shhhThis is more of an anti-blog post to counter all those how to market your book type blog posts which contain a lot of crap, a lot of obvious common sense and a lot of ‘what planet are you on?‘, eg. Spend £20,000 on targeted Facebook ads!

Here’s a few things I see other authors do and other blog posts recommend which I won’t do because I think they’re either a waste of time or crass.

Ain’t no quick fixes here.

Tweeting…constantly about shit.

Oh look, my cat just took a dump. Buy my book.’

Streams and streams of retweets.

Tweeting at famous people, writers, publishers, mags, etc in an incessant, needy display of ‘someone please acknowledge me‘…OK, *blocked*.

If your tweet is selling something and is the 2nd one you’ve done this week selling something, then don’t tweet. I give writers a free pass on the week of publication, they deserve to go on an adrenaline fuelled rabbit session when they’ve made it that far.

If your tweet doesn’t interest someone who doesn’t give a shit, then don’t tweet.

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barcodeISBN numbers are a big worry for a first time self-publisher, at least it was for me. They smell of officialdom and when you start looking into it, the smell intensifies with cost – Nielsen UK ISBN Agency – £144 for 10 ISBN numbers!

What is an ISBN?

Here’s the official answer from ISBN International;

An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.

The first thing to know is that if you’re only producing an ebook then you do not have to have an ISBN. If you’re publishing a physical book, then you’ll need one.

The advantage of having an ISBN for any book is a common reference number across multiple online retailers. It allows the author to search Google with their ISBN to find places selling their book, whilst also allowing retailers to know who’s published a particular book and who to pay. This also allows customers to find their ideal retailer form which to buy your book from.

9781783016501 – In A Right State ebook

9781849145633 – In A Right State paperback

An ISBN may offer a slim sliver of security against lazy ebook pirates who haven’t deleted any ISBN info and gives the author tracking info via Bowker (extra cost + I’ve heard accuracy ain’t perfect), but I think the standardisation argument above is enough to convince me of the benefits of getting an ISBN.

Here’s a free online barcode generator for you to give your designer to place on the back cover – Bookow – the sight of seeing a genuine ISBN barcode on your back cover also derives an unexpected thrill too.

Anyway, here’s what I did and what I’ll do next time to get 100% bona fide ISBN numbers for my book at nowhere near the original costs.

eBook

With the eBook Partnership distribution service you can get an ISBN number for your ebook for free. The distribution service is $50 (£32) so get this for your free ISBN number and get your ebook submitted to all the major retailers too, bargain!

Paperback

I used Completely Novel, a print on demand company, for my paperback version. Their ‘Plus’ plan (£8 per month) includes a free ISBN number and a few other features which make it worthwhile such as full online distribution.

So that’s it. How to get an ISBN number for your self-published ebook and/or paperback in the most cost-effective way.

lessonsA year on from self-publishing my first novel, what lessons have I learned? What would I do differently next time? What mistakes did I make?

Even though my sales have been pretty poor, I don’t think I made many mistakes. I experimented and as a result there’s a few things I won’t be doing again, but I don’t think I did anything to adversely affect sales. By the same token, I obviously didn’t do much to stimulate sales but therein lies the alchemy.

Editing

I did 4 drafts, gave it to about 10 beta readers, redrafted again, gave it to a professional editor for a critique, redrafted, then the editor copy-edited the whole thing. I wouldn’t drastically change that for the next time, I’m pleased with the words that came out the other end of that process.

Beta readers are hard to come by. I recently got my 3rd novel back from some beta readers, about half of which have beta read all 3 of my novels. My general rule is; if they get back to you, use them again. If they don’t, ditch them. They’re just too polite to ditch you.

Paying for an editor is expensive but worth it. The best money you’ll ever spend.

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