Mailbag Monday With Answers to your Self-Publishing Questions

POSTED ON Feb 4, 2013

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Legal Issues, Self-Publishing > Mailbag Monday With Answers to your Self-Publishing Questions

Well, that was an exciting ball game yesterday, wasn’t it? Today to help you cool back down, I’ve reached into the mailbag for some questions that have come in recently.

Since most self-publishers run into the same kinds of questions as they get further into the publishing process, I like to post these questions once in a while for the benefit of everyone.

Q: I’m ready to key my hand written story into a program that I can use to format, send excerpts from, massage, you know what I mean. Do you have a recommendation for me?
A: Most writers use Microsoft Word, but I’ve really been enjoying Scrivener lately, it’s a real writer’s tool. Scrivener gives you remarkable capabilities to organize your research and your writing in the same document, to easily rearrange parts of the document, many ways to view your content, and the ability export to ebook formats. It’s really state of the art.

Q: How do I determine the sell price of my book?
A: The best way to begin to get an idea about your pricing is to look at other, similar books that have been popular, like with Amazon’s “Top 100” lists in your specific category, niche or genre.

Q: I thought if something was written and/or published that in itself would copyright it automatically. Is that not the case?
A: Copyright is created at the same time you create the work. The Copyright office registers copyrights, and that would be particularly important for someone publishing under a pseudonym, to establish who the actual copyright owner is.

Q: I’ve been approached by a large on-line store who wants to carry our book. Hurrah!! They are NOT a bookstore, however, and I was unsure of what sort of discount to propose.
A: If the retailer is outside the normal book distribution channels it’s common to give a bigger discount in exchange for payment on delivery with no returns. The most typical discount for this type of sale is 50% in my experience.

Q: Do e-Books need to have the bar code? I know they need a different ISBN but I am just doubtful about the bar code and could not find the answer anywhere.
A: No, ebooks don’t need a barcode. Where would you print it?

Q: Is it possible to put the ISBN number on a book that has already been printed without the number? If yes, how do I go about it?
A: Yes, the way to do it is with self-adhesive labels. I believe you can buy these from

Q: What’s the downside of not buying my own ISBN and using the free ones, provided by PoD companies or ebook distributors?
A: There are 2 potential issues with using a “free” ISBN. First, it will show the owner of the ISBNs (the PoD company or ebook distributor) as the publisher of record. Second, if you ever want to move your book to another vendor, you will need to use a different ISBN and deal with the metadata issues that that implies.

Q: Would you help me to choose (I think mostly between Garamond and TimesNewRoman) for inside fonts for a semi-technical book (about nutrition) I am about to self publish? I just want to use what is most common, nothing fancy…
A: If you are choosing between Times and Garamond, use Garamond. Times Roman was designed for newspapers, not books.

Q: I am about to self publish my first book and was wondering if I should incorporate a publishing company name, or just put it under my current corporate business name. Should I make up a publishing company name, use my business name, use my name, or not have one at all?
A: You can choose to use your current corporate name or create a new company, either will work. Many people who already have a company structure use that but create an “imprint” name for their publishing activities. So for instance you could brand your books with a publishing imprint like “LiveMore Books” and keep all the business activity within your corporation. Any of these ways will work.

Q: I’m a new self-publisher and I don’t know whether to use CreateSpace or Lightning Source or Lulu or what. Can you advise?
A: I think the best place for authors to publish their own books right now is CreateSpace, were you can contract for other services if you need them but you don’t have to. You’ll get low prices and decent quality books, with lots of support and resources to help you. Lightning Source is more of a business-to-business company whose customers are publishers rather than authors.

Q: Guy Kawasaki in his “APE: How to Publish a Book” (which I read this week) suggests that the order of the parts of an e-book can deviate from the Chicago Manual of Style. Your thoughts?
A: Guy is correct when it comes to ebooks. Print books often have a long frontmatter section including blurbs, previous books, half-title and blank pages as well as copyright and contents. Since only about 10% of your book will be made available as a “sample” on eretailers’ sites, you want to make sure browsers can get to your content right away. You can move some of the traditional parts of the print book to the end of the book or even put them on a web page you link to from inside the book.

Have you run into any questions that are holding you back? Don’t know who to ask? Go ahead and ask in the comments and let’s see if we can help.

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Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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