I dedicated a big part of last week to metadata, copyright registration, and ISBNs.
I got a lot of writing done, as well, but I told you all on social media that I was breaking my characters’ hearts, so I’m not going to give a word count. So let’s just say…all the words necessary to make their hopes and dreams seem basically unreachable.
Now, back to the publishing stuff.
I’ll be talking primarily about IngramSpark, since that’s the only self-publishing company I’ve worked with recently. I used KDP about 5 years ago, so my memory there is rusty. But I’ll tell you what I know about it.
Now, when publishing with Ingramspark, you have the option to buy your ISBNs through them. I have yet to find an instance where buying anything direct costs more than buying through someone else, though. So, I opted to buy my ISBNs from Bowker.
They’re not cheap. I’ll be honest. It’s $125 for one, but they have bulk packages, too. You can get 10 for $295 or 100 for $575. There’s also a package of 1,000, but that’s like…small publishing house level shit.
You’ll need one for every format you intend to publish your book in (hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook). Since I had 5 novels in varying stages of editing when I bought ISBNs, I bought a huge batch of them because it was more cost effective.
If you go through KDP, you can have them generate a free ISBN, but they’re not registered with Bowker and mark your book as an Amazon book.
Quick tip…bookstores probably won’t carry a KDP book. Why would they? Amazon is their biggest competitor. It’s probably a better bet to buy your own, especially since that means YOU control the metadata.
Btw, Ingram just so happens to be one of the most widely used distribution channels (if not THE most widely used channel) for bookstores. So, where KDP offers the option of Expanded Distribution, Ingram focuses on it quite a bit more. That doesn’t guarantee that your book will be in bookstores, but if you approach a store about carrying your book, your chances are better with IngramSpark.
As for copyrights, you have the copyright as soon as you write something. BUT in the United States, you have to register it if you want to pursue a lawsuit in the event of theft. (Hooray…another instance of paying the government…lol.) For a novel, the registration is $55 on copyright.gov.
Not terrible. Not great.
Ingramspark charges $49 for title setup (aka…for listing it in that database I mentioned earlier) for each format. They offer hardback, paperback, and ebook options. Yes, they offer hardback! I was freaking pumped about that. KDP doesn’t have that. (KDP print quality also lacks compared to IngramSpark. Just saying.)
You can group a print format with the ebook. If you do that, then you only pay the title setup fee twice to do all three formats. Basically, it saves you $49 to bundle your ebook with one of your print formats.
Also, they’re running a promotion right now, since they just introduced a new cover option for hardbacks. If you choose Jacketed case laminate and use the code JACKET at checkout, they waive the title setup fee. That option requires an additional cover size, though. (Template. Highly recommend.)
If you want to upload your ebook to KDP separately (higher royalties), you just deny IngramSpark the rights to put your stuff on Amazon during the title setup process.
Now, the ISBN asks about the copyright, the copyright needs the ISBN, and the title setup process with IngramSpark requires needs both of those. So it’s kinda like the whole “I need job experience to get a job, but I need a job to get job experience” thing.
Solution? Multiple tabs, do them all side by side in one session.
So make sure you block out a bit of time, when you get to that point.
But we’re not there, yet.
There are some things that you have to come up with for title setup, and it goes way smoother if you have that shit prepped ahead of time.
I keep a separate document on my computer for all my metadata. Each book gets its own section (separated by page breaks). Book titles are put in as headings so I can find them easier when I need them. Each of the things I have to prep get their own sections within the book sections.
Because apparently, even though I’m super disorganized with my writing, I’m organized with my metadata.
Here’s what you need to have prepped before you start this process.
Keywords. Take the time. Do your research. These are terms that people search which could lead them to your book. (AKA…important as fuck.) Choose them wisely, because you only get seven. Separate them with semicolons.
You need an author bio.
Yep, I know. I hate bios, too. But it’s a necessary evil.
You’ll need a short description of your book and a long description.
The short description is limited to 350 bytes. Not words. Not characters. Bytes. That includes punctuation (yes, apostrophes, too), spaces, and when you drop to a new line. It’s basically an elevator pitch.
Do not try to chop up your blurb, it will do nothing but aggravate the shit out of you. The blurb is perfectly crafted for the length it’s at (hopefully somewhere around 150 words), and that’s way longer than the short description.
Here’s the one I went with for World for the Broken, to give you an idea.
Christian has one hope to rescue his sister-in-law and nephew from a violent thug. Trust the stranger who just saved him from a snowy grave. Not exactly smart after the apocalypse.
After all, Chloe has a past of her own and plenty of reservations. Now, she must choose. Condemn his family to a slow death or risk her own life to help save them?
That’s 345 bytes, so I had 5 to spare. This is the part that usually takes me the longest, because I suck at elevator pitches. Lol. If you also suck at elevator pitches, prepare this ahead of time, for sure.
The long description is roughly 900-4,000 characters. Heading (aka tagline/thing to really draw readers in to make them want to finish reading the description), blurb, end clause (Fans of… or Gift for…).
You’ll also need to know the prices you want to go with. IngramSpark has a price calculator, just type in how many pages, trim size, paper type, etc., and it’ll tell you the cost to print a copy. Decide if you want to offer a retail/wholesale discount or the option for bookstores to return unsold copies.
You can play with the price with discounts when inputting it to see what price range/discount/royalty works for you. It helps to research the cost of other books in your genre and trim size.
You need to have your interior files formatted appropriately (I may do a blog on that later, I’m not sure. You can also pay someone to format them for your chosen trim sizes.). For print, they should be exported as PDF files at 330 ppi and images that have not been compressed. (Word>options>advanced) For ebook, IngramSpark requires epub files.
You also need your cover properly sized for each format. Use the template generator. Then, use the template.
If you don’t have a photo editing program that will allow you to lay the proof over the cover or vice versa, download GIMP. It’s a free photo editing program, readily available online. It’s more than sufficient for this. The pink and blue areas of the template should be covered by your cover. The blue area is trim area though, so don’t put anything important (title, author name, tagline, etc.) in the blue area.
Taking care of the size for each trim size can be done by your cover artist, though.
Print covers need to be PDF (again, 330 ppi and not compressed) whereas ebook covers should be jpg files.
If you don’t have a barcode ahead of time (they can be bought from Bowker), IngramSpark provides one on the cover template. Crop that bitch out of there and lay that shit on your cover. Or leave it off, and they’ll add it for you.
Once you have all that, load your copyright application in one tab, title setup in another, and your (already purchased) ISBNs in another. Then, just fill in the blanks and copy/paste. Except the long description. That can’t be pasted in the normal way. You have to click in the box, then press CTRL and v to paste that.
During title setup, you’ll be prompted to choose BISAC codes and Thema (I recommend copy/pasting these letter/number combinations of the ones that fit your book into your metadata document, same with the Thema), and if your particular genre isn’t listed exactly, you can put that as a keyword.
There’s also a place for review quotes in the title setup. If you don’t have them yet, you can edit your metadata for free later.
If you approve the eproofs they send you of the print copies, and later need to upload a revised file (or if you need so revise the ebook at all, as there is no eproof for that) there is a $25 fee for each revised file. So get those right before you approve it. Look over the eproof carefully.
Before ordering a ton of copies, order one of each print format, and look them over for any errors you may have missed.
And now, you’re ready to go.
I promise, it sounds worse than it actually is when it’s all laid out.
If you have any questions, IngramSpark has a ton of resources (as does KDP). Ingram also has the option of chat support, which is incredibly helpful.
Keep reading. Keep writing.