You may have seen a lot of this information floating around the interwebs but I’ve decided to put all of my knowledge and experience with ISBN’s here in an attempt to uncomplicate and facilitate new authors starting out.
Do you need an ISBN?
The short answer is YES!
Where do you get ISBNs?
Some publishing platforms offer free ISBNs but I prefer to get my own. There are many shady places that “sell” ISBNs but the only official and recognized source is Bowkers www.myidentifiers.com
Why should I buy my own ISBNs?
You should buy your own ISBNs if you want to have yourself listed as the official publisher of your work. If not the platform you publish on will be listed as your publisher and it can cause issues if you want to publish across multiple platforms with that ISBN.
Can you use an ISBN more than once?
Nope. Once you use an ISBN it is assigned to that book and that book only. That includes the same work in different formats. You will need an ISBN for your ebook, another for paperback, and another for hardback. eBooks thorugh Amazon will be assigned an ASIN which is not an ISBN and is not transferable to any place outside or Amazon.
Do I really need an ISBN for Ebooks?
That is honestly up to you. I personally rather have all my bases covered and have ISBNs for my ebooks.
How much do ISBNs cost?
On Bowker’s My Identifiers Prices are:
1 ISBN $125
10 ISBN $295
100 ISBN $575
Those prices can be pretty steep for some and a lot of self publishers opt for the free ISBN from their preferred platform for that reason. I know I did when I first started. So if you are on the fence about where you want to go with your writing. If your self-publishing journey isn’t something you are pursuing as a career than having an ISBN isn’t necessary but I highly recommend getting an ISBN for your book if you plan to become a professional author.
Probably one of the most heated debates in the literary world. Which one is better? If you ask the writing community across social media, you will find many strong opinions about both. In this article, I will try and give an objective list of the pros and cons to help you decide for yourself.
The backing of a company
Cover design, formatting, finding an editor all taken care of
Initial marketing push
Implied Prestige and legitimacy
More/easier access to brick and mortar stores
Advances and multiple book contracts
Less control over your work
Low royalty rates
Complete creative control
Produce and publish on your own schedule
The possibility of higher royalty rates
Flexibility in content (niche markets)
Covering production and marketing costs
Harder to get into brick and mortar stores
Not all authors choose between the two. A lot of traditionally published authors self publish works for niche markets not represented well by traditional publishing. On the other side of it, many self-published authors still send out queries and pursue agents to traditionally publish their work at some point. The writing world doesn’t have to be one or the other. It all comes down to what makes sense for you and your work.
Editing can not only be expensive but you have to be sure what editing you are getting in the process. Each editor will have their own system and definitions so be sure to check their website to clarify what services they provide and the cost of each.
Professional editing costs range from $300-$5000 depending on what type of editing you choose, the length of your manuscript, and the amount of errors in your work.
Three Main Types of Editing
Copy Editing– Focuses on basic grammar and punctuation. Sometimes called line editing or proofreading. Usually, the cheapest form of editing. Many editors charge by the word with an average cost of $0.34-$0.50 per word.
Content Editing– focuses on plot and story structure. I prefer to do this type of editing on my own but its always a good idea to have an outside pair of eyes take a look. Whether you pay a professional or rely on your Alpha/Beta readers to help with this is up to you. Cost is similar to Copy Editing.
Comprehensive Editing– Both Copy and Content editing, also style editing in some cases. The most expensive type of editing, but worth it if you don’t want to do as much editing on your own.
Finding the Right Editor
Editing is one area you don’t want to cut corners. Finding the right editor for you and your budget is a lengthy but necessary process. While you can find editors on gig sites like Fiverr or smaller independent editors through social media, I highly suggest checking out more reputable sources first. Even if you only get a free test edit from a larger expensive editing firm. It can show you what you need to look for before taking a chance on a smaller operation.
Things to Consider
Find an editor in your niche– if the editor you find mostly works with non fiction they may not be a good fit for your high fantasy epic
Ask about different payment options– With some services having large price tags, most editors have some sort of payment plan or down payment system. be sure to ask before committing to any editor
Get a sample edit!– The editor might look perfect on their website, they may even check all your perceived criteria but until you see how they work with your writing, you can’t be sure they are what you need.
Find editors based on books you love– it’s more common for editors to be listed in the copyright section of books. So pick up a few books in your genre and find which ones you absolutely loved. Maybe their editor will be open to new clients.
First I would like to say that even if you are the best grammarian you know, having a professional look over your work is always best. With that being said, before you drop $$$ on that professional look you should at least do some editing on your own.
If you are going the traditionally published route, unless you already have a deal in place your first draft isn’t what you want to submit to a publisher for review. At the very least, your work needs to be edited for major plot holes.
That’s why in my writing process, plot holes is the first round of editing. Unless you outlined you story to death beforehand, it’s very common to find glaring holes in your plot or actions that don’t really make sense to your characters personality or motivation.
This first look is strictly about tightening up your story. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation just yet. Why not? I personally think that it’s better to stay in the free form mode when editing for the plot. I am more creative that way and my new writing may not be so grammatically correct. I rather catch all of that at once, if I can.
Bonus doing some self-editing can save you money on professional editing. The more polished the draft, the less time and corrections for the editor to make. Depending on the length of your work and how your chosen editor charges their fee, that could mean the difference of a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
I know what you are thinking, wait? You found the perfect idea, crafted an amazing outline, and bust out that first draft like a boss. You are immensely excited about your work and want to push it to the finish line! That’s great but now you need to take a step back.
You might be tempted to jump into editing your masterpiece, but taking the time away will give you a fresh set of eyes. You will come back to your draft able to see more small errors and plot holes when you are less familiar with the piece.
I’m not asking you to wait a super long time. Give yourself a week to rest and mull over exactly what you want out of your completed manuscript. I like to read a book or binge on all the shows I missed while fussing over the start of my work. Then when I am fuzzy on the details, I get back to work.
So wait! Maybe check out and Subscribe to the Serpentine Creative Channel on Youtube. Then check back here next week for the first steps in the editing process.
Before you even put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, you need to have an idea. Some call it a spark of genius, others just dumb luck. No matter how it gets to your brain, that is where the magic starts. Here are a few ways I get my ideas flowing.
Television and Movies
I am a sucker for Korean drama! Give me a Kpop idol crush any day and it’s bound to put sappy romantic ideas in my head. There is a reason why fanfiction is so popular. Even the best plots can deal with a little tweaking or continuation. Just remember to put your own spin on things to avoid plagiarism.
Ever have a day that turned out crazier than anyone would believe? Well, guess what? You just found a new story or poetry idea. Your local news outlet might have some crazy story ideas for you too.
Maybe you don’t have time for inspiration to just strike or you’re feeling a tad lazy on the imagination front. There are plenty of places online to find writing prompts. My favorite places are Reddit and Google. Seriously! Just google writing prompt and your preferred style/genre. I dare you.
Random word generator– There are several random word generators online that give you a handful of words to test your creative ability.
Now that you’ve gotten a few ideas on where to get ideas, it’s time to bust out your favorite writing tool(s) and get to work! Feel free to share your muse magic in the comments.
Why do you ask? Being a “tourist” means you can get away with doing things that wouldn’t normally be acceptable. See a fountain you would love to climb all over? A funny statue or cool mural you want in pictures? I say go for it! Forget what other people think of you and have fun but don’t do anything illegal. As a writer, having this kind of attitude has helped me gain a plethora of experiences to draw on for scene setting and character development. Here are a few shots of times I’ve played “tourist.”