I've recently joined KDP and have been struggling to create an ebook. It just seemed like it should be an easier process than it was turning out to be. After a lot of struggling and testing I think I have a reasonable answer. The way I'm doing it now is both easy and straight forward.
I only have a Mac, and I make point of avoiding anything labeled Microsoft, so I use OpenOffice and utilities built for the Mac, namely Alkinea to generate the epub and Kindlegen to convert it into the mobi. A pointer to Kindlegen is set inside Alkinea and it's run automatically, so I never see that step. If I need to edit the epub I use Sigil 0.6.1 (the latest version that will run on OSX 10.6.8) and then run Kindlegen manually on the epub in order to generate the mobi. Re Kindlegen, open a terminal window and 2 mouse-clicks will generate the mobi. The only reason I've edited the epub was to see if I could change the title of the toc since Alkinea defaults to just 'Contents'. And I could, easily and simply, using Sigil and Kindlegen.
Alkinea will only work with the OpenOffice created toc using their 'Insert' -> 'Indexes and Tables'. Well almost only, having no toc, just Header1 styles at the start of each chapter gives Alkinea enough information to generate the toc. Using manually created hyperlinks to bookmarks DOES NOT WORK. The OpenOffice generated toc works very easily, just a few clicks, let me know if you're having problems.
If the name of and path to, a cover image is given to Alkinea then it will be used it inlieu of an Alkinea generated cover page consisting of title and author.
I did no testing with embedded images and other objects, so I can't comment on them, but the mobi generated by Alkinea and Kindlegen works great in both Kindle previewer and Kindle for Mac, as well as on my e-ink Kindle 3g.
I can go from an OpenOffice source *.odt file to a fully functional *.mobi in about 3 secs (for a 100 page novella).
I hope this helps some people avoid the frustration and hair-pulling I did...
And I could, easily and simply, using Sigil and Kindlegen
Well, you don't need Kindlegen for that purpose. You can upload the epub directly to the KDP. That's what I do. (Though I am delighted to know that KIndlegen works more easily on a Mac than it does on the Windows computer which has a DOS feature for just such a purpose!)
Maybe I'm wrong, but I figure the mobi I create will more acurately represent what KDP puts up on the website, as well as letting me view it locally. I have noticed that I can drop an epub on the Kindle Previewer and it says something like 'converting' and then displays it.
But I will keep that in mind, sounds like it may come in handy...
I've uploaded a new version of Alkinea
If a ToC is present in the ODT file, then Alkinea uses its position in the document and its title.
If there is no ToC, then a new one is created and added at the beginning of the ebook.
No ToC is created if there are no chapters (ex: for a small document.)
The converter doesn't add a cover to a kindle ebook (Amazon adds it automatically) but it does add it to the ePub.