Frequently Asked Questions

Business

Are there different demographics between Kindle & CreateSpace purchasers?

This is another question where the real answer is going to be niche-specific. Just because people in one niche prefer buying kindle books doesn’t mean that even the same person wouldn’t prefer a physical book in another niche.

That said, some broad generalities that I’ve noticed in the niches I’ve been in and that I suspect hold relatively true for most:

  1. It’s easier to sell shorter works on their own with Kindle. I imagine that a lot of this deals with the cost; you can’t cost-effectively sell a short story in paperback and somebody buying a tiny short story for $3.59 (assuming you don’t mind selling it without earning any royalties) is going to feel like they were ripped off (theoretically you could sell it for $2.69 in the CreateSpace marketplace without earning any royalties but then they have to pay a few dollars in shipping too!)  The minimum cost for a printed book in CreateSpace is $2.15 and you have to price it with a 40% royalty on top of that to Amazon.  On Kindle, however, you can sell the same story for $0.99 cents or even $2.99 and it doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad deal.
  2. It’s easier to consume longer works on the Kindle. I know that for some books, I’d still rather have a physical book, but a lot of that is because I only have a Kindle3 e-ink and if I had a Kindle Fire I might consider books with a lot of full color photos on Kindle instead of as a physical book. In fact, I just finished reading the latest Tim Ferriss book, 4-Hour Chef, this morning.  My reading time was limited by the sheer mass of the book…it was too big to travel with, or to read anywhere where I was trying to lay back. A Kindle is much lighter, so especially for books that are mostly text (most books) a lot of readers prefer having the small form factor.
  3. As mentioned above, some books are better suited to print. Workbooks, full-color artistic books or books with a lot of diagrams, tables or fine detail in the artwork – these are probably better in print. Some people will still rather have them digitally, however, especially as e-reading devices get better.
  4. Some people collect – and physical books are better for collecting than digital books. Especially people that want signed copies of books. It’s hard to sign a digital book.
  5. Some people want to avoid clutter – and digital books are better for eliminating or avoiding clutter.

Since it’s so cheap to hit both avenues, I usually would opt to distribute in both marketplaces. If you make sure that the books are mapped together in Amazon, then reviews for a digital version will appear on the physical and vice versa.  If I’m testing, then I’ll usually opt for Kindle-only at first, because it is a bit easier and faster, and you can try different mediums (short works as single titles, multiple short works as a collection of titles, a single title with all of a group of short works, etc.)  Once I have a better idea for a marketplace, I can roll out a physical book.

Of course, for UBC-style books, I usually go physical first and often stay physical, since the point of those is to have something to hand people. One of my clients, we started with physical books because he probably still doesn’t understand what kindle is other than that I send him a royalty check every month and that half the money from it is from the digital sales.

But, I guess the best advice I can give is to test your market and respond accordingly.

Can I transfer a client’s book from my account to a new account in CreateSpace?

I reached out to customer support at CreateSpace, so here’s their official stance:

  1. You can not transfer a title from one CS account to another.
  2. You can retire a title in one account and set it up in another account – this will create a new title on Amazon.
  3. Technically, you can not use the same ISBN on the new title. If using a CS-assigned ISBN, you definitely can not. If you use your own ISBN then the support rep I spoke with said he could make a one-time exception to allow the same ISBN to be used which would allow you to keep from creating a new page at Amazon and losing your reviews.

So…you technically can transfer a title if you use your own ISBN or don’t care if you lose your reviews by setting up a new page. Another option that you can use is to retire your title and create a second edition of the book in the new account. You can then contact support and have them link the two books so that people will see the new edition of the book and it will make more sense to readers on the site the difference between the two listings. They’ll still be two different titles (technically) but it will be obvious folks should get the new version.

Personally, if I thought it likely that I’d want to move the book, then I would just set up a new account under the other person’s name. You used to be able to have multiple accounts at CreateSpace but they changed their TOS to not really allow that – so you will need to use a different SSN or EID when setting up the new account. (As far as I know there’s nothing to stop you from using the same information and just having a separate account, but it is usually a good idea to comply with a site’s TOS to avoid problems in the future.)

No matter what you decide to do, if you set up an Author Central account for this book, I’d set up a distinct one from your account under that person’s name.  You can create up to 3 pen names under one account, but I prefer to keep client books separate from my own where possible, and in Author Central there’s nothing wrong with having a new account under that person’s name so that it doesn’t co-mingle with your own books.

Can I use the same UBC manuscript and put new client names on the cover?

If you plan to create Kindle versions of your Ultimate Business Card book, then selling your own book as PLR probably isn’t a good idea as they are unlikely to approve the books and will remove any that are already there. For CreateSpace, you can create Private Label versions of the books with minimal updates if you want to, but it isn’t necessarily what I would recommend.

Instead, I’d set up an appointment with the person to interview them and get their actual expertise and create a book focused around their knowledge and in their words. Just record the interview, transcribe it, and then edit it into a readable format. That will provide the most value for them, rather than having a book that is the same as a dozen others on Amazon. If somebody didn’t want to use their own expertise and just wanted to slap their name on a book, then you could offer to do that but I would not add their book into the Amazon marketplace unless there were some significant alterations. You could still use CreateSpace or another print-on-demand company to provide copies of the book for them to use as a UBC without having to have it actually available on Amazon.

Generally speaking, though, I tend to work with people that have some expertise of their own and create a truly unique book for them that promotes their knowledge and works as lead generation for them with calls to action specific to what they can offer potential clients.

Do higher quality books sell for more or is it all an “even” playing field?

That is completely market-driven and has nothing to do with where the book is printed or who published it. There is a lot that comes into play, including but not limited to…

  • what books usually go for in a specific niche
  • the quality of the information in the book
  • the marketing channels behind the book that drive business towards it
  • the relative qualities your book and your brand convey (budget, high end, etc.)
  • seasonality (some seasons sell more and/or for higher prices than others)

The only real way to find out how much you can sell your book for is to begin with market research and then to test different price points, which can be done with a single book or across a spectrum of different books and then comparing the results.

Do I need to start a publishing company and purchase ISBN’s in order to succeed?

For whether or not you should purchase ISBN numbers, read the “Should I purchase ISBNs or should I use the free CreateSpace ISBNs?” question here in the FAQ. Basically, if you live in Canada or plan on printing anywhere other than CreateSpace, you should get them, otherwise it’s basically for vanity. Which is a very valid reason for purchasing your own, but John & Jay don’t see the need and I haven’t gotten around to it yet for my own publishing company despite wanting to remove CreateSpace as the publisher for my books.

As for forming your own company, I highly recommend it. It lends a lot of credibility for landing clients, it can help protect your assets and limit your liability (it’s worth spending the money to have an attorney set you up in my opinion) and it can give you a “home base” for promoting all of your client’s work. You don’t need ISBNs to start a publishing company; so I’d recommend waiting until you have sufficient cashflow to purchase them if that’s something that you decide to do.

Do quality books stand out in CreateSpace?

I don’t actually sell any of my books through CreateSpace, so I can’t speak about their marketplace specifically and personally wouldn’t worry about it.

For Amazon, it doesn’t matter if the book is created by CreateSpace or not. If the book is amateurish and poorly constructed, it’s going to get bad reviews. If it’s a quality book, then people won’t even notice, it’ll just be the way that it is. Unless you smack people in the face with the “this book is self-published!” dogma, most people won’t even know (or care) if a book was printed by CreateSpace or somewhere else.

Exceptions might be for specialty books (such as full color photo books – with which I don’t have any experience yet) that may or may not print as well, but for standard black & white trade paperbacks, people won’t know or care where it was printed as long as it is easy to read and doesn’t fall apart.

Do you have any experience lending with Overdrive? Should library books be free?

I haven’t personally used Overdrive yet; it’s on my list of things to do that just haven’t gotten done yet. I’ve looked into the process for putting books up; you can make them available in many different formats, be that PDF, mobi (kindle) or epub.

Personally, I don’t think there’s a problem selling to libraries. They purchase physical books; there’s nothing wrong with purchasing licenses to rent out digital books. That said, I’m a big fan of libraries and the services that they provide so when I do start adding my catalog to Overdrive I plan to price it lower than through other mediums. Individual libraries purchase their own books, so if you price a book too high, then the libraries will decide they don’t need to stock your book. I haven’t looked into whether I can set up free books for specific libraries through that system yet or not (I like to donate copies of my paperback books to my local libraries) but I believe it’s probably possible through their promotional tools.

The digital library market has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years, so once we are done researching the current best practices we will update this FAQ.

How do I retrieve a lost ISBN number?

The answer depends on what you mean by lost.

If you used it previously on a book other than the one that you are currently working on then you can’t re-use it.

If you were given a free one from somewhere such as CreateSpace or Lulu or Smashwords, then you can retrieve it by continuing to work on the project in that interface where it was assigned.

If you ordered a block of ISBNs from Bowker (assuming that you live in the United States), then they have an interface where you can see what ISBN numbers you have been assigned.

If you previously assigned that ISBN to the book, then you can check the Books in Print database through Bowker’s search tools, or if it has been previously published and is available for sale then searching Amazon or other bookseller networks will let you retrieve it.

Based on your question, my guess is that you purchased an ISBN from Bowker, and so the easiest way to retrieve the ISBN number is either to search your email for messages from them, or to log in to your account with them.

How do I sell the print publication rights for my book?

I don’t have any experience there; the way that I would go about it would be to find an agent in your niche that has contacts that would be interested in printing your book, including in overseas markets.

If you are making a lot of digital sales, you could try approaching publishing companies yourself as you’d have some data behind you, but unless you go with smaller independent companies you probably won’t get very far as the big players all use agents as a minimum cost of entry to vet new projects.

The agents you’d need to speak with would all be specific to your niche; you could try looking in the Writer’s Market annual books for the addresses and contact information for book publishers and agents; I used to purchase that book every year back in the 90s, and it was a pretty quality publication back in the day so I assume that it still is.

How do you accept payments from clients?

As for my payment process, I do one of two things. I get a check from the person (pretty much how all my local transactions take place) or I create a payment link in Paypal and email the payment link. If it’s a recurring payment, I’m just using Paypal’s recurring payments. I used to have a merchant account with my running business but I cancelled that over a year ago as I wasn’t utilizing it enough and there are plenty of lower cost options out there. I haven’t actually used it yet, but I also have a Square account that lets me charge credit cards by swiping them onto a device I connect to my phone. I haven’t compared lately, but the discount rate was similar to Paypal’s so I haven’t bothered looking for the device and it’s buried in my office somewhere.  Eventually, I plan on integrating something like Stripe to my website, but there’s no real need to do that right now so I’m basically going with the check first, Paypal second as my options I offer people.

Is there anything I need to worry about for collecting & paying international royalties?

If you are going to set up a book for a client in your own KDP account and will be paying them royalties for what they sell, make sure you charge some sort of premium on it. You have the additional book keeping, potential tax liability, and the extra task to complete each month.

I currently have one client that I pay royalties to on a monthly basis, and I wish that I’d set it up so that I only had to pay him once per quarter.

Make sure you keep good records for how much money you are collecting and paying out, and remember that while CreateSpace pays out on a net 30 at the end of the month, KDP pays out net 60 at the end of the month, so you are looking at potentially 90 days between the sale of a book and getting paid for it.

I’m not familiar with any sort of issues between the different countries but I haven’t had international clients yet so I don’t know if there are any specific gotchas that you need to watch out for. It’s probably worth talking to your attorney or accountant and getting things set up ahead of time properly. For example, Amazon holds 30 or 35% of the royalties for taxes unless they have the tax documentation from international sellers, so if they are going to be selling a lot of copies of their books you’ll need to make sure that you are not getting stuck with their tax bill.

It seems as though reading levels have dropped, do you have any research about that?

I don’t have any research as I don’t do much in the children’s marketplace, I mostly work with business customers. One of my clients has a children’s book, which I did a kindle and epub conversion for, but I wasn’t involved in the writing of the book at all.  For me personally, I tend to write things as simply as I can and still adequately explain my topic in order to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. There are a lot of adults that aren’t very strong readers, and it’s always best to be as accessible as possible.

That said, if you want to see how advanced your book is under the Gunning Fog or Flesch-Kincade readability scales, you can turn them on directly inside Microsoft Word and have it report the statistics to you. Here’s the directions for how to do that: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/display-readability-statistics-HP005189601.aspx?redir=0

My publications are long; should I publish long books or serialize them?

There are two issues here.  First, if it doesn’t make sense to split up your books, there is no reason to and you should submit it as a single work.  The beauty of a digital format is that you don’t have to worry about “bulk” when trying to read a long work, and you can price short works cheap enough to justify selling as stand-alone pieces. Each work should be as long as it needs to be and no longer and no shorter.

That said, there are a lot of examples of serialized fiction on Amazon.  In fact, serialization got so popular that Amazon created the Kindle Serials program a few years ago to provide a better outlet than the ways that their marketplace was currently being used (right now, you need to sign a publishing deal with one of Amazon’s publishing houses, such as 47 North, in order to have access to the Kindle Serials program.)  The way that that program works is that every week or two weeks, a new “episode” in the serial is released and automatically added to the end of your book (with all of your bookmarks, highlights, and read locations preserved) and then at the end of the novel you are reading they release a paperback version and bump up the price of the serial to a standard book price instead of the discounted price it starts with while being serialized.

To my knowledge, Amazon no longer signs new books for this program and so it’s unlikely to ever be available, at least for the foreseeable future.

There are publishers that put out serials as distinct books for each “episode” of the season. Basically, they become shorter series books.

If you want to maximize the exposure of your books, you could release them as a whole, and then release discrete parts that then reference the whole. Just make sure that each piece you sell has an accurate description of what is being sold inside that book, and that it’s enough information to be useful (for non-fiction) or enjoyable (for fiction) – you don’t want to split up a book by chapters unless each chapter is a discrete element that could be sold on it’s own merits. Include a link to the complete book as a collection of all the discrete parts (and potentially include the links for each discrete part for somebody to pick and choose.) When pricing your works, make sure that there’s a good discount to be had by buying everything; if somebody purchases 1 of the parts, the cost of the whole work should be less than it would cost to then purchase the remaining works individually.

Should I purchase ISBNs or should I use the free CreateSpace ISBNs?

There are a few considerations when deciding whether you want to purchase your own ISBNs or not. First, if you want to save money and only plan on selling your books through CreateSpace and Kindle, then there is no reason not to just use the CreateSpace ISBNs other than for vanity reasons.

Having your own ISBN number is useful if you want to have your publishing company listed in Amazon. You can always list your own publishing company on the title page and copyright page of your book, but if you want libraries or for the listing on your Amazon sales page to have your publishing company then you will need to have your own ISBN. For most people, using the create space ISBN number will not be very visible and will serve their purposes fine without having to spend any money.

The cost of an ISBN very is widely depending upon what country you live in. If you live in Canada, for example, then you can get your ISBN numbers for free because registration is handled by the government. If you don’t mind spending a little time registering them, then you may as well take advantage of that program. In the United States, ISBN numbers cost between $125 for one and $1 each for 1000 ISBN numbers. In Australia, it costs $42 for one ISBN or $2.82 each if you buy 1000 ISBN numbers. You can determine where you purchase your ISBN numbers by choosing your country at the International ISBN Agency’s website.

If you ever plan on selling your books anywhere other than on Amazon, then you will not be able to use your CreateSpace ISBN number. The platform that you use may or may not provide its own free ISBN number, but if your book is one addition then it makes sense to have the same ISBN number for all places that it is being printed. In that case, you’ll probably want to purchase your own ISBN numbers.

If you are publishing multiple editions of your book, you will need a different ISBN number for each addition. For example, a hardcover and softcover book will each need their own ISBN number, as well as the audible version of the book and the e-book version. If you are only selling your e-book version through Kindle, then you will not need an ISBN number at all as Amazon does not require it.

There is definitely value in having your own ISBN numbers for branding your publishing company. However, when you are starting out it is not something that is a very high priority. I would recommend holding off purchasing your ISBN numbers until you have a lot of business and it makes more sense for your publishing company. You may find that you don’t need to purchase them at all; John and Jay have not purchased their own ISBN numbers yet and they have hundreds of books for sale on the Amazon marketplace.

Should I set up a client’s accounts or have them do it?

When I get a new client, I talk to them to find out whether they already have accounts set up, whether they want me to set up the accounts for them, or whether they want to set them up themselves.

With the folks that I’ve worked with, most have just had me set everything up for them, including their shipping, billing and tax information. I have had 1 or 2 clients that have had me create the accounts for them and then I just sent them directions for how to fill in their tax information, and I just supplied the username and password.

If I’m setting up a lot of accounts, I’ll usually create a separate gmail account for them, and then when everything is done I’ll give them a spreadsheet with all the usernames, passwords and login URLs to all their accounts (including the email) and will set up the gmail account to forward emails to their actual email address. That way they get something that’s ready to go rather than having to create the accounts themselves or confirm email addresses for me before I can continue.

That said, if they have an account or want to do it all themselves, you can easily just hand over the MOBI file for them. I recommend just doing whatever your client is most comfortable with, and the easiest way to find out is to ask. It can potentially provide you with additional revenue sources; you could charge one amount to do the conversion and another amount to set up their accounts (I wouldn’t differentiate between setting up an account w/all their info or creating their account and having them enter tax information, though…)

Should I use a pen name for my children’s books since I want my real name for a different market?

In general, I think that it is a good idea to keep separate areas of your business under different pen names, but there are a few ways to go about it.

If all of your books are going to be the children’s books except for the one book that you use as an ultimate business card to promote your own business than it probably is not a very big deal if you use the same name for all of your books. If you think that you might have other business books, however, then I would either use a pen name or use a middle initial or something similar so that it still your name but you have a way of separating them out in the search results. That way if somebody goes to your Amazon Author page, you will have all the children’s books under one version of your name and all of the business books under another version of your name.

If you are going to write in multiple genres and the audiences for those genres have a good chance to overlap, you can get away with using the same name. If they aren’t a very close match for the type of reader, however, it’s probably a better idea to use pen names so that Amazon will have an easier job promoting your books to people more likely to purchase them, which will in turn lead to them promoting your book more.

If you don’t want to have books from different areas associated with each other even from an intellectual level versus just from the author’s pages level, then I would use a completely different pen name. For example, I know somebody that has a series of children’s books and also has a series of dark horror books, and he does not want the kids that are reading his children’s books to be able to find a his horror books because they’re meant for adults. In his case, he uses a completely different pen name for his children’s books.

It really comes down to your own comfort level and how closely you personally want to be tied to any particular series or genre of books.

What do I do if I significantly underquote somebody and can’t fulfill at that price?

The answer to this question has two parts, because it was something I needed to think about a bit before I could answer. I’m including both answers I provided to this question because I think both are valid.

My initial response:
Personally, when I’ve underquoted, I’ve just treated it as a learning experience and make sure not to do it again and hold to that price for that job (but I obviously wouldn’t offer that same price even to the same customer in the future.) I have never quoted something that is below my actual costs, so when I’ve made mistakes like this I’ve basically just spent time working for a lot less than I’m worth. The Paleo in Maine book from my presentation yesterday is an example of that.

My eventual response:
I spent some time thinking about it and talked to Jay and to one of my business mentors up here in Maine, and here’s how I’d handle the situation if it happened to me in the future.

I’d still probably try to stick to my original quote if at all possible, but I would let them know that after reviewing exactly what work they’d need to be done that it would really cost $X. I’d tell them that I could do it at the price of the original quote but they really wouldn’t get the quality product that they deserve. If I literally couldn’t do it at that price, then I’d just have to tell them no, and if they raise a stink about it then it probably wasn’t a customer I’d want to deal with anyway.

One thing to be careful about is to make sure that the person knows your actual price for what they’re receiving. Even if I did do the job at the underquoted price, I’d still do as great a job as I could, but you don’t want that person to brag about how cheap you are, you want them to talk about what great work you do. Make sure they understand that you won’t be able to honor that price for other people so that they don’t lead others to think you’d do work that cheaply for them.

This wasn’t shared on the webinar as it had slipped my mind, but even though I stuck to my original quote with that Paleo in Maine book, he did actually give me a tip in his final check. I forget exactly how much it was without checking my records, but it was something on the order of an extra $50 or $100 which was a good percentage over what I’d charged him, even if it wasn’t as much as I would have charged had I known what I was going to be doing for him or even had just started from a current quote and not one that was 6 months out of date.

What do I need to know before hiring a VA from the Philippines?

Hiring a virtual assistent is a big step in growing your business…it can be a lot of work, it can be a large expense, but it can also catapult your business to the next level once you remove yourself as a bottleneck.

I used to have a full time transcriptionist in the Philippines but wasn’t overly impressed. She frequently disappeared for weeks at a time, the work was passable but not great, and as time went on it got worse and took longer. About a year after letting her go, I was emailed by a guy claiming to have been her boyfriend and the person who did the actual work and asking for me to hire him, but I told him that the work was barely passable and not delivered on time so there was no chance of that.  Now, I use a contract based transcriptionist; he does one thing, he does it well, and he’s much more cost effective than having somebody local in the United States and does not have any overhead. If I have work, I send it to him and pay for it; if I don’t, then there’s no cost to me.

Having a VA (no matter where they are located) requires a few things:

  1. A clear plan of action for what the VA is going to be doing
  2. A system that can be followed for each task that the VA needs to do
  3. Training for how to use that system
  4. A way to vet the language skills and any specific skills you need the VA to have
  5. Patience

First, you need to know what the VA is going to do.  That might be the end-goal of every task you want to get off your plate, but it should start with something relatively simple and that can be given to a new hire a piece at a time so you don’t overwhelm them. If you don’t have a clear idea what you are going to be having them do, you aren’t ready to start looking for somebody.

Next, you need a system for each task that you can hand off.  If you don’t have a system, then it will be hard for you to give clear and concise directions, and it will be hard for you to evaluate whether the work was done right (or even if it was done at all, in some cases!)  If you haven’t broken down your tasks into systems, then this is a good time to do so. You’ll find ways to improve your own processes, and may discover you don’t need a VA yet. You may also find that you aren’t doing something as efficiently as you could be once you see the steps on paper for what is actually happening, and it is best to try to find the best way (within your abilities) to do something before offloading that task. Once you have a VA trained and used to working with you, you can let them develop new and improved systems for getting things done. There should be clear action steps and clear results that can be listed that answers a specific question. Think a check list (for action steps) and short answer questions (for results reporting).

Third, you need to have a way to train your VA in the system that you created to complete the task that you appoint them. Your VA will not be a mind-reader, and if they aren’t native to your country they may not have the same cultural frames of reference or assumptions as you do.  Provide training in a clear way, preferably with some sort of demonstration (screencasts with jing are great for this!)  I think the biggest problem I’ve had with work I’ve outsourced has been that I haven’t been clear enough in communicating my needs and what I want to see as results.

Next, you need a way to vet your VA. Can they communicate? Can they follow directions? Are they trainable?  If you can’t for sure answer in the affirmative to all 3 of those, don’t waste your time on them. Specialized skills are less important. In fact, unless you need a specialized skill (such as programming or graphic design), hire somebody that’s trainable and doesn’t have preconceived notions that may not agree with yours. You can always start out with a simple task or two, get them used to doing that, and then add new tasks as you go along as they become comfortable with new technologies and your workflows.  You may also want to consider using a service to find somebody for you; they can do the initial interviews per your specifications and then present 3 or 4 candidates for you rather than you having to wade through 15 or 20 people.

Last, be patient.  You are going to have to spend some time getting your business ready for somebody else to step in and help out. You are going to have to document your systems and training procedures so that you can hand off your tasks.  It will take a while to find the right person.  That person will probably not be the first (or even the second, or third) person that you hire.  Hire on a trial basis – if they can’t get into your program and do the work for 10 or 20 days or a month or whatever the case may be, let them go and find somebody else, hopefully having learned some lessons each time.

Bonus tip: Learn local employment practices if you hire outside your country. Know the local holidays, local work schedules, what the 13th month is, local weather patterns and whether internet outages are likely and at what times of year, etc. You want to be sensitive to their needs as well as your own. Especially if you hire in the Philippines, you need to foster an environment where they feel comfortable asking questions (because I guarantee they won’t!) A big problem is when they disappear because they are embarrassed to ask a question or admit they don’t know how to do something. You’ll need to check in daily for a couple months to make sure work is getting done and they are getting the training that they need.  Require a daily check-in by email that lists what was accomplished each day, the biggest hurdle or difficulty that they faced (and require them to fill that section out no matter what!) and what work was not finished.  Check in multiple times per week by skype if possible early on, and gradually reduce that to once per week minimum or whatever schedule you need to regularly need to discuss their goals on any given project.

When do I need to use a new ISBN number for my books?

I just think that it’s a shame that the United States isn’t as forward thinking as some other countries (such as Canada) which provide them for free.  Bowker’s goal seems to be to keep small players priced out of the market, which is why there is such a deep discount on higher quantities of ISBN numbers. Any advice that they give you is going to be the advice that results in the maximum quantity of ISBN numbers used within the rules of the international standards.

If you change the cover, you do not need a new ISBN since the text did not change. If you change the title then you do need a new ISBN as that is considered a new work.  You only need to issue a new ISBN if you make substantial changes to the text of the book, which would result in a new edition; a common guideline would be changes of between 15-20% of the work. So, correcting typos is considered a reprint and would be the same ISBN number; adding a few chapters of new material and revising existing material would be a new edition and would need a new ISBN number.

For me personally, I would not issue a new ISBN number if the content of the book remains the same and you are only changing front or back matter, especially if it is marketing text and not something relevant to the work (such as an index or glossary.)  Generally speaking, it won’t make any difference which version of the book you buy if you only change a list of other books that the person should purchase, so it should not need a new ISBN.  It’s just a reprint with some fixes, basically.

For electronic editions, there are two schools of thought. Each e-book edition (MOBI, PDF, EPub, HTML, DOC, etc)  should technically receive it’s own ISBN number because the supply chain would need to uniquely identify each edition in order to ensure that a reader’s device is receiving a format that it can read. This would be similar to the need for different bindings to receive their own ISBN number in print (i.e. softcover vs hardcover.)  Some folks are of the mind that you should have a separate ISBN for electronic editions but that you can use the same ISBN for each electronic format and not worry about it.

The International ISBN Agency ruled in February of 2010 that it makes the most sense from a supply chain point of view for each format to have their own ISBN number, but that there’s a need for a separate number for tracking individual releases of the same book across formats. For me personally, when I begin expanding into markets where I need an ISBN number, I’m going to play it safe and assign a new ISBN to each format, but my distribution strategy is still going to only require 2-3 ISBN numbers per book.

My suggestion would be to have an ISBN number for your paperback version, a separate ISBN for your hardcover version (if you create one), and one for your ePub version. You don’t need an ISBN for Kindle as there are very few devices that read MOBI instead of ePub these days and Amazon is basically the only marketplace for them that I am likely to use, and so there is no need for a separate ISBN as Amazon provides you with an ASIN to uniquely identify the book.  Having an ISBN for the ePub edition, that book can then be distributed through the networks that require one.

Your copyright page should include the ISBN number for the edition of the book that the read is holding, but to simplify matters I would recommend including all relevant ISBNs that you assign to that book (denoting which edition receives which ISBN number) so that it would be one less piece of data to update and maintain between editions and avoids the error of including the wrong ISBN and not having the correct one listed.

Whose tax and bank information should go into a CreateSpace account?

For my clients, I usually do my work for a flat fee, so if I’m setting up their account then I will either enter their banking information for them or have them enter it once the account is created.

For the client that I am paying royalties, then I have his Kindle books under my own account, and I set up a separate CS account for him under his name but with my company’s tax information (this was before CreateSpace discouraged multiple accounts for the same person.) In the future, I’ll probably just publish all books under my own main account if I’m paying out royalties (except for this one customer, obviously.)

My suggestion is that if you are working on a royalty arrangement, have a contract in place dictating who collects the royalties, how much they are for, and when payments will be made. I suggest that you (as the publisher) collect all of the payments and then distribute the royalties on whatever schedule is agreed on. Keep in mind that you don’t get the payments from Amazon right away, potentially 60 days after a paperback sale and 90 days for a Kindle sale.

You may also want to review this FAQ question as well: Should I set up a client’s accounts or have them do it?

CreateSpace

Are there different demographics between Kindle & CreateSpace purchasers?

This is another question where the real answer is going to be niche-specific. Just because people in one niche prefer buying kindle books doesn’t mean that even the same person wouldn’t prefer a physical book in another niche.

That said, some broad generalities that I’ve noticed in the niches I’ve been in and that I suspect hold relatively true for most:

  1. It’s easier to sell shorter works on their own with Kindle. I imagine that a lot of this deals with the cost; you can’t cost-effectively sell a short story in paperback and somebody buying a tiny short story for $3.59 (assuming you don’t mind selling it without earning any royalties) is going to feel like they were ripped off (theoretically you could sell it for $2.69 in the CreateSpace marketplace without earning any royalties but then they have to pay a few dollars in shipping too!)  The minimum cost for a printed book in CreateSpace is $2.15 and you have to price it with a 40% royalty on top of that to Amazon.  On Kindle, however, you can sell the same story for $0.99 cents or even $2.99 and it doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad deal.
  2. It’s easier to consume longer works on the Kindle. I know that for some books, I’d still rather have a physical book, but a lot of that is because I only have a Kindle3 e-ink and if I had a Kindle Fire I might consider books with a lot of full color photos on Kindle instead of as a physical book. In fact, I just finished reading the latest Tim Ferriss book, 4-Hour Chef, this morning.  My reading time was limited by the sheer mass of the book…it was too big to travel with, or to read anywhere where I was trying to lay back. A Kindle is much lighter, so especially for books that are mostly text (most books) a lot of readers prefer having the small form factor.
  3. As mentioned above, some books are better suited to print. Workbooks, full-color artistic books or books with a lot of diagrams, tables or fine detail in the artwork – these are probably better in print. Some people will still rather have them digitally, however, especially as e-reading devices get better.
  4. Some people collect – and physical books are better for collecting than digital books. Especially people that want signed copies of books. It’s hard to sign a digital book.
  5. Some people want to avoid clutter – and digital books are better for eliminating or avoiding clutter.

Since it’s so cheap to hit both avenues, I usually would opt to distribute in both marketplaces. If you make sure that the books are mapped together in Amazon, then reviews for a digital version will appear on the physical and vice versa.  If I’m testing, then I’ll usually opt for Kindle-only at first, because it is a bit easier and faster, and you can try different mediums (short works as single titles, multiple short works as a collection of titles, a single title with all of a group of short works, etc.)  Once I have a better idea for a marketplace, I can roll out a physical book.

Of course, for UBC-style books, I usually go physical first and often stay physical, since the point of those is to have something to hand people. One of my clients, we started with physical books because he probably still doesn’t understand what kindle is other than that I send him a royalty check every month and that half the money from it is from the digital sales.

But, I guess the best advice I can give is to test your market and respond accordingly.

Can I get library distribution with my own ISBN number?

Even if you have your own ISBN numbers and you want to have the book available for libraries then you’d need to use a CreateSpace ISBN as that is a stipulation for that channel of expanded distribution. How likely are libraries to be to purchase a copy? Standard distribution and expanded distribution (with the exception of libraries and academics) are all fine with your own ISBN; it would only be limited by that one distribution channel.

The only way around that limitation is to not use CreateSpace for expanded distribution and to go with another service, such as Lightning Source or Ingram Spark.

If you are not going to promote your book heavily to libraries, you can make your book available through CreateSpace with expanded distribution and if it happens, then that’s a bonus. If your strategy will include a lot of promotions to libraries (or book stores) then you should dual publish to both CreateSpace (and to turn off expanded distribution) and also to Ingram Spark (or to Lightening Source if you have a large enough catalog.)

Your Amazon sales will be sold through CreateSpace, and all other sales will be made through IS or LS. This will give you a higher profit margin and more professional appearance.

Can I set my book to it’s lowest price and order through Amazon Prime?

Sometimes, you want your books faster, or think you can get faster shipping for a cheaper price, or want to try to “bump” your sales ranking using purchases from Amazon. I don’t see any problem with that and am not aware of any conflicts with the terms of service of either Amazon or CreateSpace (although I haven’t looked into them specifically for that information.) For shipping considerations, I considered doing that myself until I realized that I didn’t really need to.

CreateSpace prints & ships from North Charleston, South Carolina so depending on where you live you’ll probably get the books much earlier than they predict on their website, especially if you live in the Eastern half of the United States. You can plug in 29418 to UPS to see what their estimated ship times would be – you’ll have to guess on the weight, but I know that when I buy 20 books it’s usually about a 9 pound box. Living in Maine, I usually get the books in about 3-4 days, and when I order for a client in Tennessee, it takes 2-3 days, with standard shipping from CreateSpace.

If you are purchasing from Amazon and taking advantage of “free” 2 day shipping using Amazon Prime, then you have to figure that your 40% cut from the list price is what you are actually paying for shipping. The production costs remain the same in both cases. It could potentially save you quite a bit if you are ordering a lot of copies of your book and you need them right away (Amazon allows you to order up to 30 copies in one order) but in most cases it will still cost you more than ordering with standard shipping.

For example, one of my books has a product cost of $3.17 and the lowest I can price it at and have it listed at Amazon is $5.29 (which results in my not receiving a royalty.) Here are the costs with the different shipping methods that I have available:

  • $2.12 (per copy) w/2 day delivery through Amazon Prime (any quantity)
  • $0.46 (per copy) w/5 day delivery through CreateSpace-Standard (at 50 copies)
  • $1.00 (per copy) w/2 day delivery through CreateSpace-Expedited (at 50 copies)
  • $2.26 (per copy) w/1 day delivery through CreateSpace-Priority (at 50 copies)
  • $2.12 (per copy) w/1 day delivery through CreateSpace-Priority (at 109 copies)

Unless I’m ordering 110 or more copies through CreateSpace and need guaranteed next day delivery, it doesn’t make sense to use the Amazon trick. Remember that I can get the books in 3 or 4 days (including production) at standard shipping where I live, and obviously your books will be a different number of pages and potentially a different trim size, but in general it doesn’t make sense to use Amazon Prime.

If you just want to pad your sales numbers, well, I wouldn’t bother; it’s an expensive way to do so, it will only last for a short period of time, and it’s a little like gaming the system. Even if you won’t be penalized now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t wise up to it in the future and ignore your purchase anyway, so I wouldn’t use that as a reason for pulling the Amazon Prime trick.

Can I transfer a client’s book from my account to a new account in CreateSpace?

I reached out to customer support at CreateSpace, so here’s their official stance:

  1. You can not transfer a title from one CS account to another.
  2. You can retire a title in one account and set it up in another account – this will create a new title on Amazon.
  3. Technically, you can not use the same ISBN on the new title. If using a CS-assigned ISBN, you definitely can not. If you use your own ISBN then the support rep I spoke with said he could make a one-time exception to allow the same ISBN to be used which would allow you to keep from creating a new page at Amazon and losing your reviews.

So…you technically can transfer a title if you use your own ISBN or don’t care if you lose your reviews by setting up a new page. Another option that you can use is to retire your title and create a second edition of the book in the new account. You can then contact support and have them link the two books so that people will see the new edition of the book and it will make more sense to readers on the site the difference between the two listings. They’ll still be two different titles (technically) but it will be obvious folks should get the new version.

Personally, if I thought it likely that I’d want to move the book, then I would just set up a new account under the other person’s name. You used to be able to have multiple accounts at CreateSpace but they changed their TOS to not really allow that – so you will need to use a different SSN or EID when setting up the new account. (As far as I know there’s nothing to stop you from using the same information and just having a separate account, but it is usually a good idea to comply with a site’s TOS to avoid problems in the future.)

No matter what you decide to do, if you set up an Author Central account for this book, I’d set up a distinct one from your account under that person’s name.  You can create up to 3 pen names under one account, but I prefer to keep client books separate from my own where possible, and in Author Central there’s nothing wrong with having a new account under that person’s name so that it doesn’t co-mingle with your own books.

Can I use CreateSpace to print books that contain Chinese (or other non-Latin) characters?

First, I’ll preface this with the knowledge that I don’t have any experience with alphabets other than the Latin one; in fact, I’ve only worked on one book that wasn’t in English (a Spanish translation of an English book.)

For uploading to CreateSpace, I’d always provide print-ready PDF files; if you can avoid the printer from having to make decisions about how to print your book, you will be better off.

As for using the Chinese or other alphabets and characters, you should be able to embed them into the PDF document. In fact, I just called their customer support line to verify, and as long as you submit a PDF w/all of the relevant fonts embedded in the file then it will print however you set it up in your PDF so that should not be a problem.

Do quality books stand out in CreateSpace?

I don’t actually sell any of my books through CreateSpace, so I can’t speak about their marketplace specifically and personally wouldn’t worry about it.

For Amazon, it doesn’t matter if the book is created by CreateSpace or not. If the book is amateurish and poorly constructed, it’s going to get bad reviews. If it’s a quality book, then people won’t even notice, it’ll just be the way that it is. Unless you smack people in the face with the “this book is self-published!” dogma, most people won’t even know (or care) if a book was printed by CreateSpace or somewhere else.

Exceptions might be for specialty books (such as full color photo books – with which I don’t have any experience yet) that may or may not print as well, but for standard black & white trade paperbacks, people won’t know or care where it was printed as long as it is easy to read and doesn’t fall apart.

Does CreateSpace charge different amounts for different trim sizes?

Price-wise, there is currently no difference in price for the various trim sizes, and you can verify it directly with the sizes that you are thinking about on their “Buying Copies” tab for their book publishing info page.

The price to ship from CreateSpace is the same no matter the trim size. All that matters there is where you are shipping your books and is based on quantity. Click here for their rate table.

How do I increase the resolution of my images so CreateSpace won’t complain?

Resolution is basically the number of dots (for print) or pixels (for screen) per inch; if you want to increase the resolution from 72 to 240 or 300 dpi, then you can do that in some image editing software. However, if you don’t at the same time make the image smaller then you will lose some quality in the image and it may not print as well.

In general, I ignore the CreateSpace warnings about image quality and just do my best to put an image that will print well into the document, and then tweak it if necessary after receiving a proof copy and I see how it actually looks.

Generally speaking, I’ll figure out what the size of my image is going to be on the page, and will edit the image to be that size before inserting it into the document. For the sake of easy math, if I have a 720×720 pixel screenshot at 72 dpi, then it would take up about 10 square inches of real estate on my screen at actual zoom and the height and width would be the same as 10 inches by 10 inches. If I change the pixels per inch to 300, and want to maintain the same quality, then I can have up to a 2.4 by 2.4 inch image in the print book. Anything larger, and I’m potentially losing quality.

Many images will print just fine at a lower quality, however, so the best method is really to put the image into your document, ignore the warnings, and to order a physical proof to see what the image looks like when you are holding it in your hands. Even if you do have high resolution images, it isn’t guaranteed to look good when you print it in black & white using Amazon’s printers, so it’s worth looking over every image carefully.

How do I insert images into my CreateSpace books?

All you need to do is insert the illustration into your Word Document and then save it as PDF. A few things that you’ll want to bear in mind, though:

  • Your illustration should be as high of a DPI as you can make it, ideally 200-300 dpi. (Anything less than 300 will probably raise a warning from CreateSpace, but will usually print fine even if you have a lower dots per inch.)
  • Make sure that when you insert your images into Word that you are including the file itself and not just a link to the file. (Make sure that “Link to File” is not checked when inserting your images.)
How do I make sure that my fonts appear in my book?

When you create your PDF document, it will record what font you are using so that CreateSpace can use it when printing your book. If it is a font that they have in house, then it will work no matter what, but a better idea is to embed the font into your PDF so that CreateSpace will have access to it and to make sure that they have the same version of it that you want to use.

How you embed fonts depends upon how you create your PDF files. If you use printer driver software (as the person who originally asked this question does) then it will depend upon the software if they have the ability to embed the fonts or not. You’ll need to consult that software’s support. If you just create your PDF files directly in Microsoft Word, then it’s quite easy to embed your fonts; click here for directions from CreateSpace on how to do that.

Is there a difference between .doc and .docx, and which should I upload to CreateSpace?

There is a difference between .doc and .docx files, but it is mostly a behind-the-scenes technical one that really isn’t too important for the end user. For compatibility with collaborators (other writers, editors, etc.) you should try to save your files in the more modern .docx format when given a choice.

For uploading to CreateSpace, I’d always provide print-ready PDF files and would not try uploading any kind of Word Documents; if you can avoid the printer from having to make decisions about how to print your book, you will be better off.

Should I use color for my children’s books? What does Jay do?

Color is much more expensive, and from Jay’s experience is much less consistent than black & white.  Basically, if your market can bear a price where you can make a profit with the higher production costs, or if a profit is less of a concern and you’re still able to price competitively, then it doesn’t hurt to test things out and won’t cost anything more than your time and a proof or two.

Your ability to price your book competitively will depend upon the minimum you can put your book onto the Amazon Marketplace for without receiving a royalty; namely, you can not price your book lower than 5/3 of the cost to produce the book because 40% of the retail price is reserved for Amazon’s cut so you need to be able to cover the cost to print the book in at a minimum 60% of the retail price. Multiplying the cost to print by 5/3 is the same as multiplying the retail price by 60%.

The cheapest that you can print a color children’s book (full color with bleed at 8.25″ x 8.25″) is $3.65 and that will cover between 24 and 40 pages. That means that you can’t get it put onto Amazon for less than $6.08. If your market can bear a children’s book priced at $6.08 or higher, then you could conceivably put your book onto Amazon. If you don’t plan to sell through Amazon but only want to sell through other markets, then you only have to cover $3.65 plus whatever it costs to ship each book.

For comparisons sake, a similar book in black & white could be anywhere between 24 and 108 pages and would only cost $2.15 to produce and could be priced as low as $3.59 and still appear in Amazon’s marketplace. That’s less than the cost just to produce a color book at potentially 4½ times the page count.

As for Jay’s books, he’s only now putting his children’s books into print, and has concentrated on Kindle up to this point.  However, his books aren’t full-color children’s books, they’re basically a regular book that deals with childish material and includes images that are basically black & white already (the small bit of color used in his images isn’t really necessary – if you use the “look inside” feature for his Fart Book you’ll see what I mean.)

Note that you still get a full color cover even if you have a black & white book, so for him it doesn’t make sense to print in color anyway.

What are some simple tips for making my book look good?

You want to appear professional, and there are some standards that apply to the reading experience that may be little things in and of themselves, but readers will notice them (even if they can’t tell what it is they are noticing) and will be able to tell if a book wasn’t professionally produced.  So, here’s some simple tips that are really easy to implement in your book to make it more professional that your competitors may not even think of (which means you’ll have a higher quality product!)

  • Always justify the prose in your books. Obviously, chapter headings, title pages, items in the header and footer of your book may have different styles, but for the main reading experience you want to have your pages justified.  Unfortunately, Microsoft Word doesn’t do a very good job at this; it does a passable job, but it won’t automatically hyphenate words to prevent large spaces from entering your lines between words so depending on how thorough you want to be in the final typesetting phase, it may be worth looking for those unnatural spaces. Leaving them in isn’t the end of the world, however, and they’re more likely to be ignored or missed than if you left-justify your book.
  • Remember that odd pages are always on the right! Page 1 should be the first page of your book (which should not include the front-matter!) and that it should always be on the right side and followed by pages 2 and 3, then 4 and 5, etc. Even on the left, odd on the right. Microsoft Word doesn’t have an option for viewing your book this way, but after exporting a PDF you can usually view it like that to make sure everything looks right.
  • Don’t forget to include the front matter before the start of your book…at a minimum put in a Title page (which should be on the right) and a copyright page (which should be on the left, usually the page right after the title page.)  Optionally, you can also include testimonials (which I normally put before the title page), a table of contents (after the copyright page) and/or a dedication (which I normally put right before the actual start of the book.) Use a section break and reset your page numbers after the last page of your front matter so that your book starts on page 1.
  • Watch your blank pages: There should never be a blank page on an odd (right hand) page, and they should be blank – there should not be a page number or header or footer on the page. You can accomplish this using the “Page Break – Odd Page” option in Word to skip to the next right hand page automatically after the end of each chapter and after your front matter.
  • Make good use of white space and include ample margins, especially in the gutter of the book, which is the space in the middle where the book is bound (the right hand side of even pages, and the left hand side of odd pages.)  At a minimum make sure that there’s enough room to keep print from becoming hidden in the binding or by somebody’s fingers as they hold the edges of the book.
  • Be consistent…and this is a big difficulty with Microsoft Word. Apply styles to everything and resist the urge to change the font for a section manually – that way you can update the entire book at once by updating the style’s font. Try to limit yourself to 2 fonts in the interior of the book without a good reason, one for the chapter headings and one for the body of the book. Make sure that any headings or page numbering that you apply appear the same on every page, not including front or back matter or blank pages.
  • Use proper case – sentence case for the body of your work (an initial cap followed by all lowercase letters except for proper nouns and acroynms) and title case for all titles, subtitles, chapter headings and subheads (an initial capital for each word except for short prepositions.)

That may seem like a lot, but after a book or two it will be second nature and it can help the appearance of your book a lot.  If you follow the above rules, most people may not even realize your book isn’t self-published even if they are looking for that sort of thing.

Will special characters such as ü, ö ß, ä, etc. work with KDP and CreateSpace?

Accented characters aren’t a problem with either KDP or CreateSpace.  For CreateSpace, make sure that the font you are using is embedded into the PDF and it will definitely print just fine. For Kindle, make sure you test your book using Kindle Previewer because sometimes they can get mangled; I’ve actually written myself a little script that will replace accented or special characters with their HTML equivalents (it changes 119 special characters, so a u with a diaereses – ü – would actually be written ü instead in my document, for example.) I’m still trying to work out when kindlegen will mangle the letters and when it won’t; usually something that comes straight out of WordCrusher is okay, but if I edit it in my favorite text editor on my Mac then it almost always mangles the special characters.

International

Are there any other Apex Authors in ______?

There are other students from around the world, but I don’t have access to the buyer’s list, and if I did have access I wouldn’t be able to tell you who is in your area due to privacy concerns.

If you want to network with others in your area, your best bet is to put a note up in the Apex Authors Facebook Group and ask in there if anybody in the 10K Book Formula are from your country or time zone or state or region. Folks are more than welcome to volunteer their own information.

How do I stop CreateSpace from withholding 30% of my royalties?

If you don’t live in the United States, then CreateSpace will withhold 30% of your royalties for tax purposes. This can be a bit excessive!

I don’t have any experience with this as I live in the United States, but there have been a few methods in various programs that I’ve seen for getting an EIN (employer identification number) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which allows you to avoid the withholding or to at least limit it to whatever the trade agreement is with your country.

One of the methods seems to be much more efficient than the others, and from the folks I’ve spoken with that have done this they’ve managed to get everything taken care of with a 10 minute skype call (about 25 cents!) although one person did have to call back to speak to a second agent after the first wasn’t willing to help him out for some reason.

  1. Call the IRS at 1-267-941-1099
  2. Ask for an EIN (employer identification number, equivalent to a federal tax identification number) – they can issue this over the phone
  3. You will need the Tax File Number you use in your country
  4. After receiving your EIN, fill out a W-8BEN form and send it to CreateSpace (click here for instructions on how to fill out the form)
Is there anything I need to worry about for collecting & paying international royalties?

If you are going to set up a book for a client in your own KDP account and will be paying them royalties for what they sell, make sure you charge some sort of premium on it. You have the additional book keeping, potential tax liability, and the extra task to complete each month.

I currently have one client that I pay royalties to on a monthly basis, and I wish that I’d set it up so that I only had to pay him once per quarter.

Make sure you keep good records for how much money you are collecting and paying out, and remember that while CreateSpace pays out on a net 30 at the end of the month, KDP pays out net 60 at the end of the month, so you are looking at potentially 90 days between the sale of a book and getting paid for it.

I’m not familiar with any sort of issues between the different countries but I haven’t had international clients yet so I don’t know if there are any specific gotchas that you need to watch out for. It’s probably worth talking to your attorney or accountant and getting things set up ahead of time properly. For example, Amazon holds 30 or 35% of the royalties for taxes unless they have the tax documentation from international sellers, so if they are going to be selling a lot of copies of their books you’ll need to make sure that you are not getting stuck with their tax bill.

Should I print through Lightning Source instead of CreateSpace?

Lightning Source can be a good resource, although Jay has no experience with them at all and while I’ve looked into them I haven’t used them yet, so we can’t get into much in the way of specifics. I’m going to share an email I received from Jill after our last training webinar that shares most of the details:

Hi Blaine,

I mentioned Lightning Source in the chat box on Wednesday. They are a huge competitor of CS! In fact, these two are always with war with each other – and at the same time, they have to make deals with each other because both are so big. LS is owned by Ingrams, the largest distributor of books in the world, and also the largest distributor to libraries. Because of their database, any tiny or large bookstore can order even POD books from them if someone goes into the store and asks for it, and the minute there is an order, that book goes into the public global database, even if it’s POD. POD books sold exclusively through Amazon and CS don’t enjoy that benefit.

Many, many of my clients print with LS. Many also print with CS. In my experience, LS is a notch above CS in quality. CS is just fine for books that they don’t format. Their formatting services are terrible. I have had clients hire me for editing and then get a CS package for book layout and printing, and there are so many nightmares. One client had a proof sent to me to check (I only edited the book) and the first half of the book was actually someone else’s book, and the second half was my client’s. But that is one of the many stories I could tell.

BUT if the book design is done by a professional outside of the CS program, the stakes are much higher that you will have good results. So for the books being done in this course, with you doing the layout, or people doing their own, they should be fine.

CS has fewer paper options than LS. Neither has a very good reputation in printing and binding color books, but perhaps they will improve, because color is relatively new for both of them.

One more thing: In order to take advantage of both CS being owned by Amazon.com and LS being owned by Ingrams, many people sign up first with CS and use a unique ISBN for these publications because CS demands a unique ISBN. Then they go and create an account with LS and publish through them using a different ISBN. There is no trouble with this. It’s exactly the same book. It’s just working around the Amazon/CS bullying system. Then, even when orders are made through Amazon, Amazon has been known to order from LS as well as CS!

The drawback with LS is that you can’t make revisions as freely, because each time you upload a new version or a corrected version, they charge you $40, so it’s actually a good idea to go with CS first and get all the kinks out and then sign with LS.

Hope this helps you and everyone.

All the best,

Jill

Here is my response to Jill:

I haven’t heard of any problems with LS first and then CS; Amazon is generally happy to have the business. But, I haven’t used LS for much up to this point since the time I was looking into them was right before Amazon stopped treating them as favorably as they had been. If you are going to use your own ISBN anyway, then you can still go with CS first, but in that case I wouldn’t use a CS-assigned ISBN so that you can future-proof your book. (And, if you do have your own ISBN, it’s generally better to use it.)

CreateSpace also has printers in the UK, although you can’t order directly from them. They’re used if somebody purchases a CreateSpace through Amazon’s European properties. For those looking to make direct purchases, that could be a viable option; I hadn’t looked at the printing locations for LS before.

I will say again that we can’t really talk about the specifics of using Lightning Source, but you can learn a lot of information from their website and contacting their customer service, and if you do want to make use of them I’d recommend reading a book called POD For Profit by Aaron Shepherd. I don’t agree with everything in his book (and it is a bit dated, at least the version that I’ve read) but it does describe the process of using Lightning Source pretty well.

Just bear in mind that now that Amazon is comfortable with CreateSpace they have definitely downgraded how they treat books provided from Lightning Source, so if you plan to sell through Amazon I’d also create the book through CreateSpace. Most of your settings will still work but the bleeds and cover sizes do vary a bit so you will have to customize a little, and even if you are going with CreateSpace first you should still use your own ISBN if you plan to work with Lightning Source because you can not use your CreateSpace-assigned ISBN with any other printers.

Note that Lightning Source has now created a sister company, Ingram Spark, which offers many of the same features but is slightly more user-friendly and does not require as large of a catalog of books to get started.

Should I purchase ISBNs or should I use the free CreateSpace ISBNs?

There are a few considerations when deciding whether you want to purchase your own ISBNs or not. First, if you want to save money and only plan on selling your books through CreateSpace and Kindle, then there is no reason not to just use the CreateSpace ISBNs other than for vanity reasons.

Having your own ISBN number is useful if you want to have your publishing company listed in Amazon. You can always list your own publishing company on the title page and copyright page of your book, but if you want libraries or for the listing on your Amazon sales page to have your publishing company then you will need to have your own ISBN. For most people, using the create space ISBN number will not be very visible and will serve their purposes fine without having to spend any money.

The cost of an ISBN very is widely depending upon what country you live in. If you live in Canada, for example, then you can get your ISBN numbers for free because registration is handled by the government. If you don’t mind spending a little time registering them, then you may as well take advantage of that program. In the United States, ISBN numbers cost between $125 for one and $1 each for 1000 ISBN numbers. In Australia, it costs $42 for one ISBN or $2.82 each if you buy 1000 ISBN numbers. You can determine where you purchase your ISBN numbers by choosing your country at the International ISBN Agency’s website.

If you ever plan on selling your books anywhere other than on Amazon, then you will not be able to use your CreateSpace ISBN number. The platform that you use may or may not provide its own free ISBN number, but if your book is one addition then it makes sense to have the same ISBN number for all places that it is being printed. In that case, you’ll probably want to purchase your own ISBN numbers.

If you are publishing multiple editions of your book, you will need a different ISBN number for each addition. For example, a hardcover and softcover book will each need their own ISBN number, as well as the audible version of the book and the e-book version. If you are only selling your e-book version through Kindle, then you will not need an ISBN number at all as Amazon does not require it.

There is definitely value in having your own ISBN numbers for branding your publishing company. However, when you are starting out it is not something that is a very high priority. I would recommend holding off purchasing your ISBN numbers until you have a lot of business and it makes more sense for your publishing company. You may find that you don’t need to purchase them at all; John and Jay have not purchased their own ISBN numbers yet and they have hundreds of books for sale on the Amazon marketplace.

Should I still use CreateSpace if I don’t live in the United States or Europe?

For books that you want to sell through Amazon, then yes, you should still use CreateSpace. They offer a standard distribution in the United States and a European distribution option that you can enable, both for free, and books sold on Amazon in Europe will print and ship from Great Britain or other European printing centers so you can hit those areas of the world relatively easily.

Unfortunately, proofs and member orders placed through CreateSpace still ship from the United States, so you can’t take advantage of the cheaper and shorter shipping options.

For your Ultimate Business Card types of books, if you live in Australia (for example) you can still use CreateSpace for your own books at a net cost of an additional $2.50 per book if you purchase 50 or more (marginally less if you purchase more than that) and are willing to wait for a month or so before they arrive. In this case, it’s better to keep your book relatively simple and to proof your book digitally or by printing it on your own computer to catch as many errors as possible before having them printed rather than relying on a proof arriving, or to find a partner in the United States that would be willing to proof your book for you and to ship it to them. This could be very helpful when it comes to proofing your cover, as that would be the most difficult part to handle on your own without seeing what CreateSpace does with the book.

If you live somewhere other than Australia, such as in Asia or Africa, then you can check the shipping rates and expected shipping times for your country at the CreateSpace Book Shipping Rates page, which can be useful even if you live in the United States for calculating shipping costs for clients.

For the services that you offer to clients, you could still use CreateSpace for everything and just handle the purchase of books for the client, and change the offer from “on demand” to requiring a purchase of 50 or more books at any given time with the expectation that there will be an additional time built in for receiving physical copies of their book. You could use that time to upsell them on digital options…

What I would recommend, though, is to find a local company that can create Print on Demand (POD) books and to work with them for your local copies you want on hand while still distributing the main book through CreateSpace and Amazon.

I am not familiar with any international printing companies, but if you have experience with some then please email me and let me know your experiences; I’ll try to compile a list that people can reference.

Should I still use CreateSpace if I live in Europe?

For books that you want to sell through Amazon, then yes, you should still use CreateSpace. They offer a standard distribution in the United States and a European distribution option that you can enable, both for free, and books sold on Amazon in Europe will print and ship from Great Britain or other European printing centers.

Unfortunately, proofs and member orders placed through CreateSpace still ship from the United States, so you can’t take advantage of the cheaper and shorter shipping unless you purchase your books directly from Amazon European sites.

That means you will either pay more for your books that you want to have on hand by purchasing directly from Amazon or purchasing expedited shipping, or you’ll have to wait (in some cases a lot) longer for your books to arrive, and depending on where you live you’ll have to wait longer and pay more.

You can check the shipping rates and expected shipping times for your country at the CreateSpace Book Shipping Rates page, which can be useful even if you live in the United States for calculating shipping costs for clients.

Depending upon your time constraints and budget, it may make sense to find a local company that can create Print on Demand (POD) books and to work with them for your local copies you want on hand while still distributing the main book through CreateSpace and Amazon.

I am not familiar with any international printing companies, but if you have experience with some then please email me and let me know your experiences; I’ll try to compile a list that people can reference.

When do I need to use a new ISBN number for my books?

I just think that it’s a shame that the United States isn’t as forward thinking as some other countries (such as Canada) which provide them for free.  Bowker’s goal seems to be to keep small players priced out of the market, which is why there is such a deep discount on higher quantities of ISBN numbers. Any advice that they give you is going to be the advice that results in the maximum quantity of ISBN numbers used within the rules of the international standards.

If you change the cover, you do not need a new ISBN since the text did not change. If you change the title then you do need a new ISBN as that is considered a new work.  You only need to issue a new ISBN if you make substantial changes to the text of the book, which would result in a new edition; a common guideline would be changes of between 15-20% of the work. So, correcting typos is considered a reprint and would be the same ISBN number; adding a few chapters of new material and revising existing material would be a new edition and would need a new ISBN number.

For me personally, I would not issue a new ISBN number if the content of the book remains the same and you are only changing front or back matter, especially if it is marketing text and not something relevant to the work (such as an index or glossary.)  Generally speaking, it won’t make any difference which version of the book you buy if you only change a list of other books that the person should purchase, so it should not need a new ISBN.  It’s just a reprint with some fixes, basically.

For electronic editions, there are two schools of thought. Each e-book edition (MOBI, PDF, EPub, HTML, DOC, etc)  should technically receive it’s own ISBN number because the supply chain would need to uniquely identify each edition in order to ensure that a reader’s device is receiving a format that it can read. This would be similar to the need for different bindings to receive their own ISBN number in print (i.e. softcover vs hardcover.)  Some folks are of the mind that you should have a separate ISBN for electronic editions but that you can use the same ISBN for each electronic format and not worry about it.

The International ISBN Agency ruled in February of 2010 that it makes the most sense from a supply chain point of view for each format to have their own ISBN number, but that there’s a need for a separate number for tracking individual releases of the same book across formats. For me personally, when I begin expanding into markets where I need an ISBN number, I’m going to play it safe and assign a new ISBN to each format, but my distribution strategy is still going to only require 2-3 ISBN numbers per book.

My suggestion would be to have an ISBN number for your paperback version, a separate ISBN for your hardcover version (if you create one), and one for your ePub version. You don’t need an ISBN for Kindle as there are very few devices that read MOBI instead of ePub these days and Amazon is basically the only marketplace for them that I am likely to use, and so there is no need for a separate ISBN as Amazon provides you with an ASIN to uniquely identify the book.  Having an ISBN for the ePub edition, that book can then be distributed through the networks that require one.

Your copyright page should include the ISBN number for the edition of the book that the read is holding, but to simplify matters I would recommend including all relevant ISBNs that you assign to that book (denoting which edition receives which ISBN number) so that it would be one less piece of data to update and maintain between editions and avoids the error of including the wrong ISBN and not having the correct one listed.

Kindle

Are ebooks that are primarily photos frowned upon, or are they ok?

There’s nothing wrong with picture books, but you need to be careful how you format the captions – if you embed them into the image they can be difficult to read, and if you separate them then you need to be mindful of the reader’s experience across different devices.

If you format by hand following the KF8 guidelines you can actually do some really cool things, but you need to know some advanced HTML tactics. For example, you can include clickable text that appears in the right place in the image but which gets larger and appears in a popover if you click on it (kindle fire only), or format a full comic book on the kindle.

The other problem you’ll run into with large images is that you need to make sure that they are optimized so that your files aren’t too large, otherwise your profits will get eaten away by the delivery costs.

Are there different demographics between Kindle & CreateSpace purchasers?

This is another question where the real answer is going to be niche-specific. Just because people in one niche prefer buying kindle books doesn’t mean that even the same person wouldn’t prefer a physical book in another niche.

That said, some broad generalities that I’ve noticed in the niches I’ve been in and that I suspect hold relatively true for most:

  1. It’s easier to sell shorter works on their own with Kindle. I imagine that a lot of this deals with the cost; you can’t cost-effectively sell a short story in paperback and somebody buying a tiny short story for $3.59 (assuming you don’t mind selling it without earning any royalties) is going to feel like they were ripped off (theoretically you could sell it for $2.69 in the CreateSpace marketplace without earning any royalties but then they have to pay a few dollars in shipping too!)  The minimum cost for a printed book in CreateSpace is $2.15 and you have to price it with a 40% royalty on top of that to Amazon.  On Kindle, however, you can sell the same story for $0.99 cents or even $2.99 and it doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad deal.
  2. It’s easier to consume longer works on the Kindle. I know that for some books, I’d still rather have a physical book, but a lot of that is because I only have a Kindle3 e-ink and if I had a Kindle Fire I might consider books with a lot of full color photos on Kindle instead of as a physical book. In fact, I just finished reading the latest Tim Ferriss book, 4-Hour Chef, this morning.  My reading time was limited by the sheer mass of the book…it was too big to travel with, or to read anywhere where I was trying to lay back. A Kindle is much lighter, so especially for books that are mostly text (most books) a lot of readers prefer having the small form factor.
  3. As mentioned above, some books are better suited to print. Workbooks, full-color artistic books or books with a lot of diagrams, tables or fine detail in the artwork – these are probably better in print. Some people will still rather have them digitally, however, especially as e-reading devices get better.
  4. Some people collect – and physical books are better for collecting than digital books. Especially people that want signed copies of books. It’s hard to sign a digital book.
  5. Some people want to avoid clutter – and digital books are better for eliminating or avoiding clutter.

Since it’s so cheap to hit both avenues, I usually would opt to distribute in both marketplaces. If you make sure that the books are mapped together in Amazon, then reviews for a digital version will appear on the physical and vice versa.  If I’m testing, then I’ll usually opt for Kindle-only at first, because it is a bit easier and faster, and you can try different mediums (short works as single titles, multiple short works as a collection of titles, a single title with all of a group of short works, etc.)  Once I have a better idea for a marketplace, I can roll out a physical book.

Of course, for UBC-style books, I usually go physical first and often stay physical, since the point of those is to have something to hand people. One of my clients, we started with physical books because he probably still doesn’t understand what kindle is other than that I send him a royalty check every month and that half the money from it is from the digital sales.

But, I guess the best advice I can give is to test your market and respond accordingly.

Can I change my book or content if I’m enrolled in KDP Select?

You can make updates to the file the same as you would if they weren’t in KDP Select. You can even remove your book from being live and take it out of availability if you wanted, but whatever changes you make, you are still limited to keeping that book exclusive to Amazon for the 90 day enrollment and can not distribute the book electronically anywhere else.

Can you update links to Kindle without taking your book down?

There are two ways you can go about handling links and new content.

If you want to make a change to your book, you never have to take a link down, you just upload a new version and it will go live as soon as it is approved by Amazon. The old copy will continue to be sold in the meantime.

The good thing about that is that you can continually sell your book and feel free to fix typos and make updates (such as links to other books) as you go along. The unfortunate part of that is that your customers may never receive the updates; Amazon won’t always push changes to a customer’s Kindle unless you make pretty sweeping changes and you have to specifically ask them to change it. Even then, if the person got your book off of a free promotion or through the lending library, they may not get the updates at all, even if they delete the book and try to force Amazon to push a new version out to them.

So, the two methods available to you:

  1. You can publish your book without the links, and just upload new updates as they become available.
  2. You can publish your book with links, and either put filler “coming soon” type content in place or redirect folks to a “coming soon” type of page and just update the redirect once that content is actually available.

I personally use a combination of the two. I will almost always have a domain name set up for a book before it gets to the stage where I’m ready to upload to Kindle, so I will usually install WordPress and use a plugin such as Pretty Links Lite to create redirects. For ALL links that go into the book, I’ll set up a redirect using Pretty Links so that I can control where folks are going. This allows me to count the clicks so I know what kind of engagement I’m getting, and also lets me fix links even for folks that already downloaded the book without uploading a change to KDP.

Alternatively, I might just create a resources page and have all the links go to that page, which then lists all of the relevant links on it, so I only need to maintain one link from the book and one page of links from my website. This is my go-to method when a book has a lot of affiliate links so that I don’t run afoul of the no-affiliate links rule in the KDP terms of service; technically, a redirect is probably okay, but I know that they won’t have a problem if the only link is to a resources page and then the affiliate links appear there. (Just be sure to be honest on your resources page and disclose that you may have a financial or other interest in the links.)

So, that’s what I do for any links I know I’ll be using up front when putting the book together, even if the links are not 100% ready by the time I publish the book. I’ll then push out updates when I publish new books in a series to cross promote; if multiple books are coming out at the same time, I’ll use the redirect method so that they can cross promote right away and just spend my time obsessively checking for when they go live to get each book’s URL so that the redirect links work as soon as possible, preferably before anybody actually purchases it.

How do I combine text and images in a children’s book for Kindle?

You have a few options depending upon the type of children’s book you are making. The easiest way is to follow Jay’s model…he has quite a few books in the “Fart Books” (and now the family avengers) series which is basically a chapter heading followed by an image followed by the text for that chapter (or the text and then the image) which we then use WordCrusher or the Book Format Rocket to make the actual kindle book out of the word document. Use the Look Inside feature here to see exactly how it’s formatted.

If you want the text to overlay the images and create a fully illustrated children’s book, then use the Kindle Kids Book Creator to create your books.

What are some simple tips for making my book look good?

You want to appear professional, and there are some standards that apply to the reading experience that may be little things in and of themselves, but readers will notice them (even if they can’t tell what it is they are noticing) and will be able to tell if a book wasn’t professionally produced.  So, here’s some simple tips that are really easy to implement in your book to make it more professional that your competitors may not even think of (which means you’ll have a higher quality product!)

  • Always justify the prose in your books. Obviously, chapter headings, title pages, items in the header and footer of your book may have different styles, but for the main reading experience you want to have your pages justified.  Unfortunately, Microsoft Word doesn’t do a very good job at this; it does a passable job, but it won’t automatically hyphenate words to prevent large spaces from entering your lines between words so depending on how thorough you want to be in the final typesetting phase, it may be worth looking for those unnatural spaces. Leaving them in isn’t the end of the world, however, and they’re more likely to be ignored or missed than if you left-justify your book.
  • Remember that odd pages are always on the right! Page 1 should be the first page of your book (which should not include the front-matter!) and that it should always be on the right side and followed by pages 2 and 3, then 4 and 5, etc. Even on the left, odd on the right. Microsoft Word doesn’t have an option for viewing your book this way, but after exporting a PDF you can usually view it like that to make sure everything looks right.
  • Don’t forget to include the front matter before the start of your book…at a minimum put in a Title page (which should be on the right) and a copyright page (which should be on the left, usually the page right after the title page.)  Optionally, you can also include testimonials (which I normally put before the title page), a table of contents (after the copyright page) and/or a dedication (which I normally put right before the actual start of the book.) Use a section break and reset your page numbers after the last page of your front matter so that your book starts on page 1.
  • Watch your blank pages: There should never be a blank page on an odd (right hand) page, and they should be blank – there should not be a page number or header or footer on the page. You can accomplish this using the “Page Break – Odd Page” option in Word to skip to the next right hand page automatically after the end of each chapter and after your front matter.
  • Make good use of white space and include ample margins, especially in the gutter of the book, which is the space in the middle where the book is bound (the right hand side of even pages, and the left hand side of odd pages.)  At a minimum make sure that there’s enough room to keep print from becoming hidden in the binding or by somebody’s fingers as they hold the edges of the book.
  • Be consistent…and this is a big difficulty with Microsoft Word. Apply styles to everything and resist the urge to change the font for a section manually – that way you can update the entire book at once by updating the style’s font. Try to limit yourself to 2 fonts in the interior of the book without a good reason, one for the chapter headings and one for the body of the book. Make sure that any headings or page numbering that you apply appear the same on every page, not including front or back matter or blank pages.
  • Use proper case – sentence case for the body of your work (an initial cap followed by all lowercase letters except for proper nouns and acroynms) and title case for all titles, subtitles, chapter headings and subheads (an initial capital for each word except for short prepositions.)

That may seem like a lot, but after a book or two it will be second nature and it can help the appearance of your book a lot.  If you follow the above rules, most people may not even realize your book isn’t self-published even if they are looking for that sort of thing.

Why doesn’t my book category appear for me to select in KDP?

I personally don’t understand why Amazon doesn’t use the same categories in KDP as they do on their site, but you can have them update your books to the proper categories pretty easily.

  1. Pick the closest category available and hit publish.
  2. After the book goes live, copy the ASIN. Then, go to Amazon and look at similar books (especially paperbacks) and what categories they are in, and choose the 2 that you’d most like to be in.
  3. Then, in KDP, open a support ticket, paste in the ASIN, and then write which categories you’d like your book to be. (Include the full path since it will probably be a subcategory.)

They’ll usually update your book w/i about 48 hours. Some folks have been reporting that they won’t always update categories anymore, so it may depend upon who you get to answer your support ticket, but that method has always worked fine for me.

Note that there are also some categories that you can only get your book in by using specific keywords in your metadata.

Will special characters such as ü, ö ß, ä, etc. work with KDP and CreateSpace?

Accented characters aren’t a problem with either KDP or CreateSpace.  For CreateSpace, make sure that the font you are using is embedded into the PDF and it will definitely print just fine. For Kindle, make sure you test your book using Kindle Previewer because sometimes they can get mangled; I’ve actually written myself a little script that will replace accented or special characters with their HTML equivalents (it changes 119 special characters, so a u with a diaereses – ü – would actually be written ü instead in my document, for example.) I’m still trying to work out when kindlegen will mangle the letters and when it won’t; usually something that comes straight out of WordCrusher is okay, but if I edit it in my favorite text editor on my Mac then it almost always mangles the special characters.

Production

Are ebooks that are primarily photos frowned upon, or are they ok?

There’s nothing wrong with picture books, but you need to be careful how you format the captions – if you embed them into the image they can be difficult to read, and if you separate them then you need to be mindful of the reader’s experience across different devices.

If you format by hand following the KF8 guidelines you can actually do some really cool things, but you need to know some advanced HTML tactics. For example, you can include clickable text that appears in the right place in the image but which gets larger and appears in a popover if you click on it (kindle fire only), or format a full comic book on the kindle.

The other problem you’ll run into with large images is that you need to make sure that they are optimized so that your files aren’t too large, otherwise your profits will get eaten away by the delivery costs.

Are there different demographics between Kindle & CreateSpace purchasers?

This is another question where the real answer is going to be niche-specific. Just because people in one niche prefer buying kindle books doesn’t mean that even the same person wouldn’t prefer a physical book in another niche.

That said, some broad generalities that I’ve noticed in the niches I’ve been in and that I suspect hold relatively true for most:

  1. It’s easier to sell shorter works on their own with Kindle. I imagine that a lot of this deals with the cost; you can’t cost-effectively sell a short story in paperback and somebody buying a tiny short story for $3.59 (assuming you don’t mind selling it without earning any royalties) is going to feel like they were ripped off (theoretically you could sell it for $2.69 in the CreateSpace marketplace without earning any royalties but then they have to pay a few dollars in shipping too!)  The minimum cost for a printed book in CreateSpace is $2.15 and you have to price it with a 40% royalty on top of that to Amazon.  On Kindle, however, you can sell the same story for $0.99 cents or even $2.99 and it doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad deal.
  2. It’s easier to consume longer works on the Kindle. I know that for some books, I’d still rather have a physical book, but a lot of that is because I only have a Kindle3 e-ink and if I had a Kindle Fire I might consider books with a lot of full color photos on Kindle instead of as a physical book. In fact, I just finished reading the latest Tim Ferriss book, 4-Hour Chef, this morning.  My reading time was limited by the sheer mass of the book…it was too big to travel with, or to read anywhere where I was trying to lay back. A Kindle is much lighter, so especially for books that are mostly text (most books) a lot of readers prefer having the small form factor.
  3. As mentioned above, some books are better suited to print. Workbooks, full-color artistic books or books with a lot of diagrams, tables or fine detail in the artwork – these are probably better in print. Some people will still rather have them digitally, however, especially as e-reading devices get better.
  4. Some people collect – and physical books are better for collecting than digital books. Especially people that want signed copies of books. It’s hard to sign a digital book.
  5. Some people want to avoid clutter – and digital books are better for eliminating or avoiding clutter.

Since it’s so cheap to hit both avenues, I usually would opt to distribute in both marketplaces. If you make sure that the books are mapped together in Amazon, then reviews for a digital version will appear on the physical and vice versa.  If I’m testing, then I’ll usually opt for Kindle-only at first, because it is a bit easier and faster, and you can try different mediums (short works as single titles, multiple short works as a collection of titles, a single title with all of a group of short works, etc.)  Once I have a better idea for a marketplace, I can roll out a physical book.

Of course, for UBC-style books, I usually go physical first and often stay physical, since the point of those is to have something to hand people. One of my clients, we started with physical books because he probably still doesn’t understand what kindle is other than that I send him a royalty check every month and that half the money from it is from the digital sales.

But, I guess the best advice I can give is to test your market and respond accordingly.

Can I get library distribution with my own ISBN number?

Even if you have your own ISBN numbers and you want to have the book available for libraries then you’d need to use a CreateSpace ISBN as that is a stipulation for that channel of expanded distribution. How likely are libraries to be to purchase a copy? Standard distribution and expanded distribution (with the exception of libraries and academics) are all fine with your own ISBN; it would only be limited by that one distribution channel.

The only way around that limitation is to not use CreateSpace for expanded distribution and to go with another service, such as Lightning Source or Ingram Spark.

If you are not going to promote your book heavily to libraries, you can make your book available through CreateSpace with expanded distribution and if it happens, then that’s a bonus. If your strategy will include a lot of promotions to libraries (or book stores) then you should dual publish to both CreateSpace (and to turn off expanded distribution) and also to Ingram Spark (or to Lightening Source if you have a large enough catalog.)

Your Amazon sales will be sold through CreateSpace, and all other sales will be made through IS or LS. This will give you a higher profit margin and more professional appearance.

Can I set my book to it’s lowest price and order through Amazon Prime?

Sometimes, you want your books faster, or think you can get faster shipping for a cheaper price, or want to try to “bump” your sales ranking using purchases from Amazon. I don’t see any problem with that and am not aware of any conflicts with the terms of service of either Amazon or CreateSpace (although I haven’t looked into them specifically for that information.) For shipping considerations, I considered doing that myself until I realized that I didn’t really need to.

CreateSpace prints & ships from North Charleston, South Carolina so depending on where you live you’ll probably get the books much earlier than they predict on their website, especially if you live in the Eastern half of the United States. You can plug in 29418 to UPS to see what their estimated ship times would be – you’ll have to guess on the weight, but I know that when I buy 20 books it’s usually about a 9 pound box. Living in Maine, I usually get the books in about 3-4 days, and when I order for a client in Tennessee, it takes 2-3 days, with standard shipping from CreateSpace.

If you are purchasing from Amazon and taking advantage of “free” 2 day shipping using Amazon Prime, then you have to figure that your 40% cut from the list price is what you are actually paying for shipping. The production costs remain the same in both cases. It could potentially save you quite a bit if you are ordering a lot of copies of your book and you need them right away (Amazon allows you to order up to 30 copies in one order) but in most cases it will still cost you more than ordering with standard shipping.

For example, one of my books has a product cost of $3.17 and the lowest I can price it at and have it listed at Amazon is $5.29 (which results in my not receiving a royalty.) Here are the costs with the different shipping methods that I have available:

  • $2.12 (per copy) w/2 day delivery through Amazon Prime (any quantity)
  • $0.46 (per copy) w/5 day delivery through CreateSpace-Standard (at 50 copies)
  • $1.00 (per copy) w/2 day delivery through CreateSpace-Expedited (at 50 copies)
  • $2.26 (per copy) w/1 day delivery through CreateSpace-Priority (at 50 copies)
  • $2.12 (per copy) w/1 day delivery through CreateSpace-Priority (at 109 copies)

Unless I’m ordering 110 or more copies through CreateSpace and need guaranteed next day delivery, it doesn’t make sense to use the Amazon trick. Remember that I can get the books in 3 or 4 days (including production) at standard shipping where I live, and obviously your books will be a different number of pages and potentially a different trim size, but in general it doesn’t make sense to use Amazon Prime.

If you just want to pad your sales numbers, well, I wouldn’t bother; it’s an expensive way to do so, it will only last for a short period of time, and it’s a little like gaming the system. Even if you won’t be penalized now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t wise up to it in the future and ignore your purchase anyway, so I wouldn’t use that as a reason for pulling the Amazon Prime trick.

Can I transfer a client’s book from my account to a new account in CreateSpace?

I reached out to customer support at CreateSpace, so here’s their official stance:

  1. You can not transfer a title from one CS account to another.
  2. You can retire a title in one account and set it up in another account – this will create a new title on Amazon.
  3. Technically, you can not use the same ISBN on the new title. If using a CS-assigned ISBN, you definitely can not. If you use your own ISBN then the support rep I spoke with said he could make a one-time exception to allow the same ISBN to be used which would allow you to keep from creating a new page at Amazon and losing your reviews.

So…you technically can transfer a title if you use your own ISBN or don’t care if you lose your reviews by setting up a new page. Another option that you can use is to retire your title and create a second edition of the book in the new account. You can then contact support and have them link the two books so that people will see the new edition of the book and it will make more sense to readers on the site the difference between the two listings. They’ll still be two different titles (technically) but it will be obvious folks should get the new version.

Personally, if I thought it likely that I’d want to move the book, then I would just set up a new account under the other person’s name. You used to be able to have multiple accounts at CreateSpace but they changed their TOS to not really allow that – so you will need to use a different SSN or EID when setting up the new account. (As far as I know there’s nothing to stop you from using the same information and just having a separate account, but it is usually a good idea to comply with a site’s TOS to avoid problems in the future.)

No matter what you decide to do, if you set up an Author Central account for this book, I’d set up a distinct one from your account under that person’s name.  You can create up to 3 pen names under one account, but I prefer to keep client books separate from my own where possible, and in Author Central there’s nothing wrong with having a new account under that person’s name so that it doesn’t co-mingle with your own books.

Can I use CreateSpace to print books that contain Chinese (or other non-Latin) characters?

First, I’ll preface this with the knowledge that I don’t have any experience with alphabets other than the Latin one; in fact, I’ve only worked on one book that wasn’t in English (a Spanish translation of an English book.)

For uploading to CreateSpace, I’d always provide print-ready PDF files; if you can avoid the printer from having to make decisions about how to print your book, you will be better off.

As for using the Chinese or other alphabets and characters, you should be able to embed them into the PDF document. In fact, I just called their customer support line to verify, and as long as you submit a PDF w/all of the relevant fonts embedded in the file then it will print however you set it up in your PDF so that should not be a problem.

Can you update links to Kindle without taking your book down?

There are two ways you can go about handling links and new content.

If you want to make a change to your book, you never have to take a link down, you just upload a new version and it will go live as soon as it is approved by Amazon. The old copy will continue to be sold in the meantime.

The good thing about that is that you can continually sell your book and feel free to fix typos and make updates (such as links to other books) as you go along. The unfortunate part of that is that your customers may never receive the updates; Amazon won’t always push changes to a customer’s Kindle unless you make pretty sweeping changes and you have to specifically ask them to change it. Even then, if the person got your book off of a free promotion or through the lending library, they may not get the updates at all, even if they delete the book and try to force Amazon to push a new version out to them.

So, the two methods available to you:

  1. You can publish your book without the links, and just upload new updates as they become available.
  2. You can publish your book with links, and either put filler “coming soon” type content in place or redirect folks to a “coming soon” type of page and just update the redirect once that content is actually available.

I personally use a combination of the two. I will almost always have a domain name set up for a book before it gets to the stage where I’m ready to upload to Kindle, so I will usually install WordPress and use a plugin such as Pretty Links Lite to create redirects. For ALL links that go into the book, I’ll set up a redirect using Pretty Links so that I can control where folks are going. This allows me to count the clicks so I know what kind of engagement I’m getting, and also lets me fix links even for folks that already downloaded the book without uploading a change to KDP.

Alternatively, I might just create a resources page and have all the links go to that page, which then lists all of the relevant links on it, so I only need to maintain one link from the book and one page of links from my website. This is my go-to method when a book has a lot of affiliate links so that I don’t run afoul of the no-affiliate links rule in the KDP terms of service; technically, a redirect is probably okay, but I know that they won’t have a problem if the only link is to a resources page and then the affiliate links appear there. (Just be sure to be honest on your resources page and disclose that you may have a financial or other interest in the links.)

So, that’s what I do for any links I know I’ll be using up front when putting the book together, even if the links are not 100% ready by the time I publish the book. I’ll then push out updates when I publish new books in a series to cross promote; if multiple books are coming out at the same time, I’ll use the redirect method so that they can cross promote right away and just spend my time obsessively checking for when they go live to get each book’s URL so that the redirect links work as soon as possible, preferably before anybody actually purchases it.

Do quality books stand out in CreateSpace?

I don’t actually sell any of my books through CreateSpace, so I can’t speak about their marketplace specifically and personally wouldn’t worry about it.

For Amazon, it doesn’t matter if the book is created by CreateSpace or not. If the book is amateurish and poorly constructed, it’s going to get bad reviews. If it’s a quality book, then people won’t even notice, it’ll just be the way that it is. Unless you smack people in the face with the “this book is self-published!” dogma, most people won’t even know (or care) if a book was printed by CreateSpace or somewhere else.

Exceptions might be for specialty books (such as full color photo books – with which I don’t have any experience yet) that may or may not print as well, but for standard black & white trade paperbacks, people won’t know or care where it was printed as long as it is easy to read and doesn’t fall apart.

Do you have any experience lending with Overdrive? Should library books be free?

I haven’t personally used Overdrive yet; it’s on my list of things to do that just haven’t gotten done yet. I’ve looked into the process for putting books up; you can make them available in many different formats, be that PDF, mobi (kindle) or epub.

Personally, I don’t think there’s a problem selling to libraries. They purchase physical books; there’s nothing wrong with purchasing licenses to rent out digital books. That said, I’m a big fan of libraries and the services that they provide so when I do start adding my catalog to Overdrive I plan to price it lower than through other mediums. Individual libraries purchase their own books, so if you price a book too high, then the libraries will decide they don’t need to stock your book. I haven’t looked into whether I can set up free books for specific libraries through that system yet or not (I like to donate copies of my paperback books to my local libraries) but I believe it’s probably possible through their promotional tools.

The digital library market has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years, so once we are done researching the current best practices we will update this FAQ.

Does CreateSpace charge different amounts for different trim sizes?

Price-wise, there is currently no difference in price for the various trim sizes, and you can verify it directly with the sizes that you are thinking about on their “Buying Copies” tab for their book publishing info page.

The price to ship from CreateSpace is the same no matter the trim size. All that matters there is where you are shipping your books and is based on quantity. Click here for their rate table.

How do I change the default formatting in WordCrusher?

We are currently working on creating a “theme” functionality for WordCrusher that will accomodate that sort of edit inside the interface, but in the meantime you’ll need to edit the source files and recompile the book if you want to change the default formatting. There’s a video in the membership area on the WordCrusher page that gets into advanced editing topics:

Basically, go to the WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder in My Documents, edit the HTML file as much as you want, and then drag the OPF file into Kindle Previewer to recompile – this will create a file in the same folder with the same filename as the OPF (but with a mobi extension) – you can also run the OPF file through KindleGen directly, but for most folks it’s easier to just drag into Kindle Previewer.

If you are doing advanced edits, I recommend copying the contents of your WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder to a new a new folder (don’t delete the lic.wc or authorinfo.txt files from the original folder) and renaming the OPF file before starting to work on it. Any time you run WordCrusher, it will remove all of the previous documents files from the original folder so you don’t want to accidentally lose your work.

How do I combine text and images in a children’s book for Kindle?

You have a few options depending upon the type of children’s book you are making. The easiest way is to follow Jay’s model…he has quite a few books in the “Fart Books” (and now the family avengers) series which is basically a chapter heading followed by an image followed by the text for that chapter (or the text and then the image) which we then use WordCrusher or the Book Format Rocket to make the actual kindle book out of the word document. Use the Look Inside feature here to see exactly how it’s formatted.

If you want the text to overlay the images and create a fully illustrated children’s book, then use the Kindle Kids Book Creator to create your books.

How do I increase the resolution of my images so CreateSpace won’t complain?

Resolution is basically the number of dots (for print) or pixels (for screen) per inch; if you want to increase the resolution from 72 to 240 or 300 dpi, then you can do that in some image editing software. However, if you don’t at the same time make the image smaller then you will lose some quality in the image and it may not print as well.

In general, I ignore the CreateSpace warnings about image quality and just do my best to put an image that will print well into the document, and then tweak it if necessary after receiving a proof copy and I see how it actually looks.

Generally speaking, I’ll figure out what the size of my image is going to be on the page, and will edit the image to be that size before inserting it into the document. For the sake of easy math, if I have a 720×720 pixel screenshot at 72 dpi, then it would take up about 10 square inches of real estate on my screen at actual zoom and the height and width would be the same as 10 inches by 10 inches. If I change the pixels per inch to 300, and want to maintain the same quality, then I can have up to a 2.4 by 2.4 inch image in the print book. Anything larger, and I’m potentially losing quality.

Many images will print just fine at a lower quality, however, so the best method is really to put the image into your document, ignore the warnings, and to order a physical proof to see what the image looks like when you are holding it in your hands. Even if you do have high resolution images, it isn’t guaranteed to look good when you print it in black & white using Amazon’s printers, so it’s worth looking over every image carefully.

How do I insert images into my CreateSpace books?

All you need to do is insert the illustration into your Word Document and then save it as PDF. A few things that you’ll want to bear in mind, though:

  • Your illustration should be as high of a DPI as you can make it, ideally 200-300 dpi. (Anything less than 300 will probably raise a warning from CreateSpace, but will usually print fine even if you have a lower dots per inch.)
  • Make sure that when you insert your images into Word that you are including the file itself and not just a link to the file. (Make sure that “Link to File” is not checked when inserting your images.)
How do I make sure that my fonts appear in my book?

When you create your PDF document, it will record what font you are using so that CreateSpace can use it when printing your book. If it is a font that they have in house, then it will work no matter what, but a better idea is to embed the font into your PDF so that CreateSpace will have access to it and to make sure that they have the same version of it that you want to use.

How you embed fonts depends upon how you create your PDF files. If you use printer driver software (as the person who originally asked this question does) then it will depend upon the software if they have the ability to embed the fonts or not. You’ll need to consult that software’s support. If you just create your PDF files directly in Microsoft Word, then it’s quite easy to embed your fonts; click here for directions from CreateSpace on how to do that.

How many pages should my UBC be?

An Ultimate Business Card book itself doesn’t need to be very long, but having a longer one isn’t a bad thing.  Basically, for most trim sizes, your book needs to be at least 24 pages to get printed, and should be at least 60-80 pages to feel like a real book. In general, you can print up to 100-110 pages at the base rate before you have any additional per page costs, and if you get over 130 pages then you’ll be able to print on the spine of the book so that people can see the title when it’s on their bookshelf.  So you can use those as general guidelines.

Note that these page counts are based on the final trim size, which will usually be 5×8 to 6×9 for a business type of book. Before formatting your book, that may only be 30-60 pages at 8.5×11 which is the standard size that a Word document might start at. You are generally looking at something between 10,000 and 30,000 words depending upon how detailed your book is.

I don’t have a Word document, can I convert my PDF to Word?

If you use the text select tool, you may be able to copy and paste the text from the PDF into a word document. You could also try using a service such as Online-Convert.com or Zamzar.com – they will sometimes work a little better, depending on the document.

If your book is appropriate, you can also use the Kindle Textbook Creator that allows you to directly sell your PDF as a Kindle book, but be aware that you may have a larger than necessary file size, your book may not be available on all devices, and readers may not have the customizability of their reading experience that they are accustomed to.

I have a Mac, can I use WordCrusher? Are there alternatives?

WordCrusher is PC only, but as a Mac user myself, what I did was run Windows on my Mac using Parallels, which costs about $80 but frequently goes on sale in various Mac bundles etc so you can usually get it for around $45, often bundled with other good apps. There are some other virtualization software packages that I haven’t any experience with that you could also use to run Windows on your Mac, and you can also use Bootcamp, which comes with your Mac and allows you to boot into Windows instead of into OS X. If you scroll down on the WordCrusher download page, the final video is a webinar that includes some advanced formatting and Mac alternatives, which also includes links to all of the above.

Alternatively, use the Book Format Rocket which will work on both PC or Mac. (Unless you are creating a fully illustrated children’s book in which case you should use the free Kindle Kids Book Creator.)

Is an “Avoiding Pain” or “Gaining Pleasure” title better for my UBC?

Using an “avoiding pain” style of title can be an effective strategy for selling more copies of the book, but remember that your UBC won’t necessarily be something that you care about selling…that’s a bonus.

Your book is going to be one of the ways that you brand yourself, so you need to decide what sort of emotions you want to invoke when you are meeting with somebody and hand them your book. For me personally, I try to find a good title first and don’t worry a lot about getting into specifics, just making sure that it’s a relevant title. In the subtitle, that’s where I try to get some keywords and more subtle calls to action or messaging across, especially for something where I won’t be relying upon people doing a search in Amazon or Google in order to find the book.

My first concern with this particular book (the UBC) is to get business or referrals from somebody after I hand them the book, so if I think that a more negative title is appropriate for the service or subject matter then that is what I’ll use, but if all you are doing is trying to catch a name on a search, then only use it if it also works in person.

Ideally, your title and subtitle will work no matter how the book is found or distributed, but for the ultimate business card just keep in mind that most of the services you sell will probably come from handing a book to somebody directly or to somebody that then refers that person (or even hands your book to them for you!)

Is it possible to scan old photographs to include in my books?

You can scan in old photographs. Most personal scanners can scan an old photograph, and you can buy specialty scanners that will scan in negatives or slides for you.  I would probably just hire somebody to do it for me, though; if you only have a few that you need scanned, it doesn’t make sense to purchase equipment. If you have a lot of photographs to scan, then it’s not worth my time to do it by hand and I’ll probably get a better result from a commercial scanning company anyway.

I don’t have specific recommendations since this isn’t something I’ve had to do before; I know that there are quite a few companies that do it in my area and I’d probably use one of them as long as they were competitively priced just because I like to keep my money local whenever possible.  To find one in your area, just search google for “scanning old photographs” and add in your city or state.

Is there a difference between .doc and .docx, and which should I upload to CreateSpace?

There is a difference between .doc and .docx files, but it is mostly a behind-the-scenes technical one that really isn’t too important for the end user. For compatibility with collaborators (other writers, editors, etc.) you should try to save your files in the more modern .docx format when given a choice.

For uploading to CreateSpace, I’d always provide print-ready PDF files and would not try uploading any kind of Word Documents; if you can avoid the printer from having to make decisions about how to print your book, you will be better off.

It seems as though reading levels have dropped, do you have any research about that?

I don’t have any research as I don’t do much in the children’s marketplace, I mostly work with business customers. One of my clients has a children’s book, which I did a kindle and epub conversion for, but I wasn’t involved in the writing of the book at all.  For me personally, I tend to write things as simply as I can and still adequately explain my topic in order to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. There are a lot of adults that aren’t very strong readers, and it’s always best to be as accessible as possible.

That said, if you want to see how advanced your book is under the Gunning Fog or Flesch-Kincade readability scales, you can turn them on directly inside Microsoft Word and have it report the statistics to you. Here’s the directions for how to do that: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/display-readability-statistics-HP005189601.aspx?redir=0

My publications are long; should I publish long books or serialize them?

There are two issues here.  First, if it doesn’t make sense to split up your books, there is no reason to and you should submit it as a single work.  The beauty of a digital format is that you don’t have to worry about “bulk” when trying to read a long work, and you can price short works cheap enough to justify selling as stand-alone pieces. Each work should be as long as it needs to be and no longer and no shorter.

That said, there are a lot of examples of serialized fiction on Amazon.  In fact, serialization got so popular that Amazon created the Kindle Serials program a few years ago to provide a better outlet than the ways that their marketplace was currently being used (right now, you need to sign a publishing deal with one of Amazon’s publishing houses, such as 47 North, in order to have access to the Kindle Serials program.)  The way that that program works is that every week or two weeks, a new “episode” in the serial is released and automatically added to the end of your book (with all of your bookmarks, highlights, and read locations preserved) and then at the end of the novel you are reading they release a paperback version and bump up the price of the serial to a standard book price instead of the discounted price it starts with while being serialized.

To my knowledge, Amazon no longer signs new books for this program and so it’s unlikely to ever be available, at least for the foreseeable future.

There are publishers that put out serials as distinct books for each “episode” of the season. Basically, they become shorter series books.

If you want to maximize the exposure of your books, you could release them as a whole, and then release discrete parts that then reference the whole. Just make sure that each piece you sell has an accurate description of what is being sold inside that book, and that it’s enough information to be useful (for non-fiction) or enjoyable (for fiction) – you don’t want to split up a book by chapters unless each chapter is a discrete element that could be sold on it’s own merits. Include a link to the complete book as a collection of all the discrete parts (and potentially include the links for each discrete part for somebody to pick and choose.) When pricing your works, make sure that there’s a good discount to be had by buying everything; if somebody purchases 1 of the parts, the cost of the whole work should be less than it would cost to then purchase the remaining works individually.

Should I list my company as the publishing company, or my client’s?

This boils down to your comfort level and your client’s comfort level. If your client doesn’t want people to know where they got their book published for some reason or wants to take 100% credit, then that’s fine if that’s a service you offer. If a client’s provided materials seem a bit dodgy and you aren’t sure that they own the copyright or you aren’t sure if the material they’re providing is any good, you may not want to take that client on at all, but if you do you probably won’t want your name associated with it.

Generally speaking, I just list myself as the publisher on the copyright page and don’t get into things much deeper than that unless there’s a reason.

Should I print through Lightning Source instead of CreateSpace?

Lightning Source can be a good resource, although Jay has no experience with them at all and while I’ve looked into them I haven’t used them yet, so we can’t get into much in the way of specifics. I’m going to share an email I received from Jill after our last training webinar that shares most of the details:

Hi Blaine,

I mentioned Lightning Source in the chat box on Wednesday. They are a huge competitor of CS! In fact, these two are always with war with each other – and at the same time, they have to make deals with each other because both are so big. LS is owned by Ingrams, the largest distributor of books in the world, and also the largest distributor to libraries. Because of their database, any tiny or large bookstore can order even POD books from them if someone goes into the store and asks for it, and the minute there is an order, that book goes into the public global database, even if it’s POD. POD books sold exclusively through Amazon and CS don’t enjoy that benefit.

Many, many of my clients print with LS. Many also print with CS. In my experience, LS is a notch above CS in quality. CS is just fine for books that they don’t format. Their formatting services are terrible. I have had clients hire me for editing and then get a CS package for book layout and printing, and there are so many nightmares. One client had a proof sent to me to check (I only edited the book) and the first half of the book was actually someone else’s book, and the second half was my client’s. But that is one of the many stories I could tell.

BUT if the book design is done by a professional outside of the CS program, the stakes are much higher that you will have good results. So for the books being done in this course, with you doing the layout, or people doing their own, they should be fine.

CS has fewer paper options than LS. Neither has a very good reputation in printing and binding color books, but perhaps they will improve, because color is relatively new for both of them.

One more thing: In order to take advantage of both CS being owned by Amazon.com and LS being owned by Ingrams, many people sign up first with CS and use a unique ISBN for these publications because CS demands a unique ISBN. Then they go and create an account with LS and publish through them using a different ISBN. There is no trouble with this. It’s exactly the same book. It’s just working around the Amazon/CS bullying system. Then, even when orders are made through Amazon, Amazon has been known to order from LS as well as CS!

The drawback with LS is that you can’t make revisions as freely, because each time you upload a new version or a corrected version, they charge you $40, so it’s actually a good idea to go with CS first and get all the kinks out and then sign with LS.

Hope this helps you and everyone.

All the best,

Jill

Here is my response to Jill:

I haven’t heard of any problems with LS first and then CS; Amazon is generally happy to have the business. But, I haven’t used LS for much up to this point since the time I was looking into them was right before Amazon stopped treating them as favorably as they had been. If you are going to use your own ISBN anyway, then you can still go with CS first, but in that case I wouldn’t use a CS-assigned ISBN so that you can future-proof your book. (And, if you do have your own ISBN, it’s generally better to use it.)

CreateSpace also has printers in the UK, although you can’t order directly from them. They’re used if somebody purchases a CreateSpace through Amazon’s European properties. For those looking to make direct purchases, that could be a viable option; I hadn’t looked at the printing locations for LS before.

I will say again that we can’t really talk about the specifics of using Lightning Source, but you can learn a lot of information from their website and contacting their customer service, and if you do want to make use of them I’d recommend reading a book called POD For Profit by Aaron Shepherd. I don’t agree with everything in his book (and it is a bit dated, at least the version that I’ve read) but it does describe the process of using Lightning Source pretty well.

Just bear in mind that now that Amazon is comfortable with CreateSpace they have definitely downgraded how they treat books provided from Lightning Source, so if you plan to sell through Amazon I’d also create the book through CreateSpace. Most of your settings will still work but the bleeds and cover sizes do vary a bit so you will have to customize a little, and even if you are going with CreateSpace first you should still use your own ISBN if you plan to work with Lightning Source because you can not use your CreateSpace-assigned ISBN with any other printers.

Note that Lightning Source has now created a sister company, Ingram Spark, which offers many of the same features but is slightly more user-friendly and does not require as large of a catalog of books to get started.

Should I purchase ISBNs or should I use the free CreateSpace ISBNs?

There are a few considerations when deciding whether you want to purchase your own ISBNs or not. First, if you want to save money and only plan on selling your books through CreateSpace and Kindle, then there is no reason not to just use the CreateSpace ISBNs other than for vanity reasons.

Having your own ISBN number is useful if you want to have your publishing company listed in Amazon. You can always list your own publishing company on the title page and copyright page of your book, but if you want libraries or for the listing on your Amazon sales page to have your publishing company then you will need to have your own ISBN. For most people, using the create space ISBN number will not be very visible and will serve their purposes fine without having to spend any money.

The cost of an ISBN very is widely depending upon what country you live in. If you live in Canada, for example, then you can get your ISBN numbers for free because registration is handled by the government. If you don’t mind spending a little time registering them, then you may as well take advantage of that program. In the United States, ISBN numbers cost between $125 for one and $1 each for 1000 ISBN numbers. In Australia, it costs $42 for one ISBN or $2.82 each if you buy 1000 ISBN numbers. You can determine where you purchase your ISBN numbers by choosing your country at the International ISBN Agency’s website.

If you ever plan on selling your books anywhere other than on Amazon, then you will not be able to use your CreateSpace ISBN number. The platform that you use may or may not provide its own free ISBN number, but if your book is one addition then it makes sense to have the same ISBN number for all places that it is being printed. In that case, you’ll probably want to purchase your own ISBN numbers.

If you are publishing multiple editions of your book, you will need a different ISBN number for each addition. For example, a hardcover and softcover book will each need their own ISBN number, as well as the audible version of the book and the e-book version. If you are only selling your e-book version through Kindle, then you will not need an ISBN number at all as Amazon does not require it.

There is definitely value in having your own ISBN numbers for branding your publishing company. However, when you are starting out it is not something that is a very high priority. I would recommend holding off purchasing your ISBN numbers until you have a lot of business and it makes more sense for your publishing company. You may find that you don’t need to purchase them at all; John and Jay have not purchased their own ISBN numbers yet and they have hundreds of books for sale on the Amazon marketplace.

Should I use “Normal” or “Body Text” styles for the text in my books?

For all practical purposes it doesn’t matter; whichever is easier for you. Just make sure you are consistent, and to only apply the formatting that you want to the styles themselves and not to the individual elements in the document, so that you can experiment during the typesetting phase and be sure that everything is updating at once. You could even create your own style if you wanted so that you didn’t have to mess around with the default styles. Just make sure that whatever style you use for chapter headings will automatically go into the style you want text to have for the next paragraph, so that you don’t accidentally mix styles. (Right click on the style and you can edit all the properties of that style including what style comes next, font, spacing, etc.)

Should I use a pen name for my children’s books since I want my real name for a different market?

In general, I think that it is a good idea to keep separate areas of your business under different pen names, but there are a few ways to go about it.

If all of your books are going to be the children’s books except for the one book that you use as an ultimate business card to promote your own business than it probably is not a very big deal if you use the same name for all of your books. If you think that you might have other business books, however, then I would either use a pen name or use a middle initial or something similar so that it still your name but you have a way of separating them out in the search results. That way if somebody goes to your Amazon Author page, you will have all the children’s books under one version of your name and all of the business books under another version of your name.

If you are going to write in multiple genres and the audiences for those genres have a good chance to overlap, you can get away with using the same name. If they aren’t a very close match for the type of reader, however, it’s probably a better idea to use pen names so that Amazon will have an easier job promoting your books to people more likely to purchase them, which will in turn lead to them promoting your book more.

If you don’t want to have books from different areas associated with each other even from an intellectual level versus just from the author’s pages level, then I would use a completely different pen name. For example, I know somebody that has a series of children’s books and also has a series of dark horror books, and he does not want the kids that are reading his children’s books to be able to find a his horror books because they’re meant for adults. In his case, he uses a completely different pen name for his children’s books.

It really comes down to your own comfort level and how closely you personally want to be tied to any particular series or genre of books.

Should I use color for my children’s books? What does Jay do?

Color is much more expensive, and from Jay’s experience is much less consistent than black & white.  Basically, if your market can bear a price where you can make a profit with the higher production costs, or if a profit is less of a concern and you’re still able to price competitively, then it doesn’t hurt to test things out and won’t cost anything more than your time and a proof or two.

Your ability to price your book competitively will depend upon the minimum you can put your book onto the Amazon Marketplace for without receiving a royalty; namely, you can not price your book lower than 5/3 of the cost to produce the book because 40% of the retail price is reserved for Amazon’s cut so you need to be able to cover the cost to print the book in at a minimum 60% of the retail price. Multiplying the cost to print by 5/3 is the same as multiplying the retail price by 60%.

The cheapest that you can print a color children’s book (full color with bleed at 8.25″ x 8.25″) is $3.65 and that will cover between 24 and 40 pages. That means that you can’t get it put onto Amazon for less than $6.08. If your market can bear a children’s book priced at $6.08 or higher, then you could conceivably put your book onto Amazon. If you don’t plan to sell through Amazon but only want to sell through other markets, then you only have to cover $3.65 plus whatever it costs to ship each book.

For comparisons sake, a similar book in black & white could be anywhere between 24 and 108 pages and would only cost $2.15 to produce and could be priced as low as $3.59 and still appear in Amazon’s marketplace. That’s less than the cost just to produce a color book at potentially 4½ times the page count.

As for Jay’s books, he’s only now putting his children’s books into print, and has concentrated on Kindle up to this point.  However, his books aren’t full-color children’s books, they’re basically a regular book that deals with childish material and includes images that are basically black & white already (the small bit of color used in his images isn’t really necessary – if you use the “look inside” feature for his Fart Book you’ll see what I mean.)

Note that you still get a full color cover even if you have a black & white book, so for him it doesn’t make sense to print in color anyway.

What are some simple tips for making my book look good?

You want to appear professional, and there are some standards that apply to the reading experience that may be little things in and of themselves, but readers will notice them (even if they can’t tell what it is they are noticing) and will be able to tell if a book wasn’t professionally produced.  So, here’s some simple tips that are really easy to implement in your book to make it more professional that your competitors may not even think of (which means you’ll have a higher quality product!)

  • Always justify the prose in your books. Obviously, chapter headings, title pages, items in the header and footer of your book may have different styles, but for the main reading experience you want to have your pages justified.  Unfortunately, Microsoft Word doesn’t do a very good job at this; it does a passable job, but it won’t automatically hyphenate words to prevent large spaces from entering your lines between words so depending on how thorough you want to be in the final typesetting phase, it may be worth looking for those unnatural spaces. Leaving them in isn’t the end of the world, however, and they’re more likely to be ignored or missed than if you left-justify your book.
  • Remember that odd pages are always on the right! Page 1 should be the first page of your book (which should not include the front-matter!) and that it should always be on the right side and followed by pages 2 and 3, then 4 and 5, etc. Even on the left, odd on the right. Microsoft Word doesn’t have an option for viewing your book this way, but after exporting a PDF you can usually view it like that to make sure everything looks right.
  • Don’t forget to include the front matter before the start of your book…at a minimum put in a Title page (which should be on the right) and a copyright page (which should be on the left, usually the page right after the title page.)  Optionally, you can also include testimonials (which I normally put before the title page), a table of contents (after the copyright page) and/or a dedication (which I normally put right before the actual start of the book.) Use a section break and reset your page numbers after the last page of your front matter so that your book starts on page 1.
  • Watch your blank pages: There should never be a blank page on an odd (right hand) page, and they should be blank – there should not be a page number or header or footer on the page. You can accomplish this using the “Page Break – Odd Page” option in Word to skip to the next right hand page automatically after the end of each chapter and after your front matter.
  • Make good use of white space and include ample margins, especially in the gutter of the book, which is the space in the middle where the book is bound (the right hand side of even pages, and the left hand side of odd pages.)  At a minimum make sure that there’s enough room to keep print from becoming hidden in the binding or by somebody’s fingers as they hold the edges of the book.
  • Be consistent…and this is a big difficulty with Microsoft Word. Apply styles to everything and resist the urge to change the font for a section manually – that way you can update the entire book at once by updating the style’s font. Try to limit yourself to 2 fonts in the interior of the book without a good reason, one for the chapter headings and one for the body of the book. Make sure that any headings or page numbering that you apply appear the same on every page, not including front or back matter or blank pages.
  • Use proper case – sentence case for the body of your work (an initial cap followed by all lowercase letters except for proper nouns and acroynms) and title case for all titles, subtitles, chapter headings and subheads (an initial capital for each word except for short prepositions.)

That may seem like a lot, but after a book or two it will be second nature and it can help the appearance of your book a lot.  If you follow the above rules, most people may not even realize your book isn’t self-published even if they are looking for that sort of thing.

What are the best fonts to use for a non-fiction print book?

That’s a great question and one with an answer that could be an entire book in and of itself!

There are a few things to consider.

First, if you are in doubt, then keep things relatively simple. Readability is the most important thing! If it’s painful to read your book, very few people will bother to finish it. My friend Joel Friedlander (who has been a book designer for a few decades now) recommends typefaces such as Bembo, Bodoni, Caslon, Garamond, Janson, Granjon, and Sabon. I personally often go with Garamond as it looks good in a range of point sizes and I like the graceful, flowing style.

If you can find something that fits the material you are working with, that can often be a nice touch, but for straight non-fiction there’s usually less of a vibe that you are trying to convey as there can be with fiction as you don’t need to set up the world quite so much.

Whatever you do, use a font designed for print, and not one designed for display on screen which can be difficult to read in print and/or for long periods of time. Also, you should never need more than 2 fonts for the interior of your book without a good reason; one font for the text, and one for visual elements such as chapter headings. You may decide to use a third font if your book has regular cut-outs or captions but even then I’d tend to use the same font and just make it a different point-size.

When setting up your book, be careful not to specify specific fonts; use styles instead and then you can easily update your entire document at once and experiment with different combinations to decide what you like.

What should I do if I have an out-of-print book, but no electronic files?

What you want to do is scan the book in using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). You could scan each page and run it through software yourself, but that is a lot of work! I recommend hiring an OCR scanning service that will do it for you. The google search phrase to find a service is “OCR scanning service” – I don’t have any specific companies to recommend so I’d start off by looking local to see if you can keep your money in your own community.

Depending on the service or software that you use, you may have to clean up the document afterwards, but I’d recommend that anyway since there are very few books in the world without a typo so it’s probably worth updating anyway.

There are a few other methods you could use, such as scanning the pages in and setting up a task for typing each page out to Amazon Mechanical Turk, which may or may not help keep your costs down and accuracy up, but I personally wouldn’t use that method as I’d still be the one that has to manually scan each page.

Will special characters such as ü, ö ß, ä, etc. work with KDP and CreateSpace?

Accented characters aren’t a problem with either KDP or CreateSpace.  For CreateSpace, make sure that the font you are using is embedded into the PDF and it will definitely print just fine. For Kindle, make sure you test your book using Kindle Previewer because sometimes they can get mangled; I’ve actually written myself a little script that will replace accented or special characters with their HTML equivalents (it changes 119 special characters, so a u with a diaereses – ü – would actually be written ü instead in my document, for example.) I’m still trying to work out when kindlegen will mangle the letters and when it won’t; usually something that comes straight out of WordCrusher is okay, but if I edit it in my favorite text editor on my Mac then it almost always mangles the special characters.

Promotion

Are there different demographics between Kindle & CreateSpace purchasers?

This is another question where the real answer is going to be niche-specific. Just because people in one niche prefer buying kindle books doesn’t mean that even the same person wouldn’t prefer a physical book in another niche.

That said, some broad generalities that I’ve noticed in the niches I’ve been in and that I suspect hold relatively true for most:

  1. It’s easier to sell shorter works on their own with Kindle. I imagine that a lot of this deals with the cost; you can’t cost-effectively sell a short story in paperback and somebody buying a tiny short story for $3.59 (assuming you don’t mind selling it without earning any royalties) is going to feel like they were ripped off (theoretically you could sell it for $2.69 in the CreateSpace marketplace without earning any royalties but then they have to pay a few dollars in shipping too!)  The minimum cost for a printed book in CreateSpace is $2.15 and you have to price it with a 40% royalty on top of that to Amazon.  On Kindle, however, you can sell the same story for $0.99 cents or even $2.99 and it doesn’t seem like it’s such a bad deal.
  2. It’s easier to consume longer works on the Kindle. I know that for some books, I’d still rather have a physical book, but a lot of that is because I only have a Kindle3 e-ink and if I had a Kindle Fire I might consider books with a lot of full color photos on Kindle instead of as a physical book. In fact, I just finished reading the latest Tim Ferriss book, 4-Hour Chef, this morning.  My reading time was limited by the sheer mass of the book…it was too big to travel with, or to read anywhere where I was trying to lay back. A Kindle is much lighter, so especially for books that are mostly text (most books) a lot of readers prefer having the small form factor.
  3. As mentioned above, some books are better suited to print. Workbooks, full-color artistic books or books with a lot of diagrams, tables or fine detail in the artwork – these are probably better in print. Some people will still rather have them digitally, however, especially as e-reading devices get better.
  4. Some people collect – and physical books are better for collecting than digital books. Especially people that want signed copies of books. It’s hard to sign a digital book.
  5. Some people want to avoid clutter – and digital books are better for eliminating or avoiding clutter.

Since it’s so cheap to hit both avenues, I usually would opt to distribute in both marketplaces. If you make sure that the books are mapped together in Amazon, then reviews for a digital version will appear on the physical and vice versa.  If I’m testing, then I’ll usually opt for Kindle-only at first, because it is a bit easier and faster, and you can try different mediums (short works as single titles, multiple short works as a collection of titles, a single title with all of a group of short works, etc.)  Once I have a better idea for a marketplace, I can roll out a physical book.

Of course, for UBC-style books, I usually go physical first and often stay physical, since the point of those is to have something to hand people. One of my clients, we started with physical books because he probably still doesn’t understand what kindle is other than that I send him a royalty check every month and that half the money from it is from the digital sales.

But, I guess the best advice I can give is to test your market and respond accordingly.

Can I create author pages at Amazon for my pen names?

Your Author Central account can have up to 3 pen names associated with it, and you can create new author central accounts using different email addresses if you need to. I tend to keep my accounts separate entities based on the type of books being sold; my children book pen names are under one account, my business books are under another, my running books under a third, and my client books that I manage under their own accounts rather than commingled with my personal books.

To add a pen name, just search for the book under “Add More Books” and click “This is my Book” – after Amazon verifies you are the author, you’ll be able to switch between your pen names inside the account after logging in:

For a complete walk-through of Author Central, watch Apex Authors Training 147 – Author Central.

Can I give away a book on my website that is for sale on Kindle?

You can sell a book through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and sell it other places such as your website or Barnes & Noble or Kobo, etc. The only limitation about selling it in other places or giving it away is if you join the lending library by enrolling in KDP Select, in which case digital versions have to be exclusive to Amazon for the 90 day enrollment period.

As long as you don’t have it in the Select program, though, you can feel free to give it away or sell it elsewhere. Amazon may notice a different price (including free) and then price match, which can effect your commissions (or get rid of them altogether) but if it isn’t a concern of yours then that won’t matter. (And if it is, then don’t put the separate pricing in a public place where Amazon is likely to find it!)

Can I only consider my book a bestseller in it’s category, or can I use search terms too?

There’s no official rules for what constitutes a best seller, so you can pretty much do what you want. For example, the New York Times has a few bestseller lists based on sales of hardcover books, which is the criteria that they use.

Most Amazon publishers seem to consider the bestseller lists for overall and category because those are the lists that Amazon creates, and that’s what I tend to look for. I’ve never looked at specific search terms and how books are selling for that term, and wouldn’t personally consider myself a bestseller because I rank well for a specific term, at least not without qualifying the statement and explaining it which is more trouble than it’s worth.

If your book has sales and reaches any of the overall or bestseller rankings then you should be safe considering yourself a best seller. I’d recommend that you take a screenshot that proves it; then you have something to show off in a blog article if you ever want to publicize the fact, and if somebody calls you on it you have the historical proof that you were a bestseller (since obviously a book may sell better at one time than at another.)

Do higher quality books sell for more or is it all an “even” playing field?

That is completely market-driven and has nothing to do with where the book is printed or who published it. There is a lot that comes into play, including but not limited to…

  • what books usually go for in a specific niche
  • the quality of the information in the book
  • the marketing channels behind the book that drive business towards it
  • the relative qualities your book and your brand convey (budget, high end, etc.)
  • seasonality (some seasons sell more and/or for higher prices than others)

The only real way to find out how much you can sell your book for is to begin with market research and then to test different price points, which can be done with a single book or across a spectrum of different books and then comparing the results.

How can my illustrator and I promote each other’s books?

I assume that you want to connect your books on Amazon for greater visibility, so I’ll focus my answer on things you can do there. The list below is what I would consider doing first to last in terms of how effective they are probably going to be; I wouldn’t necessarily do all of these items for every book.

  • The best thing that you can do is to list him as your illustrator on your book, so that any time somebody looks at his books they could potentially click on his name to see what else he has done and find your books that way. If you weren’t involved at all with his books, then there’s no real way to reciprocate and get your name listed, but I don’t think that it needs to be or should be.
  • You can get your books listed below each other in the “Customers who bought this book also bought…” section by having people purchase both books. Depending on how popular your books are, it probably would only take a few people buying both to dominate that section of the site, and potentially land your book in the “Frequently Bought Together…” section right above it.
  • If you have people that have purchased the kindle version of both books, and they highlight sections of each book, then you could get them listed together in the “Customers Who Highlighted This Item Also Highlighted…” section.
  • You could also create a wishlist that includes both books, or a ListMania! list.
  • You could leave reviews on each book that mention the other book and link directly to it using the “Insert a Product Link” button that appears just above the review window when you are typing it out.
  • You could start forum discussions about the books and mention the other books in them.

I think the biggest thing to bear in mind is to be useful with your cross-promotion and not spammy; don’t mention the other book just because, provide some context. In your lists, provide more than just those books if the category you’re creating would work with them, even if they aren’t your books.  Do as much promotion together outside of Amazon as you can so that you can push each other’s audiences to the other person’s books, which in the end is going to reward you the greatest because you’ll be sending new buyers to the books and Amazon likes to award products that sell.

How do I create a contest to promote my book?

If you want a contest that can really make your book go viral and bring you a lot of attention, and you already have an existing audience through an email list or facebook fanpage or website, then here’s an idea…the original question was asked for somebody offering a cookbook so it’s tailored for that market, but you can adjust it easily to work with your book’s market:

  1. Lower the price on Amazon (or whichever channel you want to spur sales for) and let folks know that that price is only available during the contest. (I recommend Amazon because they’re the gorilla and price changes usually get reflected reasonably quickly – often within 12-24 hours or less.)
  2. Provide a place where folks can get a sample PDF with a few of the recipes.
  3. Create a YouTube video about the contest, with this offer:
    • Make one of the recipes from the sampler PDF (no purchase necessary!) or use a recipe from the book (on sale now until the contest ends!)
    • Mention the contest entry requirements, which could be one of the following:
      1. Record a video describing what they thought of the process of preparing the meal (how difficult, how much time?) and what they thought of it (how tasty? did the family like it?) Bonus points for including video of preparing or consuming the video, but can be as simple as using the built-in tools to record the video using your webcam and the YouTube website.  Enter it as a video response to the contest video.
      2. Take a picture of the dish after preparing it and post it to facebook and/or twitter, bonus points for including folks eating it!
      3. Write a comment on the contest page with their experience. Bonus points if you link to a video or image.
    • How entries are judged…random selection, popular vote through likes/retweets/a poll/etc, or panel of judges (could be just you.)
    • What the prize will be.
  4. Send traffic to the contest, and try to tie in a viral component to it. There are services that will help do that, but you could just do it by sharing the page with your email list and fanpage base.

I wouldn’t recommend having more than one way to “enter” the contest unless you are doing something simple such as a random ballot for liking/sharing/commenting.  The higher the barrier to entry, the fewer responses you’ll get, but the more engaged your contest entrants will be. A comment/like/share/retweet is much simpler for a user than a photo or video.  However, a suitably awesome prize can justify the tougher barrier to entry, and if you include some sort of viral component in the judging then it can really help a contest spread (even by people not taking part.)

For example, you might have people share their entry to get your pool of finalists, and then do another popularity vote based on just those or do a panel of judges at that point. You could have a really cool prize for the winner(s) that actually enter, and depending on whether you can track it or not you could have smaller prizes such as copies of the book for folks that interact by commenting or sharing.

It can be some work, but if you have a large enough audience to seed the contest with and can make the contest go viral it can lead to a lot of sales and attention.

Also note that this particular idea probably would work best with a mass market niche, and may not work as well for your UBC. But, it can be an additional (high-price!) service that you can offer to people as an upsell…

How do I link my book with other best-sellers in my category on Amazon?

If you want to link your book (or other books) with books that are already selling well, use the Wish Lists and Recommendations features, and in your customer reviews you can create a link using a special format to point to another book at Amazon (there’s a button for doing so when writing your book, which is easier than remembering the syntax.)

Just be very careful about how you link to other books, and I generally don’t recommend doing it to your own books because that seems a bit sleazy and is against the Amazon terms of service. Technically, if you have any sort of financial interest or competitive interest in a book, you can’t leave a review, and Amazon will take your review right down. In fact, they will sometimes consider the fact that you sell any book as a competitive interest, even if you sell science fiction or fantasy books and you want to review a book on gardening, for example.

Enforcement of that rule is inconsistent, and hopefully they’ll come up with better policies and stop deleting legitimate reviews and get rid of the “paid for” reviews instead. In my mind, the best way to use the product tagging feature is to:

  1. Use it whenever you think you can legitimately help somebody reading that review by pointing to another product that isn’t one of your own.
  2. To make friends in the Apex Authors Facebook Group and to buy each other’s books when they are on promotion and to leave honest reviews. (Unless the book needs some work, in which case talk to the person offline and don’t leave a review.)
  3. To have others use the linking features in reviews to your books and for you to reciprocate for their books. Again, only do so when it will legitimately help the reader of the review and is above-board. In fact, keep an eye on the books being promoted and just add in any that should be mentioned whenever it’s appropriate, whether that person is reciprocating or not.
How do I promote my book using a call to action overlay on YouTube?

When you are watching videos on YouTube, there are two ways to promote your book, one that is paid and one that is technically paid but practically free or at least very cheap.

For either method, you’ll need to signup for AdWords for YouTube as that is the program that is used.

The paid method is to purchase ads on specific videos (or keywords that cause a video to show up) and it will work similar to your standard AdWords campaign where you pay per click.

The semi-cheap method is to create a Promoted Video campaign through the AdWords interface in YouTube so that people will watch your video. When folks search for keywords, there are normal listings and promoted listings, and you need to get your video into the promoted listings. Now, you don’t have to actually pay for much in order to have your video be promoted; set a penny a day limit and choose an obscure keyword so that your video doesn’t really show up if you want to make it unlikely you’ll have to spend that penny, or use the system as it’s designed and make an accurate ad that actually promotes your video. It could be a good return on investment if people then buy your book…

Once a video is being actively promoted at some level, it unlocks the Call to Action Overlays feature on that video. You can then set up a free ad on your own video that appears and you can use that to link to your book. (Technically, you are paying for folks to watch your video, and the CTA overlay is what you are trying to get them to click on.)

YouTube provides Step by Step Directions here for how to use that feature, so check there for the most up to date instructions.

How do I promote my book with keywords on Amazon?

You can do use keywords in your book descriptions, but be sure to do it in such a way that it reads naturally and never forget that a human is making a buying decision based on what you write, so if you keyword stuff your description you may get a marginally better search ranking but will definitely get a drop off in purchases and conversions. You also run the risk of Amazon deciding they don’t like your description and potentially removing your book from their marketplace.

Write for your customer first, the search engines second, and as the technology for the search engines improves over time your book will naturally rise to the top as long as you offer a quality product that people are willing to purchase and leave good reviews for.

How do I tag books at Amazon?

Amazon has actually discontinued the use of tags; any that you’ve created in the past can still be accessed through your profile, but you can’t add new tags to a book listing and they won’t be displayed on the listing anymore. Amazon is constantly testing new features and frequently rolls these features out for a small segment of their audience before making it available to everybody.  Instead of tags, they recommend that you use  Wish ListsCustomer Reviews, and Recommendations instead.

How do you set up an Author Profile on Amazon?

Just go to Author Central and set up an account. Once you’ve done that, you can claim your books and set up your author profile (and profiles for up to 3 pen names, if you want) and the system will begin tracking your reviews and sales for you automatically. It can take a day or two for books to be added to your profile, but it’s a relatively easy process. Once your books appear in your account, you can also do more advanced editing of their descriptions than is possible through CreateSpace’s interface.

If I give away a book on my website can my readers still review it at Amazon?

Yes, but they won’t be able to mark it as an Amazon Verified Purchase in their review. That’s reserved for actual purchases or if they got it for free during a free promotional day if you are using KDP Select’s Lending Library (in which case you can’t give it away on your website until un-enrolling the book.) The customer will have had to have spent at least $50 on any products on Amazon in order to leave reviews, but will not have had to purchase your book specifically.

Note that if the person borrows the book from Kindle Unlimited, then they will not be able to leave a verified purchase review, but can still leave an unlabeled review.

Should I submit my book to free distribution sites for exposure?

As long as your book isn’t in KDP Select you can sell it anywhere you want. Be aware, though, that Amazon will price match so if you give it away in one spot and Amazon finds it, then they might reduce the price to giving it away on their platform as well. (Which can be useful if you want a permanently free lead generator…)

One option you could consider is to give away portions of your book at those free distribution sites and have links for where they can purchase the full book. If you are in KDP Select, then the book can not be substantially similar if distributed anywhere else; Amazon’s Terms of Service do not really go into more detail than that about what constitutes something that is substantially similar but I imagine that anything that contains more than 10% of the book (what is shown in the preview on Amazon’s site) probably would not work.

If you are not in KDP Select, then you just need to be careful to make sure that it is exceedingly obvious that it isn’t the full work; I remember a story about a mainstream author who had a sample that he was giving away get price-matched by Amazon despite it saying that it was a sample chapter, and he wound up having to give away somewhere in the high-5 figures or low/mid 6-figures of copies of his book (I forget which.)  I never did hear if his lawsuit went anywhere; it hadn’t the last I’d seen anything about it.

When can I consider myself an Amazon Bestseller?

Bestseller basically means that you sell better than any other books, usually as part of a bestseller in a category, which is fine. (If you are a kindle or paperback bestseller in the overall sales, you need to be doing a training session with Jay to let us all know how you did it!)

Some people consider themselves a bestseller if they get in the bestseller list (top 100), others only if they are first page (top 20) or better. Obviously, you need to hit #1 to be a #1 bestseller.

If your book hasn’t sold yet, then I personally wouldn’t call it a best seller even if it is ranked in the #1 spot, but if it’s already there then I’d recommend doing a little promotion to get a few sales and that way you definitely will be the best seller, and you also have a better chance of remaining that way rather than being randomly bumped around.

Putting bestseller seals on the cover of your book can help with social proof, but they aren’t anything official; Jay has offered them as part of Book Cover Genius and as bonuses for a few of their other products so if you’ve bought anything it might be worth taking a look through what was offered. You could also just make your own.

Prospecting

Does my UBC have to be about publishing a book?

The physical book you use as a calling card does not have to be about publishing or the types of services you can offer; it just needs to be something relevant to the person that you are talking to. Having a book that describes what you offer is a good way to introduce yourself as there will be a 100% alignment between what you are offering and what you are handing somebody so that they will remember you.

However, if you are going to be approaching a specific niche, then writing a book related to that niche works pretty well and can get you their attention. If you can solve an actual problem that they are having, they’ll know like and trust you that much more when it comes time to offer your services.

If you are already a professional in another area, even if it isn’t the same niche as the prospects you are approaching, you could also use a book related to your expertise in that area to demonstrate the type of quality and what you can do for that person.

If you are giving somebody a book that doesn’t explicitly state the book production services you are offering, then get some sticky notes or bookmarks and have them say something along the lines of, “Like this book? Let me help you promote your business with your own book!” That way if they look at the book a week or a year later they’ll be reminded why they have it and will get in touch with you.

The important thing about your ultimate business card is that you can show off the type of work that you do. It should be high quality, and should make people want to do business with you. The content of the book will work better for getting you new clients if it’s relevant, so don’t use a children’s book you’ve published unless you are offering children’s book services and that’s the market you are going into.

A professional book about how to publish or related to the reasons to publish their own ultimate business card can serve as a great piece of sales material, but anything that shows somebody what they could have if they work with you even if it doesn’t describe that process in the book will work well, especially for in-person networking.

How do I sell the print publication rights for my book?

I don’t have any experience there; the way that I would go about it would be to find an agent in your niche that has contacts that would be interested in printing your book, including in overseas markets.

If you are making a lot of digital sales, you could try approaching publishing companies yourself as you’d have some data behind you, but unless you go with smaller independent companies you probably won’t get very far as the big players all use agents as a minimum cost of entry to vet new projects.

The agents you’d need to speak with would all be specific to your niche; you could try looking in the Writer’s Market annual books for the addresses and contact information for book publishers and agents; I used to purchase that book every year back in the 90s, and it was a pretty quality publication back in the day so I assume that it still is.

How much & how should I charge for different services (editing, writing, per hour, flat fee, etc.)?

I do not recommend charging by the hour.  I usually offer a package cost for various services because I usually sell that as part of what I’m offering. For example, how much somebody pays me to put their book together from interview through finished product determines the type of editing that they get.  If you underprice your services and it takes longer then you thought it would, then you don’t make your client subsidize your learning curve. If you overprice your services then you either won’t make any sales or will be less likely to have repeat sales or referrals. If you price your services in a reasonable range, then you are offering a good value to your client (no matter how much or how little your actual time commitment or cost is) and are more likely to get repeat business and referrals and everybody will be happy. Generally speaking, I’d rather be more towards the overpricing my services range because it’s been my experience that what I offer is almost always worth more to the client than what it would be worth to me or to what I think it is worth.  You can get more details about my actual thought process in the $10K Books -> Suggested Pricing & Services -> Self-Pub Pricing & Services training.

If you are going to be offering an a la carte service (such as editing or ghostwriting) then it can be a little different, but I still wouldn’t charge by the hour.  For ghostwriting, I’d charge a flat fee for a specific amount of work (a 1000 word article or a 15000 word book for $X for example.)  For editing, I would probably be outsourcing that anyway so I’d most likely charge by the number of words being edited and for the type of editing being done, most likely in the realm of some multiple of whatever my costs are. For example, for basic copyediting, I’d probably charge somewhere in the 1.5 cents to 2 cents per word, potentially with a minimum such as whatever the cost would be for 10,000 words, which is the model that CreateSpace uses if you were to have them do it for you. (They tend to be towards the high end of average for the cost; I haven’t actually used them but just looking at them as a model.)

Is an “Avoiding Pain” or “Gaining Pleasure” title better for my UBC?

Using an “avoiding pain” style of title can be an effective strategy for selling more copies of the book, but remember that your UBC won’t necessarily be something that you care about selling…that’s a bonus.

Your book is going to be one of the ways that you brand yourself, so you need to decide what sort of emotions you want to invoke when you are meeting with somebody and hand them your book. For me personally, I try to find a good title first and don’t worry a lot about getting into specifics, just making sure that it’s a relevant title. In the subtitle, that’s where I try to get some keywords and more subtle calls to action or messaging across, especially for something where I won’t be relying upon people doing a search in Amazon or Google in order to find the book.

My first concern with this particular book (the UBC) is to get business or referrals from somebody after I hand them the book, so if I think that a more negative title is appropriate for the service or subject matter then that is what I’ll use, but if all you are doing is trying to catch a name on a search, then only use it if it also works in person.

Ideally, your title and subtitle will work no matter how the book is found or distributed, but for the ultimate business card just keep in mind that most of the services you sell will probably come from handing a book to somebody directly or to somebody that then refers that person (or even hands your book to them for you!)

My clients lack content (or it’s sub-par), do you have a wide-range of content I can use?

In my experience, yes, this course provides it, because the people whose books that I write for them provide quality information. I will usually sit down with my clients and determine what they want to share about their expertise, come up with the questions they need to be able to answer for somebody to impart that information, and then just do an interview with them where I ask them the list of questions we come up with and record that interview, and then use the transcription to create their books. If somebody wants to write a book to promote themselves, they should know enough to be able to provide content for their own book.

Since you seem to have some folks that don’t seem to be able to articulate that information, then in terms of niche-specific content, then no, this course doesn’t provide it (unless of course the person is in the publishing industry, but I doubt that’s the case.)

I know that some of John & Jay’s other courses offered PLR content as research material (especially a few years ago before PLR would cause your book to be removed from Amazon) so you could probably find some PLR on your subject matter if you really needed to. A couple of good resources are TradeBit and PLR.me if you want to go that route, but my recommendation is to find out the industry knowledge from your clients.

What are some benefits I can share with a prospect about why they need a UBC?

The full question about why to write an Ultimate Business Card book that was asked was:

I’m trying to convince a potential client why he should write a book. He doesn’t like to write or something, but he’s been blogging a tiny amount lately and just told me “Gwen you have always told me to write more and every time I do, I get a new lead.”

What are some benefits that I can share with him about why he should have a UBC? I’ve already told him he can use it as a lead generation tool, but I’m not a sales/markety type person, so I’m not sure how to push him over the edge for wanting one.

It looks like he’s already got all the benefits he should need! Every time he writes he gets a new lead! Remind him of that every chance you get.

If you want a good example, watch the replay from Wednesday’s webinar (#3) and pay special attention to my Paleo in Maine case study (I think it’s the 4th one if memory serves)…that’s one of my clients who has had his book available for just over a month and has gotten 3 full-time clients directly from sales of his book!  They weren’t even from him using the book as lead generation; those people picked up copies of his book and bought it from local stores that are carrying it for him.

Having his own book brands him as an expert, gives him instant credibility even with people who don’t know anything about him, and is a great tool for introducing yourself to people you’d like to do business with. He could FedEx his book to a half dozen people he’d like to work with along with a sticky note about how he thought that they’d enjoy his new book, and he’ll probably get a call back from at least a few if not all of them.  John talked about that strategy in one of the previous training webinars; I think it was the first one but it might have been the second one.

What do I do if I significantly underquote somebody and can’t fulfill at that price?

The answer to this question has two parts, because it was something I needed to think about a bit before I could answer. I’m including both answers I provided to this question because I think both are valid.

My initial response:
Personally, when I’ve underquoted, I’ve just treated it as a learning experience and make sure not to do it again and hold to that price for that job (but I obviously wouldn’t offer that same price even to the same customer in the future.) I have never quoted something that is below my actual costs, so when I’ve made mistakes like this I’ve basically just spent time working for a lot less than I’m worth. The Paleo in Maine book from my presentation yesterday is an example of that.

My eventual response:
I spent some time thinking about it and talked to Jay and to one of my business mentors up here in Maine, and here’s how I’d handle the situation if it happened to me in the future.

I’d still probably try to stick to my original quote if at all possible, but I would let them know that after reviewing exactly what work they’d need to be done that it would really cost $X. I’d tell them that I could do it at the price of the original quote but they really wouldn’t get the quality product that they deserve. If I literally couldn’t do it at that price, then I’d just have to tell them no, and if they raise a stink about it then it probably wasn’t a customer I’d want to deal with anyway.

One thing to be careful about is to make sure that the person knows your actual price for what they’re receiving. Even if I did do the job at the underquoted price, I’d still do as great a job as I could, but you don’t want that person to brag about how cheap you are, you want them to talk about what great work you do. Make sure they understand that you won’t be able to honor that price for other people so that they don’t lead others to think you’d do work that cheaply for them.

This wasn’t shared on the webinar as it had slipped my mind, but even though I stuck to my original quote with that Paleo in Maine book, he did actually give me a tip in his final check. I forget exactly how much it was without checking my records, but it was something on the order of an extra $50 or $100 which was a good percentage over what I’d charged him, even if it wasn’t as much as I would have charged had I known what I was going to be doing for him or even had just started from a current quote and not one that was 6 months out of date.

What is a good email subject line for getting a blog owner to open my email?

My suggestion, if you have the time, is to leave a few comments on their blog first over a short period of time so that you can start to build that relationship with them; that will do more to get your email opened than an individual subject line. They have to be good comments though, that are relevant to the post you are writing on, and not just spam. If somebody recognizes your name because you’ve been a good commenter on their blog, then they’ll be more willing to reciprocate your attention by giving you some of theirs.

For the actual subject lines to use, keep a document that lists the lines that you use and which ones you get a response to. Testing is the best way to see what works.

I haven’t done a lot of emailing folks with whom I don’t have a pre-existing relationship, but here are some lines that could be worth trying (in no particular order):

  • Do you have a book?
  • Are you published yet?
  • Do you have a book in ______?
    (fill in w/a local bookstore or industry specific store in their area, use google to see what’s in their city – if they don’t list where they are from on an about or contact page, you can lookup their whois information using any domain registrar to see if that’s publicly listed or not in their domain.)
  • Want ______ to be a best-seller on Amazon?
    (come up w/a decent book title based on their blog – even if they don’t hire you, you’ll have provided a little bit of value.)

My basic rule of thumb: Avoid spammy behavior, don’t use all caps, avoid exclamation points, ask questions, be relevant, and don’t be deceptive.

Technology

How do I change the default formatting in WordCrusher?

We are currently working on creating a “theme” functionality for WordCrusher that will accomodate that sort of edit inside the interface, but in the meantime you’ll need to edit the source files and recompile the book if you want to change the default formatting. There’s a video in the membership area on the WordCrusher page that gets into advanced editing topics:

Basically, go to the WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder in My Documents, edit the HTML file as much as you want, and then drag the OPF file into Kindle Previewer to recompile – this will create a file in the same folder with the same filename as the OPF (but with a mobi extension) – you can also run the OPF file through KindleGen directly, but for most folks it’s easier to just drag into Kindle Previewer.

If you are doing advanced edits, I recommend copying the contents of your WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder to a new a new folder (don’t delete the lic.wc or authorinfo.txt files from the original folder) and renaming the OPF file before starting to work on it. Any time you run WordCrusher, it will remove all of the previous documents files from the original folder so you don’t want to accidentally lose your work.

How do I promote my book using a call to action overlay on YouTube?

When you are watching videos on YouTube, there are two ways to promote your book, one that is paid and one that is technically paid but practically free or at least very cheap.

For either method, you’ll need to signup for AdWords for YouTube as that is the program that is used.

The paid method is to purchase ads on specific videos (or keywords that cause a video to show up) and it will work similar to your standard AdWords campaign where you pay per click.

The semi-cheap method is to create a Promoted Video campaign through the AdWords interface in YouTube so that people will watch your video. When folks search for keywords, there are normal listings and promoted listings, and you need to get your video into the promoted listings. Now, you don’t have to actually pay for much in order to have your video be promoted; set a penny a day limit and choose an obscure keyword so that your video doesn’t really show up if you want to make it unlikely you’ll have to spend that penny, or use the system as it’s designed and make an accurate ad that actually promotes your video. It could be a good return on investment if people then buy your book…

Once a video is being actively promoted at some level, it unlocks the Call to Action Overlays feature on that video. You can then set up a free ad on your own video that appears and you can use that to link to your book. (Technically, you are paying for folks to watch your video, and the CTA overlay is what you are trying to get them to click on.)

YouTube provides Step by Step Directions here for how to use that feature, so check there for the most up to date instructions.

How do I retrieve a lost ISBN number?

The answer depends on what you mean by lost.

If you used it previously on a book other than the one that you are currently working on then you can’t re-use it.

If you were given a free one from somewhere such as CreateSpace or Lulu or Smashwords, then you can retrieve it by continuing to work on the project in that interface where it was assigned.

If you ordered a block of ISBNs from Bowker (assuming that you live in the United States), then they have an interface where you can see what ISBN numbers you have been assigned.

If you previously assigned that ISBN to the book, then you can check the Books in Print database through Bowker’s search tools, or if it has been previously published and is available for sale then searching Amazon or other bookseller networks will let you retrieve it.

Based on your question, my guess is that you purchased an ISBN from Bowker, and so the easiest way to retrieve the ISBN number is either to search your email for messages from them, or to log in to your account with them.

I don’t have a Word document, can I convert my PDF to Word?

If you use the text select tool, you may be able to copy and paste the text from the PDF into a word document. You could also try using a service such as Online-Convert.com or Zamzar.com – they will sometimes work a little better, depending on the document.

If your book is appropriate, you can also use the Kindle Textbook Creator that allows you to directly sell your PDF as a Kindle book, but be aware that you may have a larger than necessary file size, your book may not be available on all devices, and readers may not have the customizability of their reading experience that they are accustomed to.

I have a Mac, can I use WordCrusher? Are there alternatives?

WordCrusher is PC only, but as a Mac user myself, what I did was run Windows on my Mac using Parallels, which costs about $80 but frequently goes on sale in various Mac bundles etc so you can usually get it for around $45, often bundled with other good apps. There are some other virtualization software packages that I haven’t any experience with that you could also use to run Windows on your Mac, and you can also use Bootcamp, which comes with your Mac and allows you to boot into Windows instead of into OS X. If you scroll down on the WordCrusher download page, the final video is a webinar that includes some advanced formatting and Mac alternatives, which also includes links to all of the above.

Alternatively, use the Book Format Rocket which will work on both PC or Mac. (Unless you are creating a fully illustrated children’s book in which case you should use the free Kindle Kids Book Creator.)

Is there a difference between .doc and .docx, and which should I upload to CreateSpace?

There is a difference between .doc and .docx files, but it is mostly a behind-the-scenes technical one that really isn’t too important for the end user. For compatibility with collaborators (other writers, editors, etc.) you should try to save your files in the more modern .docx format when given a choice.

For uploading to CreateSpace, I’d always provide print-ready PDF files and would not try uploading any kind of Word Documents; if you can avoid the printer from having to make decisions about how to print your book, you will be better off.

WordCrusher

How do I change the default formatting in WordCrusher?

We are currently working on creating a “theme” functionality for WordCrusher that will accomodate that sort of edit inside the interface, but in the meantime you’ll need to edit the source files and recompile the book if you want to change the default formatting. There’s a video in the membership area on the WordCrusher page that gets into advanced editing topics:

Basically, go to the WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder in My Documents, edit the HTML file as much as you want, and then drag the OPF file into Kindle Previewer to recompile – this will create a file in the same folder with the same filename as the OPF (but with a mobi extension) – you can also run the OPF file through KindleGen directly, but for most folks it’s easier to just drag into Kindle Previewer.

If you are doing advanced edits, I recommend copying the contents of your WORDCRUSHER_BOOK folder to a new a new folder (don’t delete the lic.wc or authorinfo.txt files from the original folder) and renaming the OPF file before starting to work on it. Any time you run WordCrusher, it will remove all of the previous documents files from the original folder so you don’t want to accidentally lose your work.

I have a Mac, can I use WordCrusher? Are there alternatives?

WordCrusher is PC only, but as a Mac user myself, what I did was run Windows on my Mac using Parallels, which costs about $80 but frequently goes on sale in various Mac bundles etc so you can usually get it for around $45, often bundled with other good apps. There are some other virtualization software packages that I haven’t any experience with that you could also use to run Windows on your Mac, and you can also use Bootcamp, which comes with your Mac and allows you to boot into Windows instead of into OS X. If you scroll down on the WordCrusher download page, the final video is a webinar that includes some advanced formatting and Mac alternatives, which also includes links to all of the above.

Alternatively, use the Book Format Rocket which will work on both PC or Mac. (Unless you are creating a fully illustrated children’s book in which case you should use the free Kindle Kids Book Creator.)