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


Gimme a pipe

One unresolved self-publishing issue is pipes. Browse an old copy of PC Magazine from 1993 and you’ll see that the pipe concept has been around for a long time. Basically, for those who don’t want to click-and-read, it’s a method of moving digital information from one place to another.

Whether you are self-publishing for someone else, or hiring someone to self-publish for you, pipes matter. How do you get your information into the cyber bookstore?

The person who will receive the royalties needs a self-publishing account. That person sets up their tax information, designates what account should receive the royalties, and a host of other bits of data.

The person who actually uploads the content of the book and the book cover needs access to that same account.

So if you hire someone to format your file for any kind of a book, they need to have access to your account. If you are an author, do you really want to give your Createspace or Lulu password to someone you hire? The author’s account contains credit card information, which is actually pipe in from

Once a client accesses an author’s Createspace account they have full access to edit the account so that all royalties are deposited in the client’s account, instead of the author’s.

Someone needs to invent a way for editors and layout personnel to access a self-publishing author’s account without giving them full credit card, and other payment, access.

As editors and design staff, we need to inform authors that they need to help us advocate to protect their payment data.

No client has ever asked if I am bonded before giving me their passworded information. They don’t ask for legal contract wording to protect them.

I am concerned about the liability on my part. How do I protect myself? If uploaded data is less than perfect, I need to see the online viewer only accessible via passworded access.

All self-publishing companies need to address this issue.

How do you handle this? As an author, do you give out your password to editors and layout providers?

As an editor or designer, do you log in with authors’ passwords?



Lulu self-publishing: splitting the difference

Academic publishing is innately different from all other publishing, just as the academic world, in general, is different. The primary difference is the sharing of information. Or, not.

I have worked in both the private business sector and for universities. In the private sector, business is all about competition. Business competes for customers and employees alike. Innovations are protected. Ideas become an employer’s property. Instead of information becoming power, the ability to hide information becomes power.

The academic world is a different culture. Faculty often collaborate with their peers at other universities in a way that would prompt a meeting with corporate attorneys in the business world for one simple reason. Generally speaking, faculty own their information. They own their research. They also know what the next step is and how to get there. Sometimes it requires collaborating with another mind on another campus. It often involves sharing information with grad students who will move on in a year or two.

That just doesn’t happen in the business world. One of the few and early exceptions was the Power PC. But, for the most part, business is about division and protecting trade secrets rather than sharing and evolving them.

Except at Lulu. But, then, business is a little different at Lulu.

One of the features Lulu offers is a revenue split. A revenue split is the perfect way for creators to each receive their share of royalties. When a book project is created, an author can add accounts for others who worked on the same project.


As books sell, Lulu handles the paperwork and pays royalties via PayPal or check to each coauthor. I hope that, when Glass Tree Academic Publishing, goes live they will include this feature.

But, who do you share creator revenues with? Anyone you want. If you want to split a portion of the royalties with an illustrator, just set them up with an account. Or, it can be one or more coauthors.

I’ve looked closely at Createspace and Amazon Business and don’t see a way to split revenues automatically. But, then, they follow a different model. One that doesn’t cater to the academic world.

As always, think outside the box.



Self-publishing: Who’s watching the store?

Growing up, we went to my aunt’s house for every holiday dinner. She loved hosting and every holiday was the same. Great food, gentle jibes, funny reminiscences and invariably my uncle would wait for the inevitable lull in the conversation.

Then here it would come. “Ramblers are the best car ever made.”

There it was. Every holiday dinner. I believe the last Rambler rolled off the assembly-line in 1969 so chances are pretty good that you have never even heard of the Rambler. It had its heyday. There was a time when only Ford and Chevrolet were more popular.

Today, when I think about holidays, I think of Ramblers. They are charming memories right up there with the 8-track player in my first car or the curb feelers my friend’s dad put on her car when she went off to college. Yes, she was humiliated but dad was helping pay her tuition.

It has mystified me for quite some time that writers find it so difficult to consider an alternative to Createspace for their publishing needs. It would be like talking about a Rambler when everyone is driving a Prius or a Tesla.

Yes, there was a time when the Rambler was cutting edge. And, there was a time when Createspace was the only game in town.

Today—just today–I had a conversation with a writer about the advantages of publishing books through Lulu when I finally understood the confusion. It’s about the store.

As consumers and producers, we can’t see the store for the publisher.

…we can’t see the store for the publisher.

Traditionally, if you wrote a book, you sent the typewritten pages to a very large company where someone decided whether your words would ever see the light of day. Oh, a typewriter was a machine that was just a keyboard that printed characters directly onto paper. And, you used these little bottles of white paint to correct mistakes.

There were a limited number of publishing companies and they could only create a limited number of titles. The vast majority were discarded and hearts were broken.

That’s not to say they were bad books. Partly, there was a limit to how many books editors had time to read and were willing to take a chance on publishing.

I worked for a very, very, very brief time for a major bookstore. I was mortified that there was a special dumpster out back where, every single day, it was our job to dump books that weren’t selling. It would cost too much to even sell them on eBay. Obviously, traditional publishing has its issues.

The old-fashioned solution was vanity publishing. A writer—any writer–could pay a vanity publisher to print books. Yes, they paid to have their words published. Vanity publishing was very popular with family histories. If you wanted to print out 17 copies of your family’s genealogy, you could do that.

You paid. You paid to have them printed. You paid to have them shipped to you. Then, you schlepped the books to the family reunion and handed them out or, again, paid to have them shipped to Uncle Bob and Aunt Margie.

You can still pay to have your books printed. It’s a charming method, kind of like the Rambler sitting in my uncle’s driveway.

Paying to print still exists. You can actually pay to print through Createspace and even Lulu. You can hire someone to do the layout. You can hire someone to create a cover. You can hire someone to edit.

But, you don’t need to. And, you shouldn’t have to.

I predict that, as time passes, we will see fewer and fewer people paying for publishing. It’s a dying tradition. You will even see fewer instances of writers paying for layout services.

Right now we are in a mystifying time. It is overwhelming to many writers attempting to get their words into reader’s hands.

Part of the issue will solve itself. Part of the issue is age. (Let me just mention here that I am 59 years old, as of this writing.)

I used to be a software trainer. There was a time when I could literally not remember the last time I saw anyone under the age of 30 show up for a computer class. Even the youngest thirty-somethings already knew most of what was covered. Sometimes they would actually tell me they were only there to give moral support to someone who was really intimidated by Microsoft Word. Someone older.

The world had changed. You couldn’t give away a manual typewriter. Everyone was growing up with the opportunity to learn ever more sophisticated uses for computers and learning to do amazing things easier and faster than we expected.

Enter Amazon.

Where is the store?

If you knew the basic Styles process, you were lightyears ahead. Suddenly, you could create and sell your own books and it cost you nothing. In fact, you got paid just for doing it.

That’s where the confusion first arose. Where was the store? The store was inside your computer.

But, where?

Amazon is not a publisher. Nor are they a printer.

Amazon sells books. That’s are a store. They sell things. They don’t produce things. They sell things. There are a number of stores. Just like any store, they sell products from various producers.

They do own Createspace. But, they carry books from a myriad of both traditional and self-publishing sources.

Where is the printer?

The printer is not the store. But, the printer can sell books.

The printer is Createspace or Lulu or a handful of others. I just Googled “Self-publishing.” The top four hits were paid advertisements for companied that will print anything you want—if you pay them enough money. The first unpaid entry is the Wikipedia definition of self-publishing.

Lulu is the top hit for any self-publishing company. So why do so many writers not know that?

It’s a dizzying world and it moves fast. So, let me help you understand it.

Lulu prints books. You pay nothing. You earn royalties when readers buy your books. They assign a free ISBN. It is a legitimate ISBN required by brick-and-mortar and other stores and libraries.

Createspace prints books. You pay nothing. You earn (lower) royalties when readers buy your books. They assign a free ISBN. It is a legitimate ISBN required by brick-and-mortar and other stores and libraries.

Then there are the printers who, for a fee, will print books. Royalties? It’s all a little foggy.

Again, where is the store?

Createspace is a store. Createspace sells books, film and music directly from the artists to the public. Go to and you can chose from 518,980 books, 2,730 videos or 1,385 works of music. Createspace has existed since 2007 and actually dates back to a conglomeration of companies dating back to 2002. That’s almost 15 years. And you didn’t know? Yes, they are a printer. But, they are also a direct-to-the-public store. But don’t worry about that for now.

Amazon is a store. Amazon owns Createspace. You can buy Createspace books, videos and music through Amazon. Or, you can buy from Createspace.

Think of Amazon like this. Walmart is a store. But, Walmart is also Sam’s Club. They are just different flavors of the same company. Amazon is a store and so is Amazon’s Createspace.

Barnes & Noble is a store. They may publish your book, if you send it to them in the right format and leap nimbly over hurdle after hurdle. You have to buy your own ISBN number. According to their website, you will be competing with 100,000 submissions annually just to be considered. B&N prefers that you sell your book to them through a wholesaler. “Wholesalers normally expect a 50-55% discount, pay in 60-90 days, and expect books to be returnable. Some expect free freight.” But, primarily, B&N is a store.

Lulu is a store. We already said that Lulu is a printer. But, they also sell books. You can go to and buy books. Since, they are a printer, as well, they also offer volume discounts.

And, Lulu distributes their books to—Amazon. And, Barnes & Noble. And, more.

So what does this all mean to a writer?

As a writer and a self-publishing guru, I recommend printing through Lulu and distributing, from there, to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in addition to Lulu. And more.

Lulu offers free print and eBook distribution options that will get your book into the global marketplace. This network reaches online print book retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and retailers in the Ingram catalog network. Lulu also provides eBooks distribution (English content only) for Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and all online eBooks distributors associated with the Ingram network.

There really is no competition. Literally.

Lulu is your best self-publishing option precisely because it is  not in competition with that list of distribution sites.

Lulu charges you nothing to print your book.

Lulu distributes your books to the stores.

Lulu is not an alternative to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Lulu is a supplier to them (and more) and actually offer you a better chance of getting into B&N and Ingram than if you submit your manuscript directly to them.

So…what was your question again?

The answer is Lulu.


P.S. Your blog host, Judy Rosella Edwards, is likely to appear as a top hit if you Google “Self-publishing.” See below.




When most people set out to write, the TOC is not the first thing they think of.

But, if you plan to self-publish, it is a good idea.

If you plan to publish an eBook, it is essential.

The Table of Contents is a Word References feature (OpenOffice, too).. It is part of the “programming” that goes on behind the scenes while you type. It is one example of Word doing some of the thinking for you.

When you download a publish-on-demand book template, you will find that it includes a Table of Contents. You don’t have to get very elaborate. You can literally leave the chapter names as “Chapter 1,” “Chapter 2,” and so on. But it does help guide your reader if you name the chapters. Plus, most of us look at the chapter titles when we decided whether to read a book or not. A numeric chapter name is not going to convince anyone to buy a book. But, you should have chapters and a table of contents so the reader can go directly to a chapter.

If you plan to publish a digital version of your book, format the print version for publishing first. Trust me.

The automatically-generated TOC is based the Styles palette, but uses the References palette.

To see how this works, download a template from a publishing site.  You don’t need a Createspace account to download a template for this exercise. Go to HERE to download the pre-formatted template for a book that is 8.25 inches tall and 6 inches wide. It is just one of more than a dozen sizes you can choose from.

Open the Styles Palette in the Home ribbon menu. To do, this click on the little icon in the lower right-hand corner of the Styles Palette.


The Styles panel opens on the right-hand side of the page.

Far down the list, you will see “CSP – Chapter Title.” All of the “CSP” styles are the basic Createspace styles. The other styles are ones you may, or may not, need to use. Later, you might even want to create your own.

The Style called “CSP-Chapter Title” is the key that generates a Table of Contents. Any item that is formatted as “CSP-Chapter Title” will automatically generate an item in the Table of Contents.

That means if you need to create additional chapters, format the title with “CSP-Chapter Title.” When you update the TOC, Word will automatically add that chapter. It’s just name your chapter, highlight it and apply the chapter style, and update the TOC.

There is nothing magic about “CSP-Chapter Title.” You can create any Style you want for your chapter headings and call that Style anything you want. You just need to remember what it is called.

Did I lose you? Let’s take a closer look.

Hover over the “CSP-Chapter Title” until you see a dropdown arrow appear at the right-hand end of the Style in the list. Hovering will show what kind of formatting will be applied.

But, it helps to know how many times the formatting has been applied within this document. If you know you should have 16 chapters, click on the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style to see the popup window.  Does it show 16 chapters?


No. The “CSP-Chapter Title” Styles has only been applied in 14 instances.You would need to find the other two chapter headings and apply the same chapter Style to them.

Don’t change anything else on this style, at this time. (You can quickly change the font, size or color used for all your chapter headings by modifying and updating the Style, but we will save that for another time.)

If you want to see, in detail, what formatting is included with the template, click on Modify. The Modify Style window appears and shows how text formatted as “CSP-Chapter Title” Style will appear.


Chapter Titles are Paragraph styles, meaning they will modify all the text until the next hard return. All you do is highly the chapter name and choose “CSP-Chapter Title” Styles to make the text:

Times New Roman, 14, All caps, centered, single line-spacing with no space below.

Let’s say we do have the correct number of chapters formatted with the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style. Now we want those chapter titles to show up in our Table of Contents.

The Table of Contents in this template you downloaded is on page 5. (Type CONTROL+G, 5 to get there quickly.)

This is NOT a functioning TOC. You will have to create one that updates automatically. You do not want to have to type the TOC manually, and then keep all the page numbers manually. Word needs to do all of that for you.

To create your own functioning TOC, hover above the chapters listed in the Contents on page 5. You will see the following. It is just a table, not a Table of Contents. The word “Contents” was just manually typed in.


I prefer to keep the word “Content” until I have completed the TOC setup and have it working. But, the fake TOC needs to be deleted. To do that, highlight the table.

Tap the Delete key. The fake table is gone. Now we will create the real TOC.

Before we begin, we know that the first chapter is “1 Chapter Name” and begins on page 1.


We want to give this chapter a name that means something. We’re going to rename it “1 In the Beginning.”


Rename as many chapters as you want before we begin. You can rename all the rest of them at any point so don’t worry if you aren’t ready to name them all. When you are finished naming chapters, we’ll create the TOC.

Go back to the page where the word Content is, where you deleted the fake TOC. One reason I leave the word Content there is that, if I get confused, I can use the Find command to locate Comment.

Move your cursor one line below the word Content, for now. (When we are done, we will delete the word Content.)

The Table of Contents Panel is on the References Palette in the ribbon menu. Click on the dropdown at the bottom of Table of Contents. We are going to Insert Table of Contents.


You will need to “decorate” your TOC, by selecting Styles, in order for Word to pick up the chapters for your Table of Contents. There are defaults you will need to change.


When the Table of Contents popup window appears, you will see examples of TOC formatting. In the default example,  you will see the Print Preview shows Heading 1, Heading 2 and Heading 3. These are headings for different levels of content. Heading 1 would be a chapter; Heading 2 would be a subsection of that chapter; and Heading 3 would be a subsection of the subsection of the chapter. Keep in mind that the default TOC consists of THREE heading levels. In this template, we are going to use only 1.

To do that, we click on the 1 Options Button. That opens the Table of Contents Options window.

There are 4 things we need to change in this window.

In our template, we know that “CSP-Chapter Title” is the Style for all of our chapters. The default Style is Heading 1. We need to change that. Use the scrollbar all the way over on the right to scroll down through all the Styles in this template.

2  In the box next to the Style “CSP-Chapter Title,” type a number “1”. 3 The moment you do, a checkmark will appear next to “CSP-Chapter Title.”

Now, all text formatted as the “CSP-Chapter Title” Style will be included in our Table of Contents.

BUT WAIT, the Table of Contents Options still show that text formatted as Heading 1 should be level 1 in your TOC.

You probably don’t have anything formatted as Heading 1 – but just to be sure, 4 I delete the number “1” from the TOC level. Doing that makes 5 the checkmark next to Heading 1 disappear.

I do the same with Heading 2 and Heading 3.

Click Okay.

The TOC will automatically appear, with corresponding pages numbers.

Since we changed the name of the first chapter to “1 In the Beginning,” that is what appears in our TOC. Rename your chapters whenever it feels convenient.

Then go back to the References Palette and find the Table of Contents panel. Click on Update Table.


A popup will ask whether you want to update page numbers only, or whether you want to update the entire table. I usually choose entire table.

If you don’t fiddle with this template too much, you can safely paste your text into the chapters or type your chapter content right in the template.

This is the basic TOC you will need for either a print book or an eBook. You can now safely delete the original line that has only the word “Contents” on it.

You can alter the Style for your chapters to a different font, or size. But, if you rename the Style in the process, you will need to go back to the Table of Contents setup, find the new Style you want to use for chapters and make sure that is selected as Level One in the Table of Contents format.

Once you understand how the Styles work, you can make your books look attractive and appealing. Books should be more than just words. They should include this roadmap we call chapters and they should be consistently formatted.

Many people are overwhelmed by this very first and very basic task. If you are, hire someone to do it for you. (Yes, I can do that for you!)



Doing it with Styles

I may the only person on the planet who actually loves Word’s Styles. Learn to love Styles, and eBook formatting becomes easier.

People hire me just to format their dissertations. An eBook would probably put them into a coma.

Styles are actually quite simply, and extremely powerful. When we look at a page in Word, it looks rather simple. We know there are little icons and buttons and menus that we will never use in a lifetime. But, someone will. Or someone wanted to when Word was designed. In spite of that, Word looks quite simple. Clean. Austere, even.

But, behind the scenes, there is a lot of power. That’s where the creative part comes in. That’s where I, as an author, get excited.

I absolutely believe that books should be attractive. I realize attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder. But ugly text hovering above a distant white background does not inspire me to read.

We seem to forget the original efforts at printing were beautiful and they also were not on paper. They were woodblock imprints of colored flowers printed on silk. Woodblock printing was standard for a long time. Granted, there was no other option. But, for centuries, printing was beautiful.

Words important enough to share were beautiful. They were works of art.

The Styles palette in Word is what makes that happen for an eBook. Any time you use Word, you are using a Style. There are 16 styles built into Word when you open it up.

You won’t use any of those styles when formatting an eBook. Eventually, that will change. But, for now, suffice it to say, you will not use them.

Instead, download the template from the vendor of your choice. The Styles you will use are embedded in that template. A book consists of 14 sections. Each section has its own Styles.

And, yes, Styles, plural, is correct. A Style consist of a font, a size, alignment instructions and things like whether it should be in all caps. A single Style can consist of a myriad of formatting instructions.

Mystified by what those magical Styles are in a CreateSpace template? By default, they are as follows.

Tune in next time when I tell you how to customize them.

Book Sections CreateSpace
1. Book Title Page Times New Roman 14, centered, all caps
2. Author on Title Page Garamond 18, centered, all capitals
3. Dedication Title (optional) Garamond 12, centered, all capitals
4. Dedication Content

(optional; usually one or two paragraphs)

Garamond 11, centered
5. Acknowledgement Title (optional) Garamond 12, centered, all capitals
6. Acknowledgement content (can be just a sentence) Garamond 11, centered
7. Table of Contents (optional) Garamond
8. Chapters Titles Garamond 14, centered, all caps
9. Body Text First Paragraph Garamond 11, no indention on first line
10. Body Text Garamond 11

Indent the first line of each paragraph

11. About the Author (can include Author’s Photo) Garamond 14, centered, all caps
12. About the Author content Garamond 11, centered
13. Index  (optional) Calibri 11, double-column
14. Glossary (option list of defined terms) Nirmala UI Semilight 10, with terms in bold followed by a colon