By Lyn Horner
There’s a hard way and an easy way to embed a book cover image. I chose the hard way. Please bear with me as I explain that method, because I want you to know what not to do. Then I will give you an easier alternative.
As you know, I employed Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer to perfect my text formatting. Remember, Amazon says, “Only Kindle files created using Kindlegen are guaranteed to be compatible with the current and future Kindle devices & applications.” I took that to mean I should also use Kindlegen to embed my book cover. But how?
Each time I ran my book through Kindlegen, it converted the html file into a mobi file (a format used for ebooks) but with a warning: “No cover specified.” The Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines state, “Covers are defined in the .OPF . . .” What’s an .OPF? From my son, I learned it’s an “open package format” file which tells Kindlegen where to find all parts of a book, including the cover. Since I had no idea how to create an .OPF, my computer savvy offspring did the job, using html coding that’s way beyond me.
(FYI, Mobipocket Creator and Mobipocket Reader are an easier way to create and read mobi files, per discussions on Amazon’s message boards. Both apps are available for free on the internet.)
Once my .OPF was in place, Kindlegen finally told me I had a complete mobi file. I contacted Kindle DTP Support, asking what steps to follow when uploading a mobi formatted book. They said mobi files work very well and I should go ahead and upload my book on the DTP. Great! But wait, when I started entering info on the Product Details page, I came to a window where I was asked to browse for my book cover and upload it. Huh? The cover was included in my mobi file, and Amazon’s guidelines say not to upload a cover twice, so I left that pesky window empty. Likewise, I did not enter anything in the book description window because that, too, was part of my mobi. (The description should be short and catchy, like a blurb on the back cover of a paperback.)
After completing my upload, I tried to publish, but received an error message. I had to go back and type in the book description, but the message didn’t complain about my blank book cover window, so I hit the publish button again. This time it worked. I waited nervously while my book went through “Review”. Hours later it reached “Publishing” status. My title, Darlin’ Druid, appeared in the Kindle Store but didn’t become buyable until it integrated on Amazon’s list of available titles. This took about 24 hours. Then it went “Live”. Can you imagine how excited I was?
Unfortunately, the product image (cover) did not appear next to my book title. However, it did show up in black & white with my book when I downloaded a free sample. I waited, thinking it might take longer for the product image to integrate on the web page. Becoming concerned the next day, I contacted Kindle support again. After an unhelpful response, I sent another message, again asking for help. Before they replied (it usually takes them a day or two) impatience won out. I uploaded my book cover in that annoying window on the Product Details page, and it appeared almost instantly next to my title in the Kindle Store. Later, my book description also showed up. (It takes 36-72 hours after a book goes live for the description to integrate.)
Now here’s the easier method. Use Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer to perfect your text formatting. Then forget about Kindlegen and mobi files. Go to the DTP Support Home page and click Publish Your Content under the Getting Started Guide. Scroll down to “Official Publishing Guide – Video Tutorial”. Listen to the short video. It will give you a good idea of what to do. Next, go back to the Publish Your Content page and click “Step 1. Your Book: Entering Product Details,” where you’ll enter information about your book. Upload your book cover and content, and type in a description. Then click the Preview Book button and go through your book one more time, page by page, on the online previewer. Look for any formatting errors you may have missed. If you find some (I spotted one) you’ll need to correct the errors in your html file then upload again. Yes, it’s a pain, but you want your book to look good and read smoothly, right?
Once you’ve finished uploading and are satisfied with how your book looks, move on to the Rights and Pricing page. Furnish the required information, choose a price and royalty option. (Read carefully.) Then click the Save and Publish button. Assuming you don’t get an error message, your book will now be reviewed. If all is well, it will progress to “Publishing”. Check the status by clicking “Bookshelf” at the top of the DTP Support Home page. (Log in first.) This takes you to your bookshelf where your title(s) are displayed. Under “Status” you will see how your book is progressing. When it reads “Live” you are now the proud author of a Kindle book. Congratulations!
I invite you to sample my cross genre historical, Darlin’ Druid, at: