to want to buy my books is to give them a sample of my writing.

The second reason was that I enjoy giving them away for free.  Life is hard and often times many people can't afford a lot.  There have been times when I've spent my last few dollars on a book rather than a meal.  At a couple of points in my life, I've been homeless.  If I got a few dollars, I would buy a used book and sit in the park while reading it.  Also, a lot of young readers don't have a big allowance for books, so it's really nice to have free ones available.

Why they are not free now.

The self-publishing world is changing fast.  What worked a year ago is ineffective now.  Giving away hundreds of thousands of copies of my stories was an excellent way to get people to know who I am and gauge whether or not they like my writing style.

That's no longer the case.  Amazon is especially eager to put the brakes on free books.  When I gave away Rojuun in January of last year, I gave away about 25,000 books in the first two months.  When I gave away Dralin this year, I got about 4000 downloads.  That's even taking into account that my timing and marketing were better. Part of this is due to a glut of free ebooks on the market and part of it is due to adjusted algorithms that sweeps books under the rug much faster.

I've also noticed similar trends with Apple and B&N.  It's getting much harder to compete and they're adjusting how they calculate sales and which books to highlight.

Now, an actual sale where money is exchanged causes my popularity to jump a bit, bringing me closer to the eyes of the masses.  Therefore, if I sell a book at $.99, it doesn't just give me $.35, it also makes me more noticeable.  The more noticeable I am, the more likely bookstores are to feature my books.

The more books I sell, the more likely I am to be able to make a living off of my writing.  If I can do that, I can write more books and that's a win for everyone except the people who hate my writing!

I've mentioned in the past that I really don't know what I'm doing.  Most of this is just guesswork based on observations I make about the market.  All I can say is that I'm doing my best to write as many books as I can and hopefully make a living off of it at some point in the future.

I still have 3 books for free, "Rojuun", "Dralin", and "Drippy the Peg-Legged Rainbow".

I wish you all the very best and hope you find many wonderful stories to read. :)

John H. Carroll

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Brynn the Exorcist

"Brynn the Exorcist" by A L Fetherlin 


This novel is the first in a Christian Horror trilogy. The concept of the series is straightforward, fast-paced, and compelling. God had not been an important feature in Brynn's life until she met the outwardly arrogant pastor Anthony. Archangel Gabriel revealed that they have been chosen by God to complete a task and must comply however overwhelming and frightening their new path will become. They struggle with their unnatural inheritances, family confrontations, personal assaults from demons, and hostile visits from fallen angel, Lilith, before they figure out how to save the innocents possessed by evil.

Join Brynn Duvaine and pastor Anthony Russo as they fight for God against the growing evil in the first book of A.L. Fetherlin's Christian Horror series, 'Brynn, the Exorcist.'

You can get it at Smashwords:
Barnes and Noble:
You can also get it in paperback:


It's very difficult reading a book written by a friend, and in the interests of full disclosure, I consider A L Fetherlin a very good friend. :)  I'm always afraid I won't like a book by a friend.  It's happened a couple of other times with other writers.  In those cases, I didn't leave a review or even let them know.  Shhhh.

But I did enjoy this one!  It's very far out of my typical genre of epic fantasy.  I've had a few odd looks when I've told people that I was reading Christian Horror, but if you think about it, it's the perfect category.  Demons and angels fighting for the souls of ordinary humans where the ultimate prize for us is Heaven or Hell.

Brynn the Exorcist is book 1 in a series currently being written.  It introduces the characters Brynn Duvaine and Anthony Russo to the reader.  Brynn is a psychologist working with victims of the worst sorts of violence from their childhoods.  Anthony is a pastor suffering from the worst sort of disease any person of god can suffer, Vanity.

I came to like Brynn right away.  She's a strong female lead who begins as a skeptic about anything slightly out of the normal.  Making it harder is that the forces of evil try to encourage that skepticism.  Sometimes it takes great willpower and some divine assistance to rise above it.  Once she overcomes that skepticism, she proceeds with devout determination and courage.  Brynn suffers and has doubts, as all people do, but she pushes through and does what she believes to be right.  She is a true heroine who I came to feel a connection to.

Pastor Anthony goes through moments where he believes himself to be brilliant and moments where he believes himself to be a failure.  There is much more happening behind the scenes that the author hasn't told us yet though.  I believe there will be more revealed in future books.

My favorite characters are the demons that possess us innocent humans.  I'm totally claiming possession the next time my wife blames me for something.  ;)  But the demons are delightfully evil and each has its own twist.  If anything, they could be even more vile, as could Lilith.  I occasionally wished I could be even more frightened.

On the negative side.  I didn't like the husband at all.  He didn't seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities, and the ones he did have, he lost sight of along the way.  Also, there were a few instances where I was told a conversation, or something else happened, but I think it would have been better to read about it while it happened.  The last thing was some mild head hopping between characters without a *** break in perspective.  It either wasn't too terrible, or I'm just becoming use to it in books these days.  None of the negatives were enough to detract from a superb story that was well-written and well edited. :)

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys horror, especially with demons.  There is heavy Christian revelation and enlightenment, but it's very thoughtful and adds to the story rather than detracting.

About the Author

A.L. Fetherlin was born in the middle of central Illinois to people and then moved away.
The mother of three, ruler of none and almost obsessive admirer of most things Scottish and British, AL has virtually no time to herself. AL enjoys stories about death in any form and God in all forms.


I have decided to review books that I enjoy. I am an avid reader of fantasy, so most of them will be in that genre. I'm not taking any requests, just reading what catches my eyes. You'll find that most of these are from Indie Authors. The way I figure it, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster and Piers Anthony (my favorite authors) already have enough reviews, but Indies could always use a few more.

It is important to note here that while I am a writer, I am doing these reviews as a reader. I also know a number of the authors I will be reviewing. This is not an exchange of reviews, nor have I been solicited by those authors to write the review. At no time will I ever accept any form of payment for a review. When I say that I'm am doing this as a reader, I mean it. I get nothing in exchange.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Friday, February 1, 2013

What month Indie Authors get paid for ebooks

Pay schedules for Indie Author publishing.

Every once in a while, someone gets confused about when each vendor pays royalties for books sold.  This is a list for self-publishing through online stores like Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo and Createspace.  This is when U.S. residents get paid.

Note:  I do not directly publish to Apple, therefore I do not know their pay schedule.

Amazon KDP, B&N Pubit

With Amazon's KDP and B&N's Pubit you get paid every month if you've made $10.  It's usually on the last day of the second month after the end of the month.  Therefore:

January gets paid March 31st. 
February gets paid April 30th
March gets paid May 31st
April gets paid June 30th
May gets paid July 31st
June gets paid August 31st
July gets paid September 30th
August gets paid October 31st
September gets paid November 30th
October gets paid December 31st
November gets paid January 31st
December gets paid February 28th


With Createspace, you get paid even faster, the last day of the first month.  You get paid after earning $10

January gets paid  February 28th.
February gets paid March 31st
March gets paid April 30th
April gets paid May 31th
May gets paid June 30th
June gets paid July 31th
July gets paid August 31th
August gets paid September 30th
September gets paid October 31st
October gets paid November 30th
November gets paid December 31st
December gets paid January 31st


With Kobo, you only get paid after you've made $100.  Their pricing language states:

Payment will be issued on a monthly basis if your content has generated over $100.00 USD. If after 6 months, your content has not generated over $100.00 USD, we will deliver all of the earnings your content has generated at that point.

Now, I haven't earned enough to receive a check, but the wording indicates that you would get paid sometime in the month after you've successfully accumulated $100 worth of earnings, so the same schedule as Createspace.


With Smashwords you get paid quarterly.  You need to make $10 if you're getting paid by paypal or $75 if you're getting paid by check. 

January, February, and March get paid April 30th
April, May and June get paid July 31st
July, August and September get paid October 31st
October, November and December get paid January 31st.

If you distribute to Apple, B&N, Kobo and other stores, Smashwords updates the royalties as they receive them. I've been published with Smashwords for 2 years now and the frequency of updating has inconsistant (understatement). However, I have learned to take a long-term viewpoint with them as I plan to be a writer for the rest of my life. They do update, and they do pay, which are the important things.

International residents.

Note: This is if you live in the U.S. International payments are well . . . lets just say I'm glad I don't have to deal with the crap international writers do. From what I understand, you have to make $100 on Amazon and then you get paid a check (or if you're European, cheque), which is problamatic because most banks are no longer taking cheques across the pond.

Smashwords takes out 30% to pay to the U.S. IRS unless you go through a complicated, time-consuming and expensive process of filling out paperwork.

I hope this helps other writers.   If anyone should find any inconsistancies with this list, or have something to add, please feel free to mention it in the comments below. :)

All my best,

John H. Carroll