More Fun With the ISBN Number

More Fun With the ISBN Number

I’ve grown so accustomed to cranking out my blog posts on Monday afternoons, I almost forgot to schedule one for today. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can write this in the morning and schedule it for the afternoon. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be out on the road, unavailable for writing or even posting!

I recently had an online conversation with a graphic designer with many years of experience. He’s one of the people I’m considering for my next novel design, and we emailed back and forth after connecting on Twitter. After reading my message, he checked out my latest video on book-building, where I discuss ISBNs, LCCNs, and Cataloging-In-Publication data. He then asked if I’d done a video or blog piece just about ISBN.

I haven’t, and I thought, That’s a great idea. So I’m going to roll out a three-part series drilling down into each of the topics I covered only a little on my last post and video. This week will be on the ISBN.

You probably already know you can get your own ISBNs from Bowker, but did you also know that many indie authors only get the “free” ISBN from CreateSpace? As my new designer friend mentioned to me, “CreateSpace is fine for printing, but using an ISBN they provide usually makes them the publisher, as they purchased and own the ISBN.” 

Amazon Author?

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What does that mean, makes them the publisher?” And that is a very good question indeed. The way I think of it is this: if you are okay with being an “Amazon-only author,” and don’t care about having your books available elsewhere, then that route may be the way to go. It wasn’t for me.

So when I created my publishing company, I bought a block of ISBNs from Bowker. Those ISBN numbers now belong to me, so I can use them for my own books or for any books published under my own imprint. Because I did not go with the Amazon/KDP/CreateSpace model, I am not under Amazon’s control.

In order to do this right, I made a decision to assign a full three ISBNs to each of my titles. One ISBN is for the print version, which is available via Print-On-Demand from IngramSpark; one is for the e-book version distributed via Amazon; and the third is for the e-book distributed via all other channels. That last category makes the e-book version available via Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo…you name it.

The rules of the road regarding ISBN numbers have changed over the years, and I might not replicate this exact process for future publications. For now, however, it works: you can get my books in print or e-book formats from your favorite online distribution channels – they even show up on Wal-Mart’s website now – or you can buy the paperbacks direct from me.

That’s my little overview on ISBNs. You can customize somewhat, based on your own needs and goals. But above all, you have to decide how much control you want Amazon to have over your titles. For me, as an independent, my current model was the way to go.

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Book-Building 101

Book-Building 101

This week’s post is called Book-Building 101 because I want to provide my fellow indie authors a little info on the mechanics of putting out a completed book. And I’m not talking about plot, structure, or basics like editing or proofreading. I’m talking about the object itself.

Now, you might automatically assume that that means a post about cover design and interior design, but no. It’s not even that. Of course, those are the first few things you think of when you consider “building” a book. I’m talking about the stuff you need when you drill down a little further into the publishing business.

Here are the top three items you need on your copyright page – and only one of them is something I knew about before I began my journey as a publisher.

 

My Top Three

 

1) The ISBN Number – Yes, you know you need an ISBN number, right? But what ISBN number you get depends a lot on how you’re publishing. If you publish through Amazon only, my understanding is that they provide an ISBN number for that process. However, you are limited to Amazon with it. They are, in effect, selling you an ISBN that you can use on their platform only. Now, if you do what I did – publish through IngramSpark and use Amazon as one of many distribution channels like Barnes & Noble, iTunes & Kobo – then you can use your own ISBN number for all distribution channels.

Because I published my books in both ebook and paperback, I actually purchased my own ISBN numbers through Bowker, and assigned three different numbers to each book: one for the paper version; one for the ebook version available via Amazon; and one for the ebook version available everywhere else. It was complex to set up, but it also freed me entirely from being an “Amazon only” author.

 

2) A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) – One of the most often overlooked items is the Library of Congress Control Number. After registering for copyright, I paid to obtain an LCCN. And there are a couple good reasons to do this:

a) It gives your book the legitimacy it needs to get into libraries.

b) It gives your book the legitimacy it needs to get into bookstores.

Once you have copies of your book available, you need to send one to the Library of Congress to show them you have published it. That’s the deal, and it’s a good one: with over 164-million titles on hand, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Librarians can search the database and find your title…potentially leading to extensive exposure.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the Library of Congress will actually keep your titles in their system indefinitely, as I know from my own experience; fortunately, I also know that, once accepted into local library systems, your books are pretty likely to remain there. A quick search of worldcat.org reveals that one of my titles is in several Florida library systems, and another continues to show up in a New York system. And those represent sales, unlike the copies “gifted” to the Library of Congress.

 

3) A CIP Data Block – CIP stands for Cataloging-In-Publication. Go to your local library, take out a book, and flip to the copyright page. You’ll find a block of info, most likely provided by a company called The Donohue Group, that shows librarians how to catalog the book.

When you’re marketing your books to libraries (and yes, they do buy books…lots of books), you must have a CIP data block on the copy you send them. If you don’t have a CIP block, your book goes into the “No” pile; if you have a CIP block, it goes into the “Maybe” pile. See how that works? So it’s not a guarantee to get you in, but without it, you’re out. Period.

The extra benefit of getting a CIP data block is that it provides you with keywords that you might not have even considered for indexing, Amazon categorization, and so on. My CIP block for Brothers’ Hand includes the phrases Amputees–Rehabilitation–Fiction and LSD (Drug)–Psychological Aspects–Fiction. I never would have come up with those on my own, but they are appropriate.

So there you have it – my top three book-building suggestions for your copyright page. Not only can these help you sell your book, they can also help people find it. And aren’t those both important? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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Using IngramSpark and KDP Print For Your Paperbacks

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Patchworks: A Book Review

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​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...

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Platform-Building for Authors

Platform-Building for Authors

A while back, I wrote a LinkedIn article on platform-building for authors, a frequent topic for my speaking gigs and for online posts in general. Today I thought I’d revisit some of that for the blog, discussing how speaking can help an author.

Building a platform means gaining a larger audience, both in-person and online. Authors or aspiring authors must begin this process before publication. Unfortunately, some authors find the idea of marketing distasteful, and for many people the idea of speaking in public is simply too frightening to contemplate.

I had a speaking engagement last year where I was so sick, I wasn’t sure I could get through it. When you’re that sick, you don’t even think about the fact that on people’s lists of worst fears, the #1 fear is public speaking, followed by death at #2. In my case, it could actually have been death caused by having to speak! Still, I was glad to have the opportunity. When I got up to speak, I gave them my best in spite of how I felt…because that’s what you do.

But most people find the prospect of speaking in front of a group so terrifying – even if they’re well-prepared with notes and have spent time rehearsing – that they simply don’t want to do it.

Personally, I love being in front of a group, and if there’s a podium, so much the better. If I have a microphone, that’s fine, but if not…no problem. I can be loud. You might wonder why I like this kind of event. Is it a natural inclination for attention? A love of the sound of my own voice?

Actually, I’m just as much an introvert as the next author. The real reason I enjoy it is that I know I can do it, and I’ve been reasonably successful at it. That means preparation. I’ve been in front of many, many groups, speaking anywhere from 20 minutes up to a couple of hours. (I taught college English back in the day.) So, with or without notes, I can always speak.

When building your author platform, you need to spend time on social media, and all sorts of online activities. But you also need to get out in front of people. Even if you’re just recording a video, as I will be later, you want to make sure you aren’t terrified. You need some practice, and you probably need coaching, too.

I’m always happy to help with that process. If you’re an author, and need platform training, shoot me an email at info@msahno.com or call (813) 528-2622.

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Calling All Artists

This week’s blog post is going to be super short: if you’ve ever read the blog, you’ll know I’m posting often about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel in 2019, and I’m putting a lot of emphasis on finding artists first.

I put out a call for graphic designers for the cover and interior, but I’ve only received one referral. No one has directly approached me and said, “I can do it. I’m great.”

I want “great.”

So this week is a call to designers – both book cover and interior design. Got a recommendation for book cover or interior design? Let me know. If you’re a designer, email info@msahno.com. I have only the haziest idea of what I want for this next novel. Today’s graphic should give you some ideas.

Email me, designers. Dazzle me!

See you all next week.

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Ready to Launch Into 2019?

Ready to Launch Into 2019?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve shown an obsessive side lately – lots of content about my upcoming book launch.

I’m releasing my fourth novel, Whizzers, in 2019. That means I’m putting a lot of emphasis on building my marketing plan well in advance of publication.

I can’t give away the store, but I want to provide value for everyone who joins my book launch team. So what that means is that I’m going to give a free signed copy of the paperback version of Whizzers to everyone on my launch team.

This can include a wide range of folks who get in on the launch: fellow authors, corporate sponsors, my venue host, and providers of food, drink and/or entertainment.

Here are the categories I’m emphasizing as I work on the manuscript, build the marketing plan, and build my team.

1) Readers – reviewers, book bloggers, fellow authors, influencers. Because I’m looking to reach as broad an audience as I can, I’m giving a free copy of the e-book just for joining my email list. I’ll also send a free signed copy of the paperback to anyone who participates in the launch team. Email me at info@msahno.com to join the list or get more info.

2) Design – both book cover and interior design. Although I’ve used different people in the past, I’ve had mixed results. So I’m gathering referrals for this one. Got a recommendation for book cover or interior design? Let me know. If you’re a designer, email info@msahno.com.

3) Corporate Sponsors – for in-person book launch event and speaking engagements. I’m open to suggestions, but of course, the company’s mission has to align with my values. Know someone or have a suggestion? Feel free.

4) Commercial – suppliers for launch events (venues, refreshments, custom swag). The “commercial” category is really a series of sub-categories, and I’ve already got a potential venue in mind – at least in Tampa. Of course, if I can pull off multiple launch events in different cities, I will definitely do that! I welcome feedback and referrals in this category too…for food, drinks, entertainment, venue, the works.

5) Everything Else – library campaign, bookstores, social media events, and more. Hey, if you’re a fellow author and have done something successful with any of these, I’m open to your suggestions. I did a highly successful blog tour in 2017, and will reach out to those folks again. Also looking to do more unique events for this book launch.

Know someone who would be interested in this? Or is that someone you? Email me at info@msahno.com for more info and let’s talk! This is going to be a deep, immersive experience, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

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