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Amazon KDP Table of Content Brouhaha
This video is about the Amazon KDP Table of Content mess and the awesome ebook formatting software, Vellum coming to the rescue.
Earlier this month the indie self-publishing world freaked out when Amazon went on a “shoot first, ask questions second” crackdown over the placement of the Table of Content (TOC) in an ebook. Many indies (myself included) put the TOC in the backmatter of the book in order to allow potential readers to get right to the meat of the content sample when clicking on the “Look Inside” link Amazon provides to folks on the fence over to buy the book or not.
But it seems scammers had figured out that they could trick Amazon into giving them a big piece of the Kindle Unlimited bounty that Amazon funds and distributes (based, amongst other things, on the pages read by a member of Kindle Unlimited that borrows your ebook).
The scammers added shoddy bonuses and fake promises of winning a free Kindle or an Amazon gift card if the just clicked on the link in the front matter that would the reader to the end of the book and thusly tricking/scamming Amazon into crediting them for those skipped pages as if they were read.
That meant that the scammers received a big chunk of the pie plus the Kindle Unlimited All-Star Bonuses. One of these hucksters bragged about all the money he was making on his YouTube videos and proudly called out one of his “coaching students” who was making $70K per month pulling schemes like this.
Well, of course, Amazon had to do something, but they didn’t really think it through and as usually happens, it’s the innocent author that follows Amazon KDP terms and rules that got hit hard, while the scammer went on cashing in.
This author had the “buy now” button removed from his ebook sales page in the midst of an expensive BookBub ad campaign costing him money, ranking, visibility, and more. His crime? Having the TOC in the back of the book. Other prominent bloggers picked up on this story.
David Gaughran’s expose on all of this was excellent.
Needless to say, this left a cavalcade of indie authors (yours truly included) scrambling to move TOCs from the back to the front matter.
The bad publicity in the community was toxic enough that Amazon KDP released an official statement about the TOC mess. You can see it below (click on the image to enlarge it).
It was some rollercoaster ride of moving the TOC from back to the front and then back to the back, others left it in the front, and I know of others who removed the TOC completely.
For indies that format their ebooks manually moving the TOC around takes some HTML chops to ensure you don’t mess up something else while editing the TOC.
For me, it was a breeze, thanks to a wonderful software called Vellum. Moving the TOC was as simple as checking one box. It took me five minutes to complete this task. Less than a minute to move the TOC, about a minute to generate the necessary Kindle ebook format for upload, and then around four minutes to upload the new file to KDP.
I didn’t have to deal with formatting my file, messing with HTML, or paying someone to do this for me. Instead, I fired up Vellum, I checked a box, and I generated a Kindle ebook with the updated TOC. I could go back and forth all day, thank you very much, Amazon.