Are You Ready to Publish Indie? (Part 4)




Bits and Pieces: Covers and ISBN Numbers


People will judge your book by its cover. Believe it. In my totally opinionated way, I’m going to say this: Don’t use a pre-made cover. If you don’t know enough about the art of creating one, hire someone to do it for you. I did. My experience (so far) can be found here.

As I mentioned in Part 3, it took me a while to realize that there was a difference between publishing an e-book and publishing a paperback. I assumed that Amazon used one service for both. Kindle and CreateSpace are not the same. CreateSpace is the service used for the paperback, and it’s the bits and pieces of the learning curve that have me wistful for the innocent days when I thought that writing the novel was the hard part.

It’s not difficult. Really. But it’s new, and the idea of making a mistake sent visions of error-filled pages swirling around in my head. Fortunately, there’s a solution. Have someone there to hold your hand while you read the instructions out loud. In my case, I was on the phone with a fellow writer who kept me calm while I kept muttering, “What does that mean?” as I filled in the information. While she didn’t know all the answers, it was a great comfort to know I wasn’t alone in the maze.

CreateSpace offers four ways of obtaining an ISBN number. It’s tempting to use the free version, and if funds are tight I can see people using that option. But it can be used only at Amazon and the imprint title that will be listed in the information section will say: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this. Just be aware that when someone sees this, it will be obvious that the book is an indie. And unfortunately, that might make a reader pause before deciding whether to buy or not.

I’m paying for the custom universal ISBN, which is the more expensive option. (Currently it’s listed as $99US.) This version will allow me to use the ISBN number with any publisher. I haven’t decided yet if I will go elsewhere as well but I want to keep my options open.

In fact, I was all set to order the ISBN number prior to completing this entry but got stopped short when I realized that I needed to come up with a distributor name. My “publisher,” so to speak. Oy. I finally decided on a name but felt pressured to do it in a hurry. Give yourself time to come up with something, and don’t forget to run a search online to make sure no one else is using it.

There are always bits and pieces that need attention when publishing indie but I think I’ve defined the important basics. So, are you ready to publish indie?




Where Did the Magic Go? The Production Phase of Writing




I was all set to post Part 4 of Are You Ready to Publish Indie? this week when I realized that I needed to pause. This series moved from writing to editing to formatting and continued further and further from the creative part about being a writer.

The technical aspects (Part 4 will discuss book covers and ISBN numbers) are necessary parts of our work as an indie writer. But there are times when I’m slogging through it and feel mired in mud. Have I lost the vision of writing?

The answer (after eating large amounts of chocolate) is no, of course not. And if you get to that point where you’re elbow deep in proof pages and cover queries and creating accounts in preparation to upload your book and you worry that your muse is gone, well, have some chocolate. Go for a walk. Watch an old movie. Do something fun. Maybe think about your next book.

Isn’t that fun? Looking at a blank page and covering it with new worlds? Going down the path of a new story, living the lives on the page, pulling at your hair in frustration when your characters refuse to do what you want? And the exhilaration you feel when the problem is fixed and it’s flowing again?

I find writing to be fun. Frustrating. Sacred. Horrifying. Erotic. And a million other things. It’s life that spreads itself into a two-dimensional format that people read and turn back into three. It’s magic of the best sort.

That’s why I do it.

The flip side of the coin is that I’m learning to embrace the technical work so others can see the magic. I’m not there yet although I know that the learning curve for publishing Book 2 will be shorter (once it’s written, that is).

In the meantime, there’s some chocolate waiting for me on the kitchen table. And a few notes I want to scribble down for Book 2. It’s good to pause once in a while.



 * Image courtesy of federico stevanin /



Are You Ready to Publish Indie? (Part 3)




E-book or Paperback or Both?


So, you’ve been marketing away with the social media of your choice and your book is written and edited. Congratulations! These are major accomplishments. Now you need to decide how your book will be read.

Are you going to publish an e-book only or e-book and paperback?

There is a huge difference between the two. I admit, publishing an e-book is easier. You only need a cover (instead of a cover, spine and back), you can format the manuscript yourself in Word, and off you go!

But is your target audience known for being voracious e-book readers? How many people do you know have one? Out of a large number of family and friends, I can count on both hands the number of people who have an e-book reader. That’s it. And while I’m involved in marketing (see Part 1), word of mouth is a great way to build sales, especially for a new novelist. But first they have to read your book.

I decided to publish in both formats. I thought I’d produce a Word doc and use it for both e-book and paperback. Yes, I can see some of you shaking your heads. Hey, you in the coffee shop with the cappuccino and blueberry muffin, stop smirking. It’s a learning process!

Fortunately, other writers set me straight before I got very far. And I’m happy to share what I now know.

To put your paperback up for sale, the interior pages need to be formatted differently from an e-book’s. And while Word is fine for the e-book, it’s not the program of choice to put out a professional-looking product in paperback. Currently, Quark and InDesign are the most popular programs to do the work.

When I realized this, my heart dropped into my stomach. Not only did I not have the cash to buy either of those programs, I didn’t have the time or inclination to learn them. A friend who is a writer and graphics designer came to the rescue and offered her services. Otherwise, I would have had to hire someone.

(You may have noticed that putting a book up for sale on your own does have a number of costs. Hiring someone to create a cover, someone else to format the pages, getting an ISBN number…oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.)

See you next week.




* Image courtesy of adamr at



Are You Ready to Publish Indie? (Part 2)






You’ve written your book, hurray! It’s completed, you are done.

Not quite.

Did you run it through a spell check? Great. Move to step two. Did you have it edited? If not, then no, it’s not done. Go back one space.

If we, as indie writers, want the same respect as traditionally published authors, we need to do the work. We either do it ourselves or find someone to do it for us. That’s what happens when you own your own business. You wear many hats and it’s a lot of work no matter what. That doesn’t mean it’s not a joy, just that you need to be aware that skimping or cutting corners will most likely result in a weaker book and fewer sales.

You can pay to have someone edit but that’s an expensive route to take. I’ve written about joining writers’ groups and I stand by that as a good way to get valuable input. Your cat, alas, has no interest in the genre and your dog is too eager to please. Family and friends may side with either pet. Or they may simply not know enough to help.

That doesn’t absolve you from getting it done. Make sure your book is edited. Until then, it’s not done.

After listening to my writers’ group, I pruned and polished until I was happy with the result. I still had the final say but they made many good points that made my story better. During and after this process, I had proofread and edited my novel countless times and still found that I had typed in the wrong word in a sentence. I was so sure the book didn’t need to be reread again. I was wrong. (In case anyone is thinking that they wouldn’t make such a mistake, let me state that I’ve edited professionally in-house for many years and had nonfiction articles published in magazines. We’re still human. And we’re too close to our own work. Learn from my mistakes.)

Now, imagine I hadn’t caught that error. The book would have been published and hopefully, people would be reading, totally engrossed in the story. And then…a sentence doesn’t make sense due to that one word. And the reader gets flung out of the fantasy.

I’ve read too many reviews where the reviewer said it was a good story but too many spelling errors or continuity problems made it hard to get through. Why would a reader pay to read anything else by that writer? Oh, right. They wouldn’t.


To be continued….


* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Are You Ready to Publish Indie? (Part 1)






Decisions, decisions! One of the major things people forget is that with freedom comes all the work. We’re too busy preening over the fact that no one is going to delete that sentence in chapter four when we go indie.

That’s true. And whether that sentence should be deleted or not is a topic for another day. Do you have what it takes to publish indie? Let’s find out.

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