Before You Publish: Part 3

ISBNs suck. They suck because you need them, they’re confusing, and they are expensive. I hope I can shed some light on this crummy subject. After this, we can get to the fun stuff, if you consider any of this fun.

ISBN stands for, umm . . . I don’t even know. *Stealthily sneaks to Google to look* International Standard Book Number. It’s the long number above the barcode on books. But it’s more than that. A lot more.
Here’s the one bought and paid for by yours truly:

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This is the part where I tell you that what I know is about CreateSpace and Kindle. (This is info for US writers. If you’re interested in what other countries go through regarding ISBN numbers, look here. Don’t hate Canadians because they’re beautiful, or because they get free ISBN numbers.) If you go with Lulu, IngramSpark, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, iUniverse or anywhere else, I don’t know from experience what they do for you regarding ISBNs. You’ll have to do your own research and make choices that are right for you in regards to the venue you’re looking to go through. There are a lot of choices out there, and if I can give you one piece of advice before you start this whole thing is to take your time. Have patience. There is a lot I would do differently if I had been more patient (and you get to hear all about it later!).

If you are deciding to do Kindle only still read this post. I’ll go into some ISBN info that you should keep in mind, but I will start with CreateSpace since it seems the scariest to the most people. After a couple glasses of wine, it’s not scary at all.

CreateSpace gives you three options, and this is the screen you’ll encounter when you get that far into their website.

The first option goes back to the imprint thing. You can’t use your own imprint. CreateSpace will be listed as your publisher.

The second is self-explanatory and cheaper than if you buy one single from Bowker, the website that sells ISBNs in the United States. Here is what you’ll see when you go to their website and look at their options:


Don’t be fooled by the ON SALE NOW thing. As far as I know, they are always that price. And don’t worry about buying a barcode. CreateSpace will give you one and for an e-reader, you don’t need one.

The third option is supplying your own, and that’s what Bowker’s website is for. I called the rep for clarification (1-877-310-7333) on a couple of details and this is what she said:

Can you share ISBN numbers with your friends?

This was met with a firm “No.” This is because when you buy them, your name is attached to them.

I was disappointed because it’s difficult to afford ISBNs and it would have been nice to share the cost. I didn’t ask her what the repercussions would be if you did share or sell them because 1) I’m not a rule breaker, and if she said you can’t then you can’t and 2) she was a little crabby, and I just wanted to get off the phone.

What happens if you self-publish but a traditional publishing company wants to publish your book?

The biggest draw with using your own ISBN is when this happens, your book won’t change numbers. Your book will use the same number no matter who publishes it because you bought the number–it belongs to you and your book. The free CreateSpace number is not yours, and you will lose that number if you decide to query and your book gets picked up elsewhere. How big of a deal is that? I guess it’s not so bad, I mean, if your book goes mainstream, it will be easy to find, even with the new number. But I like the idea of my book only being associated with one number forever.

When you use an ISBN you bought for a digital copy of your book, can you use the same number for every site, from Amazon to Smashwords?

That answer is a yes, but you’re not supposed to. The thing with e-readers is they take different files. Kindle takes a .mobi file or the new .azw3 format. iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and other retailers/third party publishers you can pay to distribute your e-reader use ePub format. So if you decide you want to make your book available to more than just Kindle, and you want to do Smashwords or iBooks, the Alliance of Independent Authors advises you to have an ISBN for each kind of file. So if you are doing CreateSpace, that would take one for your paperback, Kindle, that would take one, and the other retailers, that would take one. There is an in-depth explanation here.

“Wait a minute!” you’re saying. “I need different ISBN numbers for my paperback and e-reader?” Yes. If you were to publish a hardcover that would also require a different number, and anytime you change more than 20% of the content inside your book you need to give it a new ISBN number. You can change your cover, though, as long as the content stays the same. I double checked that, and this is what Bowker says in their FAQs:

If changing the cover of a book, does a new ISBN have to be assigned?
US practice is if the book is just out or the idea is to give a marketing boost to the product, then no, a new ISBN should not be assigned. However, if the change in cover substantially changes the product (ie., would lead to customer complaints), then a new ISBN should be used.”

So after all this, let’s get to the good stuff. Do you need to buy from Bowker? No. Take the free CS number. Take the free number they’ll give you on the Kindle Direct Publishing site (which is called the ASIN or Amazon Standard Identification Number). That is the absolute cheapest way to go, and I get that. Smashwords and Draft2Digital will also give you numbers, so selling your book through other retailers is also free for you. But again, you are only “borrowing” the numbers they give you.

You have to think about what you can afford, what you want to pay for, what you don’t. I’ll leave you with some articles that hold some useful info. Go on Bowker’s website, look at their FAQs yourself.

Someone asked me not long ago if I was happy I paid for my own ISBNs. I bought the 10 pack of numbers when I was ready to publish 1700. I used one for my CS copy and one for my Kindle copy. (For now, I don’t plan on selling my book anywhere else.) Those formats are mine and the numbers are mine. I also have a lot of work coming down the pipe in the next couple years, and I know I’ll eventually use them. I don’t regret buying them.

Above all, research for yourself. The other articles I liked are here and

If you have any questions tweet me, or comment and I’ll try to answer them. If I can’t, I’ll look them up.

See you later! Next blog posting is about trim size (the size you want your book to be) and the template for your manuscript for the CreateSpace interior file.

Before You Publish: Part 2

One thing you’ll need to decide on is if you want to buy your own ISBN and if you want to create your own imprint. They kind of go hand in hand because if you want your own imprint you’ll need to purchase your own ISBN number. But let’s back up a second. If you know me at all, you know I always, or at least, TRY to give credit where credit is due. I read primarily two books when I was researching self-publishing before I tried it. The first was A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Book Sellers by Chris McMullen. You can look at it here. He runs a wonderful blog about self-publishing as well. The other, a friend gave to me, and it’s called APE: How to Publish a Book. Author Publisher Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. You can find it here. Both of these were self-published. Both of these contain out-of-date information which I learned the hard way.  I fully get behind researching anything new you want to do and there are more up-to-date books out there to read, but these two will play a significant role in the information you’re going to need, so I encourage you to check them out. Anyway, I did learn a few things from these books, and I’ll cut out the information you don’t need, or has changed since these books have been published.

Let’s do . . . imprints. If you decide to have one, it will take a little bit to make one. An imprint is that little logo you see on books. You know what I’m talking about, but let me find some:

Penguin has the cute little penguin, Pocketbooks has the kangaroo reading, you get the idea. Indie authors can do this too. This is mine. My good friend @DRWillisBooks designed the mug and my son did the rest. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted and I had to Google my ideas to make sure no one was using it. I went through three ideas c&k2before I found Coffee and Kisses Press. David’s top choices were taken too, so we’re sharing this one. That can be a great idea if you’re close to someone. Later on, when you publish more books, you can create a website for youevw pressr books under that imprint, like my friend Thomas Jast. This is Tom’s imprint. He has a website that goes along with it, and you can check it out here. Choose an idea that is close to you and there’s less of a chance that someone is using it. Chris McMullen didn’t use an imprint. Guy Kawasaki did, and he said in his book he used the first letters of his kids’ names. I like mine; I adore coffee and I write primarily Romance. David loves coffee too, and his books contain a hint of romance, but what he has published and what he’s working on are mystery/thrillers. His books aren’t so happily ever after, but well, coffee. If you don’t want to go through the hassle, it’s up to you, but I think it makes your book look a bit more professional. My imprint is on the spine and on the title page of my paperb13694223_10154133120265751_1418775752_oack.

Another thing about an imprint is when you publish your book with an imprint, the logo and name you chose is your publisher. These are my product details for my book on Amazon. You can see it says Coffee and Kisses Press in the Publisher line. This will say CreateSpace if you do not choose an imprint.

It’s up to you and what you want to do. It’s costly to add an imprint because you can only do it if you buy your ISBN number for your paperback book, and I wanted you to be aware. 🙂

product details

chris product details

I think I’ll stop there and go into ISBNs another time. I do have things to do and will be out of town for a little bit, but when I get back I’ll write what I know about ISBNs and what a pain they are. 🙂

Have a great weekend!!

Before You Publish: Part 1

You have your manuscript ready, it’s been read by your best friend, your mother’s bridge partner, the hot UPS guy. It’s hopefully as error free as you’re going to get it, and hell, by now you’re probably so sick of looking at it, you don’t give a crap if it is or isn’t.  Okay,  you care, but you’re not going to read it again to find them. Maybe.

There are a couple things you need before you publish, so you might as well gather them together now, or be forced to pause in the middle of publishing, and that won’t be any fun.

I had my author photo taken a couple months ago. It’s why I’m in a sweater when my book was released in July. Oh, here it is. My brother-in-law took it and he did a pretty good job. ThisGood Author Picture.jpg was taken in the breezeway of our local library. There was great lighting and the tables were for their little cafe.  Anyway, so you want to do that, because you’ll need it for your book and your author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and wherever else you want to splash your pretty face!  (I’ve read it’s good to keep your picture the same on all social media so your fans can find you. My picture is the same on Goodreads, Amazon, and my Facebook Author page. It’s different on Twitter and my personal Facebook account, though the picture for those two sites is the same as well.)

You’ll need a blurb (AKA a teaser) for the back of your book and to use as the description on Goodreads and CreateSpace/Kindle, or any other sites you’re going to sell your book. I’ve heard this is the hardest thing to write, and I had the help of a few people I trusted to give me their opinions as I wrote it. I also used this website which helped a lot. It gives you a formula and explains all the elements of a good blurb.

Write a copyright page. I took the traditionally published book I was reading at the time and copied it, just changing the information to reflect my own book.

Write your acknowledgments.  I miraculously kept mine down to one page.

Write your dedication to your family, friends, and the cat who kept getting in your face while you were trying to type the book you’re going to publish.

That’s all I’ll go into for now. Next, I’ll talk about imprints and ISBN numbers. I kinda wanted to write about it tonight, but @JewelELeonard  warned me to keep my posts short so by the end, you’re not staring at your laptop glassy-eyed with drool dripping out of your mouth.


Is the Water Warm?

I’ve been on Twitter since October of 2015 (my bio says 2013, but I didn’t participate, and it’s why I don’t have a cool handle). Anyway, not very long. I started participating because I was writing something and I wanted to meet other writers who were also writing things or had written things. Book promos are everywhere, people blog about writing, people vlog about writing, and people play a ton of writing games. It’s easy to get sucked in, to feel like a writer on Twitter.

So I started to get antsy. I had written a five book fantasy series (the last needs to be completed and they all need to be edited) and I wrote a trainwreck of a NaNoWriMo project that needs to be gutted and almost completely rewritten. But I wanted to publish. Instead of working on my works in progress, I decided to write something just to self-publish. I opened the file for Ben on, hold on let me look, March 1st. I’m almost ready to publish, five months later.   Was it worth it to take time out of my other projects to do this?  I think so. I’m proud of the story, I’m proud of how it came out.

This series is about the publishing process I’m going to go through. There a lot of questions, who, what, why, where, and to a newbie like me, it’s tough to decide where you want to go, who to listen to.

I’m going to assume you have a manuscript that’s almost ready to go, because that’s where I’m at, and, really, if you don’t have something that’s almost publishable, you should be writing, not reading this. Get your book, novella, short story, anthology, written, then come back. This blog isn’t going anywhere. I don’t even use it for anything but throwing up things I’ve written that don’t have anywhere else to go. (Although Kindle Direct Publishing does have a quick reads division that I didn’t know about until recently, (thank you Joshua Edward Smith, find him on Twitter at@alfageeek, he’s got a great blog too) so I might offer one of my novelettes on there, too.)

Write your book . . . then let’s get started.