Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting and Understanding an ISBN


When I first started writing, I had no idea there were ISBNs and LCCNs and all those other acronyms I've encountered. Feels a little like the military but here's the low down on ISBN.

First of all, ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. This unique number identifies the book's language or country, the publisher and the title. It comes in a ten-digit or thirteen digit format. The last number in the ISBN is called a Check Digit - they get this number by adding or subtracting or multipying all the other numbers to check for accuracy. If you want to go into all the fine little details, feel free to look it up. Wikipedia has a good explanation.

The book's ISBN is important because it allows libraries, booksellers, and universities the ablility to easily find a specific title. ISBNs are sold in bulks of 1, 100, or 1000. You can get one ISBN for about $150 or ten for $250. If you're publishing one book and you'll never write another book or have it made into a kindle or audio, then purchase one. However, I would advise you to buy ten. Simply because it's cheaper per ISBN if you buy in bulk.

Go through the Bowker site and set up an account. There are other sites who handle ISBNs but I feel safer going to them. They will assign you an account where you can register each ISBN.
The most frequently asked questions is - Do I need a seperate ISBN for audio, e-book, or other format? The answer is yes. When you assign an ISBN to your book and you decide to create an audio book or an e-book, you have to get another ISBN. It's fairly easy to assign the ISBN.

If you publish through CreateSpace, you have the option of getting your own ISBN or they can assign one to you. But if you decide to publish somewhere else then you can't take that ISBN with you. It's easier to get your own but if money is tight then use theirs.

Bowker will give you a barcode but CS will put one on the back of the book for you so will other self-publishing companies. There are also online sites that will create a barcode for you for free.

Be sure to list your ISBN on the copyright page in your book.

Be sure to come back next week when we discuss the LCCN and your copyright page. Also, check out the new author interview page.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doug Hiser - Interview

Author Interview Featuring Doug Hiser

A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Doug Hiser during our teacher certification courses. He had already written several books and was (and continues to be) very passionate about the art of writing, creating, and illustrating. He has accomplished so many goals that I thought it only fitting he would be featured first.
This is what he had to say. . .

  1. Where do you get your ideas?   My imagination is filled with stories and images and if I had the time I could write hundreds of books.  I am also a professional wildlife artist and painting takes away half of my writing time.  I balance the two fields of creativity.  Sometimes I dream stories and parts of novels, actually when I was writing Montana Mist, my new novel out on January 19th on, I dreamed the entire final hundred pages, woke up and wrote all day long finishing it that night.
  2. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? When I was 17 I read Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne and fell in love with "cool" sentences.  I wrote a terrible first book when I was 18 and it still sits in a box, still terrible.  I began writing poetry and then again at 26 I wrote my second novel, which sat around until 2001 when I did a total rewrite and published it in 2002, Cavern of the Eggstone, a fantasy Young Adult novel.
  3. What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book? "Critical"  well Critical would be writing that idea down on paper.  You might not get to start right away and then years later you come back and find it written down and BAM -NOW you're ready to write it.  Happened to me with my novel, The Midnight Jungle, which I just finished the first draft this May 2010.  I wrote most of that idea back in 2004, sat it aside, wrote 2 other novels, picked it back up in 2010 and finished it.
  4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Join a critique group, join a writer's league or group, hang around writers, poets, artists, film makers, creative people and just soak up everyone's enthusiasm about the creative process.  Find your passion.  Don't write about stuff you know nothing about.  Write about what interests you.  That intense passion always shows through in your writing.
  5. Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better? Both.  POD too.  I actually like POD for so many reasons and especially because you keep almost half the profits off each book sold.
  6. What is the biggest misconception about being a writer? Most people think every writer makes millions of dollars and that writers are all reclusive introverts.  Only a very few writers make millions.  I make much more now than when I first started turning out books, but it took a while to get a reputation and a following.  I am NOT an introvert but an outgoing intense people person.
  7. What did you do before you became a writer? I'm an art teacher and a soccer coach.  I am first a professional wildlife artist and a conservationist.  I've been creating art long before I ever took writing seriously.
  8. Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow? I have never plotted any of my 18 books.  I have the inkling of a mood or an idea and I just let my characters go with me following them like watching a movie in my head.  When I first start I don't even know what genre it will turn out to be, no wonder I have a thriller/mystery novel, 2 fantasies, a love story-coming of age novel, a nature-love triangle- adventure novel, and so on...
  9. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Oh yes, all the time and I love every email.  Most respond to my bestseller, The Honey Bee Girl, because love stories always touch people in their hearts and in their memories.  I have a website,, and also I send out a newsletter featuring my artwork, writing news, speaking engagements and more.  I get all kinds of requests and comments.  I have readers all over the USA, Canada, a big group in Bombay, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, and probably many other places.
  10. What do you think makes a good story? "Conflict"  Emotion, "voice" mystery.
  11. What’s next? Well, let's see, more art shows this year coming up.  Montana Mist (Winter of the White Wolf) my 2011 novel is on sale on Jan 19th with my worldwide book launch to drive it to number one on  Go online and get your copy on the 19th.  Watch the movie trailer here:  I have two finished novels ready to follow in the next couple of years, thriller mystery-The Texas Sugar Pussy Kat Murders, and my epic massive huge awesome fantasy, The Midnight Jungle.  This summer I will start working again on a novel I started last summer about the tribe of very small prehistoric people that inhabited the islands of Komodo.  The komodo monitor lizards were the largest predators on the islands, still are today, but the people were only about three feet tall according to National Geographic explorers.  My novel follows the life of one of the small people, a shark hunter, as he struggles to survive, exiled from his own people, in love with the girl he can never have and taming the wild pygmy elephants that were also once roaming those islands, now extinct like the tiny tribe of those lost people.
Thanks Doug!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Okay, I've Finished My Novel: Now what? Editing!

You've probably heard (more than a few times) that you need an editor. Well, you're going to hear it again.

Nothing kills interest more than a novel full of errors. Errors make the reader stumble through a passage, pauses or stops the flow, and causes repeated reading of a sentence. If your first chapter is full of them, interest wanes and most readers (like myself) will stop reading the book. Maybe you're thinking that it's okay because the person's already bought the book but in reality word-of-mouth advertisement is golden.

So, once you're done writing your masterpiece, find an editor. I don't mean find a friend or a family member or a person who likes to read. I mean find an editor. Someone who will go through your book and know the ins and outs of grammatical rules. I have an English degree. I teach grammar and writing and I'm ashamed to say that I had so many errors in my first book that I seriously wondered if I knew anything about grammar.

But if you're like me, you write without thinking. You just write.

It's okay to write and get your next best-selling novel out of your head. It's important for you to focus on the creative aspects and worry about all the little things after you've got the book complete.
Writing for me, as I've said before, was the easy part. Editing and revising is a tedious, horrible, and consuming job - but one that has to be done.

I was blessed to have an editor that really knew what she was doing. I'll give you her email address at the bottom of the post but I can't stress enough to find someone who knows editing.

After you find an editor and he/she rifles through your novel with a fine tooth comb, find someone else. Now you can go to those friends and family who are willing to give you honest and sometimes brutal advice on structure and plot. Have them look for errors at the same time because editors are human and they will miss a few things. The more people who've checked your novel before it goes into print - the better. I gave my novel to several people and they found a major error that would have really hurt had it gotten published.

Beg and plead to those around you to help you read through your novel. Buy them something nice, make them dinner, put their names on the acknowledgements page - anything it takes.

Here at Greli Publishing we have a wonderful editor. You can reach her at Send her a brief summary, number of words, and expected publishing date. She will send you a price.

Be sure to come back next week when we cover ISBNs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Things First

First and foremost.

I've been reading through countless emails that have suggested coming up with a book idea without writing the book . . . then submitting this to agents and publishers. I personally couldn't conceive of doing this. Getting plot, structure, characterization, and dialogue correctly is something you can't just create in a matter of days. Writing isn't easy regardless of what you say or other's say. It takes so much time and effort to create a book. Those of you who have completed your book - my hats off to you.

Finish the book. Finish the book. During my book signings, I can't count the number of people who have come up to me to tell me they've been writing a book for years but haven't finished.

If you're like my friends, you generally put the book down then come back to it for a few days eager to start. After a few days you toss it into your very own little slush pile for a few months. When you decide to come back you go to the beginning and make changes without ever finishing the book. It becomes a merry-go-round circus in which you tell yourself next week is that day when I start (in earnest) on the book.

It doesn't work. Finish the book!
No more excuses, no more changes! Finish the book!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Learning To Blog

This is my first post.

I've been told that blogs are a sort of journal so I will start by saying that I'm excited to share my novel writing, creative outlets and frustrations that come along with publishing a book.
So Here Goes:
When I first started to write I wrote without thinking about my commas, verb tenses, dialogue tags, orphans and widows.
I just wrote.
I enjoyed it—that is until I finished writing the book. Shocked and excited, I ran around my house like a crazy person. Never had I imagined that the real hard work lay ahead.

After many weeks of research on the subject I had written about, I decided to create my own publishing company as well as self-publish my book. For anyone who has ever attempted this, this is no easy feat, regardless of who you are and how much time you truly have—this is not an easy thing to do.

But me, in my wisdom, thought I could do it. Others had so why couldn’t I? I worked up a market plan (which is a necessity) and started on this hectic, frantic yellow brick road to insanity. What I learned on this never ending road, I will share with you.