Thursday, October 03, 2019

Holy Guac – Publishing a Book – Part II

A Million Little Decisions

Alright. The book was written, the decision to self-publish was made, and – initially, anyway – Amazon would be its platform. 
So, what was next? Having an inkling that this process would include a zillion details, I created a new Word document (which was eventually as long as the book itself!) to keep track of notes, options, and ruminations.

First step: Making it official – Copyright

Copyright © provides legal protection for authors, songwriters, filmmakers, and artists, determining who has the right to publish or use one’s material.   
While not strictly necessary, (one’s published words on a blog, for example, are assumed to be owned by their author), purchasing a copyright felt almost ceremonial. 

As a dual US/Canadian citizen living north of the border, I had a few extra choices to make. Once I had decided to legally register it, the next question was, Where? I scoured both countries’ websites and found that the copyright would be honoured worldwide, regardless of where I purchased it. There didn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule regarding residency, so, with the thought that I’ll likely live the remainder of my life up here, I followed the Canadian route. 
The application on the Canadian International Property Office site was straightforward, the cost was nominal in either country ($50 in Canada; $35-$55 in the US,) and receiving confirmation of registration was a rush! In that moment, more than any other, it felt as though I advanced from writer to author.

Some self-published authors choose to print and sell their books on their own, outside of either brick-and-mortar or online bookstores. When that is the case, the following step is unnecessary. However, because I wanted to sell through Amazon and perhaps eventually through physical bookstores, and also because book titles cannot have copyrights, a unique international identification number was needed. And so…

Next: ISBN, ASIN, etc.


International Standard Book Numbers, the row of numbers above the barcode on the back of books, are exclusive identifiers for each publication. 

 When researching ISBNs, I discovered that, if I wanted to publish my book in more than one format (paperback, e-book, and/or audiobook,) each one would need to have a separate number.

Whether to get my ISBNs in the US or Canada was a no-brainer. In the US, they cost $125 for a single, $250 for 10, and for the truly prolific, $1 each if purchased 1000 at a time.
Canadian ISBNs are free.

Amazon does not require ISBNs. Authors can upload their books to the site, and if they don’t already have an ISBN, Amazon will provide a free ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number.) While this would be a cost-saver without the Canadian option, a few writers noted that many bookstores resist stocking books with Amazon’s ASINs. (My guess is this has to do with the ongoing storefront vs. online shopping rivalry, but that’s just me making things up.) I had no idea whether Saying Yes would ever make it into bookstores, so, with the investment being a comparable $0, I chose the more universally accepted ISBNs. But first…

Third step: Choosing formats

Rather than making the all-too-familiar mistake of assuming everyone does things like me, I decided that asking for friends’ reading preferences would be a wise move. Posting a questionnaire on my wall and in a local businesswoman’s Facebook group yielded fascinating results:

From a total of 369 responses:

  • 235, or 64% most often read hard copy books
  • 89, or 24% preferred e-books;
  • and 45, or 12% reported they were audiobook listeners.
So… definitely paperback, probably e-book, and hmmmm… even though only 12% of my polled responders were fans of recorded books, online reports show that audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the book industry. In addition, years ago I turned off the radio in my car and instead began borrowing audiobooks from the library. I love listening to someone read aloud, especially, I discovered, when the author is the narrator.

Scrolling through websites, I found that hiring a voice-over narrator for my book would probably cost between $1000 and $2000. I wasn’t willing to make that investment, as again, I had no idea whether I could ever recoup it. So it was back to DIY; I began watching videos and reading articles about the process of recording and submitting an audiobook. 

Now I am not a trained voice-over actor, but I’ve led many meditations over the years and read a few books aloud, as well. People have said my voice is easy to listen to, and although like nearly everyone, I find it difficult to listen to my recorded voice, I decided to face the challenge and do it anyway.

From the research, it seemed pretty straightforward, at first…. 

 Next post I’ll take you through that audiobook journey. 

In the interim, I made one more decision: I knew there were still learning curves ahead when it came to uploading all three formats, so I decided – if at all possible – to release them all on the same day. To make a splash? To feel organized? Goodness knows my exact reasoning, but that choice seemed to release some pressure, and I was able to relax into the exploration and enjoy the following weeks’ steps.

Until next time…