Tag Archives: indie publishing

Small Publishers – A Checklist #wwwblogs #amwriting

What would you add to this thoughtful post from Alison Williams Writing? Have your experiences with small publishers been good or bad? Are indie writers better off self-publishing? What do you think?

Alison Williams Writing


I recently wrote a bit of a rant about the quality control of some small presses whose books I had read. You can read it here.

If you are thinking of signing with a small publisher, then do bear a few things in mind.

  • Do your homework – start off by Googling the publisher. You might find threads on writing sites that go into a great deal of detail about your chosen publisher. Read them – they can be incredibly enlightening.
  • Ask questions – if your publisher is honest and genuinely wants the best for you, they should accept that you have a right to want to know about them. After all, you are placing your book and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing it in their hands.


  • Who are they?
  • How long have they been publishing?
  • What exactly is their background and experience?…

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Filed under business of writing, ebooks, Editing, indie publishing, looking for editors, Marketing books, Money!, Myths and Truths, novels, Publishing, publishing contracts, Scams, Self-publishing, small presses, Working with editors, Writing

Need Your Own ISBN? It’s Easy.

Of course, the first question is, do you need your own ISBN?

The long and short of it is—YES, YOU DO.

Here’s a site that provides a quick and dirty explanation of why indie authors should own their own ISBNs instead of letting Amazon or Book Baby or any of the other packagers give you one for “free.” As the site will make clear, there are hidden costs to this perk.

So if you’re convinced, as I was, how do you get an ISBN?

It’s really not hard at all.

In the United States, ISBNs are sold through a company called Bowker. At http://www.bowker.com, you’ll find a link for “Authors.” On this page, you’ll be invited to click on various links promising help with your project, but for now, you’re interested in the link called “ISBN United States.”‘


Next, you’ll click on a link to “Get Started: Order ISBN.”

Bowker Order ISBN page

On the next page, you’ll be able to scout the various plans and set up your “MyIdentifiers” account.

Bowker buy ISBN now page

At present, Bowker sells a single ISBN for $125, ten for $295 (they were on sale for $250 the day I wrote this), or 100 for $595. What should you do?

This is another personal choice. Experts online vary in their recommendations, but all seem to agree that most authors will need more than one ISBN. For example, if you buy just one at $125, use it for your ebook in the Kindle Store, then choose to create a POD edition needing its own ISBN, you’ve already spent $250—because each edition of your book requires its own ISBN. Most indie authors publish more than one book. Many publish more than ten books! How many books you expect to write will probably dictate the choice you make.

Note that the page offering you the ISBN options also offers you a chance to purchase a bar code. This code will eventually go on the cover of your POD book, providing the ISBN and the price you set for your book.

You can delay the bar-code purchase until you are actually ready to produce your cover. When you buy your ISBN(s) and create your Bowker MyIdentifiers account, you will find a link allowing you to purchase the appropriate bar code for that ISBN.

Bowker Manage ISBNs page

When you buy a bar code, your MyIdentifiers screen at Bowker will allow you to set the price that will appear on the bar code.

I chose to set this price to zero. Why? Because if you later want to change the price for any reason, you must produce a new cover with a new bar code. Uploading this new cover will cost you $25.

However, if your bar code reads “zero,” you can price the book any way you want, and other sellers can attach their bar codes over yours or charge whatever they want.

You will still set a retail price at Ingram for individual purchasers. Bookstores who might order your books to sell on their shelves get their discounts based on this price. At Ingram, you can edit both the price and discount over time if you like.

Bowker seems set up to accommodate even the most uneducated users. Like all technology, it requires you to follow a set of steps, but in the long run, negotiating these steps will give you the control you want over your work!


Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

InDesign for Book Formatting: Cheat Sheet I

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Rank Beginners is Us!


This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

This next post in my “crazy-journey” series as I experiment with various options for POD book-formatting deals with some of the things I found you must learn—and will want to learn—if you are interested in trying InDesign as your formatting option.

I’ve written already that I found the program a lot easier to learn than I thought it would be when I first opened that cluttered, intimidating screen. I still claim that for a book consisting of basic black-and-white text, InDesign is a reasonable choice.

Last time, I wrote about a number of things you already know how to do—functions that work the same in InDesign as in any other word-processing program I’ve ever used, for example, commands you know already from Word.

This and the upcoming posts lay out some of the new pieces that served me well. Many of these components are intuitive; the trick is often just using an item often enough to begin remembering where it lives.

Today: Navigating with The Pages Panel and the Layout menu.

The Pages Panel is the first and arguably the most important of the components you’ll want to get to know. It opens from the “Window” menu at the top of the InDesign screen. As with all the other panels, you can position it wherever you want, even outside of the program workspace. I’ve been keeping it open all the time.

It shows two sections. The top section displays your “masters,” which you set up in advance with the formatting you want on your pages—in the case of a black-and-white book, specifically a text frame or box, running heads, and page numbers.

Pages Panel annotated

The Pages Panel, showing the Master Pages at the top and the thumbnails of the front matter of my book below. Here, pages 2 and 3 are selected. You can scroll or use the “go to page” option in the Layout menu to move through these thumbnails.

Your masters should be the “trim size” of your eventual book, say, 5X8. Set up the text frame with Margins and Columns, accessible in the Layout menu, much as in Word. Ingram specifies at least 0.5 inches. Running heads and page numbers should be inside these margins, so the top margin of your text frame should be larger than your other margins (as should your bottom margin, if you plan to position your page numbers at the bottom of your pages). I opted for 0.8 on left, right, and bottom, and 1.0 at the top, which gave me room for my heads.

You can set up as many different masters as you want, so that different sections of your book can have different formats. I only needed one, because the only “different” pages I included were those for front matter and chapter title pages; for both of these, I simply applied the “none” option, stripping the heads and page numbers.

More on what I learned about setting up the masters and running heads later!

The second section of the Pages Panel shows thumbnails of the various pages of your developing book.

For me, the panel itself had three major functions

  • I could double click on a page and go there;
  • I could select one or more pages and either apply the masters or choose not to apply them (more later);
  • I could drag and drop pages or spreads to re-order them. When my text didn’t load in the right order (it sometimes didn’t), this feature saved a lot of time.

I found that the Pages Panel operates in partnership with the Layout option in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

  • You can move from page to page via Layout→Next Page or Layout→Next Spread (or “Previous” in both cases). I found this easier than clicking on the next set of thumbnails. (Actually, Adobe provides a useful list of key commands so you really don’t have to click on anything. “Next Spread,” for example, is “Option + Page down” on my Mac.)
  • Layout→Go to Page (CTRL or COMMAND + J) allows you to select a particular page to work on. Much better than scrolling through the Pages thumbnails looking for a page.
  • You can delete selected pages: Layout→Pages→Delete Pages
  • You can similarly add pages or insert pages after a selected page. Layout→Pages→Add or Insert Pages
  • You can apply formatting to a group of pages or to a single page. You do this through Layout→Apply Master to Pages, which gives you a menu of any masters you’ve created, or, helpfully when it comes time to set up your front-matter section and chapter title pages, the option of “None.”

Layout annotated

The only other navigation tool I used regularly was View→Fit Spread in Window (CTRL or COMMAND + Shift + 0). I found this command useful because sometimes, when you “go to” a page, the spread may not be centered, and I liked working with entire two-page spreads visible. Fit Spread in Window became my fix for this feature.

I’d argue that this is all you really need to move around comfortably in InDesign: your Pages panel, the commands in the Layout→Pages menu, the key commands for “Next” or “Previous” spread, and Fit Spread in Window. That’s not really very much, and it’s easy to remember.

My version of Word offers a “Navigation Pane” with much the same function. I began experimenting with using Master Pages in Word so that I could see whether I had the same options in Word as in InDesign, such as the ability to apply masters at will, which, as I’ll discuss in a later post, is one of the features I found essential. At first glance, working with masters in Word is different in several ways and possibly not as flexible as in InDesign. More on this as I continue my education!

Have you worked with master pages in Word? What options does it offer, and how have you made them work for you?


Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

Draft of New Cover for King of the Roses

I’m looking for a cover that will look better in thumbnail. Here’s an effort. All feedback welcomed! kotrnew4300


Filed under King of the Roses, Uncategorized, V. S. Anderson