ISBNS

Why you want to own your ISBN

If a print on demand service is listed as the publisher, books can only be printed and ordered through them or their distributor - eg. Amazon.

With my own ISBN, I'm listed as the publisher and so can take the same edition of the book to another printer if I wanted.

An ISBN is basically a unique, global identifier for your book.  So if there are two books with the same title, each book will have a different ISBN to identify it.  If a book is re-released as a new edition (eg. with a foreward or to commemorate an anniversary) it has a different ISBN to identity the new edition. 

You don't have to have an ISBN to publish a book. However if you plan to sell it through Amazon or bookstores you do. 

ISBNs are assigned to publishers by different agencies in different countries. If you're self publishing, you can also apply as an individual however you would list yourself as the publisher (as you're funding it, and therefore essentially acting as the publisher).

Where a publisher is based (or operating from) is the country where you apply for an ISBN, not where the book is printed.

For example, I'm an Australian author, my publishing company is based in Hong Kong, and my book is printed and shipped through Createspace (based in the US but with printing houses in different countries).

So I apply for my ISBN in Hong Kong because that's where my publishing company is legally estabalished and operates out of.  

Side note: In Australia, for 10 ISBNs it costs AUD $139 (includes a off registration fee of $55). In US it costs USD $295. In UK, £144 (includes registration fee).  In Hong Kong, it's free.  

If you're self publishing through Createspace, they can assign your book an ISBN for free. However it means that Createspace is listed as the publisher, not you.

Does this matter? It does to me. 

If Createspace is listed as the publisher, books can only be printed and ordered through Amazon. With my own ISBN, I'm listed as the publisher and so can take the same edition of the book to another printer if I wanted. For example, I can print the same edition of the book through Ingram which is what libraries and bookstores order through.  I would buy my own ISBNs even if I had to pay 300 USD. 

FAQ on ISBNs: http://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions#isbn_faq20

Why you should have your own ISBN: http://writenonfictionnow.com/should-you-buy-your-own-isbn-when-you-self-publish/  

Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.

Which Print on Demand service?

So I decided on DIY publishing and print on demand. The next question was which print on demand service? 

I spent a lot of time researching how it works, available services, costs and royalties schemes, technical requirements, tax implications and so on. 

The most comprehensive and well thought out information I found was Karen Inglis' post here:

https://kareninglis.wordpress.com/print-on-demand/

In the end I decided to follow Karen's advice. I started with Createspace for individuals to get it. I'll use Lightning Source if there's interest from schools, libraries, bookstores.

My reasons for Createspace are

 - next to no setup cost

 - the book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon in Europe 

 - lots of community activity to help with questions

 ** Will update with how the upload and proofing process goes. 

In fact, Karen's site was my go-to-guide for this whole process. The least I could do was buy Henry Haynes and The Great Escape and The Secret Lake: A children's mystery adventure.  I'll send her mine too :)

Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.

Why not an e-book?

I started with how and where I wanted the book to be read. 

My nieces are lucky to have parents that read to them every night, and it's one of my favourite memories too.  

I wanted the story to be either a communal or solitary experience equally.  Perhaps read as a bedtime story.

As only one person can hold a tablet and two can hold a picture book, the decision was made. 

Plus, I think parents are becoming conscious of using digital devices, especially at night. They're too stimulating and getting children to bed is hard enough already. 

Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.

The DIY Route

The DIY Route

My biggest hesitation in not going with a publisher were:

 - the technicalities of layout it out and actually printing it (I have no experience in print media)

 - managing the stock and inventory

 - being responsible for delivering the book to people who ordered it 

Mainly it was the latter two.

At the time I was travelling for a living and had already filled my spare room quota at my parents and my sister's place. I didn't have a place to store 1000 books, and I didn't want to spend my time acting as a logistics company delivering my book for the foreseeable future.

However, with DIY publishing and print on demand I could: 

 - Reduce the timeline to print because I could determine (within reason) the timeframe. For example, how quickly I wrote it and did the book design.

- Pass on the responsibility of the printing

- Pass on the responsibility of managing inventory

- Pass on the responsibility of delivering it to people who ordered it

- Plus there's hugely active communities and loads of information on the web to provide answers for every single question I had during the whole process - if you have the time and energy to find it. 

However, with DIY publishing and print on demand, I became responsible for:

 - every single decision. This can be exhausting but luckily family and friends always have an opinion :) 

 - all the costs such as illustrator fees

 - book designing (a lot harder than I thought)

 - making sure the print pdf is the correct spec

 - promote it  

More things I'm yet to find out which I'll write about in the next few weeks. 

 - how technical the print pdf is and whether I've done it correctly.

 - the quality of print on demand

 - the smoothness of the book delivery 

 - the final cost of printing and delivery, and the royalty split. 

Having said that, publisher or DIY publishing? For me it was a no brainer.

Posted on July 7, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.

The Publisher Route

So how does the publisher route work? 

Please note, this is from research and speaking with people in the industry. I haven't published a book through a publisher. 

Basically once the story is accepted:

 - The publisher assigns an editor.

 - The publisher assigns an illustrator.

 - The publisher works with the illustrator from storyboarding through to final illustrations. Some well established writers may have input into the visuals style and illustration style but that's more unusual. 

 - The publisher assigns a book designer and works with the book designer on the titles, text layout and fonts. 

 - The publisher prints the book, manages the stock inventory and delivers it to the bookstores. 

 - Traditionally, the publisher also promotes and markets the book. However today, with the internet, authors and illustrators are doing more of this. They're building strong online personas, generating community interest in their titles and offering to do in-store readings and signings directly with local bookstores.  

There are advantages of going through a publisher.

 - knowhow of the industry and process. If you just want to write, then this can leave you to focus on what you love to do. 

 - access to experienced editors, illustrators and book designers (at no cost).

 - market knowledge such as what's already on the market, if there's similar picture books already out and if you're interested in commercial viability - what sells. Although sometimes publishers can get it wrong too.  

This post explains it well also: http://www.underdown.org/picture-books-illustrations.htm

Posted on July 7, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.

A publisher or DIY publish. That is the question.

Publishers versus DIY Publishing

Which route you choose depends entirely on you and your purpose.

For me, there were two things

1.  Completion Time. 

I wanted my book published, regardless of market and commercial interest. It's a fun experiment where it's more important to be completed, than to make money. 

2. Quality

I wanted to tell a story with solid characters and a fun plot. I wanted to create a book that kids and adults genuinely wanted to read and reread, and I wanted it to look as professional as possible. 

Actually, I wanted the best of both worlds.

So why did I go the DIY publishing route without even trying the publisher route?

A few reasons:

1. Book publishing is incredibly competitive. I've never published a book before and it's unlikely my book would be accepted by a publisher. It could literally be years before (or if) it's accepted. By which stage my nieces will be reading William Gibson, not Who Ate The Cake?

2. Assuming my story is accepted by a publisher, it takes another 18 months - 2 years the book to get to the shelves. Coming from a digital background where things move fast,  I was shocked. What in the process could possibly take that long?

2 years later and errm...my own book has just been published so perhaps 2 years is how long it takes. However this project was a side project between other, full time projects and I've been through the learning curve so the next book shouldn't take as long. 

3.  Once I've written the story, formatted the manuscript according to industry standards, sent it to a publisher, and the publisher has accepted it.  As a writer, it's thank you very much and goodbye. My job is done. I'll get 5% of the royalties (10% if I was an illustrator and writer) if and when the book sells.  

At this point, my producer instincts kick in. What? What about the storyboards? The visual style? The characters? The illustrations? The cover? The book design, dimensions, paper weight? All those creative decisions. 

That's all part of the fun.

Posted on July 1, 2015 and filed under DIY Publishing.