Tag Archives: indie publishing

Setting up your imprint and ISBN on Createspace

I’m setting up the paperback for the newest book, The Return of the Professor.  Ever since my second book, Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien, I have used my own imprint and bought my own ISBN for $10.  (Which is way cheaper than buying them through Bowker.  So don’t go that way.)

Createspace ISBN

Why Create your own Imprint?

I tend to recommend this because your paperbacks will look more professional when they have your business name on the inside of them.

Createspace says that if you don’t use their ISBN numbers then you can’t be in colleges or libraries.  This hasn’t been true for me.  My books are in at least five different school libraries here in Virginia.  To get those books into the libraries I just either donated them, or I spoke at the school.

Once I got a book into a school library, I stopped worrying about the Createspace statement that my books won’t go to libraries.

What they really mean is that libraries won’t order them from Createspace.

Well, in terms of hustle and getting your name out, it is up to you to get your books to be in libraries and you can do that with your own imprint and ISBN numbers.

How to Do it

Getting your own numbers is easy.  When setting up your title on Createspace choose the Guided Route, where Createspace guides you through the system.  In that route they give you the option of purchasing your own numbers with your own imprint.  You also set-up the name you want for your imprint in the process.

It’s very easy.


My newest book, The Return of the Professor, is now available for preorder.  Check it out!

Hangout with A. J. Cosmo. We discuss his Monster A-Z series and children’s indie-publishing

AJ and I talked twice on Google.  This time didn’t record because frankly I didn’t know what I was doing.

After Youtube told us the video was removed for being too long, Youtube changed its mind and let the video up.

Don’t worry you only see my face for a few minutes, I eventually switch it to AJ.  And I didn’t (still don’t) know how to show both of us in the window.

Check out the interview I did with AJ last year.

If you are interested more great content like this, as well as free books, and other exclusive content I would love for you to join my Insider List.

First Chapter from new book. Dolbin School for the Extraordinary.

The nice thing about doing this as an indie is that I can do this.  Here is the first chapter of my new book which should be ready in October.  It is a 26700 middle grade book.  I just can’t seem to write picture books anymore.  Maybe in the new year.

Dolbin School for the Extraordinary

An EARLY DRAFT of the cover.

Chapter 1: Jake Cooper

It was a Tuesday in late March, and it was the last day Jake Cooper was considered a normal person. He was skinny, had jet black hair and was a little tall for a fourth-grader.

Jake sighed as he stepped off the bus and walked into Kane Elementary School. He was ready for Spring Break. He turned down the hallway and walked into Mrs. Williams’ class.  He put up his backpack, turned in his daily folder and took a seat behind Brad Cushing, the class bully, and began his morning work.

Brad looked at Jake and uttered, “Mornin’, dweeb.” No one else near Brad said anything. They kept their heads down. Jake sat down and began working.

It was 8:05 a.m.

At 9:30, Mrs. Williams started the math lesson. “Okay, we are reviewing division with decimals,” she said. “Everyone get out your notebooks. Mark and Sarah, we will see you later.”

Mark Daniels had been Jake’s best friend since the first grade. He was a little guy who wore round glasses and had sandy brown hair. Mark and Sarah Baker stood up to go to Mr.  Stanford’s classroom for advanced math class. Mark had always been a whiz with numbers.

“See ya, dorks,” Brad said under his breath as they headed for the door. Sarah didn’t hear the comment, but Mark did.

“Mrs. Williams, Brad is being a jerk and calling us names,” Mark told the teacher. Like most of his classmates, he was sick of Brad’s tactics.

Brad leaned back in his chair and stared at the teacher. “I didn’t say anything!” he said. “I’m just getting my stuff out for math. Seriously, that’s all I am doing.”

Mrs. Williams looked frustrated. “Brad, stop it and get your stuff out,” she said. “Mark, I’m sorry. Just head on to class.”

Mark rolled his eyes and walked out the  door.

At 11:07 a.m., the students lined up and went to lunch. Mrs. Williams escorted the class to the cafeteria and the students sat down at the long tables. Jake found a spot next to Mark.

“Did you watch The Knight last night?” Mark said, laughing out loud. “Ha! Ha! I love saying that.”

He always laughed at that joke. It never got old.

“Of course I did. It was tight when he threw the robber out the window,” Jake said. “That was my favorite part.”

“Are you kidding me, Cooper?” Mark said. He always used Jake’s last name. “The best part was when the robber held the whole bank hostage. Seriously, I wonder about you Coop … UFF!”

Mark was interrupted by the force of Brad Cushing’s elbow slamming into the back of his head. He spilled his drink and looked up at the bully, wiping away that tears the formed in the corner of his eyes.

“You nerds still talking about The Knight!?” Brad said as he took a seat at the next table. “Wait, of course you are.”

“Hey! Elementary nerd!” Jake shouted at Brad.

Mark was simultaneously holding the back of his head and wiping his drink off his lap.

Mr. Stanford came over and confronted the boys. “What’s the problem here?” he asked. “Is there a reason you are shouting across the cafeteria, Jake?”

Mr. Stanford held his hands behind his back and looked down at Jake.

Jake and Mark didn’t respond. Brad and his friends would make him pay dearly later if he ratted on him. They realized that getting into trouble for dealing with bullies was part of life in the fourth grade.

“Keep it down, you guys,” Mr. Stanford said as he walked away.

Jake looked over at two other boys, Jeff Smith and Larry Marble, who were sitting at the table.  They acted as if nothing had happened and kept eating their lunches.

Brad pointed at Jake and turned around to his table.

“You okay?” Jake asked, handing Mark a paper towel.

“Yeah,” Mark said as he continued to wipe himself off.

“Hey, dorks, what would The Knight do?” Brad shouted at them from his table.

“Ignore him,” Mark advised his friend before adding, under his breath, “he would probably beat the tar out of you.”

“It’s hard to ignore him,” Jake said, looking down at the table.

Just then a spitball landed in the middle of Jake’s lunch. He looked up and saw Brad and his buddies laughing.

“Aw man!” Mark whined.

Jake looked at Mark, who was trying to keep his eyes down. He glanced at Jeff and Larry, and saw they had scooted closer together. They had no interest in being allies in this fight.

“That’s it!” Jake said, rising quickly in his seat.

“Come on, Jake. Sit down,” Mark pleaded. “Don’t make this worse by getting us into trouble.”

Jake waved his hand in frustration at his table and said, “I guess I have to take care of this alone.”

Jake turned and walked toward Brad. The boys at Brad’s table were laughing. “What do you want, you little dweeb!” Brad said, smiling.

“Shut up, poop breath,” Jake said, staring at Brad.

Then Brad stood up and leaned into Jake’s face.

Mark, Larry and Jeff just stared. The rest of the students started to notice and the room grew quiet.

“What did you call me?” Brad hissed.

Jake leaned in closer and whispered, “You heard me, poop breath.”

The students at the nearby tables knew what was coming and started to chant. “Fight! Fight!”

Mr. Stanford, who was on the other side of the cafeteria, began walking briskly toward the boys, but he was too late.

Brad swung first and landed a blow squarely in Jake’s stomach. Jake bent over in pain.

Brad took aim at Jake’s face and swung again.

Jake stood up quickly and caught Brad’s fist in mid-swing with his left hand. Jake started squeezing as hard as he could and Brad began yelping in pain from the pressure. He sounded like a little dog that had been scratched in the nose after getting too close to a cat.

“Stop it! Now!” shouted Mr. Stanford, as he ran across the cafeteria.

With his right arm, Jake grabbed Brad by the belt and picked him up. The students erupted with joy.

“Stop it! Now!” Mr. Stanford repeated as he drew closer. Shouting into his walkie-talkie, he said, “Office, I need help in the cafeteria.”

“Fight! Fight!”

Jake lifted Brad up by the belt with his right hand while still crushing the yelping bully’s fist with his left. When Brad was dangling over his head, the cafeteria fell silent. The students had never seen anything like this except in the movies or comic books.

“Put him down!” screamed Mr. Stanford.

Jake didn’t say a word. The world seemed to disappear in a fog of anger. He leaned back and, with all the strength he could muster, flung Brad as hard as he could.

Brad flew across the cafeteria, like a screaming line drive headed for the fence, and smashed through a window that was at least 60-feet away.  A loud crashing sound covered the school as the bully landed on the grass in front of the school.

The cafeteria went dead silent. Everyone was stunned.

Jake had thrown Brad through a window.

The fog lifted and Jake realized what had happened. He sat down, stared at the floor and didn’t say a word.

Mr. Stanford stuttered into his walkie-talkie, “W-w-we need a nurse outside in the front.”

“Outside? You said the fight was in the cafeteria!” came the reply over the walkie-talkie.

“Y-yes. I said outside!” Mr. Stanford insisted.

Jake looked up and saw a massive hole in the cafeteria wall where a window used to be. He saw Brad sprawled out on the ground outside. He wasn’t moving.

Mr. Stanford stepped forward.

“Jake, you need to come with me,” he said quietly.

He went without incident and 20 minutes later was sitting outside the principal’s office. He was still shaking.

The front office was busting with people.  An ambulance had arrived. There were at least four police officers scurrying about. A TV crew was setting up for a live shot and several men in dark suits wearing sunglasses were talking into small microphones and listening to instructions in their earpieces.

Then Jake saw his parents hurry into the front office. Accompanied by three of the men in dark suits, they walked toward him. Jake began to weep.

His parents sat down on either side of him. His dad put his arm around Jake. For what seemed like an eternity, they sat there and didn’t say anything.

Jake’s dad leaned in and whispered. “Don’t worry, Jake. It’s going to be okay. You’re not in trouble. It seems the time has come.”

His dad paused, then moved closer and whispered in Jake’s ear. “We need to talk, son.”


Click here to receive an email when the book is ready.

Yet another selfish reason to publish part 2

I wrote earlier about a selfish reason to write.  I got another one.

Letters from fans.  Even fans that were probably required to write the letters to keep their teacher happy.

A teacher friend read Kevin and the Seven Lions to her class.  A few days later I got a envelope full of notes from first graders.  Seriously cool.

Seriously try this sometime.  It’s awesome.

Yeah, the dinosaur was okay.  Did you the see the Giant Squid though?!

Yeah, the dinosaur was okay. Did you the see the Giant Squid though?!

What are other reasons to write? Leave them in the comments.

Thinking about a book as an actual investment

In some ways it is never cool to say you write a book for money.  You’re supposed to say you do it for the love of writing.  Stephen King wrote in his On Writing
memoir that he would still write even if he didn’t get paid for it.  That maybe true, but if he had to have a day job, he certainly wouldn’t have written nearly the same amount of books, because he would be working a day job instead of writing huge books.

On the other hand, in this new indie publishing world many writers hope to make a career out of their writing.  That sounds like writing a book for money to me.

I think people say don’t write for money because you have NO IDEA how little or how much money your book will make.  Hugh Howey had no idea that his short story Wool
would make him a millionaire.  I think it is better to say you don’t write for money, so that if you don’t make money then you don’t look silly.

But Jeff Posey has come up with an awesome spreadsheet showing the possible monetary and cash flow value of a book.  With this new world of publishing, combined with the long-tail of digital shopping, books are now always in print, as long as you want them to be.  Books you write this year, can still be making money for you 10 years from now.  I find that to be awesome.

This is taken from Jeff's site.  Seriously, take a look at year ten.

This is taken from Jeff’s site. Seriously, take a look at year ten.

In my day job, I will go to work this week with the lesson plans I have written and get paid for this week’s work only once.  I create a book, or movie, or song, this year in 2013 and I will still probably be collecting income on that work in 2023.

Sign me up for that.

Dean Wesley Smith agrees with Jeff this idea and he has been doing this for a long time.  In fact he says:

And those of you joking around with that calculator he gives you, I can tell you right now WMG Publishing has 320 titles in print and going strong at a rate of about 50 new titles per year, if not more. Plug in your own income figures into that and then just laugh. I’m not laughing at all because I can tell you this calculator is pretty close after three years. Just saying.

But the key is to make indie writers realize the value over time in their own work.

You may not truly know how much a book will make you.  But it is really fun to run the numbers.  The real lesson here is to keep writing books and with perseverance, time, and a little luck, writing can be a great investment.

Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien is now live

So the second book is now available on Kindle.

Click on the picture to get the book at Amazon.

Click on the picture to get the book at Amazon.

To celebrate Kevin and the Seven Lions is free today and tomorrow.


The paperback should be ready in a couple of weeks.  The first time around I was more focused on the paperback, doing this a second time allows me to focus on formatting the Kindle version and then focusing on the paperback.

Pick up the book and let me know what you think!

Formatting a book requires two different files

I am finishing up Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien.  The text is finished, what I am finishing is the formatting of the paperback and the Kindle version.  This is the “publishing” part of the “self-publishing” or “indie-publishing” process.  I don’t know how others do it, I can only speak to the way I do it.  But there ends up being two different files, as I said above, one for the Kindle, one for the paperback.  I think this is the reason a lot of indie-publishing people only make a Kindle version.  It’s simply easier, and frankly for most indie-writers more copies will be sold as ebooks, and as time marches along that difference between paperbacks and ebooks will only grow.

I think that is a mistake, for a little bit of extra I can bring in more revenue on the same title.  If you’re new to this take the extra-time to learn both.

I use Indesign, because I subscribe to the Adobe Cloud.  You can use Word to format books as well, but I learned from Kevin and the Seven Lions that if I wanted a book that had a bleed, that is the images go all the way to the edge, I needed Indesign.  The template provided by Createspace didn’t allow for a bleed.  Plus Indesign CS6 has an export straight to Kindle option.

The main difference I have between my two versions is Back Matter.  Back matter is that stuff at the end of an ebook that allows readers to click through to a Facebook page and website.  Those things can change or may need to add more places to find me.  I’m not adding all of my social media stuff in the back of a paperback.

The table of contents is also different.  Can you guess why?

There are no “pages” in an ebook, thus making the pages in a paperback completely irrelevant.

The table of contents on my desktop Kindle previewer, note NO page numbers for chapters.

The table of contents on my desktop Kindle previewer, note NO page numbers for chapters.

The paperback Table of Contents as it currently is in Indesign, note Page numbers.

The paperback Table of Contents as it currently is in Indesign, note Page numbers.

For some writers, the focus is solely on the ebook version.  In the first three months of having a book out, about 50% of my revenue has come from the paperback.  I think it was worth the trouble to make two different versions.


In regards to Indesign you subscribe to Indesign only for $19.99 a month for a whole year.  That may or may not be worth it to you, but it could be something to consider if you don’t want the whole Adobe Cloud.

Staying exculsive with Amazon for the time being

I am new to this whole self publishing thing.  But I know few things seems to cause such debate as to the idea of staying exclusive with Amazon through their KDP select program.

For the time being I am keeping my work exclusive with Amazon.

Jeff and I have similar hairstyles.  Maybe that's why I am staying.

Jeff and I have similar hairstyles. Maybe that’s why I am staying.

Joe Konrath is going all in on KDP select.  But I don’t have his backlist.  Heck, I don’t have a backlist.

Here are the reasons why I am doing it:

1. It’s easy.  And I’m lazy.  Apparently I need a different file type to upload to the Nook.  I could set up a file with Smashwords and they could send my book everywhere but Amazon.  Two things with that.  One, they get a cut, and two they want me to upload in .doc format.  Word on the street is that Smashwords is very picking about the formatting of your file.  Formatting a paperback and Kindle book is enough trouble for me right now, thank you very much.  Sorry to my two Nook fans.  And don’t get me started on iTunes.  To upload to iTunes directly to iTunes I either need to buy a mac, or sacrifice a an iPod shuffle at Steve Jobs’ memorial.  Currently, I have no plans to do either.

2. I have GREATLY expanded my readership through Select.  I’ve done two different give aways of the first Kevin book.  Between the two giveaways the book has been downloaded over 7,000 times.  I consider that a success.  As a no name author my book is currently sitting in over 7,000 Kindles and devices with the Kindle plug-in.  And after each free promotion paid sales increased.  They increased a lot more and stayed selling longer the second time around this month in March.  Before January I had never published a book.  Now in March over 7,000 people have my book.  Thank you Amazon.

3. Kindle Lending Library.  Seriously, this thing is awesome.  People borrow my book for free on their Kindle, and then I get paid.  And in most cases, because the book is currently priced at $1.99, I get paid MORE for a borrow.  I even noticed that someone bought my book, then returned and borrowed it through the Kindle Lending Library.  Which means I get paid more for the borrow than for the sale.  Awesome.   That’s money I would not get if I left select.  And my borrows were a pretty high percentage in January and March, that I don’t see the borrows being made up by sales on a Nook.

Reasons to leave.

1.  People who own a Nook. I’ve had a few people tell they it on the Nook.  Seriously, I love all four of you very dearly, but this is a business decision.

2.  The ability to give away free copies on my website. This actually the main I was considering leaving select. Due to the exclusivity of Select I can’t give away copies on my site.  But then I did the obvious math. No way could I have given away 7,000 copies on this site.  Not even remotely enough traffic to reach that.  (I know. You’re shocked.)

3.  Just generally against exclusivity. When I tried my hand at stock photography years ago I never signed an exclusivity agreement because I liked having different sites. The problem is Amazon is so good at getting your book seen no other site even comes close.  See David Gaughran’s take on Amazon’s superior search engine. I have yet to read about a writer who had had more sales on Nook or Apple then kindle. If you are such a writer, please leave a note in the comments.

For those that don’t know exclusivity for Amazon is only 90 days.  So I may change my mind later this summer.  If I had several books available I probably would send a few books free from Amazon, but I don’t have that right now.  Leave your opinion about Select in the comments.

Are Music Labels and other publishers and middle men needed anymore?

Are music labels needed anymore?  I don’t need one. I’m not a musician   I did play trumpet in middle and school, but I hid in the second and third trumpet section for seven years.  I know, you’re impressed.  I also sing in my churches’ choir, but you may not want me to sing in yours.

But Alex Day is a good singer.  In fact he’s so good he recently beat Justin Timberlake in UK when he released his new album.  Now Timberlake is in movies, on the Jimmie Fallon show regularly, and he sells out concerts.  Yet Alex Day beat him.

Youtube beats bring sexy back...

Youtube beats bring sexy back…

Thanks to James Altucher for pointing this out.

I’m 39, so I had to ask “Who is Alex Day?”

Apparently he has big following on Youtube.  He makes regular videos interacting with fans, and he makes music.

But he is not on any major label.  If he can beat Justin Timberlake with no music label behind him then that begs the questions.  What is the purpose of a music label anymore?

Listen to Alex himself ponder the same question.

This is now being played out in the publishing world. Some will disagree, but things are changing quickly. Joe Konrath is now fully self published through Amazon and makes tons more money than when we was a traditionally published writer.

Hugh Howey is currently criss-crossing the country promoting his book Wool. Yes, that book is being done through a traditional publisher Simon and Schuster, but Howey kept the digital rights to his books (smart) and only gave the print rights to the publisher, and the rights were bought by 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott to turn it into a movie. All of this occurred only after he choose himself and self-published.

Now is the time to stop waiting on New York to ordain you a writer.  Or waiting on LA to give you a music contract or a movie contract.  Get up everyday and choose yourself.

Currently Createspace is the place to go and publish your book on Amazon and other places.  But you can also publish your music or movie into the Amazon world.  Think about that for just a minute.  With a group of friends, a video camera, and some basic software you can go out, make a movie and then have shown on Amazon Instant Video in MILLIONS of homes and get paid every time someone watches it.  The world isn’t going to change for artists.  IT HAS ALREADY CHANGED.

As I was writing this I listened to a few of Alex’s songs on Youtube.  I am now a fan.  That’s how that works.  Tower records didn’t tell me to listen to Alex, nor was he played on the car radio.  He was recommended by blogger, I listened, and am now a fan.  That is the 21st century.

Stop waiting for someone to Choose You.  Now you get up everyday and Choose Yourself.

Do that long enough and then everyone else will Choose You.

Here is an Alex Day song that already had over a million views but was new to me.

First illustration from “Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien”

The new book is not a full blown picture book.  It is designed as an early chapter book, and I went with black and white illustration to save on the cost of printing the book.  Hopefully making the book more affordable.  Ironically it also makes the Kindle version cheaper to send.  Who knew?!

But of course the first illustration from a book about a three-headed alien is a pirate and his crew.  Sounds about right.

From the upcoming "Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien."

From the upcoming “Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien.”