#SmutChat Self-publishing Topic Recap!

I run a Twitter chat called #smutchat. It’s geared toward more than just smut, (though I am a romance author and I like to chat about that too, from time to time) and last night we talked about self-publishing.

I said I would recap the chat for a few people who couldn’t make it, so here you go. ūüôā


#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (2)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing

Question one, when I was making it up, was intended to be a question about the process of self-publishing. Was it formatting your paperback book? Dealing with uploading to KDP? Maybe figuring out your book cover? Some hit the nail on the head; others went far beyond.

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#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (3)

To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to get out of this one, and the answers were all over the place.

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#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (4)

This question brought about the answers you would expect. It’s expensive to publish a book if you hire out, and no we can’t afford it, and no again, we probably won’t see a return on that investment any time soon. Yet the people who don’t know what they’re doing and publish bad-looking books muddy the pool for the rest of us who do it right.

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nadia covers

gareth editing


#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (5)

ISBNs are expensive–at least, they are in the US. CreateSpace gives you one for free and if you use theirs, they are listed as your book’s publisher, not you. Kindle Direct Publishing will give you an ASIN number, but I read somewhere that¬†selling an ebook isn’t considered publishing per se, it’s just selling a file. I use my own ISBN numbers for both my Kindle file and my paperback for CS. Here’s what others said:

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emae isbn numbers

#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (6)

This is tough because if you don’t know you don’t know it, how will you figure it out? I researched the hell out of self-publishing, CreateSpace, and Kindle before I published¬†On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton and I still got a lot of things wrong. When you self-publish on your own without help from someone who has done it before, you’re bound to make mistakes. I still make mistakes. I had to resubmit my cover for¬†Don’t Run Away. CS said they “fixed” my cover, but I wanted to fix it myself. The more I know, the better off I’ll be. Here’s what other people thought:

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That wrapped up the chat about self-publishing. Though I didn’t showcase them here, there were several tweets about book marketing. I haven’t delved into marketing yet, so I don’t have anything to offer in the way of that or what works. I do know that I have been reading up on Amazon Ads, and a good book by Brian D. Meeks seems to make a lot of sense. Whether it will work for you (or me) remains to be seen, but you can find it here. I have also been reading about Facebook Ads and this is the book I’m reading.

Rachel Thompson @BadRedheadMedia  runs a book marketing chat. You should check out her chat and maybe get some tips and ideas on how to market your own book. She has also written a book about it, and you can find it here.

In some sub-tweets, I told someone to look at Author Marketing Club, run by Jim Kukral. He’s co-host of the Sell More Books Show podcast I listen to every week. He also runs Happy Book Reviews if you’re interested in finding more book reviews. I haven’t used his services so do so at your own risk. Like everything online, be careful where you throw your money. I do listen to his podcast though, and he seems to be on the up and up or I wouldn’t point them out to you.

I also tweeted some interesting facts about self-publishing:

#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (14)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (13)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (12)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (11)#SmutChat-Selfpublishing (10)

Anyway, thanks for reading over the recap. I apologize if I didn’t feature one of your tweets to a question. It was difficult wading through the answers, though I do appreciate everyone who participated last night! If you’re interested in all of the answers, or you want to look at the sub-tweets, please take a look at the hashtag! It was a great chat!

Vania Blog Signature

When Should You Redo a Book?

I was listening to a podcast today–I know, shocker. I listen to them all the time, and it sure makes scooping the kitty litter a little more tolerable.

Anyway, so the two hosts went through their usual, what are you working on, what are¬†you working on? ¬†And the male host (I won’t say who it was or what podcast this was) said, I’m going to redo my first book. New cover, new title, redo some of the plot, the whole thing. And the other host was like, oh, that’s great, blah blah blah.

I don’t know what I was doing then. Cleaning my bathroom? Sweeping the kitchen? But I was like, wait, what?

Rereleasing a book isn’t a new concept to anyone. Traditionally published authors (or their houses) do it all the time, especially for old books. You know it when you’re reading and someone lights up in a restaurant. You think, I just bought this book at Walmart yesterday. Smoking in a public place hasn’t been legal in years. How the *bleep* old really is this book? Oh, the first copyright was 1982. That explains some things, right? Maybe you keep reading it because the story is good, maybe you don’t because you like your characters to have cell phones and access to the internet, but if you keep going, maybe, just maybe, by the time you read to the end, you realize you already read it–30 years ago.


This is Linda Howard’s¬†Almost Forever. ¬†Kinda different huh? There are more covers between these two. The original was released in 1986.


Again, pretty different. ¬†It doesn’t make the inside change–but would you feel cheated if you bought this book today then found it it was published in 1989? There are other covers between these, too.


Unfortunately, this is the same book. I never would have known had I not gone on Goodreads and looked for the old cover of¬†Breathless Innocence¬†and found¬†He’s Just a Cowboy. The descriptions are slightly different as well.


I realize there’s a difference between submitting a new file to CreateSpace to fix typos or if you’ve redone the cover and completely redoing a whole book. We’ve all done it. I did it for 1700. I fixed typos, redid the cover, fixed some formatting issues. It was my first book. Mistakes were made.

But where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line between fixing the mistakes that you should have caught the first time, but were too damn excited to see or care about, to revamping an entire book?

See, I think of it this way. Your readers bought your crap version. Let’s just call it the way it is, okay? ¬†People shelled out their hard-earned money to buy your mistake-riddled book. Should you have released better, yes. But you didn’t. I didn’t. So people bought it and maybe they didn’t care about the mistakes, maybe you ended up on their author shit-list. That’s on you, and that’s on me.

But say you have some time on your hands and you decide, you know, this book was great, but it’s got a crap-rep now (and maybe the reviews to prove it). I don’t want it to go to waste so I’m going to fix it up. A new title, new ISBN number, let’s fix those plot holes, give the MC a few extra demons, maybe real ones! Yank the old one and let’s watch the sales come in.

Is that fair? Is that fair to the people who bought the first version of your book?

What if you have a decent fan base? Maybe you don’t write as fast as you’d like so when you release a book, people buy it. That’s great. And how are they going to feel when they read a quarter of the way through it and realize that they’ve read this story before? ¬†Yes, it sounds better, no there’s no typos this time around. The cover looks amazing because you learned some things. But . . .

People will think it’s very¬†unfair if they pay twice for the same book. Only authors who have written for longer than you’ve been alive are allowed to do this. You know, authors who have 50+ books in their backlist. Then, only then, are the chances of the same person reading the same book slim. And when publishing houses do this, they are releasing the same book. Authors are too busy writing new material to rework a plot. Their houses are re-releasing books with a new up-to-date cover, and while I may not be too big a fan of that either, it’s a lot better than what we’re talking about here.

I’m not suggesting you don’t fix mistakes. But what I am suggesting is maybe you *don’t* revamp the entire book. Maybe you fix the mistakes, redo the cover, but leave the story and title alone. Leave the ISBN alone. Write a better book next time.

To me, writing is continually moving forward, not back.

What do you think?

Vania Blog Signature


You can read another opinion about this here.

(Book pictures were taken from http://harlequinblog.com/2017/05/8-wonderful-contemporary-romance-re-releases-we-love/ and http://www.goodreads.com)

Kindle Cover

That’s great, you say, but paperbacks don’t sell, the cover looks too complicated, and I don’t want to do that right now; I would just prefer to publish on Kindle and be done with it. What do I need for a cover then?

If you’re not interested in doing CreateSpace, then you’ll need to do the cover, yes, and it will just be the front, or rather, the picture customers will see on Amazon. You’ll still need to write the blurb for the product information, but you won’t have to worry about it being put on the back of a paperback.

Open a Word document, make a text box of your chosen trim size, being 5×8, 6×9, whatever. I advise you to do it this way in case you decide down the road to offer a paperback after all, then all you will need to add is the spine and back cover and adjust the page layout (remember all that math . . . yeah . . . ).

When you’re done, saving it in a photo format can be a bit tricky, however, if you’re doing it in Word because there’s no option to save as a jpeg, jpg, or a tiff file,¬†the only files being accepted by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). They don’t take a PDF like CS does.

What I did when I made the cover for Under Lock and Key,¬†was after I made the cover, I used the Snipping Tool and “snipped it” and saved it as a jpeg. After I did that, I ran it through GIMP and made sure it was 300 dpi. Always make sure your images are 300 dpi or dots per inch, so your picture is clear online.

Cover basics are the same for Kindle: you want your cover to look pleasing, your name and title clear as a small thumbprint for a potential reader to see.

I made a quick one for my e-reader story using a photo I here¬†found so I didn’t have to pay money for a blog post.


This is a screen shot of the cover I made in Word. There is a lot wrong with it. The title isn’t legible that small in that font, and my name is too dark to be seen. But I’ll leave it this way since this is only an example. Plus the bottom of the Y is cut off (it seems like I like doing that) so you would want to adjust that text box. ūüėõ

Now use the Snipping Tool: 2017-03-28 (2)

And be as precise as you can. If you get some of the white in there, you can crop it out with GIMP when you check it for dpi:

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Save it as a JPEG file in the Save As Type:

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Right now it’s going to save as a PNG, so you need to change it to JPEG using the down arrow on the right:

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That will save it in the file you need. Now you can upload it into GIMP and crop it if you need to, if you accidently snipped some white, and make sure it’s 300 dpi. That’s all you need to do for a cover for your Kindle:

Make it in Word
Snip It
Save it as a JPEG
Run it through GIMP.
Export it under the Save AS so the change in dpi sticks

My picture was only 72 dpi, so I changed it to 300. I exported it to save the changes and this is it:

gimp picture

And that’s all you need. It’s a lot less involved than doing a book cover, and there are a lot of authors who only offer an e-reader¬†option for this reason. Under Lock and Key is a short story, so I didn’t do a paperback for it. But I like paperbacks, and I will probably always offer them to my readers if I can. It might be an expense because I do purchase my own ISBN numbers, but it’s a personal choice.

You can make your cover as simple or as involved as you want. You can buy a template, hire an artist, whatever you choose to do.

When you offer both paperback and Kindle, the thumbnail that shows up is for your Kindle. It’s easy to make a new cover, for the Kindle, but if you’re going to do that you have to decide if you’re going to change the cover in CreateSpace. You don’t to make your readers angry thinking they’re going to get your new cover but they get a completely different one in paperback because you didn’t change it in CreateSpace. I like to keep all my things the same. When I redid the cover for 1700, I changed both. I think it’s courteous that way. I don’t want my readers not to trust me for any reason.

I think that’s it for Kindle Covers. I only need to tell you how to format your Kindle file, and that’s up next!

Until next time!

CreateSpace Recap

I started this publishing series eight months ago. Sorry about that. But in that time I’ve published a book (two novellas together), wrote 150,000 more words (in the form of 6 novellas that will be published together), and fixed 1700’s typos inside and the cover. I have also started fixing my 2015 NaNo project just so I can say it’s done and move on.

When I started this series, it was my intention to tell you how to publish a quality paperback cheaply and easily. ¬†I think in this recap you’ll see I did that. Even now, I am so tired of hearing that you need to pay for this, pay for that, to publish a quality book.

Indie publishing went from, “It’s not a real way to publish” to “It is a real way if you pay for everything.” No one can afford to pay for the ISBN number, the editing, the formatting, the file conversions. And believe me, there are people who will do it all for you. For a price. But the sad part is if you are willing to take a few minutes (okay, hours), read a few books, ¬†you don’t need to pay for anything.

Let the recap of eight months begin.

  1. You wrote a book! Congratulations. Let it sit for a few weeks, even a few months, write something else, read it again. Have a few people read it. Ask them to look for plot holes, flat characters, scenes that don’t move the story along. If you use Word, download¬†Grammarly. It’s a decent checker for things I miss or wouldn’t think to look for. Buy the¬†Hemingway App¬†for more help ($20.00 is a decent investment). Use anything you can get your hands on to make your work as clear and as typo-free as possible.
  2. Grab a trad-pubbed book and copy the front and back matter. You need the copyright page, the acknowledgments. The title page. Dedication page. The author page. You’re in charge of all it.
  3. Get your author picture taken. I want to see you sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee in your hands, smiling. Because you just wrote a book, and you’re going to publish it, and you are proud of it, and you’re going to own it, dammit! Have your best friend take it and buy her a cup of coffee for her trouble.
  4. Buy your ISBN or don’t. At the beginning, I leaned toward buying your own, protect your work and all that. But if you’re not sure what your publishing plan is, (like one a year, if that) take the free one CreateSpace gives you. No harm done.
  5. Choose the size of your book. If you’re writing smut you’re not going to be able to choose the smut-sized trim sold in Walmart. But choose the size you want, the color (cream or white) pages you want.
  6. Based on that, download the free template from CreateSpace so you can format the inside of your book. CreateSpace wants you to have an easy experience, a¬†good experience, so you keep using them. The template is easy. Download it, copy and paste your manuscript into it. You don’t need to copy the template exactly. Their template comes with a Table of Contents I do not use. Change the font if you want, maybe the size. And please make a couple different copies of your MS. If something goes horribly wrong, well, that would bad. Play around with the template before you copy and paste your MS into it. See what you can change and what will mess up if you touch it.
  7. Make your template for your cover. If you make changes to the number of pages in your MS, you’ll need to recalculate the spine width and change the paper layout dimensions. I forgot to do that when messing around with 1700. I changed the spine text box but not the paper layout. That’s probably why I had some of my spine color¬†wrapped on my front cover.
  8. Write your blurb. Maybe you already did this. Have one of your beta readers read it, make sure it sounds good. I gave you some resources how to write a good one. It takes a little bit of help, though, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  9. I wrote about your cover a lot. Remember, if you don’t like the thought of doing your own cover, don’t. Use the CreateSpace Cover Creator, or buy a cover that’s already done. Hire someone. This series was to help you do it as cheaply as possible. People *do* judge a book by its cover, so if this is something you don’t want to tackle, I don’t blame you. There’s a lot of choices out there.
  10. CS ¬†takes a PDF of your cover (in the Save As option on Word, PDF is a choice). Submit that, submit your interior, and you’re done. They say 24 hours, but it only takes them 12 to get back to you and tell you if it’s approved or not. Remember the flattening warning you’re going to get. That’s okay. Order the proof, check it over. When I got my second proof for 1700 I read it like I was reading anyone and looked for typos. Spend some time on it, because the proof is exactly what people will be getting when they order it. It takes about 5-10 days to get the proof in the mail. If you want your paperback and the Kindle to be live at the same time, don’t go through the Kindle stuff until your paperback is ready to go. Kindle only takes 5 hours to approve your files. You can have them live on the same day. I had trouble with CS so my Kindle version was live for a couple weeks before my paperback was available. That’s up to you and how you want to do it.


And that’s it. I recommend Chris McMullen’s book and you can find it¬†here.¬†He explains a lot of the technical stuff with the template and he goes into Word a lot more than I do. There’s a lot of tutorials and YouTube videos out there. When I started eight months ago, I didn’t know as much as I do now. Indie publishing is a continual learning process because things change. I’ve learned to read only things that were written in 2016 or even more recently because old information may not help.

If you need any more help, drop me a question. I’m sure you can Google the answer probably faster than I can answer it, but I’ll be going through this whole thing in a couple more months when Summer Secrets is ready to be published. I’ve come a long way with doing covers in Word, and I’m confident that with the patience I’ve learned, the tricks I’ve taught myself playing with the CS interior template, and the tutorials I’ve watched about picture manipulation, the process will go smoothly. And I hope yours does too.



Promises, Promises

At the beginning of this publishing series, I promised you could make a nice cover with a picture and some words. I got a little fancy with the cover we just went over, and if you’re reading this all the way through and got discouraged, I apologize. I’ll show you how to make a nice cover now, just a picture and some words. That’s it. I promise.

Start out with a new Word document. Go back to the formula for the paper set up. If your book is going to be 5×8 with cream paper, your page set up calculations will be:

Inches: 5 + 5 + spine + .25 (bleed) = what you need.

A 334-page book with cream pages will have a spine of .835 inches. (334 x 0.0025).

5 + 5 + .835 + .25 = 11.085

Height is always easier because you’re not doubling anything. So the height for the page set up would be 8 inches plus .25 for bleed.

8 + .25 = 8.25

The paper layout will look like this:

paper layout

Word rounded down, and I’m not sure how that affects our calculations. I would guess it’s insignificant or Word wouldn’t do it.

Follow the rest of the directions in the blog post where I typed out the list of steps.

You’ll have your handy template that looks like this:

blog cover template

This template is for a 5×8 trim size with cream colored pages. Number of pages, 334. (A nice, long book. :)) (FYI, You’ll always have an even number of pages because a page has two sides.)

The problem with the picture I like is that it’s square, not rectangle, so when I put it into the template, it stretches. Stretchy is not the same as stabby; sometimes stabby can be a good thing.


If you don’t mind she looks a bit stretched out or you swear you can’t tell, that’s your prerogative. I’m sure down the road it will bother you, so you might as well do it right¬†the first time. I guess I don’t need to tell you, to avoid this you can always find a rectangle picture. There are plenty out there and¬†CanStock¬†will even filter square pictures out in your searches.

Using the Crop feature, I cropped it using the Aspect Ratio, portrait 2:3.


Fix the dimensions of the picture so it fits into the 5×8 box.


It brought them closer, but that’s okay.

So this is what I have so far:

back cover done1

I downloaded a new font. I used the same picture on the back, but flipped it and lightened it. I did forget to mention in the last post that you probably want to put the price above the ISBN box. That way if you do happen to have a book sale of some kind, you can have the price on there, and if you put it on discount, customers can see that it is.

back cover done2

If you think the cover picture is too bold for the white spine and the back cover,  you can lighten up the cover edges a bit like this:

back cover done3

You can do what you want with the blank space by the ISBN box. Maybe your author picture, maybe your imprint picture. Whatever. But I did what I promised you from the beginning, I gave you a lovely cover with just one picture, no fancy picture effects you need to learn how to do. Oh, wait, take all the lines off. I swear, there is always something.

back cover done4

And don’t worry about the cursor. That will go away when you save it as a PDF to submit it to CS. Also, remember not to freak out if this is all you have and you want the Kindle cover too. CS will offer it to you, and you can download it.

I think this is it for covers. I’ll post a recap of everything I’ve talked about then I’ll tell you how to format your file for Kindle.

Thanks for reading!


Your Book’s Back Cover

I’m sick today, so I’m going to cover your back cover rather than try to edit. Hopefully, this is a bit easier than looking for typos and fixing head-hopping. One can hope.

Where did we leave off? Oh, here:


So what we have here is a decent cover, plain spine. Ultimately, you want your back cover to blend in with what you’ve already got. Despite what Mr. Smith says, people, ¬†at some point, will be holding your book in their hands. Maybe you can get your book into an indie bookstore, or you can sweet talk¬†Barnes and Noble into hosting a book signing. Even if you’re just going to give your book away on GoodReads, it’s important to take a bit of time on your back cover.

blog back cover

Is this the right picture? I don’t know. ¬†I’m sick and I’ve changed laptops as well. Anyway, so it might not be the exact picture (downloaded from Pixabay), but it will work. You are never cemented into what you’ve got going on. You can change your mind anytime, so if you come across a picture you like more, by all means, use it. What we’re going to do with it will make it work, even if it isn’t the exact same thing. You’ll probably want everything to mesh, though, so at this point, since I don’t have the other picture I used I would have to redo the cover. Not a bad thing, but ugh. Anyway. Let’s put the ISBN box back where it needs to be so we know how much room we have to work with.

isbn boxThe little box is to make sure you know where your ISBN box belongs. You can take off the outlines for both, and take off the Fill for the little box.

isbn box 2

There. ¬†So, some people put their author photo and a small bio on the back. Lots of trad-pubbed books do that, so if you want to go through the trouble, you are welcome to. I didn’t for 1700. For curiosity’s sake, let’s try.

cover photo on back

That looks alright. You would need to adjust the picture and the boxes to how you like them. You can’t move your ISBN box. It’s where CS wants it to be. Also, remember you can’t get too close to the edge of the cover; you don’t want anything to accidently be chopped off in the bleed. All I did was create text boxes and used Fill With Picture for the author photo and took off the outline for both. I chose No Fill for the wording because the black looks fine on the silver.

All that’s left is the blurb, and if you were interested in some kind of large tag line, put that on there as well. I will because I like the idea of it.

back cover 1

I had to use another text box, and I just took out the Fill and Outline. If you tried to type in the big text box that is used for the back cover outline, the text will actually disappear under the photo and you won’t be able to see it. I also don’t want my cover to be a hodge-podge of font, so I’m going to stick with the fonts I used on the cover and the spine.

back cover blurb

That pretty much sums up the back cover. You might think the spine looks boring now, but your book won’t be spread out like this and I don’t think the full white spine will scream at you then as it does now. You could always fill in the spine text box with the grey and white light picture we used on both covers, and if you didn’t like it you could always get rid of it. ¬†A book’s cover is a huge experiment and it takes a lot of tries before you get to something you like.

In fact, being the perfectionist I am, I don’t like guessing if I used the same photo on the front and back so I’m going to change it.

back cover done

I used the same font, pictures, and no, I hadn’t used the same grey and white light picture, so it’s the same now. I used three different text boxes for the title font so I could move the words around. I used a smaller font for the “TO” and I stuck to the same two fonts for all the words on the front cover, spine, and back cover to lend consistency to the entire book.

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This is a cute little pic of all the text boxes we used to create the cover. These are why you’ll get the error message in the CS email when you submit your cover. In Word, there’s no way to flatten these. CS will do it for you and that’s not a big deal. In GIMP, if you create your cover in that software, there is a way to do it. Being I’ll only make two, maybe three covers a year (if I’m lucky) I’m not going to bother. You’ll also get the same message for the interior if you happen to have any pictures on the inside like scene spacers, or if you have your author photo in the back as well. Maybe you’ll have pictures of your other books, that will also cause CS to give you the error message. That is one of the few things CS will fix for you, so as long as you know the cause of the error, you don’t need to worry about it. The important thing is you like your proof when it comes back.

There is one more thing I’m going to have to you do; I never had a problem with 1700, but I’ve heard others have. Delete the outside text box lines. I’ve heard they show up. They didn’t on mine but better to be safe than sorry.

no outlines

There. All the lines for the spine and cover are gone. You have a gorgeous cover, and it was free (besides paying for the pictures, anyway). All it takes is a little time and patience. It’s fun to mess around, but if you get discouraged, look for a tutorial and learn what you want to do with your pictures. I’m hoping you crank out more than one or two a year, but if you can’t, that means you have plenty of time to learn photo manipulation to get what you want.

I gotta go blow my nose, so I’ll chat with you later!

Congrats on a great cover!

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:

FullSizeRender (1)

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.