how to publish an ebook

How to Publish an Ebook: A Simple Ebook Publishing Guide to SELL

Learning how to publish an ebook isn’t as painful as it sounds. With kindle direct publishing, Amazon publishing, and other forms of self-publishing at your disposal, it can even be easy – with our help.

We get how much information is out there about learning how to publish an ebook.

With all the different types of advice, how do you know what to follow and what will just elongate your already lengthy process?

Since we specialize in self-publishing, we can easily teach you how to publish an ebook without all the fuss and fluff that can bog you down along the way.

Why write an ebook?

The ever-rising trend of ebooks should be more than enough of a reason to write and publish your own ebook but if you’re not quite sold, we’ll break it down a bit further.

  • In 2018, ebook sales are projected to account for about one quarter of global book sales.
  • Ebooks sell easier online
  • Ebooks can be used to grow your business more so than physical books
  • You make a bigger profit from ebooks
  • You can grow your blog and its income
  • Passive income
  • You help save trees!
  • You can embed links directly to your site and products you sell
  • They’re cheaper to produce

Many authors choose to sell both physical copies and ebooks when they write a book but you can easily sell only ebooks and reap all of the benefits above.

Now that you know the why, let’s talk about how to publish an ebook.

How to publish an Ebook on Amazon

Amazon is the biggest retailer online and with the world of book-buying migrating and settling on the internet, Amazon is the place to publish.

Here’s how you can publish an ebook on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing.

#1 – Write a book worth buying

There’s no point in publishing a book that’s not your best work. But if you’re not much of a writer or have no idea how to write a book in the first place, that can make this entire process much more daunting.

In order to write an amazing book, you first have to pick a book idea that you’re passionate about. Remember, you’ll be writing up to and even more than 25,000 words so you want to make sure you have a topic you know a lot about and love.

Here are the overall steps for writing a book and getting it ready for publication:

This might seem overwhelming but I promise, it’s not. We even have free training for you to understand exactly what it takes to write and publish your book.

#2 – Create your Amazon KDP account

Learning how to publish an ebook means navigating the online space in a way you may not be familiar with, like using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to get your ebook out into the world.

Setting up your KDP account is actually really easy.

Here’s all you have to do:

  • Visit https://kdp.amazon.com and create an account. You can either use your existing Amazon account or a different email address.
  • Set up all your tax information. You can’t submit your published ebook unless you have all of these steps completed.
  • Once your tax information is all filled in, hit “Finished” and you’re all done.

See? It’s pretty easy and simple to use from there. If you’re having trouble, we detailed more in-depth instructions over here.

#3 – Format the ebook properly

Book formatting is really, really important. If you just upload your manuscript as is, you’ll run into a number of different problems.

And this is awful because with the “Look Inside” feature Amazon offers, anyone can see the formatting of your book right away.

If it’s bad and difficult to read, they’ll avoid buying your ebook and your sales will tank.

Most people hire a professional to format their book to ensure everything looks great but we also have a guide to help you format your book properly.

#4 – Upload it to your KDP account and fill in the required information

This is a very simple step for publishing an ebook. All you really have to do is “plug and chug,” as they say.

You have all of the information you need and now it’s just about uploading your formatted manuscript to your KDP account and filling in the information you need to.

That means you’ll need to fill out the title, subtitle, and the description.

Now, you really don’t want to write a boring “filler” description. After the cover, this is the single most important part of publishing an ebook.

If people aren’t sucked in by your description, they won’t buy your book.

Here’s an example of a killer description that has helped sell thousands of copies of this book:

how to publish an ebook description example

#5 – Choose a launch date

Believe it or not, there are actually good and bad days to launch your book. Typically speaking, the winter holiday season is the worst time to publish a book simply because the advertising market will be super saturated.

Everyone is putting their best ads forward so they can reap the rewards of those holiday spending dollars.

And although this might seem like the perfect time to launch, it’s actually one of the worst.

Your book can easily become lost in the hype of literally every other book and product marketed during that time.

If you want to launch a book during the best possible time for its sales, use this guide below:

ebook publishing when to launch chart

#6 – Put together your launch team

This is such an important step when it comes to self-publishing an ebook. What you really need is a great group of people who can help launch your book to heights you wouldn’t reach otherwise.

Your launch team should be composed of people who:

  • Love your book
  • Want to help you
  • Are very enthusiastic about your book
  • Have some sort of following or online presence
  • Are fans of you and your work

Since you’re trusting these people to help get the word out, make sure they’re all committed. A great way to do that is to have an online application form that each person has to fill out.

This will help narrow down those who are serious about helping you and will put in the time and effort to do so.

Make sure to also check out this guide to building and managing your book launch team.

#7 – Create interest on your website or blog

Many who publish ebooks usually have a website or blog they can use to drive traffic to it. Not only that, but some actually use the ebook as a lead magnet and even the main source of income on their site.

And publishing a book – even just an ebook – can do wonders for growing your online business as well.

What you have to do before your launch is to build interest about the ebook.

This can be done in a number of different ways, but these seem to be the best:

  • Link to your book within blog posts
  • Create blog posts related to the topic of your book
  • Create graphics for your book and place in your sidebar and within blog posts
  • Create a graphic to use on the front page of your website
  • Create an email sequence to sell your book (this is for those more advanced with a larger email list)
  • Continuously look for ways to integrate your book into blog post ideas and on social media

The idea with optimizing your website with your book is to convert your blog followers into customers and to give those coming to your website from your book the content they’re actually looking for.

All of this builds fans and most importantly, a loyal and engaged following!

For example, we use Chandler Bolt’s book Published. as a main point of interest on our website. This gives those who are already interested in the publishing industry something of high value right off the bat.

how to publish an ebook example on website

#8 – Launch!

It’s time to kick off your ebook and launch! If you’ve followed the steps above, then you’re ready to get your book published and start reaping the rewards.

The best part about publishing an ebook is that you don’t have to worry about ordering prints and going through the proofs and the entire process of adjusting how they look.

Once the ebook format is complete, that’s all you need to concern yourself with in terms of delivery!

Your launch day is very important and exciting.

Make sure your launch team is ready for a day of sharing and even some activities.

It’s best to host activities that your audience can actually engage in. Some fun launch day activities include things like hosting a live webinar, doing a Q&A on Twitter or Facebook or your preferred platform, sending out an email to your entire email list, and any other fun pursuit your readers will benefit from.

Get together with your launch team beforehand and have everyone brainstorm some launch day events.

You can even give prizes to those whose ideas get used!

how to publish an ebook launch checklist

#9 – Make it the focus of your blog or website and incorporate reviews

Now is the time to leverage that book!

Writing the ebook itself isn’t the hardest part of this process; making continuous sales is. And the best way to ensure you keep pushing buyers to your book is to make it the focus of your blog and website.

Plus, if you have those great reviews from your launch team, you can actually leverage those to make more sales.

Place reviews on your website on the same page your book is linked to. They’re kind of like testimonials for a service. Except, in this case, your service is a book.

You can feature them on your website wherever you want.

Obviously, if you’re someone who only wants to sell your ebook, a blog or website might not even be something on your ebook publishing to-do list.

You should, however, think about creating a website to at least host your book and information on in case others want to find you and even connect with you about speaking engagements and other amazing opportunities a book can grant you.

Your Next Steps Toward Success

Learning how to publish an ebook isn’t easy and it’s even more difficult without knowing exactly what to do next.

So if you’re looking to write and publish your ebook anytime soon, follow these steps to get ahead of the curve and set yourself up for real success!

how to publish an ebook free training

#1 – Sign up for your free training!

That’s right! We’re offering you FREE training that’ll help you learn exactly what you need to do to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days – and yes, it’s perfect even if you’re just going to publish an ebook.

Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity by saving your spot right here so you can learn more and be prepared to dive head first into writing and publishing your ebook.

#2 – Create your Kindle Direct Publishing account

Right now! Head on over and sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing. Create your account and follow the steps necessary above to set it all up according to what you need.

This is a very quick process that will bring you one step closer to success.

#3 – Start writing your book

It’s a little scary, we get it. But if you utilize your free training, you should be more than ready to get started!

If you do need a little help, we have this really helpful guide for learning how to start writing a book that will help fill in any missing parts you might not know about.

Now that you know how to publish an ebook, it’s time to write it! What will yours be about and what else do you need to get started?

how much does it cost to publish a book

How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?

You already know.

There is a cost to self-publish a book. Much like with any worthwhile endeavor, you may have to sacrifice some cash in order to make more down the road.

“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.” – Joanna Penn

It’s been an epic journey, from coming up with your idea to fleshing out the first draft of your book, and now, it’s time to launch your book out to the world for everyone to enjoy.

cost to publishHowever, you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still some involved.

Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like KoboiBooks, and Smashwords, first-time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000. On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget.

Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process. We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.

The Rise of Self-Publishing

If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money, and a little bit of sanity.

The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books. Are you ready to make yours fly?

There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book. What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?

The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.

On Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.

Crunching the Numbers: How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.

how much does it cost to publish a bookI’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget. Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.

How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?

Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway. The design of your book can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat.

If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it. While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a better designer who is going to deliver a cover that sells your book.

Cover designers aren’t just talented creators. Many who do it as a living have inside market knowledge and tailor your book cover for your specific genre.

If you do decide to go through Fiverr, check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.

I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.

Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat.

Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.

You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250. Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.

How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?

When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices.

I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters. Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.

How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?

When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.

Budgets vary but I’ll spend $29 on the low end for Buck Books and go as high as $1,000 if you add on a bundle of promo sites to launch your book.

Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.

For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:

When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!

How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?

Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.

If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.

If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.

Additional Author Tools and Expenses

Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.

#1 – Book Publishing Courses

If you’re new to the game of self-publishing, take a course like Self-Publishing School or join our Mastermind community for everything you need to get started.

You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.

#2 – An Author Website

Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in. It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.

Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:

– Hosting

You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.

– Domain Name

You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 a year.

– Email Subscription Services

If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:

  • MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
  • AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
  • ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.

#3 – Publish Under Your Own Company

I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but there are perks to publishing your print book under your own company, instead of publishing with a CreateSpace ISBN or another print-on-demand service.

The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.

If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or IngramSpark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book. Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.

Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.

This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.

How to Increase Book Sales

We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.

Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.

  1. Run a contest through Goodreads.
  2. Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
  3. Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
  4. Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
  5. Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
  6. Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.

4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs

Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.

#1 – Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)

Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs. If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt.

Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books. It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.

#2 – Build a List of Email Subscribers

Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.

When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release. Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.

This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?

You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.

#3 – Barter When You Can

If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.

As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills. See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book. See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.

#4 – Write a Great Book!

This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.

You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows, and any future books you release will practically promote themselves.

Well, almost.

Your Next Step

We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash, and a great book idea.

We’ve broken down the cost to publish your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000.

It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.

While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world. Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.

how much does it cost to publish a book training

The best way to learn just what it takes to get your book published is to join your free training. Chandler Bolt will walk you through exactly what you need to start working toward your dream of publishing a book!

Sign up right now to save your spot!

How much are you willing to pay to get your book written, published, and selling well? Let us know in the comments below!

how to get an ISBN

How to Get an ISBN: Cracking the Code for Self-Publishers

Knowing how to get an ISBN as a self-published author is crucial. Since you can’t publish without an ISBN, we’re helping you learn how.

Do you know why having an ISBN is so important nowadays?

In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth. The Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables. But how did they crack this complex system? MI6 recruited a young mathematician named Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at how to get an isbnBletchley Park, where he scanned millions of numbers looking for patterns in the code.

Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.

This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.

Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and, before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.

Today, to get your book into a bookstore, a library, or almost any book distribution channel on the planet, you need an ISBN.

But the process can be really confusing for new authors. There are a number of questions you might be asking yourself:

  • How does this long string of numbers on the back of books work?
  • How do you get it?
  • If you’re a self-publisher, do you need an ISBN?
  • Why would you need one?

These are all questions answered in this article. It’s a mammoth of a post and will get quite technical at certain points.

With that disclaimer, let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.

how to get an ISBN example on book

How To Read an ISBN: What do the Numbers Stand For?

As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year. Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.

If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.

The 13 digit ISBN number helps:

  • Identify the specific title
  • Identify the author
  • Identify the type of book they are buying
  • Identify the physical properties of that particular book
  • Identify the geographical location of the publisher

Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.

how to get an ISBN Breakdown graphic

Here is the ISBN for a particular book:

978-3-16-148410-0

You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:

3-16-148410-0

First is the initial digit, in this case: 3

The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.

Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:

0 or 1 for English

2 for French

3 for German

4 for Japan

5 for Russian

7 for People’s Republic of China

It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.

Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.

“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.

“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit. This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.

The ISBN and Barcode

The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book, so it’s reasonable to assume they’re the same thing, right?

Except, they’re not. The barcode isn’t the same as the ISBN.

This is an important distinction because:

  • When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
  • The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.

We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.

Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.

The standard barcode is known as the EAN (European Article Number) barcode, and your barcode must be in this format to sell your book in bookstores.

ISBN barcode example

(Breakdown of the typical EAN barcode on the back of a book by Publisher Services)

How to Read a Barcode

If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.

The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.

For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.

This would only be replaced by a new ISBN if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.

To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:

  • 1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
  • 1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.

The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN

If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.

You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.

However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.

how to get an isbn for authors

Reasons Self-Publishers Need an ISBN

And now we come to the most pressing question on your mind: do you need an ISBN?

If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.

However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.

If you want your readers to get a hold of a print version of your book, then you’re going to need an ISBN. This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.

Should You Get a Free or a Paid ISBN?

You might have noticed that self-published authors can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company owned by Amazon. You can also get an ISBN when dealing with a whole host of On-Demand or self-publishing companies, like Draft2Digital, Smashwords or IngramSpark.

If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?

Here’s the problem: most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.

Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital. You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords. Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?

You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.

And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.

You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.

Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.

The Problem with Multiple ISBNs

This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.

Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?

Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?

On top of this, each of those free ISBNs identifies the self-publishing company as a publisher. It’s the equivalent of using your business email address as [email protected] or [email protected] instead of [email protected] (assuming you’re named Matt).

Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but there are some stores that will refuse to stock your book on this basis. If you have a CreateSpace ISBN, there are a number of bookstores that will refuse to carry your book.

All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.

isbn don't forget libraries

Don’t Ignore Libraries

We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?

A big one.

Libraries are becoming more important to the distribution of eBooks. Overdrive is the largest supplier to schools and libraries in the world (serving more than 30,000), and they circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014, a 33% increase from their previous year. They also supply to retail stores globally, making $100 million in sales in 2013.

And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.

How do I get an ISBN?

Hopefully, you’re convinced that if you want to look professional in the industry and be able to access all distribution channels, you need your own ISBN.

But how do you get one?

ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBNs are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.

If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.

If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.

How to Register Your Book and ISBN

As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink. This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.

I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.

How Many ISBNs To Get

So how many ISBNs should you get?

First off let’s clarify a few common mistakes:

  • You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
  • You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
  • You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
  • If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.

We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:

Number of ISBNs You Get Price
1 $125
10 $295
100 $575
1000 $1500

how to get an ISBN pricing guideline

First off, it rarely makes sense to purchase a single ISBN. A single ISBN would cost you $125, but a bulk of 10 only costs $295. Meaning if you purchased 10, each ISBN would cost you $29.50, a 76% discount.

Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBNs for your eBook and print versions.

Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.

We recommend that if you’re serious in making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBNs to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.

Wrapping Up How to Get an ISBN

Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBNs.

Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.

For more information, you can find out anything you want to know by visiting the official Bowker page or at myidentifiers.com

Here’s a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.

To buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you should do:

  1. Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
  2. Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
  3. Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
  4. At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
  5. If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
  6. Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.

ISBN Links & Resources

These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.

International ISBN Agency

https://www.isbn-international.org

ISBN.org by Bowker

https://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions

Bowkerlink Publisher Access System

https://commerce.bowker.com/corrections/common/home.asp

Bowker Identifier Services

https://www.myidentifiers.com

U.S. Copyright Office

https://www.copyright.gov

ISBN Set Up Guide

ISBN Guides: Basic Information

Are you clear on how to get an ISBN and why exactly you need one? Comment below if you bulked up and got your ISBNs for future books, too!

book format

How to Format a Book: 7 Money-Sucking Book Format Mistakes to Avoid

Self-publishing has changed everything. Before, you were at the mercy of your publisher on how your book format looked, but today, you have control over this entire process.

In fact, you have the final say over everything in your finished manuscript is displayed. Therefore, knowing the proper book format you need is crucial.

And with great power comes great responsibility. If you’re not careful, you may end up with a sloppy and messy manuscript that an editor will refuse to work on until you tidy it up.book format image

Or worse, your audience will slam your book with negative reviews because you published it riddled with errors. An unprofessional looking book will not only distract readers, it will harm your brand and label you as an amateur, affecting the sales of future books as well as your current one.

Your completed self-published book should convey professionalism in all aspects – including with its book format.

7 Money-Sucking Book Format Mistakes

There are over a hundred things that can go wrong with your book formatting, and if we wrote about all of them you’d be reading from sun-up till sun-down. But fear not!

From our experience, most authors make the same mistakes when with their book format.

In this article, you’re going to learn what the most common book formatting errors and how to avoid them. By avoiding these mistakes, not only will you have a professional looking manuscript, but you’ll make the process of designing your book to publish on Amazon’s Kindle or in print via CreateSpace a lot easier.

If you have a completed manuscript with botched book formatting on your hands, this article will teach you how to fix it using Microsoft Word.

(A quick note: it’s possible to do many of the fixes in Google Docs, however, Word has a more comprehensive set of features, so it’s better to use that when formatting your complete manuscript.)

book format checklist

#1 – Avoid Hard Indents in Your Book Format

A hard indent is when paragraph indentations are created by manual use of the keyboard’s Tab key. Many of us learned how to type using the Tab key to create an indent at the start of each paragraph, so this can be a tough habit to break.

When it comes to book formatting, use of the Tab key is a no-no, because it results in an indent that’s far larger than you need.

With fiction book formatting, you want to have just a small indent at the start of each paragraph. If your book is non-fiction, generally speaking, you want to use block paragraphs rather than indents, unless your book is a memoir or historical fiction. (More on that in tip #2.)

If your book is fiction, you may be wondering how to create paragraphs without the Tab key. The fix is simple: In MS Word, set the Paragraph settings to automatically create indentations for the first line in each paragraph. This simple auto fix will make creating your book format way easier.

In Word 2016, on both Mac & Windows, to get to Paragraph settings, click the Paragraph dialog box launcher on the Home or Layout tab.  

book format Word indentation instructions

Then on the Indents and Spacing tab, go to the box under Special and click on First line. You can change the size of the indent using the box to the right.

book format extended Word indentation instructions

If you’re wondering how big to make your indents, my advice is to pull your favorite book off the shelf, open it up, and take a peek. How big are the paragraph indents?

Experiment with making yours larger or smaller, printing out the page, and comparing them to the book in your hand.

But what if your 535-page tome has already been drafted, using the dreaded Tab key for each and every paragraph? No need to set fire to your laptop!

Here’s what to do to clean it up:

  • Use Find and Replace (Ctrl+H or Control+H or here’s how to find it in Word 2016 on Mac and on Windows.)
  • Enter ^t in the Find (This will help you find every “Tab” in the document.)
  • Leave the Replace field blank.
  • Hit Replace All.

Going forward, set your Paragraph settings so that you don’t have to remove hard indents again. Presto! You now have a much prettier, easier-to-convert document through the magic of technology that will make your book format much more professional-looking.

#2 – Indentation vs. Block Paragraphs

Works of non-fiction today typically don’t use indentation, except for some notable exceptions we will discuss momentarily. Rather, a popular book format for modern non-fiction is the block paragraph.

What’s a block paragraph?

A block paragraph doesn’t have indentation on the opening line, but instead uses a horizontal line of white space beneath each paragraph. This helps to delineate the separation between paragraphs.

For instance, I used block paragraphs in my latest book Published., which looks like this:

book format nonfiction example

The reasoning behind whether you should use indentation vs. block paragraphs is this: in works where one thought should flow smoothly into the next, such as in a novel, paragraph indentations are used with no line spacing between paragraphs.

But in books where complicated information is being consumed, having a single line space between paragraphs aids the brain in processing one piece of information before moving on to the next.

Here is an example from a fiction novel of what it looks like to use indents instead of block paragraphs:

book formatting fiction example

An exception to the block paragraph for non-fiction/indents for fiction guideline: non-fiction narrativessuch as a memoir or historical fiction, should use the same indent style described above in tip #1.

In non-fiction works where some information should flow, and other sections require more brain power to comprehend, some authors decide to mix formatting types and use indentation where appropriate and block paragraphs where useful. But in general, to avoid confusing the reader and to make your book look uniform, clean, and as if you didn’t make a book formatting error, it’s best to choose one style or the other and stick with it throughout your book.

However, if you insist on getting crazy and mixing it up, knowing how and when to use block paragraphs versus when to indent results in a more professional manuscript.

#3 – Avoid Double Spaces After Periods

Here’s the truth: Two spaces after a period is wrong. Period. (Ha!)

Just as with the good old-fashioned Tab key indent, two spaces after a period may have been the norm back when you were learning to type. This is because, with typewriters, characters were all the same width, so the two-space rule allowed for greater readability. With modern computer fonts, the characters all fit closer together in a proportional fashion, thereby eradicating the need for that one additional space.

Most major style guides—including the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by traditional publishers—now formally recognize the more modern single-space rule. From an aesthetics angle, one space looks neater, which your readers’ eyes will appreciate.

Before you convert your manuscript, change all double spaces to single spaces. The result will be a better formatted, stylistically correct book.

You’re going to use that super handy “Find and Replace” function again:

  • Enter two spaces in the Find (This will help you find every double space in the document.)
  • Enter a single space into the Replace field.
  • Hit Replace All.

Voila! Like magic.

#4 – Be Cautious with Hyphens

Improper hyphenation is a common error that may be harder to stay on top of because the rules of hyphenation differ depending on the grammatical situation. So when it comes to your book format, you’ll have to do some research.

Generally, keep these three rules in mind while you write so you’ll have to do less work when it’s time for book formatting:

  • Two or more words that, together, function as an adjective are joined with a hyphen. For example, dark-pink skirt or two-way street.
  • Two words or more that form a number are joined with a hyphen. For example, twenty-one.
  • Compound words, which are two words that are joined together to make a single word, do not require a hyphen. For example, toothbrush or starfish.
  • Two or more separate words that are used as a single word or idea. For example, action-grabbing, top-notch, or larger-than-life.

When in doubt, look it up! For a more detailed treatment of the hyphen, here is an important source to consider: Elements of Style.

proper book formatting reason

#5 – Know When to Use Quotes vs. an Apostrophe

Few things scream “new writer” like a book formatted with punctuation errors. You want to make sure you’re using quotes and apostrophes correctly so you don’t lose credibility with your readers.

When to use quotes in your book format:

  • When you’re quoting someone, use quotes! This means either a person is speaking—like in fiction—or you are borrowing material verbatim from another source, like in non-fiction.
  • Use of quotes is rarely needed for common expressions.
  • Ironic terms can be set off in quotes.
  • Overuse of quotes can get annoying, so be judicious in their application.

When to use apostrophes:

  • Use an apostrophe for possessive form (except the word its.) For example: The cat’s toys are blue.
  • Use an apostrophe for contractions, such as it is. For example: The cat’s playing with its toys. It’s a happy cat.
  • Avoid using an apostrophe for plural forms. For example: Five cats ran past her.

Again, the rules can be complicated, such as when to use an apostrophe when dealing with an acronym, so when in doubt, look it up.

#6 – Be Careful When Using the Enter Key

There are many times in your book you’ll want to go to a new page or to create a blank page. This is simple right? Hit enter a few times, and presto, you’ve got a new page.

Wrong.

Using paragraph breaks, or hitting enter to create a new page can create many problems when it comes to getting your manuscript ready to publish. For instance, you or your book designer will need to change your page size or page setup according to the book size and style you’ve chosen.

Using paragraph breaks will create extra space where none is needed and will change the page layouts of your book, making your book look ugly. If you’re wondering why after you change your paper size, your chapter headings are no longer at the top of the page, but halfway down, it was because of your liberal use of paragraph breaks.

Instead, use the page break function.

This instantly creates a new page, and it remains a new page even when you’ve changed the page size, page layout, or added more content above. On Microsoft Word, this can be done by pressing Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Cmd+Enter (Mac).

You can also find it in the ribbon in Word. Google Docs also has this feature.

In Word 2016 go to Insert > Page Break

book format Word page break example

In Google Docs go to Insert > Break > Page Break

book formatting Google Doc page break example

#7 – Use the Styles Feature Instead of Formatting Yourself

Stop formatting your chapter titles yourself. Many writers indicate a title or subtitle by simply changing the font size and changing the font from the default font (ah, Times New Roman, how we miss you) and thinking their job is done.

This makes navigating and formatting your book a pain.

What you want to do is use MS Word’s “Styles” feature. Google Docs also has this feature.

In Word 2016, you can find the Styles section under the Home tab on both Mac & Windows.

book format Word chapter font example

In Google Docs the styles section can be found by clicking the box between the zoom level and the font type.

book format Google Doc chapter font example

When creating a new chapter, highlight the chapter heading, and then make it a header by applying the relevant style. If it’s the main heading make it “Heading 1”, if it’s a subtitle make it “Heading 2”, etc.

This has the added benefit of allowing you to easily automatically create a table of contents page, or to navigate through your 30,000-word manuscript with Word’s navigation pane, while also making your book format look professional.

You Need a Proper Book Format

Without question you want your book to stand out because of its invaluable content, stunning tone of voice, and laser targeted towards your audience. However, don’t let your book formatting or grammatical errors get in the way of your book’s success.

If you’ve written your book, and are ready to get it published, follow the guide you just read to make sure your manuscript isn’t full of errors.

For tips on how to format your book for Kindle, it’s best to follow Amazon’s comprehensive guide on the matter. It will help you design your title page on a different first page, your copyright page, trimming to the correct paper size, and the million other things you need to do to get your book ready for print.

Your Next Steps

Thirty years ago, it would have been impossible to publish a book yourself. Today you have all the tools you need to produce a flawless manuscript. Take the time to review your book—and hire an editor and a book designer—to make sure your book formatting is perfectly professional.

If you’re ready to polish your book format and move on in the publishing process, here’s what you can do next.

#1 – Join your free training!

It’s not enough to put together a pretty book. You also have to know what to do once you’re done and how to go about making it sell! That’s where we come in.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

SPOTS ARE LIMITED!

free training

 

#2 – Put together your launch team

Once your book is all polished to perfection and formatted correctly, you’ll want to start getting your launch team together. These are the people who will help take your book to the next level.

They’ll be the ones to leave Amazon reviews for you as well as help market your book so you can have the biggest, most successful launch possible. Just remember to choose enthusiastic individuals who truly love your book!

#3 – Start your marketing plan

Marketing your book can be really hard without a solid plan of attack. Knowing how to build your author platform and get the word out about your book takes time and deep thinking – along with some helpful tips.

Sit down and create a calendar with all the social posts, ads you want to create, and even emails you want to send to your list. Once you have your plan together, incorporate your launch team to help you execute it.

Have you struggled with book formatting in the past? How did you figure it out?

author dna quiz

What’s Your Author DNA? Find out Which Famous Author You Are!

Knowing what type of author you are will do wonders to help you sharpen your writing skills. When we become aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we begin to flourish.

Nobody is perfect at writing. Not even Stephen King or George R.R. Martin. But the one thing these authors know about themselves is how they write and what they need to work on in order to improve themselves.

But those pros have been at it for years. They had to put in hours, weeks, and years before they were able to determine what type of writer they were.

And with the self-publishing world on the rise, who has time for that?

It’s so important now, more than ever, that you realize your strengths and weaknesses as an author from the start. When you know what you need to buckle down on and what you should spend time highlighting in your work, you can save time while writing and become a better writer overall.

Find out what type of author you are!

We decided to do the work for you. Instead of wasting weeks, months, and even years figuring out the type of author you are, you can find out in just a few minutes!

This quiz is composed of 10 highly intuitive questions to help match you with a famous author just like you! Along with learning who your author twin is, you’ll gain a stronger understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and even gather tips for improving.

What are you waiting for? Find out what your author DNA is right now!