Sunday, July 29, 2012

ISBN's, How Many Does One Ebook Need?

My book is going into final editing, I have a possible ebook cover for Walk Forward, what do I need next?

Time to think about ISBN's for each version of my book. Since I want my book to be available in various formats, I will most probably buy the set of 10 ISBN's. I know that I will have a .pdf, ePub and maybe a few hard copies of the book down the road. I want to be able to track the book myself. I know that many books have similar titles but each has a unique ISBN.

I plan on uploading the book to Amazon, Smashwords and any vendor that will take my ebook. Down the road, I might want a hard copy too. I know that the ebook cover I made will have to be revised for a hard copy book where the cover wraps around the book. I have no idea now as to how many pages a  hard copy of my book might have. In hard copy, my text might appear in larger font for my target of young adults, but then again, the book is also for adult readers.

I want to submit my book to any online publisher willing to let me upload it, thus, expect more than two book formats. Perhaps, I will publish a version with photographs and one without, this would require another ISBN! Maybe my book will have a new cover or need revisions sooner than I might expect.
Guess it is better to buy the batch of 10 than run out!

The ISBN is the unique identifier for a particular format of the book. I don't think I really need 10 ISBN's but since 10 cost the same as 2, and I am sure I need at least 3, I might as well buy the set of 10.

Are there any negatives to buying 10 ISBN's and not using them all immediately? I don't know but plan to call Bowker, the only company allowed to sell ISBN's. I wonder if there is a penalty in not assigning all 10 ISBN's in a reasonable time period? I can not imagine that it will take me 10 years to write a second book although I have been writing content for my first book for more than 20 years!

Is there a fee or penalty for holding my 10 ISBN's, which I assume will be numbers in a series? I don't know for sure, heard there was some sort of  annual fee? I must find out as hate to commit to annual fees.

What about translations? I assume if someone creates a translation of the book, the new translated version will need another ISBN. If I change the cover design and a few photographs, this would require ISBN's!

Maybe my first ebook will need more revisions than I can now possibly imagine?

Ten ISBN's seems much for my first attempt at an ebook and my second book is but a vision. I have read Bowker's section on why one should buy an ISBN.

No matter the price or how many, as a librarian, I know that an ISBN is priceless!

Ebook Covers

I am editing my first ebook and wondered what to do about the cover. I tried making a simple cover by taking a photograph, bringing it up in Microsoft Paint, adding my book title and saving as a .jpg file. The problem is that when I made a tiny thumbprint of the cover or exploded it, the letters of my title were not readable. I read whatever I could find on the subject and realized that I need to use a graphic program based on vectors rather than pixels.

The ebook publishers, like Amazon, include requirements for ebook covers, such as the size should be 800 pixes in height and 600 pixels in width.

I searched for free graphic and file converting programs. I took Photoshop classes years ago but thought it too complicated for me at this point. I have little experience in the graphic arts but am a bit persistent. I am however, not at all artistic.

I tried a few programs and quickly realized that it would be easier for me to take another picture than play around with the graphic programs. I decided the less I have to rely on any program the better.

I reduced the size of my photograph and cropped it using Faststone. I saved it as a .png and brought it up in Inkscape where I added my title words. I saw the similarity of Inkscape to Photoshop per layering. After having to name my layers a few times, layering became routine. I added text words, the title of my ebook  to the photograph using Inkscape and saved the file as a .png. I then put the .png product back into Faststone to create a .jpg for the ebook vendors. I double checked my final .jpg file size per publisher requirements.

Inkscape does not have the bells and whistles or the precision of Photoshop but if you are starting with a graphic and need only to add the title of your book, you can create an acceptable cover in a few minutes. After about 5 covers, I created one that my husband likes. He is my most difficult critic. I don't know how to use either program very well, but think I assembled an acceptable cover in a few hours.

If I hire a graphic artist to make a better looking cover, at least I have an idea of what may be involved in the process. I still  have a "homemade" website!

If anyone has any great free programs for making an ebook cover for Amazon, Smashwords or any other ebook publisher, please respond to this post or send me an email at and I will be glad to add to this blog.

One of my favorite "how to author" blogs to date is Copple's Writing and Coffee Blog. If  you are interested in ebook publishing. I highly recommend Copple. His blog is the best kept secret in the blogsphere of ebook creation. I tried many graphic programs in trying to make an ebook cover today, as well as several file converters. Copple's suggestions work and I ended up with what I think is more than an acceptable, free, ebook cover!

Please stay tuned as I will be posting more about my journey into ebook publishing live, as it happens!