I walk into a library tighten the mask around my ears choose a table in the furthest corner of the room. No one comes over. “Good,” I think to myself. “It’s good to social distance.” I say that as if I wouldn’t have distanced myself anyway. The girl with the braids smiles, waves. I nod. Afraid to speak. She might think I’m friendly and come over. She carries her book over to the table on the other side of the room away from me. “Good,” I say to myself again. I don’t feel like discussing the book she has in her hands. I wonder if she knows how to pronounce the name. I wonder if she knows the author is sitting over here in the corner trying not to be seen.
I am deep in revisions for my first fantasy novel, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen. I am on the clock because I want my editor to start work on it next month. As I go over my work, I realize how horrified I would have been not going back over this. As usual, I want to share what I am learning with you. In this new Indie Author Basics series, I am sharing some signs I have noticed that indicate that you are probably not ready to Self-Publish that book.
You Skip the Revision Process
Step one in the process of Self-Publishing is to write the book. It is unnecessary to self-edit during this stage because it would be challenging to finish the book if you are editing as you are writing. Step one is like a brain dump where you are getting everything down on paper. It is the most exciting part of the journey as you let your ideas and creativity flow. Step one is creating the rough draft of your story, the version of your manuscript that is complete but not polished.
I know a writer is not ready to Self-Publish when they skip the revision process.
Revisions are rewrites of the manuscript before sending it to a professional editor.
It is AFTER the book is finished because you don’t want to edit as you write (you’ll never finish) but BEFORE the professional edit.
The rewrite is more challenging than the rough draft because you are not only putting your ideas on paper, but now you are organizing those ideas, cutting out what doesn’t work, and working with what does work. The revision stage (rewrites) strengthens your work into something worthy of publication.
If you skip this stage, you are publishing your rough draft. If you send the rough draft to an editor, you will still ultimately publish your manuscript’s rough draft version. While the editor can clean it up some, it is not the editor’s job to write the book for you. If you are looking for someone to write the book for you, you need a Ghostwriter. If you want to write your own book, it is essential not to skip the revision process when you are Self-Publishing.
The rough draft is not the final draft and will not be the best representation of your writing.
How to Know if You Have Skipped Revisions:
You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. You take this book , create a PDF, and upload it to Amazon. You have not gone back to rewrite or make corrections, and you have not had it properly edited. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.
Technology has been your godsend. You have finished recording your book using speech-to-text technology that has translated your words to the page. You finish the book, but you don’t rewrite what you spoke into the document for comprehension. Everything is kind of all over the place. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.
You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. Then, you take this version (the rough draft) and send it to an editor. If I have described you, you have also skipped the revision process. And unfortunately, for your editor they have the job of rewriting your book. If they are a quality editor, they will send the MS back to you and request a rewrite.
If you have not gone back over your rough draft to make changes, this is a sign you are not ready to Self-Publish.
Buying books written by Independent Authors is a terrific way to show support, and word of mouth is still a powerful way to make sure other people know of an author’s work without spending money. There are tons of ways to do this online.
Review the book on Amazon – Amazon is still a powerhouse and trusted source of content for readers. It’s easy to send a review via email, DM, or to post about the book on Social Media. While I am confident, the writer will appreciate any form of support, reviewing a book on Amazon will undoubtedly give the author more exposure. Amazon is the third-largest search engine with Google first and YouTube second. But then, “if we exclude YouTube as part of Google, Amazon is technically the second largest search engine in the world.” (E-Commerce SEO). Suffice it to say Amazon reviews are a great way to support your favorite author, boost their exposure, and act as a great social proof form. In short, an honest, legitimate Amazon review will help an Indie Author go far. In the words of Michael LeBoeuf, “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
Just because someone bought a book doesn’t mean they read it. Leaving reviews is a great way to show the author that you read the book, whether you enjoyed it or not.
Rate/Review Book on Goodreads – While many people are no longer fans of Goodreads (and I’ve fallen off a bit there myself), do remember that it’s a platform full of people who love to read and talk about books! Granted, some people reviewing here are rude, but that’s certainly not everyone. Goodreads is still an excellent platform to use as an online word of mouth to discuss books read. It also allows for the sharing of reviews for books not posted to Amazon for whatever reason. If you don’t have the book, you can utilize the Want to Read button to add it to your bookshelf. Adding a book will show up on your page, exposing the book to your followers/friends. If an author is hosting a giveaway entering the contest will also mark their book Want to Read and add it to your shelf.
Note to authors: I have heard stories about people taking advantage of authors hosting giveaways on Goodreads when it involves paperback books. Please research this on your own as I have no first-hand experience with it, but I’ve heard complaints.
Follow the Author on Social Media – Through social media, you get to learn more about the author outside of books. Many authors post pictures of their family, friends, and pets. Authors share their daily routines, hold contests, and take readers behind the scenes. Readers can interact directly with their favorite authors by sharing a post, saving a post, commenting on a post, and liking a post. All of this helps contribute to helping spread the author’s message without spending a dime.
Subscribe to the Author’s Blog – Following the author’s blog (if they have one) is an extension of following them on social media. Writers have the space to share so much more about themselves and their life’s work and inspirations through blogging. It is a great way to network and become privy to new material as writers tend to publish sneak peeks and short stories to their blogs before they publish them. Writers also post their publishing process in detail on their blogs. You may be inspired to write your own book and learn a thing or two.
Click that lovely subscribe button to follow this blog
Join the Author’s Mailing List or Author Group – Joining the author’s mailing list or author group opens up an opportunity to get to know the author on a much more personal level. You are interacting with them behind the scenes, sort of speak. An author may go live so you can see their face, hear their voice, and interact with them in real-time. Authors explain the deeper meanings behind their stories, answer questions, host private, exclusive contests, and much more. Joining the author behind the scenes in this way shows you trust them with your email address and are ready to commit on a deeper level.
Post Image of Book on Instagram / Facebook – Posting images of the author’s book – or pictures of you and the author at an event – to IG and Facebook (tag the author) is an excellent public display of support. It helps leverage the author’s exposure through cross-promotion. One of your followers interested in that book will potentially follow the author, purchase a copy of the book, review the book, and become a new fan. They may post the book image to their page, and the process repeats itself as one of their followers may find themselves interested in the book. It is a beautiful and selfless display of support and strengthening of the author’s network and the Indie Author community in general.
There are so many ways to support the Indie Author community. I have mentioned these previously, but one crucial component sets this list apart as making a real difference for your favorite authors:
Following someone on social media, subscribing to their blog, or joining their email list or author group means nothing without an active commitment to engage.
My Soul is a Witness is Out. Be sure to grab your copy today and remember to leave a review when you have finished reading! 🙂
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).