Why owning your ISBN is important—or not

When you hire a vendor to produce your book, the company usually provides one of its own ISBNs, which makes it your publisher of record. This is also true if you use the free ISBN provided by Create Space or Smashwords.

book publishing isbn

Photo by Ove Tøpfer

Bowker is the U.S. registrar for International Standard Book Numbers. Each book receives a unique ISBN, which goes into the Bowker database booksellers and libraries use for ordering. When a bookseller looks up the book in Bowker’s database, the “Publisher” field will say “Create Space” or the name of your vendor.

How can this be if, as I said, you’re the publisher because you’re paying the bill? Continue reading

Why what you call a ‘publisher’ matters

Last week, I wrote about the differences, slim though they are, between vanity presses and subsidy presses.

In the comments, Jennifer wrote, “What a publisher calls itself does not matter. What matters are the terms of the contract.”

True. A company can call itself whatever it chooses, but whether it’s a true publisher or a vendor providing services depends on what’s in the contract, not its name.

But what the rest of us call these companies does matter. It troubles me to hear authors who’ve hired an author services vendor to produce their book refer to that company as “my publisher.” Continue reading

Vanity press vs. subsidy: What’s the difference?

question answer

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Q: Earlier you talked about the difference between royalty publishing and a subsidy press. I’ve heard other writers complain about “vanity presses.” Is there a difference between a subsidy press and a vanity press?

A: Depends on who you ask.

Some people think so-called “traditional publishing” is the only true publishing, and that any author who pays to publish their book is getting ripped off. Those folks will tell you that subsidy publishing is just a new name for the ol’ vanity press scam.

I disagree. Continue reading

When self-publishing, consider your profit potential

Whether you’re buying publishing services from a single vendor or from a set of freelancers, you have to do a cold calculation. Can you sell enough copies of your book to recoup your investment?

add money profit

Illustration by IconEden

In an earlier post, I talked about some of the costs that go into producing a book. I came up with a figure of about $6,000. But if in addition to what I outlined earlier you were also to hire, as most publishing houses would, a developmental editor, several proofreaders, and most importantly a kick-tail artist to create a unique cover illustration, you can easily rack up $10,000 in costs.

If you make $2 per book, you’d have to sell 5,000 books. Can you do that? Are you sure? Most self-published books sell in the hundreds, not in the thousands. Continue reading

How publishing works

I once sat across a coffee shop table with a client and outlined the publishing process for him. He was astounded. It never occurred to him that someone else would bear the cost of producing his book. He was more familiar with the manufacturing business model, where if you want a product made, you design it and then purchase the raw materials and hire the people to construct it.

Publishing is different, and in a lot of ways, it’s a little crazy. Continue reading

Counting the costs of self-publishing

The announcement by Jerry B. Jenkins that his Christian Writers Guild is getting into the author services business created a bit of a ruckus in the publishing business. Victoria Strauss put together a great analysis of CWG Publishing over at the Writer Beware blog.

Photo by Darren Shaw http://www.sxc.hu/profile/djshaw

Photo by Darren Shaw

Some people are calling CWGP a scam because of its high price. Which put me a bit on edge at first, because I work with self-publishing writers, too. Am I guilty of a scam? I certainly don’t think so. I offer services, and my rates are in line with those of my colleagues at the Editorial Freelancers Association. Continue reading

Publishing Q&A: Do you need a professional editor?

question answer

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This question came up several times during the Florida Writers Association conference.  Sometimes it was “Do you need a professional editor to work on your manuscript before you self-publish?” and other times it was “Do you need a professional editor to work on your manuscript before you submit for traditional publication?” Answers varied. Some said yes, unequivocally, and others said a good writer can produce a quality manuscript without help.

My answer falls somewhere between. Continue reading