Today is Throwback Thursday, and I want to revisit the discussion over the ISBN. I have not given any Indie Author tips in awhile so let’s do it.
What is an ISBN
The short definition is the ISBN is a unique number used to identify a book.
The code captures information about the book’s publisher, title, language, edition, and version. The first form of the ISBN was introduced in the 1960s by Whitaker & Sons Ltd, the British National Bibliography, and the Publishers Association, who set up the Standard Book Numbering Agency (SBNA) British publications.
The SBA then became the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in the 1970s. It is a group of symbols that identify each book title as a unique product. The number consists of ten digits divided into four groups, usually separated by dashes or spaces, each group having a specific function.
Magazines, academic journals, and other periodicals do not get ISBNs. Instead, they are issued 8-digit ISSNs (International Standard Serial Numbers).
Purpose of the ISBN
The ISBNs principle purpose is to make the identification of any book possible.
ISBNs are not necessary for ebooks because Amazon will automatically assign the ebook an ASIN, Amazon Standard Identification Number. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s given by Amazon and its partners.
If you only intend to give copies of your book to family and friends, you don’t necessarily need an ISBN because you’re not selling the book. However, if you want to sell paperback and hardcopy books to bookstores, libraries and want readers to access it worldwide, you need the book to have an ISBN. Most retailers require ISBNs to track book inventory. Without an ISBN, you will not be found in most book stores, either online or down the street from your house. An ISBN is your first step to ensuring that your book is not lost in the wilderness.
Authors in the U.S. have two choices. Receive a free ISBN given by Amazon, Lulu, or POD (Print on Demand) of choice, or purchase an ISBN from Bowker.
The advantage of the free ISBN is the author saves money. This is an option for new Self-Publishers just looking to get their feet wet. But while it’s easier to get a free ISBN, it comes with some disadvantages.
With a free ISBN, you are not technically the publisher of record. Amazon, Lulu, or whichever service issued the ISBN is the publisher.
In the U.S., getting your own ISBN is not free, and since each version of your book would need a separate ISBN (including if you want to change the book’s publisher, book title, or translate the book into a different language…authors also cannot reuse an ISBN), it can get costly.
But it’s worth it.
The advantage of owning your ISBN is that you own the rights to the book. You have control over the metadata of the book—the descriptions and categories that help libraries, bookstores, and readers worldwide discover your book and decide whether they want to purchase it. Buying your ISBNs and registering your titles ensures information about your book will be stored in the Books In Print database, opening up a world of possibilities that your book is listed with many retailers.
How to Get an ISBN
In Canada, the ISBN is free for Independent Self-Published Authors and Publishers who are Canadian residents.
If you are in the U.S., you should only buy an ISBN from Bowker, the ONLY official U.S. ISBN Agency.
If you plan to write multiple books, it’s best to choose the ten-block option as it is the most cost-effective than purchasing one ISBN. It also makes publishing the next book easier as you can now omit the cost of the ISBN from your budget for the new book.
If you only plan to write one book, though, you certainly can buy one ISBN. Do keep in mind that even if you are writing just one book, you may want to create several versions of that book (hardcopy, paperback), in which case the 10-block can still come in handy since you need a new ISBN for each version of your book.
What is an ISBN and Do I Need One?
An ISBN is a unique number used to identify the book and its data and sell hard copies worldwide. In the U.S., free ISBNs are an option but do limit the author’s ownership. No, you don’t need an ISBN for ebooks sold through Amazon because they will be assigned an ASIN anyway. And no, you don’t need an ISBN if you do not plan to sell the book.
Yes, you need an ISBN if you are publishing a paperback/hardcopy of the book, and you want the book to sell at stores, libraries, and be available worldwide. No, you do not have to purchase an ISBN through Bowker, but it is strongly recommended that you do so you can be listed as the publisher and reap the benefits of owning the metadata. No, you cannot reuse the ISBN, and yes, you need a different ISBN for each version of the book.
I am getting book one in The Stella Trilogy ready for its March 24th release. Preparing this book led me to notice the one thing about my books I had neglected and the one thing Self-Publishers overlook when publishing print books.
Not all Self-Published books look mediocre because of poor cover design and editing. Lots of Self-Published books have excellent covers and are packaged well on the outside.
But there is one thing that separates most Self-Published paperback books from Traditionally Published paperback books in terms of quality.
I am talking about typesetting.
“Typesetting is the process of setting text onto a page. In this stage, which occurs towards the end of book production, the typesetter arranges the book’s interior to create the best reading experience.”
The key is to have a Self-Published book indistinguishable in quality from high quality Traditionally Published and Independently Published books. The way the author or book designer arranges the text on the page has a lot to do with this.
Here are some suggestions for improving typesetting (if you are not paying someone to do it):
Don’t space your words out so much. You don’t need to double-space to that extent. You will know you have too much space if the text looks light. But also, don’t squish them together too tightly either. You will know this if the text looks too dark. (Try maybe 1.5 spacing).
There’s no need to double-space after periods. This practice came from the typewriter when characters were the same width, but with modern computers, there’s no need to do this.
The first paragraph of a chapter should not be indented. Subsequent chapters in a fiction book can be indented. Nonfiction books use a block style instead of an indent, where there is no indentation on the next line.
Don’t forget to add page numbers.
In fiction writing, the dialogue starts on a new line every time a new person is speaking, should be enclosed with quotation marks, and with each new line indented.
“Oh my gosh, Nora, really?” Lisa rolled her eyes. “I’m just saying,” debated Nora, “that word gets you lynched where I come from.”
“Oh my gosh, Nora, really?” Lisa rolled her eyes.
“I’m just saying,” debated Nora, “that word gets you lynched where I come from.”
If you are not sure about font, serif font is a good choice.
Set your paragraph alignment to justified. Justified means the left and right edges are straight. This looks neater and is easier to read.
Make sure your trim size is appropriate for the size book you want to publish. The size of a typical novel is 6×9, but you may want your book to be shorter in size. Change the trim size in word by going to Layout > Size.
Adjust your chapter headings (you do have chapter headings, right??), so they are not too far down the page.
A new chapter starts on a new page.
When uploading your document to KDP, consider uploading a PDF copy of the MS, not a Word Doc.
Make sure your paperback book is not just edited but also formatted. You can use formatting software or pay someone to arrange the text for you. I prefer to pay a professional to do all this for me after the book has been edited.
It may seem small, but if you are Self-Publishing a paperback book, good typesetting makes for easy reading. This is one of those behind the scenes things that readers only notice if it’s done wrong. No one would have paid attention to the man, eating, and drinking air in Tyler Perry’s A Fall from Grace if there was food on his plate and water in his glass.
The same applies here. Readers care about the story. They are not going to pay attention to the typesetting unless it is so out of sorts it becomes distracting.
If I open your paperback book and there’s enough space for me to write a whole diary entry between paragraphs, or it looks like a DIY your little brother put together, I am going to notice it.
It is not always a bad book cover or poor editing that brings down the quality of some Indie books. It is the typesetting or the way they print the text on the page that gives the book away.
Want more Indie Author Tips? Visit the Indie Author Basics with EC page here!
My name is K. McCoy, and I am from Fort Myers, FL.
What’s your favorite color?
My favorite is blue.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
I would have to say that the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding time to take care of all the other things that help me with sharing my written work and meeting my scheduled deadlines. The most exciting thing about being a writer is hearing how people interpret my work once I have shared it.
I love that part also. It’s fascinating how people can have different views on the work. Why is writing important to you?
Writing is one of my strongest outlets – my favorite creative releases. It’s part of my therapy, to be able to share my thoughts with others through storytelling. That is why writing is important to me.
What do you love about yourself?
My quirkiness is what I love most about myself. Took a long time before I could say that outloud, but it’s true.
Got it. What kind of music do you like?
I like almost every genre of music, but lately I have been listening to Lo-fi the most.
Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Learn how to protect your peace in a peaceful way. By that I mean, learn to recognize and acknowledge behavior that may prevent you from flourishing – from being around people who do not have good intentions, overworking your physical self, to questioning habits (internally and/or externally) that you have personal and discussing how to process and handle them. Essentially, do no harm, but take no shit.
I like that! I’m gonna have to borrow that one.
A friend of mine says it at the end of her podcasts (Angela Page, Love Your Rebellion).
“Do no harm, but take no sh*t.”
– Angela Page
K, outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Singing and learning other languages are a few of my passions outside of writing.
Oh cool. Are you bilingual? If so, what other languages do you speak? If not, what other languages would you like to speak?
I wish that I was bilingual! At the moment, I speak a little conversational Spanish and Korean. I would really like to learn more about both languages, as well as Afrikaans and Creole.
Korean, nice! What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
A small studio, within the perfect distance away yet near a beach. With plenty of windows that let lots of sunshine in and full of intricate and inspiring artwork from my friends.That also comes with a cleaning service, a fully stocked fridge of water and healthy food. As well as a list of take out locations too!
That’s nice. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
I think that I would make a great Music History curator. Especially if I got the chance to study more of World Music!
What skill would you like to master?
I would love to master learning different languages so that I can become a polyglot.
That’s interesting. What kind of environment or situation do you think will benefit ones usage of several languages?
I feel that I would benefit by being able to connect more with my bilingual and polyglot friends as well as travel to more places in the world more comfortably with the use of several languages.
In your own words, what is love?
Love is universal acceptance of all things. Abundance of happiness that you welcome into your life to make better, not whole.
Are we to accept all things though? What about the not-so-good things in the world, are there any limitations? Does love have limits?
No, we do not have to accept all things, in my opinion. To protect our peace and to not cause harm to others, there must be limitations. The idea that love can have no limits is a fairy tale at best. I feel that love does have limits. It must, in order to save us from ourselves.
K. McCoy wants to live in a world where indie vinyl record shops can be found in every city and sweets don’t come with so many calories. As an Independent Author, she is now putting the finishing touches on her first novelette, MAGIX, which will be released this year. Her stories are those of awkward cute meets, sassy women who take no ish, and sweet declarations and discoveries of love. Her poetry covers mental health, self-love, body positivity, and quirky traits that are to be celebrated.
When she is not baking or playing cards against Humanity with her friends, you can find her writing down new ideas and concepts somewhere sunny or discovering new music on online.
Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Frank Prem. Let’s get started!
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Frank Prem, and I live in a pretty little town called Beechworth, that’s nestled not far from the Victorian Alps in Australia. It isn’t famous for the Alps, though. Beechworth has a gold mining history that dates back to the 1850s, an association with an infamous band of bushrangers (outlaws) (The Ned Kelly Gang).
That’s the old fame, and it’s a well preserved and highly successful tourist town off the back of that, but in this day and age it may just be as well known for its bakery (The Beechworth Bakery), which seems to draw folk to it from everywhere and is almost too full some days for me to have my before-work cuppa at six in the morning. Not really, but it gets very crowded in there most days.
By the way, I grew up in Beechworth back in the 1960s and 70s, and that childhood is the subject of a memoir I’m in the process of releasing as first indie publication. That’s very exciting.
I bet! Releasing your first book is very exciting. Congratulations to you. Are you employed outside of writing?
I have had a lifelong association with psychiatry and psychiatric services over here in Victoria. When I was a young child, my parents were both employed to work in the local mental asylum (as they were known then). My first associations were through riding my bike up the Mental Asylum hill to visit either of my parents while they were working. My mum was part of the nursing staff while dad worked in the Kitchens. Subsequently, I became a student psychiatric nurse at the institution and went to work in a wide variety of jobs and roles in the system of Psychiatric care, including helping – in a very modest way – to close them all down in the 1990s.
These days I still work as a psychiatric nurse in a small rehabilitation facility in the town. The squaring of the circle, completed. The manuscript for a memoir of my time in psychiatry is complete and waiting its turn in the queue. I hope to produce it in book and electronic form within about a year, but there are other projects already in the pipeline that need to be completed first.
Wow, that is neat. Since we keep going back to writing let’s talk about that. Does blogging help you to write?
I find I write my best, or at least with the most pleasure from the work, when I am writing for a reader. I do not write for myself.
Since starting my poetry blog, I have found inspiration with every view recorded, with every ‘like’ for a poem, and absolutely with every comment and conversation that a reader has initiated. Similarly, with reading to an audience I delight in engaging with listeners, especially when something I have written and/or read has acted as a catalyst for a person to start telling me of their similar but unique experience.
I believe that all poetry, and especially mine, needs to be a means of communication, and needs to be accessible. I want people to understand what the poem is about, to be able to consider it, respond to it, discuss it with a neighbor. As my readership at the poetry blog has grown, I have felt myself to be freed up to write more and better, curious about how the new poem will be received, while hurrying on to write the next.
How did you come to the decision to write for your readers? Are there any instances where you write for yourself?
I think there is a point around when a writer realizes that the need to write has become a fundamental part of him- or her- self, that this issue has to be confronted. Who am I writing for?
In my own case, I tend to write and move on. I don’t enjoy revisiting old work and I resist doing anything beyond superficial editing. I would rather discard a poem and start over afresh with the next thought than rewrite what I have, in my mind, already completed.
For my own purposes, I concluded that when I have thought the thought, I don’t need it anymore. It is written for another person to contemplate, if they wish to. My problem, is that every thought can become a contemplation. Every contemplation become a poem.
I have a big backlog!
I love what you said about not needing it anymore and how it is now for someone else. That’s powerful. Frank, what do you wish you knew more about?
I’ve become quite fascinated with the universe in recent times – pictures that the good folk at NASA have made available through their library archive are simply amazing and become a feature of and inspiration for my writing in recent times.
What’s your favorite drink?
I confess to being a bit of a coffee fiend. Nothing uncommon in that, except that I buy my beans green, then roast them myself in a popcorn whirligig that I had to import special from the US.
Wow that’s nice! I, too, am a coffee fiend. Shout out to all the coffee lovers out there.
The making of coffee for my wife and myself assumes the role of ritual in our household. A certain number of spoons of beans into a hand grinder, then the ground powder into a stove-top espresso maker. Milk into a pot to bring to boil on the stove, with both of them timed to coincide in their readiness to be blended and poured. The hissing and boiling carry-on of the espresso maker as it approaches its climax is a delight to me, every morning.
Ha! Ya’ll are all over it. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
The most inspirational books that I’ve read in recent times have been the translated works of a French philosopher named Gaston Bachelard – who died back around the 1960’s. He was a scientist as well as a philosopher and he spent a lot of time thinking about poetry and poetics and reverie – tying them up, breaking them down, showing how others had addressed these things.
I found that, for a long time, I couldn’t read beyond a paragraph without needing to pen my own interpretation, my own story of what he was illuminating for me. I’ve ended up with a set of around 800 poems that I intend to bring to book when I clear the queue in front of them, just a little.
That’s what’s up. Keep the creative juices going. Loving your cover by the way. So, what’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The hardest thing about being a writer is turning the work into a book. I feel that I am on a fast-track learning curve that will take from being a writer to being an author, but at the same time requires me to become a publisher, and a publicist and an interviewee, and press release source, with all of it looking professional and as though it is as straightforward as taking the next breath of air.
The next book, of course, should be easier, because I am learning hard. The book that I am just about to start writing will be the easiest of all because all my new work will be in a book style and format even while it is in draft form. It will be surrounded, in advance, by the front matter and the back matter and copyright statement and the dedication page and …
It is hard because there is so much to learn. But this is work I badly want to master, and so I shall.
In the meantime, since I began thinking about these questions, my first book – Small Town Kid – has listed on Amazon in e-book form (with the paperback hurrying along behind it, I hope). It can be found at the listing below, and I feel unbelievably proud of this work.
I’m so happy for you. Tell us, why writing is important to you.
Writing my poems is the oxygen in my lungs. Ink is the blood in my veins and arteries.
I can’t imagine myself without my poetry, searching for the next thought that will bear scrutiny by the poet.
What genre do you write in, why?
I am primarily a free verse poet, but I have come to think that I don’t really have a particularly poetic genre or style. I feel my work is something of a hybrid between poetry and short story writing.
I have always been attracted to poetry as my best means of creative expression.
Over my journey through life I often have encountered strange and seemingly inexplicable events and phenomena – particularly in psychiatry. I often would use my writing as a way to unravel and better understand what I had done and what I had seen during the day gone by.
I needed a way to get difficult things out of my head, so that I could be at peace with myself, but not to have them lost to me (or to a potential reader, of course).
I use very little punctuation in my writing, and I use very short lines, as I attempt to incorporate the cadences of reading aloud with the pauses and accents and emphasis that go with that, and the additional natural pauses that come with taking a breath.
I hope that a person unfamiliar with my work could pick up a poem and read it aloud with a natural flow and feel, just by using the line breaks and stanza breaks as a guide to the pace of their reading.
Nice. Are you a spiritual person?
I think I’m a very spiritual person. Not at all religious, but respectful and in awe of nature and the life around me. Of the sky and the moon and the night. I dance to the tune of rain on my roof and the rumbling of a storm that I can feel deep in my chest.
You sound just like a poet too lol.
So, yes, Yecheilyah, I think I’m a very spiritual person, and I am grateful for it.
Thank you Frank for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse.
He has been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in several other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’.
He lives with his wife, musician and artist Leanne Murphy, in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).
Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Wanda Luthman. Let’s get started!
What is your name and where are you from?
Wanda Luthman. I grew up in St. Louis, MO but was born in NC, spent a few years in Florida, and two beautiful years in Hawaii, and now I’m back in Florida.
Hawaii. Okkaay. Are you employed outside of writing?
I’m a High School Guidance Counselor. I have 350 students that I track for graduation and help them with emotional issues as well as career advice throughout their high school years. I love my job, my school, my co-workers, and most especially the children/young adults.
I love it. Any siblings?
I have two siblings—a brother and a sister. I’m the baby of the three of us.
In your own words, what is love?
Love is magic. Whenever you think of love, you know something magical is there. Whether it’s between husband and wife or parent and child, you feel something extra there that is indescribable. And when you see a tragedy and then you see the helpers, you know there is love and those people are working miracles in the lives of others. That’s what love is. It’s powerful and changes lives.
I love what you said about tragedies and seeing helpers and knowing there’s love there! Wanda, what’s your favorite color?
My favorite color is blue or purple. I love them both equally! And they’re related on the color wheel.
Who is your favorite writer?
My favorite writer is Dr. Seuss.
What kind of music do you like?
I love country music because it tells a story but I love all kinds of music from classical (I used to play the piano) to Gospel to Rock ‘n Roll.
Let’s talk about writing some more. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I published my first book in October 2014. I used a service that cost a lot of money to publish but it was worth it to see my dream become a reality!!
I can definitely understand the feeling of seeing your dream come true for sure. Don’t pay a lot of money to get your book published again though! It shouldn’t cost you anything to publish your book. If it does, run. Are you married Wanda? How long?
Yes, I have been married for 23 wonderful years.
Wonderful! Do you have children?
Yes, I have 5 children. 1 that is my own biological child and 4 that are step-children.
Awesome. Are you a spiritual person?
I am a deeply spiritual person. I grew up in a Christian home and was a very concrete thinker so I tried to do everything perfectly. I quickly realized I couldn’t be perfect. I gave that up and had a few tumultuous years of experimenting. But, then, I came back around and married someone I thought was also a Christian. It turns out, he wasn’t a very nice person. I went against my beliefs and filed for a divorce and felt incredibly liberated. I then went on a spiritual journey and read all kinds of spiritual books from all different kinds of religions and attended several different types of churches. I then realized I still believed in my Christian faith but I wasn’t going to follow rules just to follow rules. I was going to be true to myself. As I became more real, I encountered God on a whole new level. I learned to meditate and I do what I do because it’s who I am not because I “should.” This is what being spiritual is to me, it’s about a relationship with a living God that lives in, through, and around me. Religion to me is more about a set of rules and trying to live up to those rules. No one can be perfect. That’s why we need Jesus and forgiveness. We need to forgive ourselves as much as we need to forgive others. And love is the key to everything.
I agree that love is the key to everything.
Thank you Wanda for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). She is a former National Pen Women of Cape Canaveral. She belongs to the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 23 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest.
Usually, I present author tips for new authors but this is not really a new author tip. This is more so for those authors who’ve been publishing for a while and want to level-up their writing career. Also, these are not rules, must-haves, should-haves, writer commandments, should-dos….you get the point. I call these tips because they are nuggets and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way that may help you. In the end, everyone must find their own way. I just hope I can help in that journey by sharing what I’ve learned. Will this be helpful to you? Maybe not. But also, maybe it will.
What is an Authorpreneur?
Authorpreneur means merging the concept of being an author and an entrepreneur. Typically, an author’s book stops selling after their family and friends have bought it and then it swims in the Amazon sea of unread books. Most authors starting out will probably not sell more than 100 books. This is a real bummer considering the amount of time, emotional investment and money this author may have put into the book. Going from Author to Authorpreneur is not just about writing books and publishing them on Amazon. For most Indie Authors, Amazon royalties will not be enough which is why I think it’s so important to develop more entrepreneurial habits. Indie Authors must start to think about ways of earning money that will produce long-term sustainable income.
“Indie Fiction writers don’t fail at writing. Indie Fiction writers fail at starting a business. – Anne R. Allen
We are living in an age where you do not need to go to college to start a business and you do not need to be signed by a publisher to be a successful author. That’s why authors who are entrepreneurial and run their book publishing like a business are the authors that tend to be successful. Here are nine Authorpreneur habits you can start today:
Promote Your Books Offline Too
Something I have ventured into myself, get into the habit of promoting your books offline, not just online. There is an entire community of people who are offline. By neglecting them you are leaving money on the table. We can do radio shows, events, bookstores, book readings and a ton of other face-to-face activities that will help us to expand our brand. Social media is vital to an Indie Author’s career and very necessary. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should neglect other ways of networking and making money. Get out of your comfort zone and go talk to people face-to-face. As an introvert that is what I have had to do. I have had to get comfortable being uncomfortable. You will be nervous but by surrounding yourself with people who are a level up from where you are, you will see signs of your own growth.
Offer a product or service related to your book
I had a hard time coming to terms with this myself but I learned that you can’t be afraid to charge for your services. Yes, times are hard but that’s why your service is not for everyone. The people who need you and can afford you will invest in you but first, you must have something of value to offer. This product or service can be connected to your book in some way, but it must exist. You can become a motivational speaker or offer a service for something you do well. The book is the start, but it is just the beginning. What do people need that you can provide? You may think charging for your services will mean that people won’t want to support you.
I’m not gonna lie to you. Some people won’t support you. There will be those who don’t think it’s worth it or that you’re valuable. There are also those who don’t trust you. They trust your free services but they may not value you enough to pay for it. That’s okay because charging means that you are reaching a certain group of people. These are people who see your worth, the value in your product/service and who can afford you. Also, those who do want to support you will when they can but they won’t complain about you. They may not have the money but they do understand your growth. Bottom line: You can’t talk butterfly language with caterpillar minded people. The truth is that free does not always mean valuable. Charging for a service increases the value of the product or service and produces a spirit of commitment from the client to follow through.
Don‘t spend a whole lot of time measuring your growth by numbers that are not representative of actual Sales
Checking your Amazon stats will drive you crazy, especially when Amazon’s algorithms is funny acting. Your Amazon ranking does not necessarily mean that you have made sales so don”t hype yourself up too much or get down on yourself. I sold more pre-orders for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar than I did with I am Soul but you can’t tell by the ranking. I made it to number seven on Amazon’s ranking with I am Soul. Meanwhile, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar didn’t rank well at all. Shouldn’t it have if I sold more? My point is, your Amazon ranking or number of reviews does not always mean book sales so get out of the habit of measuring your success by what other people are doing. I’ve seen plenty of authors with less than 20 reviews do great things and make good money. The level-up is about results and real progress, not perceived progress. Look at your efforts and check to see if those efforts are producing actual sales, which nobody will see but you, instead of rankings that everyone sees but may not be representative of the truth. A good example of this is Alice Walker’s new book “Taking the Arrow out of the Heart.” At this writing it only has 3 reviews, but it is also a best seller.
Write a Book Business Plan
Serious business people have business plans to help them to map out the goals for their business. Creating a Book Business Plan for every book you release is a fun and helpful way to create a roadmap to help guide you through the process and to identify your goals for each book. The good thing? You can create this plan at any stage of the process. I am creating one right now for my new short story. It’s never too late to begin.
A business plan is a written document on the plans, goal, and overall creative vision of the business. It is what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. A Book Business Plan helps you evaluate the possibility of a new book idea in an objective, critical, and unemotional way. It provides an operating plan to assist you in planning your book release realistically and improves your probability for success. But you don’t have to create a boring and complicated business plan. You can take elements of the business plan and apply it to the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch strategy of each book that you write. Your business plan really just needs 7 Basic Elements:
1. Name your book
2. Write a Log-Line for your book
3. Write your book summary
4. Book Marketing Budget
5. Book Marketing Strategy
6. Publishing Timeline
7. Executive Summary (In a business plan, the executive summary is first but it helps to write it last for your book plan.)
Put Together an Author Media Kit
About 95% of Indie Authors don’t have a media kit which means that you can quickly rise above and stand out from the rest with yours. An Author Media Kit is a major marketing package that helps influencers to learn more about you and your work quickly. It ensures accuracy in news stories, helps people to promote you and your book and is free publicity (beats paid Ads).
7 Key Audiences Who Will Access Your Media Kit
Journalist – Broadcasters, Talk Show Hosts,
Bloggers – Easy access to photos bloggers can use, social media handles
Reviewers— Amazon reviews in your kit
Anyone Who Wants to Promote you or Your Book
One Key Goal of the Media Kit: Make these people’s job easier. By making their job easy, they are going to promote you and your book.
Purchase Your ISBNs
Get into the habit of purchasing your own ISBNs.
I know there’s a big debate in the Indie Author community concerning whether to purchase an ISBN number. I am not going to get into all of that. You can’t tell people what to do with their money. What I will say is this:
ISBNs are expensive, so I wouldn’t stress out if I can’t get one for every book. But, if you can afford to do so, and if you’ve already created your own company, it looks more professional for you to own your ISBNs and is a level up from what everyone else is doing. With your own ISBNs your name or your company name will be listed as the publisher of your books. As an Independent Publisher with your own ISBN, you can publish under your company name, go to a different printer if you choose, open your own account with major companies and opt for national trade distribution. You can even create your own team of publishing experts.
This post is not about doing what everyone else is doing. This post is about the level-up.
Speaking of ISBNs, get into the habit of legalizing stuff, starting with your name. Legalize your business or Author name. You can create a business name or register your author name as an LLC.
You can file the paperwork easily through Legal-zoom under an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, or S-Corporation (please Google these terms for further understanding on what they are). Or, you can just get a DBA. A DBA is a doing business as name that gives you the opportunity to legally write and conduct business under your author name. This will really give you the feel that you’re in business. You will be able to open a bank account in your business name, acquire a debit card, and do so much more. Sure, you can just set up a PayPal account but having a business bank account will take you to a new level of business. You can even upgrade your PayPal by setting up a business PayPal account that is connected to your business bank account. You can then apply for a PayPal debit card (which is free) which gives you another avenue to access your payments directly from your PayPal account. With a PayPal business account, you can purchase a PayPal Here card reader and accept payments on the go!
Having a website for your author business is one of the most basic but professional things you can do. Even if this is just your blog it helps to have a website where people can access all your work in one place. To learn more about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both, see a recent post here.
Your website should be clean, well-organized, and not changing in design every three months. For blog websites, be sure that you have a clear follow button, contact page, about page, and visible social media widgets. Make it easier for people to find and follow you.
Get into the habit of carrying business cards around with you. You never know who you’re going to meet!
The truth is that people throw business cards away so I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on business cards. Keep it simple and professional and give your cards away sparingly. While you may have bookmarks that match your book covers, your regular, standard business cards—the ones you’ll pass out on the go at meetings and bookstores—should be simple, easy to read and clean. It should not have any major designs that distract from the important information, should include your name, business name, phone number, email address, website, and social media handles.
This does not scratch the surface I know, but I hope these basic tips can give you the push you need to put yourself in position to level up your writing career and go from Author to Authorpreneur!
The inaugural Atlanta African American Book Festival is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC and will take place on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Georgia State University. Over 70 authors will convene in Atlanta to present their work to the Atlanta community. Author categories include fiction, non-fiction, romance, YA fiction, middle-grade fiction, and children’s picture books. Journalists, editors, publishers, literary critics, and scholars from various fields will be present. Panel discussions and workshops will engage festival attendees in topics concerning literary industry tips, civil disobedience, activism, emotional and spiritual well-being, restorative justice, and health and wealth. Children’s activities include a story corner and festival dance floor.
I will be one of many authors in attendance and I would be honored to have your support at my table. Since I did not have a launch signing or gathering for Revolution, I’d like to use this as an opportunity for a post-launch celebration. You will have the chance to purchase signed paperback copies of my two most recent books (and not just mine but other authors too), take pictures, take part in workshops, and meet industry professionals. Again, attendance at the festival is FREE so you’ll just need to make it here (food is not allowed inside the venue but there will be food trucks on the outside). This is not just an entertainment event but we also seek to implement community programming that promotes black literary arts and family sustainability within our community. To check out my AAA blog feature, click here.