Self-Publish on Amazon: Internal Book Cover & Table(s) of Contents

book & green stripes

Amazon requires a book cover to be uploaded twice, once for the marketing image, the one customers see when they shop on Amazon. The other image is the internal one readers see when they open a Kindle book on their reading device. There’s a place during the KDP uploading process where you add the marketing image, but the internal cover image must be embedded in your book file prior to uploading.

There are various ways to embed the internal cover image. You will find numerous discussions on this topic on the Amazon KDP Community forum. Here’s one you might find helpful: It’s a long post, but there is a section about including a cover image. NOTE: I haven’t tried this author’s method, so I can’t guarantee it.

More reading: In Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Guidelines, go to page 13. There you will find Cover Image Guidelines. Read this section carefully. If you have trouble understanding the technical jargon, you may need to enlist a friend or relative with html experience.

As mentioned in a prior post, I employed Kindlegen and the Kindle Previewer to perfect my text formatting. Each time I ran my book through Kindlegen, it converted the html file into a mobi file (a format used for ebooks) but with this warning: “No cover specified.” I had to embed the cover before I could complete the Kindlegen process and look at my book on the Kindle Previewer.

The Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines state, “Define covers in the OPF file . . .” From my son, I learned OPF stands for “open package format.” This file tells Kindlegen where to find all parts of a book, including the cover. Since I had no idea how to set up an OPF, my computer savvy offspring did the job, using html coding that’s way beyond me.

FYI, Mobipocket Creator can be used to create mobi files, per discussions on Amazon’s message boards. This app is available on the internet. I think it’s free. I’ve also read that it can be a bit persnickety.

In addition to the internal cover image, your OPF file must contain two tables of contents (TOCs). The first one is an HTML TOC. This is the table of contents readers see in the front matter of a book. In an ebook it allows them to jump to whatever chapter they wish. You need to use hyperlinks to set up the HTML TOC.

First, open a blank page that will drop in right after your title page in the OPF file. Call this page Table of Contents, then list your chapters, including the prologue and/or epilogue if you have one. I like to bold the chapter titles and increase line spacing (do this under Paragraph in your Format menu.) Next, highlight the first chapter in your list, click the hyperlink icon on your toolbar, then go to your html book file. (Reminder: You need your chapters to be separate for this, not saved as one big book file.) Click on the corresponding chapter in your file and hit Okay. Go back to your TOC page and try the link. It should take you to the chapter. Do the same for every chapter, the cover, title page, dedication page if you include one, and any other extra features. You have now created your html Table of Contents.

Next, you need to set up a Logical TOC (NCX) for easy navigation through your book. Read page 14-15 in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines for an explanation of how the NCX TOC works and why it’s necessary. Amazon has included an example of how to set up an NCX in html code. I won’t try to explain it here because it’s one of those tech subjects that flies over my head. Again, if you are unfamiliar with html code, you will need help with this.

I’m sorry this has gotten so technical. There are quicker, easier ways to publish your book on Amazon, but this is the method I stick to because I want to be sure my books are well formatted and easy to read. In other words, I want them to be as professional as I can possibly make them.

Once your OPF file is complete, you are ready to upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Look for further posts in this series in 2013 on these topics:

  • Get Your Book Noticed (Marketing)
  • Copyright, Royalties & ISBN Issues
  • Amazon Author Forums


2 thoughts on “Self-Publish on Amazon: Internal Book Cover & Table(s) of Contents

  1. Lyn, thank you for all your wonderful articles about publishing on Amazon. Even though I didn’t have too much trouble with publishing my first Kindle book, Trail To Destiny, sounds like some of the process has changed. I hope to have my sequel, Destiny’s Journey ready to publish in early 2013, so will certainly refer to your thorough and detailed instructions, all of which I’ve printed out.


    • Hi Cheri, I’m glad to hear from you. You’re very welcome. I hope my suggestions help you with publishing your next book. Can’t wait to read it!

      Merry Christmas!


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