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Welcome to week 2 of my chronicles of publishing a book series. This week I was busy doing some much needed updates to my author website, assigning the ISBNs for the first book in my series and doing some more work on my book covers after getting the final edits on the book back from my copy editor.

Website Updates

First on my agenda this week was some much needed improvements on my website. I first established my author website back in 2010 just before my first book was published. A decade is pretty much an eternity in internet time. There have been plenty of changes and updates made to the site since then, but one problem with constantly updating an old site is that you’ll end up with some clunky old code kicking around and eventually something will go awry.

For those of you who used to listen to the Awkward Author podcast or watch me on YouTube you might recall that a little over a year ago I had MAJOR website issues, had to pay a professional to help me get things up and running again, and then eventually went ahead and dumped everything and started over from scratch.

Anyway, with that whole starting over from scratch thing I basically built the website to have the bare minimum of what I needed for an author page: a short bio, info on each of my books with links to buy them, a contact page and a place where readers could sign up for my mailing list. Down the road I did add some more bits here and there, but one thing I hadn’t re-added to my site was a media page. With no books coming out it didn’t seem like a priority.

Of course, now I do have a book coming out, actually a whole series of books coming out so it was time to add a media page to my author website. What is a media page? This is a page where members of the media such as journalists or (more likely in our case) book bloggers can get information about you and download images. For an author this usually means having an official bio–something clear and factual written in the third person (this isn’t the place to be clever or cute), a spot for them to download a high resolution photo of you and links to downloadable high resolution cover images of your book or books. You could add other things like links to other interviews you have done or professional reviews, but in most cases those headed to your website’s media page either need an image to use or need basic info about you.

I use WordPress for my website with hosting by SiteGround. I’ve created my author website as well as this Awkward Author site using the Divi Theme (theme is the WordPress word for template) from Elegant Themes because I find it very easy to work with especially for someone like me whose coding skills are very limited. And when I do run into an issue, there are lots of articles and tutorial videos to help me figure things out. And yeah, even when doing something as simple as adding a media page to a website I needed to avail myself of a tutorial. It’s nothing fancy, but if you would like to check out the media page I created you can see it here.

As long as I was in website update mode, and since I do have a big book series coming out, I also added a “news” section to my website. This is really just a blog page to post updates or information about my book, and since its still pretty early in this publishing venture, I don’t have much news to share yet, but if you want to check that out here’s the link to my news page.

Assigning ISBNs

Next up on my publishing agenda was assigning ISBNs for my books. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is the number used to identify published books. It’s the numbers that are in the barcode printed on the back of books. When  your book is traditionally published, your publisher assigns an ISBN to your book. When you are self publishing a book you must purchase the ISBN for your book. Where you purchase ISBNs from will depend on what country you live in. If you’re in the US you must buy your ISBNs from Bowkers at their website.

How much does an ISBN cost? Well, it depends on how many you buy. If you’re only planning on publishing one book, you probably don’t need to buy a whole lot so then you pay more per number, but if you’re in this for the long haul then it makes more sense to buy a whole batch of them and pay a lot less per number. Yes, it is possible to buy “second hand” ISBNs on sites like Ebay. There are two issues with this. The first is that you always run the risk of getting stuck with a disreputable seller who isn’t selling “clean” ISBNs but numbers that have already been used for other books. The other problem is that when you purchase an ISBN from somewhere other than your country’s ISBN service then you have no control of the publisher or imprint name associated with your book.

That’s because each ISBN will have encoded in it basic information about your book like its title and the publisher name. The publisher name, however, can only be set when you are purchasing the numbers yourself from your own Bowkers (or whichever service is used in your country) account. So at the time that you set up your account you’ll also want to settle on a publisher name to use. It’s advised that you don’t use your own name for this as it screams SELF PUBLISHED and even though your book is self published there’s still enough of a stigma against this in the book world to at least try to pretend that your book was published by a small press. It’s a strange business. What can I say?

So, why am I assigning multiple ISBNs for one book? The rule is that you need a separate ISBN for each version of your book. Technically you don’t need one for ebooks. So, its up to you whether or not you want to use one of your ISBNs for the ebook versions of your book. I do not. But I still needed to assign four different ISBNs for my book, and no, that’s not because this is a four-book series, because right now I am just working on the first book in the series.

My plan is to have four different print copies. Four? Okay, two of them are going to be virtually identical, but will be coming from different printers. My book will have a trade paperback version that will be available through Amazon’s KDP service. This is Amazon’s print-on-demand service for books. (By the way, you do have the option to allow Amazon to assign an ISBN to your book, but doing so means they will be listed as the publisher of the book, which once again screams SELF PUBLISHED and will have the added drawback of angering bookstores who hate Amazon with a passion.) This version will only be available for sale on Amazon. Expanded distribution has not been enabled for this book.

That’s because I’ll also have a trade paperback version that will be available through Ingram book distribution and printed by way of Ingram Spark, Ingram’s print on demand service. Simply because I feel like this is the best chance I have of getting this book into physical stores. So, even though these are both trade paperback books of the same size and length I need to use a different ISBN for each.

Then I’m also going ahead and publishing two hardcover versions of this book by way of Ingram Spark, one regular print hardcover and one large print hardcover. Because of print-on-demand technology there isn’t much increase to me in  terms of price to add these two other versions of the book, and because I know this is my best bet for getting this book into libraries I’m going to put those out there as well.

Book Edits and More Cover Design

Finally this week, I got back the final pass edits from my copy editor. Other than any minor tweaks or typos, the interior text for my book should not be changing much. So I uploaded this Word document to my Vellum software which automatically creates pages of my book for ebooks and the different trim sizes of print books. It’s not cheap software, but if you’re planning on publishing your own books you would save yourself so many headaches by investing in Vellum.

Once I had the different files for the print versions of this book with the exact number of pages, I could download templates to create the print covers. You can do the math yourself, but an actual PNG or PDF with the spine area clearly shown and the safe areas marked is a huge help when you are doing your own print cover design. I should also note that each printer is a little bit different so even though I have two trade paperbacks of the same size one is with KDP and one is with Ingram Spark and I needed to create separate cover files for each because the print templates are slightly different.

So, as for what the actual cover will look like, I’m going to keep you in the dark a little bit longer. I’m going to do an “official” cover reveal on my author website this coming week. You’ll either have to head over there or just wait until next week when I share what the cover is going to look like for this book.

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