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ASIN or ISBN

Barcode

So you labored over your novel and produced a 100,000 word work of art. What’s next? Editing… check…. Editing… Check Check… and just to be sure… Editing! Perfect, now the content is ready for Cover Art and Distribution.

But how is the work of art to be distributed. Well Amazon has the Createspace tool. That’s easy enough, isn’t it?

True Amazon has provided the means to create an eBook and they will give you an ASIN as they do not require you to use an ISBN if you use their Createspace product. What will you be left with. In fact, you will have an eBook that can be sold anywhere on Amazon that your rights permit you to sell.

Can you take that singular product and sell it on Barnes and Nobel or other mediums for distribution? That answer unfortunately is no.

What is an ASIN you ask?

As ASIN is an Amazon Standard Identification Number. In other words its Amazon’s sku… a unique number for Amazon to locate the product within its databases. Each product sold on Amazon is given an ASIN. If your book has a 10digit ISBN (traditionally bound) then the ASIN and the ISBN could be the same.

If you have an eBook with a 13digit ISBN that also does not have a print edition, Amazon will usually only display the ASIN.

So why use an ISBN?

What is an ISBN?

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors. The ISBN Agency assigns ISBNs at the direct request of publishers, e-book publishers, audio cassette and video producers, software producers and museums and associations with publishing programs. Bowker is the Official ISBN Agency for the United States. The ISBN will establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition. The ISBN, coupled with a descriptive meta-data record, ensures that information needed to make a level purchasing decision is communicated to the consumer accurately and reliably, particularly in cases where the same product or format is available for purchase on multiple channels. In the digital supply chain, most major search engines, e-tailers, library web sites, social network applications, mobile phones and other entities cataloging information about books continue to leverage the ISBN as a cataloging mechanism and to search-optimize such information for consumer discovery. The Internet has enabled an entire new paradigm of book discovery, whereby consumers can directly research and purchase books, perform price comparisons across multiple different sales vendors or channels and even download partial components of the books they seek on a preview basis. For e-books, the ISBN and a descriptive meta-data record can be utilized to communicate format-specific information such as compatibility features, accessibility and/or usage rights to specific versions of a product. This is particularly important for e-book formats that are available for discovery and sale on multiple channels, including and not limited to e-book retail web sites, within online library catalogues and search engines. While today, many e-book retailers and their respective business models are focused within single channels or a host of channels that are proprietary to their businesses, Bowker believes that it is inevitable that in order to maximize their marketing efforts, sales and distribution opportunities, many publishers will make their books available as e-books in numerous formats sold on multiple channels, similar to their traditional hardcover/soft-cover distribution and retail strategies.  Bowker 2010

If you create your eBook outside of using the Createspace tool, Amazon and others will require you to have an ISBN for your eBook. By converting your eBook professionally to the ePub and other formats you will be able to easily upload to other distribution sites with next to no additional financial output without being locked into a singular site. Barnes and Nobel along with Apple also welcome authors and small presses with professionally represented eBooks i.e. ePub conversion and ISBN number.

Think about the big picture and how you would like to position your book in the long-term.  Most readers resources use the ISBN to list your book. Make the marketing of your product that much easier by doing research to situate your content in the best position possible. 

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

The overused adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is more of an author’s plea when they are not satisfied with their cover art that will represent their content. Some covers are a little less than works of art. Others, well you know they look like everyone elses. And still, there are those that you wonder what some were thinking when they approved the design.

What doesMan Browsing a book get judged by if not for its cover?

I have lurked in many a bookstore simply trying to figure out what makes the consumer procure the books that they do. Some it would appear have favorite authors that they rush to for the latest release. (How we love these readers). Some perhaps are browsing for something new.

Food for thought:

“A picture is worth one thousand words”

So does the consumer turn to the cover for 1K words at a glance or to the back cover where the author is supposed to create a hook, line, and sinker in about 200 words or less. Sounds like a bit of personal preference. Sounds like we’ll have to take a poll about that. Cover or blurb?

On a more serious note though covers are a very important facet to our books including the eBook. The cover art draws the attention for the unknown author – it is the face of the book, your billboard, and the one of the main reasons people take interest in your book.

The cover should consider quite a few things:

  1. The content of the book. Does the cover capture the feel of the story?
  2. If you printed a traditionally bound book, you will want to take a look at the proposed layout for the spine. Most books are spine out. What will attract your reader?
  3. The currently climate of the industry. As with the release of anything timing plays an essential part in a story’s success.
  4. Understand your demographics.

If you engage a graphic designer discuss the mood, tone, and voice of your book. You may not want to create a happy, warm, light cover if the tone of your book is sombre and moody. Try and capture the essence and message you as the author want to convey when considering the cover art. Take a look at see what your competition is producing and decide what works best in representing your work. If you are self-publishing you want to avoid having a cover that yells, kicks, and screams that you do not have a professional cover.

Equally you may want to take a look at what is going on in the world. While there is no recipe for success you may opt to delay your story about exploding buildings if a real life incident has just occurred.

So the question has to be asked. Which do you check out first? The Cover or the Blurb? We all want to know?

I Swear I didn’t type that!

Woman putting whiteout on a computer screen

Have you ever just wrapped up a piece of writing and thought wow, I’m finally done. As a wise source taught you, you shut off the computer screen and walk away from your project for a spell. Perhaps a week or so elapses and you begin the revision process with a fresh pair of eyes. Another wow escapes your lips. Did I actually write that? Well, either that wow escaped because your writing was realized to be deserving of a prize, or because you saw some errors. Perhaps a shift in POV, a grammatical error, or perhaps the Alpha Goblins stole a few letters here and there?

Or there’s alway my least favorite – switching between versions of Microsoft office and having your formatting go awry.

I digress…

My point is that we, as authors, are too close to our work to remain objective. Additionally we as not as exposed to the industry as perhaps an editor is. A fresh pair of eyes results in a world of difference to our writing. Editors look for more than just the grammatical error. Take a look at some of what an editor may look at when reviewing your work:

  • Grammar
  • Shifts in Point of View
  • Transition
  • Consistency
  • Character building and development
  • Dialog
  • Facts
  • Relevancy in today’s climate

The latter list is not exhaustive. Invest in yourself and have an editor review your work.

I might add for those who are interested in securing an agent. An unfounded myth floats around which suggests that after a literary agent picks up your work, s/he will give it to an editor who will fix all the mistakes and areas that appear daunting. I can’t stress how untrue this myth is. If you do not submit your best work for review it may end up in the slush pile. Make your contribution count and invest in yourself.

An Author’s Investment

If you knew that you had to invest your money into stocks, presuming this could be a relatively daunting task, you probably would perform some level of due diligence to make sure your hard-earned dollars were resting safely.

Would you take a look at the penny stocks or the quickie investments where the financial advisor informs of you of the rapid growth? Perhaps your eyes trend upwards with the sharp uptick on the chart and your heart skips a beat when you hear of the lack of guarantees and the potential for an equally sharpResearch your investment plummet in which you could stand to lose all that you invested?  Perhaps you would turn to the longer termed growth funds where your money would mature. The words are softer, the pace is slower, but the feeling is perhaps kinder than the roller coaster offered by the rapid growth. Perhaps you would seek the counsel of an advisor who is a subject matter expert in the area that you are looking into?

Any investment requires research. As author’s,  particularly those of us who are considering self-publishing, editors are our best counsel.

As an author so many options exist to getting your content published. Self publishing in and of itself is easier than signing up for that free checking account offered by the local bank. With so many options what is an author to do.

While no recipe for success exists for being published, be sure to follow some of the basics that help to manufacture a solid foundation:

  1. Have your work reviewed by a professional editor. As authors we are too familiar with our own work to scrutinize the content of our own work. Granted revising the work before submitting it to the editor is recommended. The work should be in a condition that the author believes to be final before sending it to the editing desk.
  2. Have an open mind when the work comes back from the editing desk. Be prepared to make changes in areas.
  3. Engage a Graphic designer for your cover art. Granted if you are creating an ebook, your artwork may only appear the size of a thumbnail, but you want it to represent your content and be eye-catching all at the same time.
  4. If you are self-publishing, purchase an ISBN number specifically for your ebook. (If you use product like Createspace – Amazon will only assign it an ASIN which is Make a Listnot industry standard.) Using tools like Createspace or PubIt! will get you an eBook quickly, but if you are looking longer termed may be more difficult to market in readers sites or with other distribution sites. An ISBN is recognized everywhere with every distribution means and it is required for other distribution sites like Apple and borders.com who do not provide the quick self-publishing tools.
  5. Have a professional company convert your ebook into the industry standard formats. You can market your own book on your site offering the 9 formats that are available for varying eReaders. Today the standard is quickly becoming ePub, but there are older formats that you may want to market to.
  6. Get ready to market. The job is not over once the final product has been uploaded to the distribution sites. Nothing will happen until you put your best foot forward and tell the world what an awesome job you did.

In the upcoming week, I’ll be blogging about each of these points. Discussing tips and tricks from the industry’s SMEs… how they have helped me… how they can help you.

Misunderstood and rejected

One could be tempted into thinking that the days of rejection were over simply because the decision to self-publish had been made.

If that were the case that person would be quite wrong if they opted to choose the eBook format only. I’m sure it’s also difficult if they individual  had a traditionally printed book, but I cannot speak to that… only the difficulties experienced trying to get noticed with an eBook.

I am told that the dynamics of the publishing industry change on a regular basis and so I do my due diligence to learn about the industry that I’m trying to hard to enter.

Rejection, it would appear has become such a standard for me that when things automatically go through I have become a little gun-shy and leery of the small successes.

If I look at “A Blood Moon” this eBook was professionally formatted with the appropriate metadata and has its ISBN-13. There are levels of eBook; those developed with the Amazon CreateSpace or Barnes&Noble PubIT!  .and those that are uploaded to Amazon and Barnes&Noble by the author being considered a small publisher. I mention all of that to say this. I attempted to get on the Borders.com distribution listing and I was transferred to a small company called KOBO. They couldn’t accept my eBook because as a small publisher I didn’t have enough titles to list with them. Ten (10) is a nice round number I hear that the folks there are looking for.

There also seems to be a misunderstanding about the fact that Amazon assigns the eBook an ASIN. As a matter of fact Amazon only displays the ASIN, but it is not the only identification number for that eBook. After all, ASIN means nothing more than Amazon Standard Identification Number. A reader’s service who didn’t understand what an ASIN was sent me an invite and then declined it once they learned I only had an eBook format. 

That was rather interesting as I thought being new to the industry meant that I knew very little, but perhaps it just means that I am not predisposed by how things were and my research of how things are keeps me current. Who knows?

Don’t feel discouraged, if distributors other than Amazon, Apple, and Barnes&Noble are on your agenda you can use firms like Smashwords et al. that will help you get your content listed and take a pretty penny in doing so.

As an author if you are determined to continue down the highroad of self-publishing  without the assistance of a marketing team, then you may have to dig deep and persevere.

Don’t judge my book by its format! Let its content speak for itself.

The root cause of the problem lies in the fact that creating an eBook is becoming easier and easier. No one really has to review the content, an ISBN is not really needed because of the tools that are available, and at least one means of distribution is immediately available by the company that assisted in the creation of the eBook. These are the types of eBooks that the industry wonders about.  So rather than figure out if the eBook was developed properly (Written, revised, edited, reviewed, converted, and  then published) the entire eBook category is frowned upon.  It must be alright for a traditionally published book to have an accompanying eBook, but not to have an eBook that stands on its own.

What happened to the statistics that discuss the growing corner of the market for readers going digital. They supposedly are repeated offenders buying more eBooks per annum that the traditional reader procures the printed counterpart.

Oh well, I don’t suppose all avenues are ready to embrace it all and I’m in no rush. There’s a much longer limit to the virtual bookshelf than there is to the traditional bookshelf.

I love going on Amazon to see the words… “those who bought A Blood Moon by Bitten Twice also bought…”  I doubt ABM will ever see print… but who knows. One day I might give in.