Saturday, April 26, 2014

Working with Createspace: What size book? What color paper?! What is ISBN? WHERE AM I???

Hello lovely blog readers!

Today, we are going to talk about publishing through Createspace and how to make some of those pesky decisions that you have to make when you decide to indie publish through Amazon.

FIRST DECISION (chose wisely!)

Will you publish e-book only, or paperback only or both? It would be silly-pants to do paperback only, because once you have all that uploaded, Amazon will import everything FOR YOU into KDP and the e-book world, and the more exposure the better. But I know a few people who started e-book only, or who currently sell e-book only.

Some things to think about: e-book is easier. You don't need a full spread (that sounds dirty) which includes the spine and back blurb stuff for cover art, you just need the front cover. It's also very quick to publish e-book only (once you've spent half your life crafting the dang novel in the first place).

Why would someone chose e-book only? Well, maybe you don't have the time or resources to have a full blown cover designed. Maybe you need to make some money to pay for said cover, so you want to see what you can get with the e-book and THEN get the paperback version available.

What did I do? I did both almost simultaneously, and I'm glad I did. I got to hold a paper copy in my hands, and I was able to review the paperback and find more things I wanted to change, formatting issues, etc. before I hit publish on the ebook. Also...YOU GET TO HOLD A PHYSICAL COPY IN YOUR HANDS! Come on, we all want that, right? Yes, I had to spend a little bit more money and time, but I feel it was worth it.


So, you log into Createspace, you enter in all the easy stuff: Title, author name, is this is a series, etc. And then comes something funky...ISBN. WHAT IS THIS? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? I See Buggy Noobs?

ISBN is International Standard Book Number. (Warning: what follows is information I've gleaned from various sources across the interwebs, which are hopefully accurate. I know, I know, everything I read on the internet MUST BE TRUE!)

Your ISBN is what the industry uses to track and distribute your book. For example, when you strike it real big and libraries and bookshops want to sell your book, they find and track it using your ISBN. When you become a bazillionaire and everyone wants to represent you and publishing houses are begging at your door for the chance to wipe your sweaty brow, they use the ISBN to see how many sales you've made with a particular title.

When you choose your ISBN on Createspace, you have three options.

Option One: Free Createspace assigned ISBN. This is free. You have access to Creatspace's expanded distribution, which means more potential buyers. Things to consider: people will see that your publisher is Createspace and they will know you are an indie author (SIDEBAR: I saw this on multiple sites and I am kinda annoyed by it. I mean, as someone who reads a lot of both indie and traditionally published works, I really don't care who published it, I care whether the book is good or not. Also, if you want to self-publish your work and you're that concerned about what others are going to think about it being a self-published work...maybe self-pubbing isn't the right path for you.)

Another BIGGER con is that you cannot use your Createspace ISBN to publish your book through other channels. If you decide later you want to push your book through another distribution channel, you may need a different ISBN for the same product and that's when things get sticky, distribution wise and sales-tracking info will be harder to nail down.

Option Two: Custom ISBN. I don't really understand the draw with this one because you pay $10, and you still cannot use this ISBN through other publishing platforms.

Option Three: Purchase Custom Universal ISBN for $99 where you can use this ISBN to publish across other platforms, and still have access to Amazon's expanded distribution channel.

Option Four: Purchase your own ISBN through Bowker or another ISBN agency. This seems to be the best choice, but again, it's going to cost you. The cost for one ISBN through Bowker is $125. They give you deals if you purchase more. For example, you can purchase 10 for $295, or $29.50 per ISBN.

Phew. I know, that's a lot of nonsensical information. I guess it comes down to how much you want to spend and if you think you're going to want to distribute elsewhere or get an agent/publishing deal down the road. It will be easier for them to see how well you've sold if you have one ISBN across multiple platforms.

Here's a chart that may help.

CreateSpace-Assigned ISBNFreeCreateSpace Independent
Publishing Platform
Custom ISBN*$10You chooseCreateSpace
Custom Universal ISBN*$99You chooseYou choose
Provide Your Own ISBNExisting ISBN
You chooseYou choose

FREECreateSpace-Assigned ISBN

  • CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform is your book's imprint of record. If you select or Amazon's European websites as distribution channels, this imprint will be reflected on your book's detail page.
  • You can sell your book through, Amazon's European websites, a CreateSpace eStore, and all Expanded Distributionchannels.
  • This ISBN can only be used with the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Your book's ISBN information will be registered with®

$10Custom ISBN*

  • You choose your book's imprint of record. If you select or Amazon's European websites as distribution channels, this imprint will be reflected on your book's detail page.
  • You can sell your book through, Amazon's European websites, a CreateSpace eStore, and some† Expanded Distributionchannels.
  • This ISBN can only be used with the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Your book's ISBN information will be registered with®

$99Custom Universal ISBN*

  • You can use this ISBN with any publisher.
  • You choose your book's imprint of record. If you select or Amazon's European websites as distribution channels, this imprint will be reflected on your book's detail page.
  • You can sell your book through, Amazon's European websites, a CreateSpace eStore, and some† Expanded Distributionchannels.
  • Your book's ISBN information will be registered with®

Provide Your Own ISBN

  • You can purchase your own ISBN fromBowker or through your local ISBN agency.
  • If you are reprinting your book, the title, author name, and binding type must remain the same. A new edition requires a new ISBN.
  • Your book's imprint must match what's on file with your ISBN.
  • You can sell your book through, Amazon's European websites, an eStore, andsome† Expanded Distribution channels.


The next thing you will have to decide is trim size and interior type. You will be given the option of  black and white text only, or full color. Obviously, if you have pictures or colorful drawings and such in your work, you're going to pick full color. Full color is more expensive to print, so it will be more expensive for people to buy, and you will have to spend more to get a proof copy. According to the Createspace calculator for manufacturing costs, a full color 200 page book (6X9 dimension) will cost over $14 to print. Black and white interior (text only) with same specs is $3.25. Pretty big difference.

Another decision to be made here is the color of your paper, white or cream? White is pretty glaring when you get a print book (My eyes! My eyes!), and industry standard is cream for fiction, white for non-fiction. I went with cream since my book is fiction, and I think it's a little easier to read. My pasty white legs have blinded enough people as it is, no need to stretch that to my novels as well.

Next, you pick trim size. 6 X 9 is the most recommended option with the widest distribution options, and I suppose you may pick a smaller size or larger size depending on your page count and what it will look like. The good news is that you can order a proof copy and review it before hitting publish, allowing you to make changes and find out which size/dimension will work best for you.

Is your brain hurting yet?

And wow this post got waaay longer than I thought it would! So before I bore you to tears we'll stop here and continue another time with even MORE decisions you get to make when indie publishing.

Coming up soon: Formatting! Uploading! Waiting! Oh my!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Available now! A book! By me! Plus some things I've learned!

Hey everyone!

It's been a busy year, and an even busier month.

My first novel, Imperfect Chemistry, a new adult romance chick-lit romantic comedy type book is now available via Amazon!

Oh the pretty! Oh the purple! Dontcha just wanna go buy it RIGHT NOW!?
e-book currently available, print version is available via
but won't be on Amazon for a few more days. Sad face. 

Self publishing (er, indie publishing, whatever you want to call it) is very interesting. I've discovered lots of things.

For example, there's another Mary Frame who wrote "Tie Dying and Batik" I have no idea what that means, or who this person is, but let's give her some love anyways!

On Goodreads.
 I love tie dyeing!
And after googling, I discovered that Batik is an ancient Japanese form of wax resistant dyeing.
I love this chick because I love hippies, and not just because her name is Mary Frame, although that helps.
And yes, I totally added this to my "To read" list on Goodreads.

Another thing I've learned: when I first published on Amazon when I entered my name into the search, my book wouldn't show up until like page 5 of the search results.

But now, after a couple days, if you type my name into Amazon, my book comes up almost immediately!

Right underneath THIS:

 But if you click the link on Amazon, it's also rated "guidance suggested" which kinda creeps me out a little.
Why isn't Mother Mary suitable for all ages?!

I've also learned that marketing is hard, I'm obsessive compulsive about Amazon rankings and perusing my royalty stats, and that my friends (writer friends, coworkers, general life friends) are amazing and supportive and wonderful.

So that's where I'm at.

I've learned many more, useful things, but I'm too tired and I've had too much wine to write anything that will mean anything to anyone However, I promise I will return to blogging shortly with some much more eloquent and worthwhile info.

Until then!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Coming out of the closet (not in the way you think. Although I would totally do Anna Kendrick...just sayin')

I've been blogging since 2010, about a year after the whole, "HEY I WANNA WRITE A BOOK!" part of my life started.

Since then, I've confided in my writerly journey to: my mother, other writers, my closest friends, and a handful of other people.

Coming out (so to speak) to people is tough. Especially when you're struggling just to put words on a page, let alone trying to master the art of storytelling, character development, thematic nuances, dialogue, juggling multiple plot goes on, and on, and on.

The truth is (and if you've read my way past blog posts, you know this already), when I first started writing, I sucked. Like really sucked. And to be honest, I'm still not that great. But one of the many the draws (for me), and the point of this whole part of my life is that it's something that I can learn. I can grow. I can get better.

Someday, I'm not going to suck so much. As a matter of fact, I suck less than I did five years ago, and that's exciting. That's thrilling, actually.

I think this is GENERALLY true for anyone who pursues any kind of art. When you first start out, you're not that great. You have to learn-just like with anything else-and it takes time and a whole lot of work to build your skills. For me, it took me longer than the average bear. I don't know why. I'm special like that. But it was a good thing! It was a humbling thing. Most things I've tried, I pick up fairly quickly. Not so with writing, and that's okay.

The point, I guess, is that I didn't give up. I could have. I thought about it, occasionally. But then an idea would grip me and it wouldn't let me go and I had to get it out there.

I'm so pleased that I didn't give up after the first year (or the second, or the third, or the fourth...). I didn't let the fact that I knew I wasn't that great stop me from continuing to try.

And now I have something to share with the world. Something that will let them escape for a few hours, something that will make people laugh (hopefully), and that's a great feeling.

So, yes. I am coming out of the closet to...everyone.

My name is Mary Frame, and I am a writer.

(it doesn't say GOOD writer, it just says writer, you see that?)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Decisions, Decisions...and some things I've learned about KDP Select

While working on getting my book published, I've been researching a lot of information. I'm going to (attempt to) organize some of the things I've found useful. Soon, I will also be posting some tips and things I've learned (and screwed up!) while making this publishing journey.

Keep in mind that a lot of this is based on the decisions I've made, mostly because they will work best for me, personally. Everyone's path is different, and if you are choosing to self-publish your book, you may find another route that works better for you.

I have decided to start my journey by going through Amazon and their KDP select program.

What is this KDP select program you speak of (you may be asking)? KDP select is where you agree to publish your book SOLELY through Amazon and NO OTHER retailer. There are, of course, certain benefits and detriments to going through KDP select.

The obvious downfall: you can't publish anywhere else, and therefore may lose out on sales through other retailers like Barnes & Noble or Smashwords. However, you can opt out of the KDP select program after the first 90 days (IMPORTANT SIDEBAR! Amazon will automatically re-enroll you after 90 days! You must go into your account and de-select the auto-enroll feature).

The benefits to KDP select: Your e-book will be available for Amazon prime members to download for free, while you still get your royalty cut. Your book will be available to readers in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and India (all those readers in India who love romantic comedies...).

Plus (and this was the big draw for me as a brand new, unknown author) you can pick between these two promotional tools:

     1) Kindle countdown deals (where your book is available at a lower cost for a limited time to draw more readers, while you still earn royalties) and,
     2) Free Book promotion where readers can download your book for free (you don't earn any royalties in that scenario, but you may reach more potential readers and move up the Amazon charts which means more exposure-a critical aspect of marketing when you're a newbie like myself).

I haven't decided which promotional tool I will use yet, but I'm leaning towards the totally free since I'm an unimportant nobody who really needs to focus first on exposure before working towards making all those millions of dollars with my books (hardy har har).

Another reason I am going with KDP select is because it will likely take me AT LEAST 90 days to figure out how to format and upload my book onto all those other platforms,, win. After my initial 90 days and use of the promotional tools, I will be able to spread across other devices and websites.

Also, Amazon has made it AMAZINGLY easy to upload and publish, while other platforms are a bit more complicated and time consuming (from what I've heard/researched). And let's face it, Amazon is a GIANT retailer. It's hands-down the best place to get the most exposure.

Coming soon to a blog post near you: some tips and guides for formatting and publishing through Amazon, and some mistakes I've made, all in one convenient location (i.e. here)!

Stay tuned...

Monday, April 14, 2014

The cover at the end of this blog

Okay guys, it's here, it's really here and it's really real and I'm about to piss my pants!

Before sharing the cover for my novel, Imperfect Chemistry, I'm going to share with you the journey to the cover! With GIFs! Get excited. It's real fun (or real stupid and boring, I dunno.)

I wrote Imperfect Chemistry in November of 2013, and once I finished the crappy, sloppy rough draft, I knew that it would be my first published book. It just didn't suck quite as much as everything else I had written, and I knew I could make it better. So, I immediately hired one of my favorite designers, Mae I Design. I sent her an e-mail, she sent me the pricing, I paid, she told me it would be a few months (she's very popular and has a loooong waiting list).

Time passed, I edited, revised, edited some more, sent my book to beta readers, did more editing and revising, hired a line editor did YET MORE editing and revising, and then I was getting real antsy. I e-mailed the designer to make sure of the time frame of when I could expect it, she told me just a couple weeks. Not much time, but it felt like for-ev-er!

Then it happened! I got the e-mail with an image and a, "Let me know if I'm on the right path!"

We went back and forth a few times, I had her make a few changes, she sent it back, I showed it to some of my favorite peeps for feedback, then had her change a few more things. It only took a few days for the whole process, but I was so excited time passed very sloooowly! (especially since I was checking my phone for her responses every three and a half minutes.)


I will keep you in suspense no longer. Here it is, the full spread for the printed version:

OH THE PRETTY! OH THE PURPLE! Ohmergerd this is really gonna happen and I'm gonna vomit all over the place!

Now, I'm just waiting for all of the formatted files to upload and review. I'm going to mail myself a paper copy and go through it once more (or possibly six more times. I just can't help it, somebody STOP ME!) and then I will unleash it upon the world. Hopefully it will not suck so badly as to incite the apocalypse, but we'll see.

In the mean time, I'm trying to figure out how to set up an author page on Facebook and playing with the formatting for the printed version (as opposed to the e-book version), and groaning over things like author photos (I am NOT very photogenic) and author bios, etc. I will keep y'all apprised of the situation!

So, until next time, goodbye McFly's!