In today’s Journal
* Advice on Self-Publishing
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Advice on Self-Publishing
First, please also see my Quick Guide to Self-Publishing & FAQs, Toward Efficiency in Epublishing, and The Essentials of Digital Publishing. You can download each of them, free, by visiting https://hestanbrough.com/the-daily-journal-archives-gifts-dvds/ and clicking the links. Please take advantage of these gifts.
What brought this topic to mind? A writer friend asked a few questions yesterday about starting out in self-publishing. I thought I’d expand here on the answer I gave him.
Picking the Name of Your Publishing Company—I’ve used StoneThread Publishing, my publishing company name, so long that I’ve forgotten many of the specifics. I recommend choosing a name that conveys something special to you or about you. But I also recommend doing at least a Google search to see whether anyone else is already using the name.
As an example, a long time ago I was going to use Writing the World as my publisher name, but I soon found out roughly half a million other people had the same thought. I passed.
Second, I strongly recommend you consult with an IP attorney and have him or her help you set up a corporation. StoneThread Publishing (and HarveyStanbrough.com, for that matter) are both LLCs. But LLCs do me absolutely no good with tax liability.
Don’t be me. If you’re going to go into this as a business, be smart and set up a corporation.
ISBNs—If you want to buy ISBNs for your paper books, yes, you have to go through Bowker. Frankly, I recommend against it. It’s too expensive, and it’s not necessary.
Also, my ego isn’t all that fragile. I just want the books out there and bringing in money. Readers don’t notice or care who the “publisher of record” is unless the publisher is something truly ugly like one of the vanity presses. More on that shortly.
Instead, I use the free ISBN from Amazon or D2D for paper, just as I do for ebooks. And yes, that makes Amazon or D2D the “publisher of record,” but again, who cares? The reading public doesn’t know or care, so why spend the extra money for ISBNs? That’s my reasoning.
And for the record, neither Amazon nor D2D (nor B&N, Kobo, et al) are publishers. Some are stores, some are stores and distributors, and some are distributors. They assign a free ISBN to appeal to you and to make it easier for them to sell licenses to your work. (For ebooks, D2D assigns an ISBN just as Smashwords used to. Amazon assigns only an ASIN for ebooks and reserves ISBNs for paper.)
You as Publisher—As for the ACTUAL publisher of my work, every publication I put out—whether short story, short story collection, novella or novel—has a title page. At the top of that page is the title, centered, and then my name, centered.
A few lines below that, there are three more centered lines. The first line varies and identifies the genre, series, etc. It might read
an intense short story from
a fractured short story from
an intense short story collection from
a Stern Talbot PI novel from
a Journey Home science fiction novel from
a Wes Crowley Gap series novel from
a twisted mystery novel from
You get the idea. And the other two lines, also centered, always read
So from the moment the reader opens the book (ebook or paper) they see that the publisher is StoneThread Publishing. And then they see the URL so they can check it out and see that it’s a real publisher with a lot of books, collections and short stories available.
Exclusive or Wide—I don’t distribute only to Amazon. Why would I want to keep my books away from people who prefer to buy from Apple or Kobo or B&N?
I do upload to Amazon, but I also upload to D2D (https://draft2digital.com) and let them distribute to everyone except Amazon. And when I start going back to paper (if I do) I’ll probably go through D2D for that as well. You have choices.
Vanity Publishers—Earlier I mentioned vanity publishers. Every day writers who don’t know any better spend thousands and sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars buying “publishing packages” from vanity publishers.
That’s all bullshit. All of it. Stop it. Please. Don’t be duped.
Some of those places even promise (I am not kidding) a social media account (do it yourself, anyone?), a website, press releases (so 1980s), worldwide distribution (duh) and more.
ALL of that is stuff you can easily, EASILY do yourself. Oh, and later if you want to break your contract with the vanity publisher, you won’t be able to unless you’re willing to pay a few thousand more to buy your way out.
Listen to me—vanity publishers will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improve or promote or sell your book other than possibly listing it among thousands of others. Why? Because they don’t care. They have no reason to sell your book, no incentive. They made all their money up front off of you.
If you want to spend money to have someone else publish your work, PLEASE save yourself some money. Instead of sending some shyster company several thousand dollars, talk to me. I’ll charge you a LOT less, and I’ll even teach you how to do it yourself as we go. For that matter, any of your friends would probably do the same and appreciate the extra cash.
To see lists of these vanity publishers, key “vanity publishers” into your search engine. Just off the top of my head, PublishAmerica springs to mind, as do BookLocker and AuthorHouse and Wheatmark. Is Ex Libris still around? Them too.
And there are many, many others. Never, ever, EVER pay someone to publish your work.
And while we’re on the topic, never contract with someone over the phone to publish your work. If they don’t have a website, run, don’t walk. Why would you do business with someone who isn’t willing to put the agreement in writing?
And even if they DO have a website but offer paid “packages” to publish your book, again, run, don’t walk. All they want is to separate you from your money. Nothing else, period.
Paid Services—These are not the same as vanity publishers. For one thing, they won’t take any of your rights to the work and they’ll charge a reasonable fee.
For example, paying someone else to copyedit for you or create a professional cover for you or to do the interior layout of your paperback, etc. is perfectly fine. That isn’t the same thing as paying to have someone else publish your book.
(Just so you know, the guy who wrote me didn’t ask about vanity presses. That just sprang to mind from the ISBN discussion.)
Other Minor Matters—Okay, also, you don’t have to register your work with the Copyright Office, nor do you have to obtain an LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number). That’s more of the stuff vanity presses will promise to do for you. Completely unnecessary.
Registering your work with the copyright office is only to officially claim ownership at a particular point in time. If you WANT to register your work with the copyright office, I recommend registering the first work in every novel series you write.
If you want to register everything, I suspect it would also work to collect everything you wrote under a single title—say Collected Fiction by Author Name for 2023—and file for a single copyright registration to prove your ownership of the material in that collection.
But again, you don’t have to register a copyright at all in order to own the copyright. I recommend buying and reading The Copyright Handbook by Fishman (look it up, around $40).
A Template for Novels—I have a novel template that I use for all of my novels. It has the front matter and back matter as well as the font size for the title, chapter heads, etc. so all I have to do is write the part in the middle and make slight changes to the front matter and back matter. (grin)
If’ you’d like to see it and use it as an example to make your own, I’d be happy to make it available to you in PDF. Email me at email@example.com.
Talk with you later.
See “Walking The Streets Of Texas” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/06/walking-the-streets-of-texas.html.
See “Microsoft Designer” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/microsoft-designer/.
See “Improving Your Creativity” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/06/improving-your-creativity.html.
See “Germany’s ContentShift Accelerator: Six 2023 Finalists” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/germanys-contentshift-accelerator-six-2023-finalistsuto-draft/. I honestly have no idea whether this might be important to know, but it sounded important.
See “How Espionage Informed This Thriller Writer’s Fiction” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/how-espionage-informed-this-thriller-writers-fiction/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1450
Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)
Day 1…… 4283 words. Total words to date…… 4283
Day 2…… 3963 words. Total words to date…… 8246
Day 3…… 1463 words. Total words to date…… 9709
Day 4…… 2445 words. Total words to date……12154
Total fiction words for June……… 12154
Total fiction words for 2023………… 110022
Total nonfiction words for June… 21270
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 130690
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 240712
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.