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.
Barack Obama released another book on the seventeenth of November, 2020. It was already a Best Seller with over two-thousand book reviews on Amazon just a few days after release. Obama’s name alone skyrocketed this book to the Best Seller’s List before we had time to decide what we wanted for breakfast that morning.
Today, we are talking about the power of your name and the role it plays in your author branding and marketing yourself as a first-time Indie Author.
What’s in a Name?
A person’s name is a connection to their identity and individuality. It is the history of who a person is. When you think of names that have become prolific, you are not just thinking about a person’s name. You are thinking about all the things that person has done, their experiences and contributions to the world.
Sometimes, we hear a name, and it is not a good image we see. Names like Jefferey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy make us tremble, but even these names show a name’s power. We tremble because their names are connected with the horrific things they’ve done, and hearing those names brings to our memory those heinous acts, in the same way, hearing Maya Angelou’s name gives us hope.
When branding yourself as an author, it is good to have the same author name consistent across platforms. Your name doesn’t just tell someone who you are, but it helps build brand recognition.
This means using the same name across your author’s website, the same name in your social media handles and emails, and the same name on your book covers.
“You can show genre with cover design, blurb, logo, and many other cues, but publishing under lots of names in the digital age is a recipe for disaster.” – Anne R. Allen
The more people see your work connected with your name, the more they remember who you are.
It is why we call them “Name Brands.”
Michael Jordan is a brand name, an icon whose career has made his identity equivalent to excellence. When people buy Jordans, they know they are buying a top-quality shoe. And even if it is not a top-quality shoe, it is what the people believe. Why? How did someone whose name once meant nothing now mean everything?
Well, that’s another blog post. For now, let’s just stay on topic and keep it simple.
Michael Jordan proved himself as an exceptional basketball player, and his work ethic is connected with his name. The more his work became recognized, so did his name.
Your work and your name are connected, whether you are a servant of good or bad. If you are doing good work (in this case, we are discussing writing) and not using your name or changing your business name every six months, you make it hard for people to connect who you are with what you do.
“It’s much easier to build brand recognition if you keep all your publishing activity under the same name and the same expression of that name.” – Jane Friedman
Nikki Giovanni, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, and Richard Wright.
Chances are you’ve heard these names before, and if you are like me, you will notice these names on book covers at any bookstore. You might even stop to scan or flip through the pages of a book simply because you recognize these author’s names.
The name of this blog started as the name of a book series I was writing.
In my Pretty Woman voice, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
While I have found a new purpose in this blog, it was a mistake to name this blog after a book. The problem with using the title of your book as your blog name, author website, or social media pages is you will probably write more books.
Are you going to create more websites and accounts for all the books you are writing?
Of course not.
Your name is one of the most powerful, FREE resources you have for marketing yourself as an author.
When you first meet someone you introduce yourself, and you start with your name because your name is your identity. It is more important than your job title and degrees. And when people remember our name, it makes us feel important, recognized, and valued.
It’s the name you’re known by, even if it’s not the name on your birth certificate.
It is absolutely okay to use a name that you’ve been known by even if it’s not your birth name. The key is not to keep changing it though. Pick a name and stick with it.
Consider Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Kwame Ture, Whoopi Goldberg, and others. None of these people were born with those names just as I was not born Yecheilyah Ysrayl. Although I was not born Yecheilyah, I do not consider it a pen name. It is more than that, it is the name for which I am now known.
Use Your Name
“Once you know what author name you’ll be using, be relentlessly consistent in the expression of that name throughout your websites and social media accounts.”
– Jane Friedman
No matter what name you choose to brand, use that name everywhere. It will help people to identify you, and when they remember you, they remember your work.
No one cares about the title of your book or your book, for that matter.
What people care about is you, the author so it is your NAME and your author photo that will stand out the most in your social media profiles and on your website.
Think about it: It’s not about “A Promised Land.” It is about the fact that Obama wrote it. He could have titled the book The First Black President and people would have bought it. People are buying him. People are buying Obama.
I am not a fan of the term, but when people say that “people buy people,” what they mean is in the beginning, readers are interested in the person more than the book. Then as they begin to trust the person, they trust anything connected to the person, including the book.
Who are you?
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
What motivates/inspires you to write?
What has your journey been like?
What’s your story?
Instead of using a lot of different names or the title of your book, focus on branding one name across platforms.
www. AuthorName . com
Twitter: @Author Name
Instagram: @Author Name
Clubhouse: @Author Name
The stronger your brand name, the easier the marketing. We all hope to get to the point where people hear our name associated with something and run out to support it without blinking.
Use your name. That is all.
Looking for more Indie Author Tips? Check out the catalog of articles here. From this point forward, Indie Author Basics posts will publish on Wednesdays.
I am Soul is 99cents for a limited time. And remember, if you read it, review it!
I read a book a couple of weekends ago. I feel it has the utmost potential. To be clear, this isn’t a book from my book review service. I read this book on my own time from an author I do not know. I enjoyed the testimony; I loved the cover, and I can relate to much of the information.
Unfortunately, the book was in such terrible need of editing and formatting that it was troublesome to get through, which broke my heart. I am not usually ultra-sensitive to typos and such when reading a book for leisure. I am only irritated when the errors are so bad I can’t enjoy or understand the story.
I could tell very little money went into this book’s production just from reading it.
That is when I knew what I wanted to write to you as we enter this new month.
I know because I have been here. I have published books written in a Microsoft Word Document, turned it into a PDF, and uploaded it. I have not only removed a lot of my earlier works, but I have risked book reviews taking books down to revise them for this reason.
As many of us do when we enter Self-Publishing, I learned the hard way that authoring a book takes more than uploading a Microsoft Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu. The hardest pill to swallow is that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it’s essential for new authors who choose to Self-Publish to be aware there are costs involved. Self-Publishing is not the easy route if pursued the right way. It requires both time and financial investment.
What Happens Traditionally:
I found it is helpful to understand what happens when someone publishes a book traditionally.
Traditionally, a publisher offers an author a contract. The author signs with the publisher who prints, publishes and sells the book through bookstores and other retailers. The publisher is buying the rights to the book and pays the author royalties from the sales.
Since this isn’t my area of expertise, I will leave it here. That’s the gist of it, but to learn more on Traditional Publishing steps, click here.
The most crucial part as it relates to this post is that the traditional publishing house “takes on the responsibilities and costs of designing, printing, distributing, and marketing the book.” (McLachlin)
Vanity Publishing, the center of much controversy in the Indie world, is a publisher who publishes a book provided the author can pay for services. If the author doesn’t want to do everything independently and can afford to spend thousands of dollars to publish this book, a Vanity Publisher will gladly publish them.
Vanity Presses can look like Traditional Publishers to the untrained eye, but there’s a significant difference. The Vanity Press does not get paid royalties from the sale like a Traditional Publishing House. The Vanity Press gets paid money upfront from the author to publish them. The author is paying to get their book published. As you now know, this is not how traditional publishing works. After the Vanity Press publish the book, some allow the author to own the book and keep the profit from sales, but some Vanity Presses do not.
Why VP’s charge
Newbie authors get excited to be “signed” with Vanity Presses under the presumption they are like traditional publishing houses. They are not. VP’s charge authors to publish them because, without paying for services, there are no services. Vanity Presses have a bad reputation for outsourcing to mediocre editors and designers, so authors spend thousands of dollars (sometimes upwards of $5,000+) to receive poor editing and crappy formatting and graphic design.
Take Rocket Science Productions / RSP Marketing Services, for example, where “Phase One” of this publishing scheme involves a $595 payment for copyright registration and an ISBN. (ALLI)
ISBN’s are expensive, but you can purchase a block of TEN from Bowker (US) for $295.
That’s TEN ISBNs for TEN separate books (or multiple versions of the same book) as opposed to paying almost six-hundred dollars for ONE.
Morgan James Publishing is another example, a vanity press that profits by selling books to their authors rather than readers. (ALLI)
Author Solutions and anything under Author Solutions and Xlibris are also Vanity Presses to watch out for.
The only people who get paid in this situation are the publisher or company offering the services. There are tons of people making six figures off green Self-Publishers. If I charged eight thousand dollars per author, I’d be a millionaire too.
The primary way to identify a Vanity Press is to understand one simple fact:
A traditional publisher pays the author, not the other way round.
But the traditional publisher also owns the rights to the book, which is why many choose to Self-Publish.
With Self-Publishing, you pay to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. This investment can get expensive, which is why I understand why writers fall for vanity presses. Suppose you pay $2,000 to get a book edited (which is not out of the ordinary for skilled, professional editing depending on the editing needed) and still need a decent cover and everything else. Why not pay $5,000 for a team of professionals to do everything for you?
The problem is that the books these “professionals” publish are low in quality, and sometimes the author doesn’t maintain the rights to their book even after paying so much to get it published. If you charge someone $5,000 to publish their book, it should look like it, and the author should own the rights to the book. There is no excuse for charging this much money to upload a poorly edited and formatted text with a generic cover to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and then call yourself a publisher.
Why Self-Publishing Can Be Free But Isn’t If You Do It Right
With Self-Publishing, you do not sign with a publisher, so there is no one to cover the cost of book editing and cover design. You are the publisher, so the financial responsibility is yours.
It will cost you nothing to upload a manuscript to Amazon’s KDP or Kobo or iTunes or whichever platform you’d like to use. You can take your Word Document or PDF and create an account with that platform and upload it. You can also go wide using Draft2Digital to make your book available on other ebook platforms like Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and iTunes.
But, if you want to produce a high-quality book, there are costs involved in getting the manuscript ready for publication.
You are not paying someone to publish your book, or I should say, upload your manuscript to KDP. You are investing in producing a quality product.
Technically, you do not have to pay anything to publish a book, but it will look like it.
You OWN your book, which places you in great authority, and with eminent authority comes greater responsibility. If you don’t want to be responsible for everything, then Self-Publishing might not be the route for you. It may be best to look into Traditional Publishing.
This post’s purpose is not for you to think that paying a lot of money will make your book great automatically. No editor, despite how talented, can make a crappy story great again.
The purpose of this post is to inform those of you new to Self-Publishing that if you want to be an Independent Author/Publisher, you will have to invest some money in publishing your book if you want it done right.
Indie Author Basics with EC exists because after Self-Publishing my books, I quickly realized the lack of information available to Indie Authors. Sometimes the only way to learn is through experience, and I have discovered some ups and downs that I think will help those who are just beginning. I do not present these as concrete, guaranteed solutions, but I hope new authors can use these tips to better the Self-Publishing experience and make it less confusing.
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!