Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Add Navigation to a Smashwords Ebook

Does your Smashwords ebook contain navigation?  Are you taking full advantage of navigation?

This afternoon I produced and uploaded a new Smashwords tutorial video that shows you how to add navigation to your Smashwords ebook.

Use the video as a companion resource to Step 20 of the Smashwords Style Guide, where we have additional tips on how to add navigation to your ebook. [Two updates:  1.  Box Sets:  Added a new section for Box Set authors.  2.  For Mac Users:  Added a special bookmarking and ToC hyperlinking instructionsat the end of this post]

One of the advantages of ebooks over print books is that ebooks can contain navigation.  Hyperlinks within your book can link to chapters, Parts, or special sections.  These links make your book more accessible to readers.


You can also use links to draw your reader's attention to important end matter (a.k.a. back matter) sections of the book that help you sell more books.

Few authors take full advantage of their end matter.  Some authors will simply end their book with the words, "The End" and then leave the reader hanging at the very moment the reader wants more.  Give them more!

Here are a few examples of the end matter sections you can create, and then link to from your linked ToC:

1.   About the author - place a short bio here so readers can learn more about you.

2.   Other books by this author - The reader just finished your book and is craving more from you.  Tell them about your other books.  If you have a book on preorder, let them know the preorder is available at select retailers (Smashwords distributes preorders to Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo).

3.  Connect with the Author - The reader loved your book, they think you're the bees knees, and they want to connect with you.  Add your coordinates for Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your website, your Smashwords Interview, your Smashwords author page, or your mailing list. Once a reader connects with you via social media, they can start to get to know you and appreciate your super-awesomeness on an entirely new level.  It's an opportunity for you to start a long term relationship building process that can help casual readers become fans, and help fans grow to become super fans. 

4.  Sample chapters of other books - Give them a taste of your other books!

5.  Reading group guide - Create a special section for reading groups with suggested questions that would spark thought-provoking discussion and debate.  This is an opportunity to turn one reader into many, because it'll encourage reading group members to propose your book as the group's next read.

Your book might already have one or more of these sections.  If you don't have them all, consider upgrading your book with these new end matter sections, and with a linked ToC to tie them altogether. The video, and the recently updated Style Guide, will give you ideas to take your book to the next level.

Special thanks to Smashwords bestseller Samantha Towle.  Samantha gave me permission to use her new contemporary romance, Trouble, in the creation of this video.  I used her book as an example of how to add useful navigation in Microsoft Word.  

Navigation Tips for Box Sets and Multi-author Collaborations

More than just about any book, box sets really need a robust NCX, which is the book's external Table of Contents you see whenever you click the Table of Contents option on your ereader device.  The secret to creating a great NCX is to start with a logical Linked Table of Contents.  As we mention in Step 20 of the Style Guide (the section that explains how to add navigation) and video above, when you create a linked Table of Contents, Meatgrinder will use your linked ToC to guide the creation of the NCX.  This gives you great control.

Let's assume you're formatting a five-book multi-author box set of travel memoirs titled World Travelers.  Here are the items you might place in your Linked Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

About World Travellers
Book One - Jane's Memoir by Jane Austin Smith
 About Jane Austin Smith
Book Two - Joe's Fantastic Adventures by Joe Williams
 About Joe Williams
Book Three - Hitchhiking through Africa by Celena Scott
 About Celena Scott
Book Four - Exotic Restaurants of Instanbul by Freddie Mackin
 About Freddie Mackin
Book Five - Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Jodie Anderson
 About Jodie Anderson

Each of the items above would be hyperlinked, with the hyperlinks pointing to the bookmarks corresponding to the start of each section.  In the example above, we'd identified the start of each key section.  If you want to go further, you could even link to the primary subsections within each book, though be careful not to go overboard because too much navigation can become overwhelming to the reader. See the YouTube video on Smashwords navigation to see the navigation creation process in action.  Once you see how to do it, it's easy and the final result will give your readers a great navigation experience.

How to get multiple authors in the metadata:  Smashwords can connect multiple authors to your box set.  Simply gather the hyperlinks for each participating author's author profile page at Smashwords and send the request with the hyperlinks to the Smashwords support team.  You'll find the link to the support team at the bottom of any Smashwords website page, or by clicking the question "?" mark at the top of any page.

Special Navigation Instructions for Mac Word users:  

 The Smashwords Style Guide, and the video tutorial above, show how to create navigation using the PC versions of Microsoft Word.  If you use a Mac, the same principles of navigation as explained above, and in the Style Guide and video, also apply to Mac Word users.  However, the menus within Word for Mac are different.  The image below shows the location of the options that allow bookmarking and hyperlinking.  Click the image to expand.




16 comments:

Jason Matthews said...

Great tips. I think a lot of authors forget the benefits to hyperlinks in their About the Author page that goes to their website, blog, and favorite social media links.

Areli MediaWorks said...

Thanks Mark, this is great. It took 8 books to ace passing the auto vetter. This video helps so much especially the information about including significant Back Matter (author page). --Chris

Teds Ebooks said...

Great addition, Mark. I've added your information in the
Smashwords Forum.

Mark Coker said...

A Smashwords author emailed me with questions about how to locate the bookmark and hyperlink features within Word for the Mac. I updated the post with a screen shot and instructions.

Here are the written instructions: In Word for Mac, the menu ribbon along the top is different than the ribbon menu for the PC versions of Word. At the very top of the screen in Word for Mac, you'll see "Insert". That's where you'll click to insert bookmarks. You'll click Insert then click Bookmark.

As a reminder, you'll always create Bookmarks before you link to them from your ToC.

To create a hyperlink in your ToC that links *to* the bookmark location, highlight the item in your ToC you want to link (such as Prologue or Chapter One or About the Author, etc.), click Insert at the top of your Word screen, then click Hyperlink, then in the middle of the page after clicking Insert: Hyperlink, you'll see the options for Web Page | Document | Email Address. Click Document. Next, under the Anchor heading on that same window, click Locate, and then click the down arrow for Bookmarks. There, you'll see your bookmarks.

Darren G. Burton said...

In my experience with putting hyperlinks at the end of eBooks is that retailers such as Apple will reject your book because of it. I've had that happen on a number of occasions, so I stopped putting links of any kind at the end of my books. At one stage I used to simply place a link at the end navigating to my Smashwords author page, but got rejected for that as well, by vetters at Smashwords. Has this recently changed?

Mark Coker said...

Darren, Apple doesn't want to see language or links that encourage their customer to go elsewhere to buy a book. So, for example, "Visit my web site at http://" or "Visit my Smashwords author page at http://" is okay, but "Buy my other books at my website" or "Buy my books at [name your destination/retailer]" is not okay.

"Buy my books at fine ebook retailers everywhere" is okay.

"Available for preorder at select retailers" is also okay.

The updated Style Guide has more information on back matter.

Karen McGowan said...

I am a Mac user. Your explanation in the tutorial video was very helpful. The update and images for Mac users was extremely beneficial. I have now tested the principles of navigation in a manuscript. They work great! I plan to incorporate them in my next book. Thank you, Mark!

Mark Coker said...

Thanks, Karen, great to hear!

David Rory O'Neill said...

I too have had an issue with getting an Apple ticket for hyperlinks leading to my Smashwords pages and one to my author blog. None to other sales outlets. It seems very inconsistent. There was no language about sales, only the title and the link to Smashwords.
I deleted all links from that title and will not use them in new titles but I dread having to change all 13 titles already published. I think there needs to be clarity with Apple about what 'competition links' means. Surely they don't see Smashwords as competition?
David Rory O'Neill.

LL said...

Will I be able to link to associated audio files from an ebook? If so, how to submit the the audio files with the document? And will the audio files play from within the ebook on an iPad or Kindle?

paganpaul said...

In this vein I wonder if it is useful to make links from chapter-titles back to the ToC, so readers can jump up and down. I've seen a few books with that feature, but can't decide if that's at all useful.

Mark Coker said...

@David, Apple has been increasing their crackdown and scope of what they deem "competitive links." Links to Smashwords are still fine, but it depends on the context and the language surrounding the link. "Buy my book at Smashwords" is not okay because Apple doesn't want the book to drive their customers to other purchase venues. "Visit my author page at Smashwords" followed by a link to your author page is perfectly fine. Apple's main concern, which is understandable, is that it's confusing to their customers when a book they're reading encourages them to go to another store to buy other books by the same author. Our Apple Ticket Help Page page has a section on recommendations to help you. We'll continue to update the guidance on that page to keep it current, because requirements can change over time. It shouldn't be necessary to update books that have been previously accepted and listed by Apple unless Apple's QA team gives you a ticket requesting the change. The <a href="https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52>Smashwords Style Guide</a> also has updated recommendations on how link to Smashwords, your website, blog or social media sites.

@LL - We don't support audio files inside the book. I don't know if this would work for you, but if your book could include an appendix of supplemental resources, you could link to a blog or some other online archive to provide links to your audio as long as access to that audio is free and doesn't require purchase or registration. Such a resource should also *not* be advertised or promised in your book description, because you'd run the risk of promising something that not all e-reading devices may support. That's why I'd recommend the language around your appendix point to these resources as supplemental for those with devices that support it.

@paganpaul - Great question! Here's my personal opinion, though the choice is entirely up to you: For fiction, I think it's best to not link your chapter headings back up to the ToC, because fiction is read serially from page one forward and readers will have little reason to link to the top. Also keep in mind that too many links in the body of the book can become like landmines that readers might accidentally tap or click and be pulled out of the book, or out of their location. For non-fiction, especially reference works where readers will access your material non-sequentially, I think links back to the ToC can be very useful. For example, in the Smashwords Style Guide you'll see many "Back to top" links.

LL said...

Thanks for the information, Mark. That's what I've been doing with my printed book, "Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes", viz. asking my readers to download the audio files from the Internet. It would be so much better if the reader could just click on a link in the ebook and listen to the corresponding audio.

Dave Gledhill said...

I found this so much easier being talked through the process. Thanks for the superb tutorial.

Chuck Miceli said...

Although the style guide is very well written, following the video tutorial was extremely helpful. I found myself going back and forth between the tutorial and my book, "Amanda's Room." I was disappointed to learn that a ticket from Apple prevented my book from being distributed through them and believe the source may well have been due to issues with the bookmarks and hyperlinks. Thanks so much for making these resources available.

Louis Shalako said...

All I had was a link to my blog at the end of the book. iTunes ticketed those books.

For the two books a year I sell on iTunes and the three a year I sell on SW, there comes a point where it's just not worth it.