Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse

This post is not actually about the Zombie Apocalypse.  It is about ISBNs as they pertain to ebooks.  But if I said that up front you wouldn’t be reading it now.

When people start talking about mundane things such as ISBN’s, I just want to shoot myself.  However, this is one subject that each self-publishing author must explore.  After asking my husband to hide all of the firearms, I started in on the research.

The Rundown

An ISBN—which stands for International Standard Book Number, is your book’s ID number.  You do not need an ISBN if you only plan to distribute your work as an ebook.  Amazon does not require ebooks to have an ISBN for the Kindle.  Same goes for Barnes and Nobles and the Nook.  However, Apples iBook Store and Sony do require ISBN’s for their ebooks.  If you publish via Smashwords, and do not have and ISBN, your book won’t be available on these mediums.

Each format through which you publish your book requires its own ISBN because this thirteen-digit numeral unmistakably identifies the title, edition, binding, and publisher of a given work. So your paper book will have its own ISBN, the audio book will have its own ISBN, and the ebook its own ISBN.  Never use the same ISBN for your ebook as you did on your printed version.

The Cost

If you purchase an ISBN directly from the operating agency, Bowker, it will cost you $125 for one (plus additional charges for the actual barcode), or $250 for a block of ten.  

Smashwords will provide an ISBN for you for free.  However, I have read (this is not substantiated) if you use this ISBN to publish directly to others (i.e. Nook and Kindle), you still have to include the ‘Smashwords Edition’ notice on your copyright or front-matter page.  I e-mailed Amazon and Smashwords both to ask if I could use the Smashwords-issued ISBN for my Amazon published ebook.  Amazon responded with “If you've already obtained an ISBN for your eBook, you may enter it in the Book Details when publishing in KDP. However, it will only be used as a reference and won't actually appear on the detail page of your eBook.”  Not too helpful, but they didn’t say no.  Smashwords also responded with, "Since we provide the ISBN as a free benefit of distributing with Smashwords, it wouldn't be appropriate for you to use the ISBN elsewhere.  We don't enforce this, and we really don't care all that much."

If you choose to let Smashwords issue an ISBN for you, the Bowker record will register Smashwords as your publisher.  Smashwords claims this in no way makes Smashwords your legal publisher since the Bowker record has no legal bearing over ownership of material.  If this does not sit well with you, you can pay $9.95 to Smashwords, and they will give you an ISBN that registers you, the author, as the publisher.  However, there are claims that doing this will result in junk mail and solicitations (probably the same as if you registered directly with the Bowker agency).

Some countries (including Canada, I think), give out ISBN’s for free.  Yet another reason to move to Canada.  Plus, I like moose.


All that said, an ISBN is necessary for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalogue.  The Premium Catalogue allows for distribution to: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, the Diesel eBook Store and major mobile app marketplaces including Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and HP's WebOS. 

So, in conclusion, the benefits to purchasing an ISBN for your ebook are (1) inclusion into more markets and (2) your ebook will be listed in Bowker's "Books in Print" which will allow it to be listed and searched by any other database (such as WorldCat) that takes a feed from Bowker (translation: more marketing, kind of). 

Knowing all this, I have decided to get the ISBN through Smashwords for free.  I won’t include it on the Amazon and B&N portals because that offers no benefit (since Smashwords also publishes my book through these portals, anyone searching by the ISBN will come up with the Smashwords edition).


And since we are on the topic of very boring subjects, let’s talk copyrights.  But only briefly because I think I’ve discovered where Nick hid the Glock.  Your material is essentially ‘copyrighted’ as soon as you create it.  The only reason why you would need to register with the U.S. Copyright Office is if you wish to sue someone for infringement of your material. Not sure what prompted me to do it, but I copyrighted my short story, my full length novel, and the four next novels in the series (which have yet to be written) all on the same claim.  Cost for registration is $30. You can register online without actually having to submit content of materials.

Zombie Apocalypse

And for those thoroughly disappointed by my blog subject, maybe this will satisfy: A preparedness guide put out by the CDC themselves for – you guessed it – the zombie apocalypse. A Cracked Article that explains how/why this event could actually occur. Something more to further encourage your avoidance in going back to work/chores/bills. If you don't know what this is; read the link.  The perfect shirt for the zombie apocalypse.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Technology of it All

Following up with my last post.  Yes - emailing five review requests per day have proven to be too much work, as I have yet to meet that goal for any day this past week.  A large problem with this is getting sucked into a blog.  Many are funny, have good advice, or are just plain addicting (  Some of the best advice I've seen in a blog is to stop reading the blog and start writing.  And yet - I read on...and so are you.  Not to mention the usual distractions of kids, a full time job, dinner and east coast earthquakes.

No matter - even five reviews a week is something.  I also continue to edit my full length novel, Water, and have set a goal of getting the ebook published by mid-September.  This would allow me to hopefully have a few reviews generating buzz in time for the biggest e-book buying season  - November/December.  I am all still working with a graphic artist to get the cover done.  It is going slower than I would have hoped; I should probably say something to her at some point.  Although, if she follows this blog, mission accomplished.

Another unanticipated kink in the self-publishing process is technology.  RSS feeds, hash tags, links, different formats (.epub, .mobi, .prc), pixels, ebook converters; the sheer amount of technological know-how I now have to know is blowing my mind.  Since I tend to retain very little, I will probably have to re-learn it when I publish Water.  As both books are the first of a series to come, I have resolved to start documenting step-by-step processes and will hopefully one day have them posted here.

Yes, one day, this blog will be great...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Marketing...ready, set, GO!!!

This past week I kicked off my marketing campaign.  This means family and friends were bombarded with announcements about my book and blog.  It resulted in only a few more purchases; but not enough to even reach the minimum revenue mark with Amazon so I can get a $10 check in the mail three months from now.

I am not deterred.  I have set a goal of sending a blurb about my story to five reviewers a day.  It is more than a blurb, it is this:

I have tried to make the review request look as proffessional as I can, or at least as proffessional as PowerPoint can make it look.  I started out with a list of reviewers offered under the resources portion of the blog: (a great blog for self-publishers to follow, by the way).  Most reviewers have other reviewer blogs they follow so a potential reviewer list can quickly grow into the hundreds.  After I have a substantial list, I will post it here. 

Five e-mails a day is not overwhelming, and is just enough to make me feel productive.  I send out the review request as an attachment, plus the various mediums in which they can get to my book (including a 'free' coupon via Smashwords).  I never send the book unless they ask.  Speaking of which, five e-mails will only result in about one response.

Many reviewers are closed to submissions or their requirements exclude my book.  That is ok, I leave them alone - for now.  I still keep them on my list so I can check back regularly.  Hopefully, I will see the first reviews a month or two from now, and I will include them on my review request, hoping to attract the big league reviewers.

That is all for now - happy requesting everybody!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Future Fans?

Blogging again for several reasons:

1 – I am addicted to my laptop.

2 – Testing new Amazon Author Central Page to see if my blogs post.

3 – Alerting followers to my twitter account: harmonygirlit.  I still only have one follower (me) despite the fact that I even told my mom about the blog.  Geez mom – sign up already!  Maybe twitter will be a different story – I do have one follower on Twitter, stephenkruiser, but he is following 139,051 other people so I can’t be that special. 
3 – Finished uploading to Smashwords and want to make a few comments about that while they are fresh in my head.  I’ve seen comments that you should format according to the Smashwords format guide first.  This is probably a good idea as it is the most thorough I’ve seen out there and very user friendly.  However, if you are going to publish through Amazon (Kindle) and B&N (Nook), there will be subtle differences in the formatting.  One thing mentioned on the Smashwords guide that I’d wish I’d done elsewhere (and still technically can, I guess), is include an author bio, website and picture at the end of the text.  Duh!  The reader just got done reading your amazing piece of work and wants to learn more about you and/or see your other works – this is a good way to do it.

Smashwords will publish to Kindle and Nook but I opted out of the .mobi format (which will prevent Smashwords from putting my work up on Kindle).  I did this because I’ve heard having your book up by two different mediums on Amazon may split your sales reports – not a huge deal but it is always best to simplify – and purchases on Amazon through Smashwords equals less payout for me rather than purchases directly through Amazon.  Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.

4 – A few important steps in the publishing process I failed to mention.  First, get an editor.  Wait – first, write a good book THEN get an editor.  Your spouse, best friend, coworker and child don’t count.  They probably like you too much to be honest, or they have no idea how to edit.  Besides, most of them (as I have found out) won’t even finish the book.  Don’t pay out the a$$ for an editor.  Put an ad on Craigslist describing the job.  You’ll get a hundred e-mails (make sure to take ad down after you get overwhelmed), pick 10 you liked and have them edit a sample chapter.  Choose from there.  I paid $150 for my 80,000 word novel.  It was one of the better deals but also one of the better editors.  I lucked out.  Hint – your editor can also help with your query letter, bio, book blurb, synopsis, etc.  2nd, or I think we are on 3rd – pay a graphic artist to do a cover.  I asked my editor for some referrals, but you could again do Craigslist.  You should only pay between $40 and $100 for this service.  Make sure you and the artist sign a release so you are legally able to use the cover art in advertising, for print, etc.  Send them format guidelines (i.e. dpi, pixels, etc.) so they know what to do, make sure they are willing to work with you until you are happy, and ensure they are willing to send revisions in regards to format even after the job is over.  Finally, ALWAYS acknowledge your editor, cover artist, and anyone who contributed professionally to your piece of work.  I did it on my copyright page.

5 – SALES UPDATE – I have 4 sales on Amazon and 2 at Barnes & Noble.  About half are family I can account for.  The other half – I don’t know.  Future fans, perhaps?  I am so excited!

OMG this is the longest blog I’ve EVER seen (I haven’t seen many).  Certainly the longest I’ve written…

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Advice Doesn't Suck

A long weekend on the laptop, and I have my short story published via the Amazon website, Kindle and Nook for $.99.  Next step is Smashwords (will distribute to iPad, Sony, Kobo, Android, Stanza, Aldiko, etc.).  After, that I can stop ignoring my family and the pile of dirty laundry that is trickling out of bedrooms and down the stairs.

So glad I decided to use a short story as a test run for ebook publishing.  I was constantly going back through the text making changes and I can't imagine having to do that with a full length novel.

For those about to pursue the same endeavor, a few bits of knowledge (disclaimer: 'knowledge' should not be presumed to be preceded by 'good', 'useful', or even 'slightly helpful'):

- Format for Kindle first (larger audience, in my opinion, and much user-friendlier instructions plus a more populated help forum).
- Use MobiPocket Creator to turn a .doc into a .prc format
- Use the Kindle Previewer before uploading to Amazon.  Trust me - there will always be something you need to go back and revise and it is much easier to do before you publish.
- For publishing to Nook, use Calibre to format your book.
- Upload the .prc file you already created for Kindle into Calibre to create the epub document.  The transition is much smoother than using .pdf and it won't allow .doc.

Of course, my e-publishing saga is still in the beginning stages, and by the end of it my best advice might be 'don't follow my advice'.  Either way, hopefully my books prove to be much better than my advice.  I used the word 'advice' way too much just now.  Not so in my books - I have an editor.  Speaking of good editing, here is an excerpt from my short story, Gleaming White:

             The vampires reacted with a loud, synchronized hissing but did not move towards her.  Their gazes slid over her shoulder.  She didn’t have to look to know something was there; in fact, she dare not look.  Her blood forgot all other vampires, and began to ebb and flow like the tide, beating itself against her veins.
            “What do you want, brethren?”  A vampire finally spoke, but he had a tremble to his voice. 
            “I’ve been summoned.”  His voice was like warm liquid, washing through her and back out again, taking pieces of her with it, beckoning the rest to follow.
            “No one here is in need of your assistance.”
            The powerful being spoke again, “Your thoughts are not yours alone.  I heard the call for protection through your own thoughts.  I have to assume it came from the only human among us.”  - End of Excerpt 

I know - right?!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I am About to be Famous

The cover to my short story is done!  Take a look:

Doesn't it just make you want to throw everything else aside and read it RIGHT NOW!  You can - this weekend (I hope).  $.99 on Amazon.  Can also be found on Kindle and Nook.  Please - don't be shy.  Write a review!

Now that I said that I'd better follow through and get this thing up.  Don't want to disappoint my fan (not a typo - fan is meant to be singular).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vampires - Yes Please!

Enough about my family.  If you want to hear cute stories about my kids or see funny videos of them spilling milk all over, friend me on facebook.  For now, it is time to write about my writing.  Then maybe I’ll focus on getting blog followers.  Right now I have one.  It is me.

I recently finished a short story.  It is a totally cliché, vampire story full of sex, bad good-guys and heroines names Isabelle.  I may have missed the boat with the vampire phenomenon but it was totally fun to write!  Not a chore at all – like this blog.

Gleaming White is in the editing stages (sounds so professional, but really it is just someone I found on Craigslist), and will be my first experiment in self-publishing.  It is a practice run for when I release my real novel in a few months (more on that later).

I will blog again (ugh) when it is up for the world to see.  

In case you are already suffering from withdraw, here is a cute picture of my kids: