GREEN RIVER WRITERS, here in my neck of the woods, has opened its annual contest.
Two grand prizes @ $175 for first place, 13 other categories all with cash prizes, $3 entries.
Louie Cronin writes for Writer Unboxed: an inspirational tale for all of us who’ve wondered if we’re kidding ourselves about being writers. I especially love her list of things she recommends we deliberately ignore! Enjoy!
Here’s a post from last fall that I swiped from Jean’s Writing! Now that I’m about to epublish my “Beginner’s Cheat Sheet” on formatting your own Print-on-Demand book using InDesign, I’m going to need all the help I can get on formatting ebooks with graphics! What I like in Jean’s video is the idea that you can force text and image to stay together. Does anyone have any experience adding graphics to Kindle ebooks? Does this look like a good process to you? Any help will be WELCOME!
Hi! Back from an extended adventure. I’ve missed being part of the blogging community.
Below, I’ve shared the first of a really, really comprehensive set of rules about using commas from over at the Story Empire Blog.
I personally love commas; they control emphasis and sentence rhythm and serve as simple traffic signs to tell readers which part of a sentence they’re currently in and when they are changing directions. I’ve posted a bunch about commas on this blog because I love them so much (for example, in “What’s your favorite punctuation mark? And the one you hate?”
My own experience teaching college writing for 25 years led me to believe that reducing the number of “rules” people have to remember is better than trying to explain everything in great detail. Rules tend to make our eyes glaze over.
So, in What’s your favorite punctuation mark? And the one you hate?, I reduced the number of “rules” to five, noting that in some cases, even applying the rule is a judgment call (e.g., note the missing comma after “post” in this sentence and the use of one after “cases”). My five rules for when commas are needed are:
- After introductory elements (usually)
- Around interrupters (including nonessential modifiers; always)
- In direct address (always)
- Before “and” or “but” (and other coordinating conjunctions) in a list of hree or more items (Long live the Oxford comma!)
- Before the “and” or “but” in a compound sentence (two complete sentences joined with a coordinating conjunction like “and” or “but”**). (usually)
I note that if you think you might need a comma and it doesn’t fit one of these categories, don’t insert it. Observance of that caution will eliminate a lot of commas between nouns and their verbs!
Stroll over to Story Empire to check out Parts I and II of this post on this most useful and most misunderstood punctuation mark!
Hello SErs! Harmony here 🙂 I hope this finds you all well. Today, I’d like to take a look at commas. For such a small punctuation mark, it has a big impact on how well or not our sentences read. Though we use commas a lot of the time, few of us understand them fully.
What is a comma? What does it do?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘A comma marks a slight break between different parts of a sentence. Used properly, commas make the meaning of sentences clear by grouping and separating words, phrases, and clauses.’
The different types of comma: Listing (Standard or Oxford), Introductory, Joining, Gapping, Bracketing, and other comma uses.
One thing that can make commas so confusing is that sometimes you have options, especially with the Listing and Gapping commas.
Because there is a lot to cover on this topic, I have split it…
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. . . If you have a computer and can check out Editing 101 at Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog. Susan Uttendorfsky of Adirondack Editing provides a host of FREE lessons on everything from “Removing Filter Words” (a must-read) to when to use “which” or “that.” I’ve found Susan’s posts to be accurate, clear, and friendly. Check them out!
As I was finishing up my posts on how to format your own Print-on-Demand book interior using InDesign, I reached the point where I found myself writing about copyright pages and ISBNs. I wrote confidently, “You must have an ISBN.” In a recent post, I recounted my own experience buying an ISBN for my paperback copy of King of the Roses and my upcoming publication of a POD version of Blood Lies.
But a query from a reader triggered research that suggested that my advice might be a little too simplistic. I found arguments that seemed to undercut that that screaming need for an ISBN.
Those posts inspired me to look a little more carefully into the question. In this post, I’ll explain what I’ve gathered from searching out a range of opinions.
My research suggests that if you were publishing only digitally, as of this writing, you WON’T need an ISBN, and, for reasons I’ll discuss below, shouldn’t accept a free one from Amazon or any other venue where you’ve uploaded your ebook.
But my Beginner’s Cheat Sheet series for formatting your book interior assumes you have already decided that, for your own reasons, you want a paperback, Print-on-Demand, version of your book.
So what seems to be the consensus on ISBNs and Print-on-Demand editions?
As a start, I learned that many countries, like Canada, provide free ISBNs and that authors in the U.K. go through a company called Nielsen. I’ve learned that ISBNs are considered international identifiers; the question isn’t about where an author writes, but rather, whether an author decides to participate in this national-identification system. In other words, the question of whether you need or want an ISBN doesn’t depend on which country you live in.
That said, all the evidence suggests that on the whole, if you’re publishing in paperback format, you will want to buy an ISBN.
BASICS: At Least It’s Hard to Get This Wrong
Wikipedia provides a useful definition of an ISBN, or “International Standard Book Number.” As the site says, if you are going to purchase ISBNs, each different edition of your book, except for reprints, MUST have a unique number. So if you have published an ebook and have an ISBN either because you’ve purchased one or because you accepted a free one from, say, Smashwords, you must acquire a new ISBN for your print edition.
Depending on the choices you make, your ISBN may be the single biggest expense you incur in the process of self-publishing if you edit and format your own book.
Wait! Why should an ISBN be an expense? Can’t you get one for free?
You can if you choose Option One:
Note that CreateSpace and Ingram, which I discuss below, are both basically book-packaging services, except that you pay either very little in the case of Ingram, or nothing, in the case of CreateSpace. You do all the work, and in CreateSpace, you can opt to receive a free ISBN.*
But whether you accept the ISBN that comes with your package from a paid publishing service or that CreateSpace or Smashwords supplies for free, there seems to be a catch. Maybe several catches:
Multiple sources tell me that free ISBNs belong to the publishing service—CreateSpace or Lulu or whichever one you choose—not you—and the publishing service—not you—becomes the “publisher.” So Amazon, the owner of CreateSpace, is the publisher of your CreateSpace book if you accept their ISBN.
To compound these problems, the quality of service you will receive at sites where an ISBN is included varies. CreateSpace does not market your book for you, and paid services may or may not provide reliable marketing. Paid services are often dinged for failing to fully reveal costs to the authors and for failing to fulfill contractual obligations. So choosing this option obligates you to do extensive due diligence. Explore services’ plans, read reviews, and check out the services’ reputations on watchdog sites like Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware. (Or course, such diligence is wise when dealing with any book packager whether or not you provide your own ISBN.)
Option One Twist: At one time, at Amazon, you could pay $10 so that your publishing name, or imprint, appeared as the publisher of your book. However, according to my research, Amazon no longer offers this option. Instead, you will pay $99 for a “Custom-Universal” ISBN. This expense allows you more distribution choices, but retailers will still see that your book is being distributed by Amazon, with all the problems that news may cause.
CreateSpace seems to require an ISBN “We print an ISBN barcode on the lower back right corner of every book we manufacture.”
To clarify for myself, I hunted around the CreateSpace site until I found Amazon’s own description of its handling of ISBNs and “imprints“—the name of the publisher that will appear in the metadata (your book’s “detail page”):
What’s not clear from these descriptions, to the amateur eye at least, is that when you choose Option Two, buying your own ISBN (below), you can publish anywhere you like and choose any distribution channel you like, which you cannot do if accept the free ISBN.
Moreover, if you choose Option Two, buying your own, you can buy it for about $25 as opposed to $99, though this process comes with its own catch.
You be the publisher.
You can do so by buying your own ISBN and either publishing exclusively with Ingram Spark or—and this seems to be the most recommended choice—publishing with BOTH Ingram Spark AND CreateSpace—again using your own ISBN.
My research suggests these advantages in publishing through Ingram, whether or not you also publish with CreateSpace:
Many if not most of the experts on self-publishing whose opinions I’ve monitored believe that these reasons alone justify paying for your own ISBN.
The catch to this option is that, yes, buying your own ISBN is relatively expensive. One will cost you (at this writing) $125. Most of the experts I’ve researched are clear that you’d be pound-foolish to buy just one. You can buy 10 for around $250, or $25 each.
Yes, that’s still an outlay.
But purchasing ten ISBNs will cost you less, possibly much less, than paying a book-publishing/packaging service. And you can’t produce your book for free with your own name or imprint as publisher at CreateSpace unless you already have that ISBN in hand.
Is there a reason why you might NOT want to spend money on your own ISBNs? Here’s an informative article from ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, on this topic. The site lists reasons to buy and not to buy. Briefly,
You will want an ISBN if
Here are a couple of more subjective reasons for wanting your own ISBNs.
You may not want an ISBN if
Research carefully before deciding to opt out of the ISBN process or to accept a free ISBN. Make sure you know who will be the “publisher” of your book and what that means in terms of how it is handled and distributed. Be sure you won’t benefit from the international tracking services that having an ISBN provides. If you choose a book-packaging service other than Ingram or CreateSpace, make sure you fully understand the fee structure of what can turn out to be “vanity presses,” and make sure to compare these costs with those you’ll pay if you publish through Ingram and buy your own ISBN.
*Note that both Amazon and Ingram are offering new publishing services both for digital products and print versions of books. Discussion and evaluation of those ever-changing services is beyond the scope of this post, but I hope readers will chime in if they’ve had experiences with these services.
Please share your views and experiences! Have you published ebooks without ISBNs? Have you published Print-on-Demand books without them? Do you advise indie authors to buy or not to buy? Why or why not?