Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 4: The Dreaded Forms

4 weeks to go to my publication deadline. I took this week off work to put on my publisher hat and focus on what needs to be done. It's been an extremely busy week. I'm looking forward to getting back to work for a break!

Here's what I've been up to:

The Dreaded Forms
One day alone went to understanding what is, why do I need and how do I get an ITIN? 

If you're a non-U.S. citizen, like myself, the U.S. government will take 30% of your U.S. earnings unless you can prove you are in a country that has a tax treaty with the U.S. Since I'm paying tax in the U.K. I should have to pay 0% to the U.S.

However, CreateSpace, Amazon KDP and Smashwords etc will pay that 30% on my behalf at the time they pay my royalties unless I supply them with an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number). Unfortunately, applying for an ITIN is a bit of a pain. I have to send the IRS a W-7 form along with identification (my passport) and a letter from my distributor confirming this ITIN is for royalty purposes. The W-7 form is quite tricky and I actually ended up having to ring the IRS for help despite the fact that CreateSpace do give step-by-step instructions. Also, the process will take up to 8 weeks.

Alas, we haven't finished with forms yet: Through CreateSpace and Amazon KDP I still had to demonstrate I'm not a U.S. citizen in order to avoid paying that 30% on my European sales as well. So that involved filling in a W-8BEN form. Through KDP, I could submit this online but I had to snail-mail it to CreateSpace. I'm still waiting for confirmation from CreateSpace that this is all okay.

That was the least fun part of my week!

The First few Pages
Is there a difference between the first few pages of your paperback and your ebook? I had a look through the books on my bookshelf and they all seem to follow a similar formula:

Page 1: short author BIO with the book title as heading
Page 2: mostly blank page with book name, author name and publisher name/logo
Page 3: copyright
Page 4: acknowledgments/dedication
Page 5: table of contents
Page 6: chapter 1

I don't think I'll put a table of contents in the paperback but otherwise, I'll follow this layout for both. 

The Logo
I also noticed, looking through those paperbacks that they all have a publisher logo; on the spine, back of the book and on that page 2. I thought my book might look a bit bare without that so I've asked my book designer to also come up with a personal logo. Just so the finished product looks as near to a professionally published book as possible. A logo is quite expensive but I've taken a look around online and find they're all quite expensive unless you get the off-the-shelf ones which in my opinion don't look great.

The Interior
I ordered a proof copy (using a CreateSpace standard book cover since mine isn't ready yet) and on receiving it realised I wasn't happy with the book dimensions or the font size. I've changed the dimensions and the font, which resulted in a change in page count, and forced me through all the steps again, redoing the book cover, all the way to: 'waiting for approval' before I can reorder. I imagine I'll go around this process a few times before I'm happy with everything! I also had some tricky fun with Word, trying to get page numbers to start at chapter 1 rather than at the very start of the document. If you're trying the same thing, type 'Section Break' in Word Help and you'll find the instructions.

The Photo
Finally, I had a narcissistic morning, taking a selfie. Selfie is Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year, by the way. I looked into getting a professional photo taken, thinking again about trying to make everything look professional, including myself! But portrait photos are extremely expensive. So after finding a spot in my flat with the right light, and holding out my camera, I concluded a professional is not necessary after finally taking a photo that isn't too scary. I'm told I resemble a certain J.K. Rowling - a good sign, no?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week 5: The ISBN Situation

It's now 5 weeks to go to my publishing deadline. (See my last post.My first job has been deciding what platforms to publish on. Well, that seems to be straight-forward: CreateSpace for the paperback, Amazon KDP and Smashwords for the ebook. But as I stepped through the instructions on each site, the first question always was: 

There is a lot of information online about ISBNs. I have found it conflicting in parts, biased in parts and confusing on the whole! I feel at this stage that what is right for you can only be answered after some time and experience in publishing. But I have managed to gather together enough of an understanding to figure out what I want for now.

Here are the questions and misunderstandings that I had and the answers I finally reached. Please remember that I am not an expert in this field and the below is just my understanding, grappled together mainly from other people's understanding! But maybe we've shared the same queries and this post helps in the illumination process.

What is the difference between a free ISBN and one you pay for? Is a free one "not as good"?

There's no difference in the basic product. ISBNs are issued by various agencies that guarantee their uniqueness. Publishers like CreateSpace and Smashwords have bought up such a large amount of these ISBNs that with the corresponding discount they can afford to give them away for free. So you could get the same ISBN if you bought it yourself or took the proprietary one from your publisher.

Is an ISBN valid everywhere - what are the rules?

If you buy an ISBN from an independent agency then you can use it anywhere. If you take a free one from your publisher, then you are asked to only use it with them.

Isn't it a good idea then to buy one ISBN for your book rather than have loads of different ones?

Well I often read that an advantage of buying your ISBN is that you can use it anywhere. But what wasn't clear is that that doesn't mean you should reuse it. It's actually better to have one ISBN for your CreateSpace distribution, one for your Smashwords distribution and so on. This is because, from a retailers point of view, if they want to order your book, they'll use the ISBN. So, if they want the French translation of your hardback book as apposed to the German translation of your paperback, then they'll need an ISBN that identifies that particular edition. For the same reason it is important to have a separate ISBN for your ebook.

So, then, what's the point in buying one you can use anywhere, if you still need a number of different ones?

If you have set up a company to self-publish then you need to provide your own ISBN to have your publishing name on your book. If you take a proprietary ISBN from your publishing platform, then their name will go on your book as the publisher.

What's the difference between the 10 digit length ISBNs and the 13 digit length? Is one better than the other?

13 digits is the new format. It is possible to convert ISBNs between their old and new format. There are websites that will do it. So, if you've got the old type, you can get it converted. I have just taken a CreateSpace free ISBN and they have provided me with both formats.

Why should I buy 10 ISBNs?

The standard offer seems to be 1 or 10 for the price of two. I don't understand why they're so expensive or why they are in these blocks. But considering the fact that you'll need a few ISBNs, if you're going to buy them, 10 is probably a good idea. However, I have found a site that provides discount ISBNs which you can buy in blocks of 3. So it does seem that there are more options out there than just the standard.

So what is an ASIN?

This is Amazon's tracking number for your ebook. It's the same as an ISBN and you can use it as your Amazon ISBN or you can provide your own ISBN. Either way you'll still get an ASIN assigned to your ebook.

So, after all that, I will have 3 ISBNs:

Amazon ebookASIN
CreateSpace paperbackISBN
Smashwords ebookISBN

Smashwords converts your manuscript into the standard ebook format (epub), to distribute to the Apple store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others. Since only the one format is needed, you'll only be issued one ISBN. A friend has just advised me to publish directly on Kobo instead of going through Smashwords. Kobo doesn't provide ISBNs so I'm still looking into this. Once I've actually got the book out there, I'll do a post on platforms.

If anyone would like to contradict or add to the above, that would be welcome. Thanks.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Back to the beginning: Unpublished

It is six months since The I.T. Girl went live on Amazon one Friday night while I was rushing out the door. What a fantastic experience it has been and an invaluable learning experience too. I have been grateful to be able to share this story with people but although it has received good reviews I never felt the book was reaching the right audience. So due to our differences of opinion on how to market a story about the first woman on the Tech floor of an Investment bank, Endeavour Press and I have decided to go our separate ways. It was a very difficult decision to make, but it's the right one for this book.

The I.T. Girl will be available through Endeavour Press until December 20th and I am hoping to relaunch the book on December 21st. So you, dear readers, will not be deprived!

For this new edition the name will revert back to the original Orla's Code and I am looking forward to sharing a cover reveal. That's right, I'm joining the self-publishing movement. I am quite excited!

I will be blogging about progress along the way. It will be a busy few weeks. Stay tuned!