Here on Wednesday Wing we try to pass on useful information for readers and writers.
Today Alison Williams continues with more advice on Self-Publishing.
Self-publishing – essential information
Contrary to popular opinion, self-publishing isn’t just a case of uploading your manuscript and spending the royalties. There are some technical and legal issues that you need to be aware of – issues that can have a real impact on royalties, marketing and sales.
An ISBN is the International Standard Book Number. It’s a ten (pre-2007) or thirteen (post-2007) digit number that identifies a particular book. The ISBN is used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and others in the supply chain for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control. You do not need an ISBN to publish an eBook through Amazon’s KDP. When you upload your book, it will be assigned a unique ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). If you publish a paperback version of your book through CreateSpace, you can buy an ISBN that you can use for any distributor, or you can use a free ISBN.
If you publish through Smashwords, they will assign a free ISBN as long as your manuscript meets the standards required to be included in its Premium Catalogue – details here. Although you can technically publish without one, an ISBN means Smashwords can distribute to more retailers.
Front and back matter
When you’ve finally finished your book, it’s natural to want to thank everyone who’s been involved, to dedicate the work to someone special and to tell the readers something about yourself. However, to be brutally honest, most readers won’t really care about this – they will want to get on and read the story. So if you’ve included information about your website, details of where to buy other books etc. in the front matter, the chances are the reader won’t look at these details. It’s far better to include your social media links, website details, information about other books etc. at the back. This means that if someone has read and liked your book and wants to know more about you and your publications, they will then have the opportunity to straight away find out more information. If you’re publishing an eBook, add links to everywhere a reader can find you and connect with you.
Add a note at the back asking readers to leave a review on Amazon etc. if they have enjoyed the book. If you decide to also publish through Smashwords, then don’t ask readers to review on Amazon in the back pages of what you upload to their site, or mention that any future books are available through anywhere other than Smashwords, as this will prevent you being included in their premium catalogue.
When you publish an eBook, you can choose to have the content protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management). It’s simply a case of checking a box when you publish. The purpose is to inhibit unauthorised copying or access to your book – pirating. Once you choose to have DRM for a publication, you are stuck with it, you can’t ‘un-choose’ it. While you are protected from potential pirating, selecting DRM means a reader who buys the eBook can’t then share it with other readers and they can’t transfer it to another device. It also means that the reader, the owner of your book, can only access it on the device they bought it for. This puts some people off buying books that have DRM.
It is a contentious issue and the decision is yours. My personal feeling is that I borrow paperbacks from other people all the time and pass on books I love to other people to enjoy. I would be flattered if a reader liked my book so much that they wanted to share it with someone else. That someone might buy my next book.
Tax (for non US authors)
If you publish with KDP, CreateSpace or Smashwords, there are tax issues to bear in mind as you will be technically earning money from an overseas country. This used to cause a bit of a headache but it’s much simpler now. All the information you need is here.
You can find lots and lots more information about all these issues on both the KDP and Smashwords sites.
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