Self-publishing without, “Hey, buddy, wanna buy a book?”

In this video, I talk about the history of publishing, from hand-printing, to duplicating, to vanity presses, to the modern age of print-on-demand self-publishing.

There is one thing that sets your book apart from do-it-yourself self-publishers. An ISBN! Let me tell you what it is, where you get one and where to put it. Otherwise, it’s gonna be, “Hey, buddy, wanna buy a book?”

Self-publishers can put an ISBN on a book, a revised edition of a book, or a “booklike” item. Yes, you can assign an ISBN to an audiobook or an e-book.

Your ISBN is your unique identifier, if there is ever any question about which book is yours. Retail databases and libraries usually only include books with an ISBN. The most common exception is family histories.

Of course, you want your book included in major databases like but don’t stop there. You can’t be listed in too many places. You just can’t.

In this video, I will also tell you about how to get your book listed in library databases, including An ISBN is generally required in order to be included, but I will tell you how to get your book included in a library collection.

But, you really want your book in Worldcat. This database is a digital card catalog of a wide array of libraries but it also provides links to vendors, like Barnes & Noble, where library patrons can opt to buy your book on the spot.

As a writer, it is your responsibility to know all the databases that should include your book. Later, I’ll talk more about this. But, for now, learn the databases that should include your book.

Visit Think::Fast::Write::Fast on Youtube and learn more


It’s time to write your author’s bio

There are a lots of techniques for avoiding writer’s block. One is to write your author’s bio, or to update it.

Your readers want to know who you are and why your writing is of value. Tell them!

Learn more about writing your author’s bio from today’s vlog tip.


The Business of Words: The Art of Books

Yesterday, I attended the Business of Art event, in Peoria. I knew from the promotional materials that writing was not included as an Art but, as expected, I did learn a few things. In particular, I learned from Jenna Scifres that I really need to up my game when it comes to social media.

I want to whine that it is challenging for a writer to create behind the scenes video of what we do. It isn’t going to be very interesting if I post screenshots of text, right?

Actually, that isn’t true. I can think of all kinds of things I can video, or upload as still photos.

Like someone recently asked me what I do with my thumb drives. I can answer that both in terms of what I store on them and how I keep from losing them. And, I can talk about where I use them and how I organize what is on them. Believe me, I can actually make that interesting.

Jenna photographs her tools and how she uses them. I could certainly photograph the tools I use. I use a plethora of databases and writing techniques that, believe it or now, would photograph well.

My art of Writing was overlooked by the Business of Art event. This year.

I am dying to replicate the event from the viewpoint of the writer. Writers are artists. Writing is an art.

Writers also need art. The writer who can create an artistic dust jacket is rare. I have never found the courage to even try. I opt instead for cookie-cutter jackets, sometimes decorated with my own photographs. Anything to escap

But, when I teach self-publishing, I fill the room with books. We look at books. We examine books. We talk about how graphic artists, photographers and artists of all kinds add value to books. With the exception of the artist who is self-publishing their own work, books need art.

I recently discussed this in my six-part series on the six hats a self-publisher wears. The one place where self-publishers skimp is on the art of designing a book, inside and out.

Nearly every print-on-demand publishing concern offers templates anyone can use as book covers. I have seen artists selling book covers, independently from book content. Yes, even for self-published books. And why not? Jacket designers have long been employed in the book industry.

People who love books love well-designed books. I fell immediately out of love with digital publishing as soon as I saw the original eBook reader. It was as elegant as a typewritten page. There was no style, quite literally. (That’s a pun for anyone who knows that text Styles are the key to creating beautiful books!)

There is room for style, design, creativity in all self-published works. I would even contend there is a dire need for it. A book—any book–is more than words.

The glut of self-published works are creating books that all use the same margins, fonts, headers and footers. Their covers are exactly the same except for maybe a random original photograph. Most self-published books (I venture to say without researching the statistics) are published in monotone black-and-white. With no art, whether it be graphic design or photographs or original art, there is no need for color. Black text on a white background is sufficient.

I cry fowl! I crave beautifully designed books. I crave books with original design.

I crave Art when I look at a book. I expect it to be there. Nay, I demand it.

I was disappointed that my entire area of Art was overlooked by the Business of Art this year. Maybe it will be different next year, or maybe I just need to create the Business of Words.



Simplifying the technical

Self-publishing requires some technical skill. But, even the most basic word-processing software offers what you need.

I came across this 197-page manual written specifically to teach writers how to self-publish. Not only is it poorly done, this is the third edition.

My goal is to help you avoid this kind of publication. It is embarrassing.

Plus, this type of book gives self-publishing a bad name. If this author knew as much as she claims to know, her own book would not look like that. I will help you avoid these pitfalls.

The other criticism I have with this book is that it is largely a sales tool. The dollar sign appears 73 times in this alleged “book.”

I don’t consider that a book. But, you can certainly make a 197-page advertisement if you want.

Just, please, learn to make it without unprintable characters. Let me show you how. Register now at EventBrite.


Making self-publishing exciting and profitable

Ages ago, my first teaching gig was at a university. I did not teach students. I taught faculty and staff.

One of the courses I taught was PageMaker. A number of faculty wanted to publish their workbooks and textbooks. But, paying someone to publish them wasn’t practical.

So faculty would attend. Or, they would send their clerical staff who would actually be the people typing, doing layout and actually getting words on paper. At that time, the campus print shop was the usual option. Not pretty, but it got the job done.

I’m excited to see Glasstree Academic Publishing come into being. They offer what all those instructors needed: well-crafted original textbooks.

This is also a boon for anyone interested in creating print products for academia. Your skills are needed. Work with faculty who provide content. You edit. You do layout.


There is a bonus to Glasstree. They pay 70% royalties. That’s a LOT.

Academic publishing is going to be a bit different than publishing a novel. There is a different process.

Selling academic textbooks may not seem like an exciting field. But, this is a seller’s dream. The average textbook sells for nearly $100 each. Multiply that times the number of students in your class who are required to buy that textbook. Now calculate 70% of that income. You keep that. Well, the author keeps it. They may have to pay for editorial staff, artwork and other services. But, this still stands to be a higher profit than any other kind of publishing.

And, there is a captive audience. Every time someone signs up for your class—cha-ching. You just sold another textbook.

Time is running out. “Glasstree is currently in a limited free trial period until December 31, 2016. During this time, authors can publish as many titles as desired, free of charge, receiving a range of complimentary services.”

Take a look. Give it a test run. Now, THIS is exciting!


Self-publishing: hat #6

Every self-publisher wears six hats. Six. It’s not an option. That’s how it is.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Graphics
  4. Technical Layout Designer
  5. Marketing
  6. Coordinator

Even if you plan to provide self-publishing services for others, you need to know the process. You need to wear six hats.

Hat #1: Writer

Hat #2: Editor

Hat #3: Graphics

Hat #4: Technical Layout Designer

Hat #5: Marketing

Hat #6: Coordinator

There is a sixth hat that is more important than the other five. This hat sits on the head of the coordinator.

Someone has to keep track of the details. Someone needs to keep the projects rolling while adhering to print specs.

Work flow

Someone needs to manage the work flow. What is your revision process?

Are you familiar with digital commenting? Perhaps, more importantly, is your client familiar with Track Changes? Are you prepared to teach them?

Meeting print requirements

Each self-publishing company has specific requirements for color mode, pixel rate, alignment, fonts and book layout. Some companies allow for full-bleed, while others do not. There is a myriad of book layouts print sizes, paper weight and cover options.

Someone needs to confirm that graphic resolution is appropriate. If it is not, don’t take short cuts.

Defining Done

Before you begin, define how you will know when you are done.

How many revisions will you make for free? What action marks a project done? What would constitute a new project, versus reasonable revisions of the initial project?


If you agree to create a photo book of images you photographed or graphics you created, who owns them? Can your client sell them? Can they reprint them? Can they give them to other people to reprint? Or, do you have a contract entitling you to royalties if the images are duplicated?

Who owns your book? What does the self-publisher say? Do you retain the right to re-publish elsewhere? Can you publish the same book in digital format?

A contract is essential. It can be simple. But, it needs to be thorough.

Sometimes the contract just needs to be with you. You need a deadline. You need commitments to each of the Six Hats whether you wear them all yourself or subcontract to others.

Six hats. One book. Let me show you how.

Register now. I’ll see you on January 26.

Writing. Let’s do this thing.