Book-Building 101

by | Oct 22, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

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.

How Do You Write A Book?

This past week I had the chance to talk to a fair number of business owners. That's normal for what I do, but the interesting thing this week was the similarity of the conversations. Not all entrepreneurs ask me the same things. Some ask me what I do. Many of them end...
Sahno

Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...
cover design

The Importance of Cover Design and Interior Design for Novels

I think I could be forgiven for not being an expert on either cover or interior design. After all, I studied neither in college. So I hope I'll be forgiven by anyone thinking I have expertise in these subjects. Still, in a world where employers regularly place ads...

More on Literary Fiction

While I'm recovering from some oral surgery I had last Friday, I'm inclined to just rest and update my blog another time. But I'll be on vacation soon, so I'd rather post something than nothing. With that, I recommend blog readers check out my fellow literary author,...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...
creativity

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Have you written a book? If the answer to the first question is Yes, but the answer to the second question is No, there might be a few reasons for this. One reason I frequently hear from potential ghostwriting clients is,...
drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...

A Vacation Blog Post and a Manross Library Appearance

The following post has been pre-scheduled. I've never tried to pre-schedule a blog post before, so I had to look up how to do it. If you know me well, you won't be surprised by that. Hey, I'm on vacation while you read this. Modern technology! I find it interesting to...

Lyrics: Why I Write Them, and Why I’ve Put Them Into My Novels

Today's post might look like a lazy man's blog, because I'm copying and pasting lyrics into it from other sources. But the fact is, lyrics have always played an important role not only in my life, but also in my novels. I never gave this much thought until recently,...
procrastination

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #2: Procrastination

Last week I started a new series here on the blog, “Writer Problems.” Naturally the idea is to offer solutions, but I’m always happy to get suggestions. Feel free to reply in the comments below. Whereas last week’s blog was a lengthy meditation on insomnia, today I...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...