Vanishing $10 ISBN

Killing the cheap ISBNThe $10 ISBN is dead! We are sorry to report some sad news for our clients.  Someone has killed the cheap ISBN. Round up the usual suspects!

CreateSpace has dropped the $10 custom ISBN option. They now offer just three options:

  1. Free ISBN, which lists CreateSpace as publisher.
  2. $99 for a custom ISBN (a discount from Bowker’s usual $127)
  3. Buy your own ISBN from Bowker directly.

We recommend the Free Option. For most of our fiction clients, we now recommend going with the free option. It has been our experience that most fiction sells far more in e-book format than as a paperback. The exception might be if you expect a great interest from bookstores wanting to carry your paperback and are worried that the “CreateSpace-as-publisher” designation will cause them to reconsider. Frankly, most clients will not be carried by more than a handful of independent bookstores, and then it is usually due to a friendship the author has already established with the owner.

Non-fiction clients are a bit different. Such clients often have a much larger percentage of their sales coming from the print version. However, we would still recommend the Free Option to most, since a majority of print sales are still coming from Amazon. If you anticipate a large interest from other sales venues (college bookstores, specialty outlets, etc.) then maybe consider a custom ISBN.

Does this mean no more custom Imprint names? No, it does not. Many clients are still choosing to create their own imprint name, but are using it only on their e-books. They will still put their imprint name/logo on the print book’s cover and title page, but are choosing the CreateSpace ISBN as their official publisher for that version.

At Public Author, we still offer the optional service of researching imprint names and designing a basic imprint logo as an add-on to your book project.

Before we go on, let’s talk about some of the basics of ISBN.

What is an ISBN and why do I need one? All print books must have one. However, most online retailers (such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble) do not require an ISBN for an e-book, although a few will assign one. Here is how CreateSpace explains it on their website:

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a unique 10-digit number assigned to every published book. An ISBN identifies a title’s binding, edition, and publisher. An EAN, or European Article Number, is a 13-digit number assigned to every book to provide a unique identifier for international distributors. The 10-digit ISBN is converted to a 13-digit EAN by adding a 978 prefix and changing the last digit.

We superimpose an ISBN barcode on the back cover (in the lower right corner) of every book we manufacture.

Who is listed as the “publisher” when I take a free ISBN from CreateSpace? Your book’s imprint-of-record will be listed as “CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.” They are some retailers who avoid any books from CreateSpace because they know it is a division of their arch-enemy Amazon but, for most authors, that enmity will have no impact on their sales. Frankly, most of our clients report over 90% of their retail paperback sales coming through Amazon already.

What about books I sell in-person? When books are sold by hand (at events, signings, conferences, etc.), there is no way for the customer to know who is designated the official publisher, unless they are one of the few people who can actually read an ISBN and know how to recognize CreateSpace’s unique prefix. You can still add your imprint name/logo to the cover and title page and they will not know the difference.

Who did this?

Who did this dastardly deed? For those suffering from Amazon Derangement Syndrome (ADS), the obvious one to blame is evil Amazon. They lured independent authors in with the bait of a cheap ISBN and then snatched it away from us! (Cue the evil Bezos laugh.)

But consider the facts. There is one company that has the monopoly on issuing ISBNs in the USA, and that is Bowker. While Bowker charges $127 per individual ISBN, when they sell in bulk they only charge pennies per number. Big Publishers buy these numbers by the hundreds or thousands and then shuffle them out to their various new titles and reprints under dozens of imprint names. CreateSpace also buys ISBNs in similiar quantity, but now all those numbers purchased from Bowker must be listed as coming from one imprint- CreateSpace itself.

Who is the culprit behind this change? Most sane people will point to Bowker, assuming that they are trying to squeeze more cash out of authors/ publishers, and that is a good assumption. But, then again, maybe it is CreateSpace who decided this, since it simplifies the process for them. Either way, this was probably an economical decision and not some nefarious attempt to sabotage the careers of independent authors. You can still get a custom ISBN, but now you have to pay $99 or go direct to Bowker and pay as much as $127.

For more details, talk to your publishing consultant at Public Author. As always, the pricing on our publishing services remain reasonable. You pick the services you want and we only charge one-time fees. Simple, yet professional author services.

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Seven Steps of Self-Publishing

Your book is done! Congratulations! But now what? Here is a quick overview of the steps you should follow to get that manuscript ready to sell. Just because you are “self-publishing” doesn’t mean that you have to do everything involved in getting your manuscript turned into a book. Most authors used professionals to help with at least some of the process.

1- EDITING

It is essential to have your manuscript edited. An editor will look for typos, word use errors, storyline inconsistencies, point-of-view issues, and much more. But how do you get your book edited?

Choices:
a. Do-It-Yourself: Editing your own work is one of the toughest things to do, since we often overlook our own mistakes. One way is to depend heavily on your writing program’s Spell Check and Grammar Check, but that has its limitations. Another way is to read your manuscript is different formats: on-screen, printed, and on an e-book reader. The varied formats can often help you catch errors. Reading your manuscript aloud can also help you catch errors, especially if others follow along to note where you stumble or change words as you read.

b. Friends or Family: If you cannot afford to hire an editor, ask some friends or family to be “beta readers” and provide their feedback on what they like/dislike about your book. Writers’ groups can also be helpful, as they critique the sections of your book that you share.

c. Hiring an Editor: This will be one of your greatest expenses, but it is well worth it. A good editor will not rewrite your book or alter your voice, but they will provide copious comments on where you can improve your manuscript. Public Author does provide editorial services and we do so at a reasonable price.

2- COVER DESIGN

This is the first thing that potential readers will see and you want to get a cover that is visually appealing and hits on all the typical visual cues for your genre or book topic. Cover decisions involve lots of details to attain a visually appealing look, including font styles, font sizes, photo/ artwork/ word art, color palate, word placement, and focal point.

Choices:
a. DIY: Designing your own book cover is a skill that takes time to develop. Study the best-seller lists on Amazon and see what other books in your sub-category look like. Take some time to review websites that discuss book covers:  LousyBookCovers.com, CoverCritics.com, and TheBookDesigner.com. TheBookDesigner.com is especially helpful. Be sure to look over their monthly book cover contests. You will see hundreds of covers and get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

To “purchase” stock photos or illustrations, go to sites like istockphoto.com, fotolia.com, or the other dozen+ sites that sell them. Please remember, just because it is on Google images, doesn’t mean the photo or artwork is free to use. Expect to spend $20- $60 on art or photos even when you’re designing your own cover. Even those who decide to just use a distinct font as their cover design, will be spending money to purchase the license to use that particular font.

b. Free Cover Design from friend or family: Some authors are blessed to have an artist in the family that is willing to design their cover for free. That is a huge money-saver, but be sure the cover that you are getting is appropriate for your particular genre or subject matter. Your friend might have great skills in water color or pencils or crayons, but those media rarely translate into a competent book design. Cover art is its own unique style, more akin to movie posters or billboards than it is to gallery paintings or refrigerator art. The artwork must be convertible to a jpeg or tiff file with a high-enough resolution to become a sharp-looking cover.

c. Have a Professionally-Made Cover: A pro cover can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or even more, depending on the quality of the design and whether the image is exclusive.

Some sites to visit for possible artists include deviantart.com, 99design.com, bookflydesign.com, fiverr.com, and so many more. Another good source is reviewing the winning books at the contests from TheBookDesigner.com, where the various cover artists are usually mentioned. For artists that are in demand, expected to be paying over a thousand dollars to get a package that includes both e-book and print book covers.

At Public Author we also design book covers, most often as part of a larger package that includes formatting and publishing assistance. Our pricing is at the low-end of the spectrum because we use stock images that aren’t exclusive to just your book. The caution is that the stock image might get purchased by someone else and end up on their book cover too. See our cover portfolio for examples of covers we’ve designed.

3- BOOK FORMATTING

Your third step is converting that manuscript into files to upload to the various printers/ retailers. That means creating at least three distinct files: a mobi file for an Amazon e-book, an e-pub file for all other e-book retailers, and a print file (in Word or pdf) for uploading to a printer like CreateSpace.

Choices:
a. DIY: To accomplish this, you will probably have to learn a new program like Scriveners or Calibre that assist with file conversion.

b. Bartering with other Authors: Some writers will barter services with another author to get this work done. Editing for Formatting, or Formatting traded for Cover Designing. Just be sure that you are trading with someone who is actually skilled at what you need.

c. Have a Professional Format your Files: You can also hire a professional to format your files. The pro will format your books and get them ready for uploading. Some of the more skilled book designers can add decorative fonts, drop caps, and chapter art to your books, but all of that does cost more.

At Public Author, we format both fiction and non-fiction books. We do not format children’s illustrated books or graphic novels. Our pricing is very reasonable.

4- Book Blurb/ Back Copy

Before you can make your book available for sale, you will need to write one more thing: the sales pitch that is on the back cover and featured on the “product page” at online retailers. This book blurb is NOT a synopsis of your novel. It is meant to entice people to buy the book and read it.

Choices:
a. DIY: Study the back covers of the books you own or spend some time at Amazon reading the short blurbs for best-selling books in your genre or category. Most likely, all of them are written in a different writing style than what you used on your manuscript. Most are written in Present Tense and Active Voice, with short sentences or even incomplete sentences. Learn how to copy their style.

b. Hire a Professional Copy Writer: You can hire someone to write the back copy for your book, but make sure they read a good percentage of your manuscript before they do. At Public Author, we do help writers with their back copy, often as part of a Package Deal.

5- Uploading to Printers and Retailers

Once you have your book formatted correctly, you will need to upload it to your selected printer and to the various online retailers.

Choices:
a. DIY: Once you have your accounts set up, it is fairly simple to upload your book to the major retailers, at least it is for the e-book versions. Print versions require a bit more skill and the reviewing of proofs.

b. Have a Professional Assist You in Uploading: At Public Author, we do help our clients in setting up their online accounts and getting their books uploaded properly. For print, we specialize in CreateSpace books. For e-books, we help by uploading to major retailers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo) and to distributers (Draft2Digital).

6- Initial Marketing of your Book

This must be considered even as you are uploading the book for sale. As part of the marketing, you must decide things like pricing, book category, keywords, and distribution options.

DIY: You make all the decisions and pick the keywords. The only caution we give is that many authors aren’t good at recognizing the proper genre/ sub-categories for their work. Maybe have friends or family tell you where they would expect to find your book.

Hire a Professional: Have a pro help you find the best niche(s) for your book to get the maximum sales. At Public Author, we usually include this as part of our Package Deals.

7- Ongoing Marketing of your Book

Now that your book is out there and available for sale, how do you get folks to notice it? There are an abundance of “experts” who will gladly take your money to create a marketing campaign. But the vast majority of them aren’t worth the money. In this area, we recommend an author go DIY. Buy only specific services, like website designing or sales advertisement.

One of the biggest marketing things you can do is WRITE THE NEXT BOOK, especially if it is in the same genre, book series, or non-fiction category. It is easier to win a returning reader than to find new ones.

When considering any marketing, you must consider your Return-On-Investment (ROI). Will the marketing pay for itself? If you also count in your time investment, you will find most of these methods will not work for you. However, there are probably a few that will and that might be different depending on which of your books you are featuring.

Types of Marketing:

Author Website: This can be very important for a writer, especially those who have more than one book out. You should make sure that you have control of your website (not some publisher or marketing company). Done right, it should be one of the first locations that come up when someone searches for your name online. An author website should list all your books and provide links to places where the books can be purchased.

This is probably your most solid investment. Once it is done, the cost for maintaining your site should be minimal ($30 to $60 per year).  If anyone is charging you much more than that, they had better be offering you some premium extra services. Your time investment can be anything from minimal (only updating when a new book is published) to daily time spent blogging.

Free websites aren’t usually the best route to take, since they aren’t optimized to your name. It is better to have a domain name that is specific to you (like EricLorenzen.com or ABLoren.com).

At Public Author, we design websites hosted at WordPress.com. When done, we hand the website over to you. You control the site and you can update it or add blog posts. You can hire us to do updates, but you are the one in control of your website. Take a look at our website portfolio to see some examples of our work.

Social Media: For some genres and non-fiction categories, author interaction is vital to getting readers’ attention. FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogging, e-newsletters, and much more. Consider using Mail Chimp or a similar service if you are intending to have an e-newsletter.

Most of these sites are very time-consuming to use them the right way. Daily spam, begging folks to buy your book just gets people mad at you.  You need to make fun or educational posts; you need to interact and share details of your life. Not everyone enjoys using social media as a way to build sales. If you hate it, don’t do it.

Ads: There are many places that want to sell you ads (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Beacon, and more). Most provide a poor ROI, with actual sales that are less than 0.10% of the amount who see your ad/ click on the ad. The more an ad and an audience match, the better you click-through rate will be.  Ads probably work best for niche novels that appeal to a very specific and underserved audience, and for non-fiction books that meet a very specific need.

Book Sales: Some have had great success by discounting the first e-book in a series or by running the occasional sale at 99 cents or even free. Often, you will want to run an ad at a site that is just for discounted e-books as a way to get more traction. The biggest site for that is Book Bub, which costs hundreds per ad but usually provide a positive ROI nonetheless. Other sites to consider are Book Gorilla, Ereader News Today, eBook Soda, Freebooksy, Gospel eBooks, Spirit-filled Kindle, and many more. Be careful of your ROI, for it is easy to overspend on ads. When using multiple sites, try to feature them on different days so that you can better compare their performance.

Amazon Exclusive: This is another marketing approach for e-books. When going exclusive, Amazon will allow you to run one discount (or up to 5 days of FREE) per every 90 days. You can also enroll into their KDP book rental program that can also provide a decent income. The trade-off is lost sales at other online bookstores.

Book Giveaways: Another way to get your book noticed is to offer books for contests or to create your own giveaway at reader sites like Goodreads.com. This can be expensive, since giving print books away is much more expensive than e-book giveaways. It will probably result in another book review or two, but not necessarily good ones. Some writers have had good success through giveaways.

Book Signings: Setting up a table at a bookstore or at some festival or street fair can be very successful if you have a large friend base or have a book covering a popular topic, but for most fiction writers a book signing is more frustration and boredom than it is successful sales. Be cautious about investing in dozens of books that you hope to hand-sell.

Book Bundles: Some authors get together to create their own collection of e-book stories, selling it at a low price as a way to attract new readers. This takes some management skills for the person in charge of formatting the special e-book and then distributing the royalties received to all the participants.

Online Sample Chapters: You can provide sample chapters of your book as a way to entice people to buy the whole novel. Some do this on their own website if they have a large following already. Others use sites like Wattpad. Be sure the giveaway market’s audience fits to your book.

Conventions and Conferences: This can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get placement at a show. The chance to get a decent ROI is very low. Some “services” will feature your book at their table for an exorbitant fee.

If you are a public speaker or provide some kind of services in connection with your book, then a convention or conference might be a good fit. For more people, it will just suck up time and money.

Blog Tours/ Guest Posts: If you have lots of time free, you can offer to do a blog tour or guest posts on someone else’s website. Be careful with companies who claim they can set up a blog tour or arrange guest posts for a fee. Many will not be worth their price.


Ready to Learn More?

Check out our FAQs page for more information.

See our Contact Page to reach us for a free quote or to ask more questions.

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Self Publishing Help in Southern California

iStock_000013018311XSmallWe help Southern California authors get their books self published. Do you want to see your novel or non-fiction book in print? Do you want to do it yourself through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and other retailers but don’t know how to get started. Need someone to format your book for publishing or a professionally designed book cover? At Public Author, we offer all of those services and more.

We are here to empower Southern California authors to self-publish. We are a local company, located in Yucaipa, CA (San Bernardino County) and work with many authors and local businesses throughout the Southern California area. Public Author offers a wide variety of publishing services to help authors get their manuscript finished and in print, including:

What is self publishing? When an author self publishes, he or she is the one who is publishing a book, instead of going through a publisher. The author is printing the book and providing an e-book version to all the major retailers. The author is also keeping the lion’s share of all sales (often 60-70%), instead of a publisher taking it. At Public Author, we help writers to self publish. With our expertise, self-publishing becomes much easier. We do the tasks that you can’t do yourself. Your book is still published by you, we just help you through the process.

Hire us for what you need: Not everyone needs help with everything, which is why we offer our publishing services both in Package Deals and à la carte. You only pay for what you need; there is no reason to hire us for any unnecessary extras.

Great alternative to a Vanity Press: A Vanity Press is a company that charges its clients thousands or ten of thousands of dollars to do many of the things we do. Adding insult to injury, they often take a percentage of your sales profits too. We are the smarter choice. At Public Author, we charge only one-time fees and our pricing is reasonable.

Where will my books be available? Southern California authors who use Public Author’s services have self published books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Createspace, Kobo, Apple, Scribd, and Draft 2 Digital. Some have sold their books through independent bookstores; others have had their books placed in public libraries. Our authors have their books available for sale in both Print and E-book editions. So can you. Contact us and learn how we can help you get your book published.

How much will it cost? We charge only one-time fees for our professional services. We never charge a percentage of your royalties. We never charge outrageous fees for “marketing packages” that vanity presses charge. Instead, we charge fair rates for the professional author services that you need, and only for those services you need. Learn more at our Pricing page.

Do you have more questions? See our FAQ page to find answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions that others have had.

Ready to get started? Contact Public Author today by using our Contact Page. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Self Publishing Help

iStock_000013018311XSmallWe help authors get their books self published. Do you want to see your novel or non-fiction book in print? Do you want to do it yourself through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and other retailers but don’t know how to get started. Need someone to format your book for publishing or a professionally designed book cover? At Public Author, we offer all of those services and more.

We are here to empower authors to self-publish. Public Author offers a wide variety of publishing services to help authors get their manuscript finished and in print, including:

  • Manuscript Editing
  • Book Formatting (both print and e-book)
  • Cover Designing
  • Assistance with Distribution and Setting-up Retail Accounts
  • Author Website Designing
  • Marketing Strategies and Social Media
  • Uploading to a Print Publisher
  • Uploading to E-book Retailers
  • Series Branding and Author Branding Assistance

What is self publishing? When an author self publishes, he or she is the one who is publishing a book, instead of going through a publisher. The author is printing the book and providing an e-book version to all the major retailers. The author is also keeping the lion’s share of all sales (often 60-70%), instead of a publisher taking it. At Public Author, we help writers to self publish. With our expertise, self-publishing becomes much easier. We do the tasks that you can’t do yourself. Your book is still published by you, we just help you through the process.

Hire us for what you need: Not everyone needs help with everything, which is why we offer our publishing services both in Package Deals and à la carte. You only pay for what you need; there is no reason to hire us for any unnecessary extras.

Great alternative to a Vanity Press: A Vanity Press is a company that charges its clients thousands or ten of thousands of dollars to do many of the things we do. Adding insult to injury, they often take a percentage of your sales profits too. We are the smarter choice. At Public Author, we charge only one-time fees and our pricing is reasonable.

Where will my books be available? Authors who use Public Author’s services have self published books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Createspace, Kobo, Apple, Scribd, and Draft 2 Digital. Some have sold their books through independent bookstores; others have had their books placed in public libraries. Our authors have their books available for sale in both Print and E-book editions. So can you. Contact us and learn how we can help you get your book published.

How much will it cost? We charge only one-time fees for our professional services. We never charge a percentage of your royalties. We never charge outrageous fees for “marketing packages” that vanity presses charge. Instead, we charge fair rates for the professional author services that you need, and only for those services you need. Learn more at our Pricing page.

Do you have more questions? See our FAQ page to find answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions that others have had.

Ready to get started? Contact Public Author today by using our Contact Page. We look forward to hearing from you.

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