Guidelines for the assignment of ISBNs to e-books (directly from Bowker)

  1. If I publish in two or more different file formats (e.g. epub, PDF) should I assign separate ISBNs?

Yes.  Each different format of an electronic publication that is published and made separately available should be given a separate ISBN.

  1. Should different versions of the e-book that use the same file format (e.g. epub) have different ISBNs?

If the different versions use the same DRM software (e.g. Adobe ACS4) with substantially the same settings and are interoperable on different devices or software, then a single ISBN should be used. If, however, the same DRM software is used on two versions but with significantly different settings (e.g. one allows printing but the other does not) then each version should have its own separate ISBNs.

If proprietary DRM is used that ties a version to a specific platform, device or software then, if ISBNs are assigned (see 6 below), separate ISBNs should be used for each such version.

  1. Assuming the same content, what are the features that distinguish different e-book products and determine whether separate ISBNs are required?

The key features are whether any specific device or software is required to read the e-book and what user functionality is provided (e.g. copy, print, lend etc.).  As mentioned above, this is normally defined by a combination of file format and Digital Rights Management software.

  1. Is there a standard way of describing different product forms and DRM features?

ONIX for Books is the international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form. The latest release, 3.0, has improved handling of digital publications and provides structures for describing product form detail and DRM usage constraints.  Even if you do not use ONIX, you can use the standard codes to describe product form and usage constraints listed in the relevant sections of code lists version 12 (DRM–related codes, lists 144-147; product content type, list 81; product form detail, list 175).

Further information on ONIX for Books 3.0 and code lists is available at

  1. If I provide a single master file to a conversion service and am not controlling the different combinations of file format and DRM provided by that service to retailers, should I assign an ISBN to that master file?

No, unless it is also being made available to the public in exactly the same form as your master file (i.e. unchanged file format and without DRM applied).  You should assign separate ISBNs to each version generated by the conversion service (see also question 6 below).  If your legacy computer system requires an ISBN to identify a master file, then this should be kept as a purely internal identifier to avoid the possibility of several different versions carrying the same ISBN.

  1. If my e-books are being supplied by a retailer that is the sole provider of e-books in a proprietary format that can only be bought its own website (e.g. Amazon Kindle) and that retailer does not require ISBNs, should I assign ISBNs to those versions?

It is not necessary to do so, unless it is useful for your own purposes or you want  that version to be listed in third-party databases of available e-books .  However, since these platforms are generally not interoperable, if you do assign ISBNs, make sure that they are unique to each version to avoid problems if those versions should later become available through third parties. 

  1. I provide an e-book conversion service to publishers but they are not providing separate ISBNs for each version that I generate. What should I do?

If a publisher will not provide ISBNs to intermediaries for this purpose then, as a last resort, intermediaries may assign their own ISBNs.  ISBN agencies will provide ISBN prefixes to intermediaries for this purpose.  In this case ISBNs and related metadata should be provided back to the publisher and to the national ISBN agency and other bibliographic agencies.

Note that the assignment of an ISBN has no implications for rights ownership.

  1. E-book devices offer different features such as type size, text to speech, bookmarking, colour etc. Even if my content, file format and DRM are the same, the user experience varies according to the device used. How does this affect assignment of ISBNs?

Not at all.  If the content, file format, DRM and settings are unchanged, then any variation that depends on the device or software used to read the e-book does not impact on the ISBN.

Note that provision of mono or colour images in separate e-publications intended respectively for mono or colour devices constitutes a change of content – and therefore of ISBN. However if colour images only are provided, but a particular device has only a mono display, that is simply a device limitation and does not imply a second ISBN.

  1. Should an enhanced e-book that includes audio, video or other additional content have a different ISBN from the standard e-book?

Yes.  Since there is extra content included in the enhanced e-book it is clearly a different product and should therefore have a separate ISBN.

  1. Can e-book “apps” (e.g. applications for iPhone, Android etc.) have ISBNs?

Yes, provided that there is significant textual content.  An e-book app is simply a combination of textual and other content and software.  If the software element is different (e.g. targeted on different operating systems), then each version should have a separate ISBN.  However, please see question 6 above.  If the app is only being made available through a single source, then ISBNs may not be necessary.

  1. I am publishing two versions of an e-book, one without DRM and one with ‘social’ DRM that does not enforce any restrictions on the user (e.g. watermarking). Do I need two separate ISBNs?

No. If the social DRM does not enforce any restrictions or intrude significantly on the users’ experience, it is transparent to them and need not be given a separate ISBN.

  1. How can all the different versions of an e-book be linked together?

The ISTC (International Standard Text Code) is a new ISO identifier that identifies the underlying textual content of the book and is therefore shared by all digital and physical manifestations of the same title. The assignment of ISTCs would facilitate the linking of all versions and, with the addition of a filtering element such as product form, could also be used to link all e-book versions. Some systems already use an internal work identifier to provide this functionality but this cannot be used in the supply chain.

Note that the implementation of ISTC also facilitates the“inheritance“ of metadata from work level to manifestation level and can save rekeying.

Further information on ISTC is available at

  1. How do I identify individual chapters or other parts of a book that I plan to make available separately?

If you are making chapters or other parts of a book separately available through the normal supply chain and want to have them listed in trade databases then you should regard them as individual publications and assign ISBNs to them.  If they will only be available through a single source, such as the publisher’s website, then proprietary internal identifiers will be adequate.


How To Write the BEST Back Cover Copy


You have heard over and over from experts and read online how important your front cover is.  It is true.  How your cover looks is even more important that what you write inside the book. Because if your cover is not terrific, then no one will ever know how brilliant your writing is. It is the front cover’s job to convince a potential reader to flip the book over and read the back cover.  It is the job of the book back cover to convince a reader to flip open a book and read a few pages.

Don’t Neglect the Back Cover

Our job as authors/publishers is to convince readers that our books are wonderful. The back cover is one of our best tools to do that. Too often, we try to get EVERYTHING we want to say about ourselves and our books onto the back cover.  We cram too many words into too small of a space and when we want to get it to fit, we shrink the text size. That is not how to entice someone into reading your back cover copy. Think about how magazines use space and headlines and large font sizes to lure their readers in. We should be emulating those same practices.Before you write that back cover copy, ask yourself the following questions:

1 – Does your Bio and picture NEED to be on the back cover? Are your bio and picture going to convince someone that your book is terrific?

2 – Do YOU read tons of text, in small type, smashed together with no line spacing to give your eyes a break? Or do your eyes gloss over the words?

3 – Do you read headlines on Magazines, Newspapers, and Online?

Let’s use the answers to form the content of your book back cover text.

For small press and self-published authors, WHAT to put on the back cover can be a hard decision.

Nonfiction Book Back Cover

Here is my formula for a nonfiction back cover that has a terrific chance of convincing a reader to open your book:

1 – Big, bold, exciting headline: LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT DIETING

2 – List 3-5 questions that will allow the reader to identify with an issue. (Are you struggling to lose weight? Have you lost and then regained the weight before? Do cravings and hunger plague you when you are trying to lose weight?)

3 – Write 3-4 sentences addressing the problems listed in those questions.

4 – Write a short paragraph describing the book and giving the reader a list of benefits they will receive when they read the book.

5 – Only put your bio on the back cover if your experience and credentials will sway a potential reader. If you are an MD but you wrote a book about tulip arranging, perhaps it is not necessary to use space on the back cover. You can include all of your information on the ABOUT THE AUTHOR page on the last page of the book.

Here is a BEFORE example of a back cover of a terrific book that was not using the back cover to its optimum effect:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for

Here is the same book with an optimized back cover:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for

See the new focus of the text and questions?  See how the flow draws the eye to each element in turn?

While the author’s photo was not HUGE, it was still taking up space and drawing the eye away from the benefits of the book.  In THIS case, we decided to leave the author bio on the back because we knew that the author’s credentials and experience would greatly enhance the book’s credibility.

Fiction Book Back Cover

Fiction copy is a VERY different type of writing with VERY different goals. Start with the statements that will most appeal to the reader and most convince them to buy the book. This means that before pen hits the paper (or fingers hit the keyboard), the author should determine what the readers are interested in and then match their copy to those interests. Here is my formula for a Fiction back cover that has a terrific chance of convincing a reader to open your book:

1 – Big, bold, exciting headline. There HAS to be a headline. Think “Movie Trailer” when writing the Headline.  (“In a World Where Woman Cannot Own Property….”)

2 – A description of the BIG ISSUE in the book’s plot that will drive the reader to want to know more

3 – Have one or two GLOWING quotes about your book.

Again, unless you are a BIG name in fiction, there is no need to put the author’s photo or even a bio on the back cover. Put your bio, photo, and information on the last page of the book and save that amazing real estate on the back cover for showcasing the benefits of your book.

This author used the space that would usually go to a bio for an endorsement instead. This is a terrific idea for new authors who want to increase the reader’s comfort level that the book is well written.

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for

For fiction authors, another way to go is to take snippets of all the nice things folks have said about your or your previous work and put them on the book back cover. In some cases, ringing endorsements and rave reviews will do a LOT more to convince a reader that your book is worth their time and money than a description. 

See if you have some enthusiastic quotes about your writing that you can use on the back cover such as the author did here:

optimizing your book back cover by Amy Collins for

So there are my suggestions for great book back cover copy. As we go through the publishing process, remember that every decision we make should be based on the following idea: “What would my reader want to know to decide to buy my book?”


6 Ways You Are Destroying Your Chances of Finding Readers


This week, I am pleased to introduce Mr. Laurence O’Bryan from BOOKSGOSOCIAL.COM, I have been learning a lot from Laurence and his team.  This article was previously published on his site in June 2017. Laurence O’Bryan had 3 books published by Harper Collins around the world. Now he helps other authors get discovered at

You’re a writer. You want to find readers. Traditional publishers are paying less and less, and they are taking fewer books these days.

So you decide to self-publish. You think it’s enough to put your book on the internet, that people should buy it, that you’ve done your job.

But have you destroyed your chances of your book finding readers, because of basic mistakes?

Sure, readers are still looking for high-quality stories and help from non fiction books, but these days they use the characteristics of how a book is presented as tells, indicators of the quality of storytelling and writing within.

If you can’t pay attention to these basic tells, they assume it’s unlikely you paid attention to the quality of the writing. And often they are right.

Are you destroying your chances of finding readers with these basic mistakes?

1.  Are you using a home made cover or a cover made by anyone who isn’t a cover designer? Your friend/family member, who is a wonderful artist, is not the person to get to make your cover. They don’t know what is required in your genre for a cover to sell a book. This mistake is often compounded by a refusal to take advice and a stubbornness, despite poor sales, to change a cover. Why do authors become emotionally attached to totally inappropriate covers? What’s that I hear you say, professional covers are too expensive? See our resources at the bottom of this page for how to get covers for less than the price of a dinner for two in a restaurant.

2.  Maybe you haven’t had an editor review your book. You haven’t had a proof reader check it before publication either.  If you get one review on Amazon pointing out basic mistakes in your English, this is almost certainly the kiss of death for your book sales. No, we don’t want to wade through your experimental use of English. We buy books for what we can get from them, a great story, advice, entertainment. You are insulting other self-published writers, and your readers, by not paying, at the very least, for a proof read for your book before you put it on Amazon. We have low cost resources for basic editing listed below.

3.  You priced your ebook too high. Most unknown names need to start with low priced ebooks. Your goal is a high total income, not a high individual sale price. It’s not about what you think a book is worth either. Pricing, in our capitilist system is based on supply and demand, not what the producer thinks their goods are worth. Study the pricing of your competitors, and how new entrants to the market use pricing to secure sales. Start fiction at 99c for an ebook. Move to $2.99 for your ebook after a period. How long that period lasts depends on whether you have another book on the way, other books in the series, and if you have gained some traction in the market yet. Non-fiction can start higher. In all cases look at what authors at a similar point in their career are charging for a similar ebook. Price to market.

4.  Your book description on Amazon is poor. You thought that all that was needed was a few lines, or that a big block of text would do. You spent a long time writing your book, but dashed off your description in a few minutes, without researching how other top selling books in your genre are described, or even noticing things such as layout, use of a hook, introduction of character, location, plot or benefits to the reader, in the case of non-fiction. These are not optional elements to a book description. You need to describe your book in a way that appeals to potential readers. If you want readers, that is. At BooksGoSocial we advise all paid up members on how to change their description to help their book sell. Do all members ask for advice? No, many assume they got this right and even when the advice is a free extra, don’t bother to seek it.

5.  Few reviews on Amazon. Without reviews your book simply will not sell. Don’t look to your family or friends for reviews either. They are not going to go to Amazon and review your book. They don’t read, or they don’t read in your genre, or they hate the fact that you stopped giving them birthday presents. Stop. Seek reviews from readers in your genre. Be patient. This is why publisher send out free advance ebook copies a month before publication to thousands of readers and bloggers. They know it takes time to read a book and that only a few people for every hundred who read a book will review it on Amazon. Again BooksGoSocial has a free service to help with this. In fact we have four free services to help authors get reviews. See below for details.

6.  No interest in learning the basics of marketing. Marketing is not a dirty word. It’s the basic skill that keeps our system moving. If you grew vegetables you’d want to learn how to present them, find buyers, be nice to buyers. Invest in learning the basics. We have a free course on the basics, listed below. Steven King took his books from book store to book store in the 1970’s to find readers. Surely you can invest in yourself too?

Here are the resources mentioned in the post:

1.  For covers see our low-cost selection, and the work we have produced at this Facebook page. You can order a cover at the Store link on the left. They start at $49.

2.  We have an edit report system, which checks for basic mistakes in English. It starts at $29 and is available here. We also have a panel of editors, who will copy edit and give advice on story issues. Email for details. Prices for that start at $250 for a complete novel.

3.  We have a free service that will edit your book description. You have to take a basic membership of our book promotion service to get that. Prices start at $49. Go here to sign up.

4.  We have 4 ways to help you get reviews. All are free. Email for details.

5.  We have a free course on the basics of digital marketing here. It’s less than one hour of your time, but in 5-minute clips that you can watch whenever suits you.

Whatever you decide to do, please remember that much of the responsibility for how your book sells rests with you.

Good luck with your journey. The world needs new writers. Don’t assume we don’t want to read your book, just because you have had poor sales. Fix the above.


How to Find Stores That Will Sell Your Book


Man, I love the idea of my book on the shelves of Wal-Mart and Costco. I love the vision I have of seeing eight copies of my book standing, cover face out, on the top shelf of the reference section in Barnes & Noble. What I don’t love thinking about is this: my book does not belong in any of these stores. I wish it were not so. I wish B&N, Wal-Mart, and Costco would sell my book and that it was the perfect fit for the customers who shop at these places, but it’s not. The type of readers who want a book about the publishing industry (which is what I write about) are more likely shopping online and at conventions.

We all want to sell more books. But before we pitch one more store, I would like us all to take a few moments and ask ourselves some very necessary questions:

1. What kind of places will you pitch your book to?

Are you focusing on bookstores, chains, supermarkets, airport stores, libraries, gift stores, online retailers? Do the types of outlets you’re targeting typically carry your kind of book?

2. Have you considered every store that might sell your book?

Get in the car, let a friend drive, and write down all of the places you see as you ride down the street. Go to malls, strip malls, main streets…Seriously. Write down every store you pass. When you get home, research them online, and weigh their value. Would your book be a good fit for any of them?

3. Do readers of your kind of book shop in stores you want to be in?

Romance novel sales have dropped in bookstores in recent years. More and more sales of this particular genre are moving online. The shelves in bookstores that stretched for miles, filled with romance novels are shorter now that folks can shop in the comfort of their own home. Cookbook sales to the library market on the other hand have exploded! Are the fans of your type of book shopping at the kinds of stores you are targeting?

4. What are your chances of getting into your chosen stores?

Okay. So you have identified the many stores where your book would fit, you have determined that the stores sell books like yours, AND that people shop at those stores looking for books like yours. Nice work! So…can you actually get your book in the stores? It depends upon a few things:

  • Are your books available at the wholesalers where those retailers buy their books?
  • If not, are you willing to sell the books on consignment?
  • Are your books available as discounted and returnable?  (This mostly matters for bookstores.)
  • Are you marketing and creating demand for your book?

5. What can you do to increase your stocking in stores?

When a bookstore agrees to test a book or to place a starting order, you will most likely see an order for one or two books. (What? That’s all? Yup.) They’ll order more if they sell out of those, but upfront, one to two books is all an author will get on a trial run. Take their small buy and be grateful.

If you are more focused on airport stores or major chains, then you will mostly likely get a refusal from the main office. But you can sometimes get your local venue (Costco, airport store, etc.) to agree to let you do an event. If you book a signing or an event that results in many sales, that will be enough to improve your chances of a regional stocking. If your regional stocking does well and makes the company money, then your regional stocking can become a national one. This is a very simplified overview of the process but an accurate one.

Final Thoughts

It is time to stop pushing your book at stores and do your research to find out if your type of readers buy your type of books and from where they purchase them. Drive to your local store and ask them how books in your category are selling. Ask them if your category is a strong one for them. If they say no, get in your car, go to another type of store, and ask them the same thing. Repeat until you run out of stores.

The best thing you can do in ANY case is to work to create demand. It is not enough to get your book into stores, you also have the responsibility to get your book out of them.

# Originally Published at IngramSpark Jan 2017


Is Your Book Too Long? Is Your Book Too Short?


What They Did: Published a book that was too long

Zach Obront from Book In a Box recently analyzed the 272 books that have sat at #1 on the NYT Nonfiction Bestseller List over the past 7 years. His primary goal was to understand the ideal range for length, in order to better inform nonfiction authors. Zack found that historically there was a pretty wide spread with most books falling into the 250-450 page range. But when he looked at recent years, he found that the average book length had almost fallen in half since 2011. In 2011, the average NYT #1 Nonfiction Bestseller was 467 pages. Now it’s 273.

And there is also fiction to consider. The average page count of the NY Times Fiction Bestseller List in 2011 was 502. This week, the Paperback List average page count is 398. If you look at the lists for fiction and nonfiction this past week, over 50% of the books on the NY Times Bestseller List are between 250-350 pages.

When publishing POD books, many authors find that they cannot afford to offer the full discount required to get the books into bookstores. The prime cause of this high expense is that the books have over 350 pages and the longer the books, the more expensive the print costs. A great many authors find themselves with books over 100,000 words and when told about the costs of designing and printing a book of that length, do not know what to do next.

What They Should Have Done Instead

Made the book shorter. Readers are voting with their dollars. Remember that the bestselling nonfiction books have an average of 273 pages and the fiction book page count is 398 on average. Movie directors may WANT five and a half hours to tell a story, but they know that their viewers want a shorter length. Does the story you are telling or the advice you are giving HAVE to be in ONE book? Why not two?

Nonfiction authors should work with an editor or a partner to focus the book and the message.

Zach says that he often sees nonfiction authors who try to put too much into their book. When Zach asks them what the focus of the book is, the authors respond that their advice and their experiences are the common thread. They then try to bring everything they are interested in into the book.

Quite often an author’s first manuscript will include personal stories, guidance and advice, examples and lessons learned by the author. This is not the problem. The problem comes when an author’s experiences, guidance, advice, examples, and lessons encompass an entire career. There are so many different aspects in any given topic… so many tangential lessons… but in this day and age, a book needs to stick to one focus.

So what is the answer? Editing it down or splitting it into a few books. Zach often works with folks that need to split their books into two (or more) books.

To start, nonfiction authors need to ask themselves a few questions:

  • Who is the person reading this?
  • Why are they reading this?
  • What parts of this book do not add to the reader’s ability to master this lesson/task?

If a personal story can add to the advice and benefits, then, by all means, add it. But most authors come to see that a LOT of the story they want to tell will not add to the overall goal of the book. The background of WHY the book is being written and HOW the author got to where he/she got to is interesting, but does not add to the reader’s goals when buying the book. That is a story that can be written in a memoir AFTER the “how-to” book is published. The reader bought a book on personal finance or pet care or leadership for a reason. What is that reason? Don’t include ANY words that do not deliver on that goal.

Novelists who have a storyline that they are writing towards also have a choice. If they want to tell a story in 180,000 words, I have no problem with that. But they will not be able to work profitably in a print on demand (POD) model.

If POD is your only choice, then your best bet is to end the story for one book and pick the story up in the next book in the series. In many cases, however, an editor might be a better choice to make. If readers are clearly buying novels under 400 pages in enough quantities to put them on the NY Times Bestseller List, then perhaps fiction authors might want to work with an editor to bring their books in under 120,000 words.

What They Did: Published a book that was too short

Conversely, a number of authors are publishing books at 20,000 – 30,000 words. Publishing an 86 page booklet is FINE as long as you do it knowing what you are achieving and giving up.

Books under 200 pages are perceived as a quick read and often only available online because the market does not consider books under 200 pages worthy of shelf space. Not all stores and libraries will make this decision based on size, but make sure your goals match the size of the book and the amount of content you are providing. If you are TRYING to provide a quick and easy guide, that is one thing. If you are trying to provide a lesson and come across as an authority, your book should have the weight and content that carries gravitas.

Short stories novellas, quick and easy guides… All of these are valid and important book formats. Just please make sure that you are publishing your book in a format and marketing it in venues that appreciate page counts of that shortened length.

What They are Doing Now

Option #1: Publishing the shorter books and mainly focusing their marketing online.

Option #2: Rewriting the manuscript to make sure that the content has taken the time to get ALL of the author’s ideas across.

Option #3: Publishing the content in a non-book format. There are a lot of other ways to publish your stories and ideas.

  • White papers
  • journals
  • magazines
  • online subscriptions
  • blogs
  • articles
  • serialized downloads…

I would love to hear what you think of the balancing act between art/writing and the very real constraints of POD and printing costs. How are YOU handling the new data coming out? Do you think it is long-term? Just a blip? Will eBooks make all of this a moot point soon?

Originally published at  June 2017


Get 30 Sizzling Author, Publishing, Marketing & PR Tips in One Hour OnLine Session


If you’re an author, an author-to-be, or publisher, you really want to register for this next-level training we’re doing on Tuesday, July 11 at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.

You will get 30 AWESOME Sizzling HOT Publishing, Marketing & PR Tips in only an hour.

And yes, if you can’t attend live … register anyway. That way you will automatically get the replay the following day.

Register here – Your six publishing pros will do a preview of what it will be like during our amazing 7-day Publishing at Sea cruise we’re doing next January .. the 5th Publishing at Sea event.

Why should you attend tonight regardless of whether you want to cruise with us?

Because we’ll be revealing some very cool publishing strategies and resources for selling more books, faster and with less effort like:

  • How to kick-butt on Amazon … and how to deal with all the changes that challenge indie authors.
  • How to come under the radar for publicity … and get the media to your door.
  • A fast way to spy on your competitors … and discover all their keywords.
  • A boatload of nuggets for anyone designing a book cover … all those things you need to know but didn’t know what to ask.
  • The one thing that most websites don’t have … and you will soar above your competitors.
  • The thing that will POP every One-Sheet you create for you, your book or your business.
  • Plus, too much more to list here …

All this publishing and marketing goodness is 100% completely free so keep your wallets in your pocket. And remember, you’ve got to pre-register to get the replay.

Register here


Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Exposure with Amazon’s Algorithms


Guest Post by Tom Corson-Knowles

By now, we’re all familiar with Amazon. It’s become the #1 platform for selling books, both in print and in digital form, and it’s done more to help nourish the self-publishing explosion than any other company out there.

But simply sticking your book up for sale through KDP and waiting for the sales to roll in is a recipe for disappointment. Succeeding as an independent author involves a lot more than just writing: marketing and PR are part of a modern author’s job, too.

And guess what? Amazon can help here, too! It’s more than just a distributor or sales channel: Amazon also offers a variety of ways for authors to promote their work on the site, reaching more readers and making more sales.

Some of Amazon’s programs are only open to bestsellers, which can be a little daunting for a new author—or even an experienced author who’s launching a new book or a new series.

So let’s take a look at Amazon promotion strategies that can help you boost your Kindle sales even if you don’t have a bestseller…yet!

Start Strong

The road to strong Amazon sales starts even before you write your book. With the right planning, strategies, and launch techniques, you can jumpstart your sales from the very start—and begin taking advantage of all the promotion opportunities Amazon has to offer!

Many of Amazon’s best promotional programs are only available to bestsellers. Now, there are more than 19,669 bestseller lists on Amazon, so becoming a bestseller is a little less of a challenge than it seems on the surface.

Choose Your Categories

Getting that “bestseller” status still takes a little strategic groundwork, though. First, you need to choose your categories carefully when uploading to KDP. You’re only allowed to select two of Amazon’s internal categories, so it’s best to choose two in different top-level categories if you can, to maximize the potential for showing up in search and making a bestseller list (or two).

For example, your romantic ghost story has a better chance of moving up in the ranks if you list it under both the Romance and Science Fiction & Fantasy top-level (or “parent”) categories, then choose the appropriate sub-categories. So you might end up with Romance > Paranormal and Fantasy > Romantic, which gives you a lot more opportunities to rise up in the ranks among different audiences.

Use KDP Select to Launch Strong

The first 30 days are the most important time for making an impression on Amazon. There are multiple programs that highlight strong-selling new titles, making it even easier for them to gain momentum and make exponentially more sales.

This means that you have to really make an impact with your new book when it first hits the Kindle store. For new authors, or authors with a new series, this can be a bit of a challenge. One way to turbocharge your launch is to offer your book free for a limited time by enrolling in KDP Select, which lets you set your price as free for up to 5 days out of every three months.

This helps you take advantage of Amazon programs in a few ways.

More Readers for Amazon’s Algorithms

Amazon is known for its strong recommendation engine, where it displays titles that might be of interest to customers as part of “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought…” Of course, you can’t get into this promotion area if people haven’t bought your book—which is why offering your new title for free or at a discount for a limited time when you’re launching is a great strategy! Those free downloads count as purchases for the purpose of getting into the recommendation engine. And once you’re there, more readers will see your book and potentially purchase it.

More Reviews

The more reviews you get, the better you perform in Amazon’s search rankings. So launching strong with plenty of four- and five-star reviews automatically shoots you up the search and recommendation rankings, increasing the chances that more people will buy your book when it goes to regular price after your launch.


Using Amazon’s pre-order function can also help you off to a strong start, because it lets you drive your newsletter subscribers and other contacts to an actual sales page even before you’ve finished the book. Any pre-orders count toward your bestseller status and can help you land in Amazon’s Hot New Releases section before your book is actually live. From there, the sales will just keep growing as more people discover your book!

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)

Another great way to boost your visibility and sales on Amazon is to make use of Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). These paid ads let you promote your books alongside similar titles or to readers who have searched for similar keywords, kind of like using Google AdWords.

These ads send readers straight to your book’s sales page on Amazon, where they’ll see all those great reviews you’ve gotten through your smart launch strategy.

Now the sales start snowballing as more and more people find and buy your book, helping you appear in more places in the recommendation engine and moving you up that bestseller list so that you can appear in even more places through Amazon’s internal promotions!

Kindle Countdown Deals

Once your book is launched and selling, you might want to try using sales or discount deals to help climb the bestseller lists and unlock the power of Amazon’s algorithms.

When you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you can take advantage of Kindle Countdown Deals, which let you put your book on sale for a short, specified period of time and shows a countdown timer of how long the promotion has left, encouraging readers to buy now rather than waffling.

You can run one Countdown Deal of up to seven days every 90 days, discounting your price by at least a dollar (and going all the way down to a sale price of 99 cents).

Best of all, if running your deal (and promoting it to your newsletter subscribers and others) helps land you a coveted bestseller slot, Amazon will help you even more with promotion!

If you have a bestselling book that’s currently doing a Countdown Deal, Amazon will promote it on the Special Deals section of Kindle devices, in the Kindle app, and on the Kindle Countdown Deals page in the Amazon store. And what does that mean? More exposure and more sales!

By launching your book with a smart strategy, ramping up interest by using a KDP Select giveaway, taking out targeted Amazon Marketing Services ads, and using Kindle Countdown Deals to maintain your momentum, you can not only boost your Kindle sales, you can also climb the bestseller ranks.

From there, Amazon will start promoting your book more and more to its customers through its algorithmic recommendation engine, putting your work in front of readers who are ready to buy.

Through the magic of smart strategies designed to take advantage of Amazon’s algorithms, you can go from “new launch” to “bestseller” and build the kind of momentum you need to make a full-time author income!

– – –

Want to learn more about making a full-time income as an author? Visit TCK Publishing, an independent publisher and resource for modern writers.


How to Transfer Your Book to Ingram Spark From CreateSpace


You went to CreateSpace and uploaded your self-published published book to them, and they offered you a free ISBN. You took them up on their offer and proceeded to upload your book so that you could be on Amazon. Okay!

But now you are thinking about bookstores and libraries and want to start getting your books in there. No problem, right? After all, you saw on Create Space that they could get you into bookstores and libraries all you have to do is click the “extended distribution for bookstores and libraries” button.

Not so fast! Unfortunately, when Create Space offers you bookstore and library distribution, they’re doing it by using a third-party Print on Demand company called IngramSpark. IngramSpark is the second largest POD company after Create Space. They’re owned by the Ingram family in Lavergne, Tennessee (they also own Ingram Distribution and Ingram Wholesalers.) While all three of these companies are owned by the same family, they are three separate companies that do different things.

To get into bookstores and libraries (Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million), you need to be in a wholesaler. Ingram Wholesaler is the largest book wholesaler in the US and the best one to be in. They have the furthest reach, and more bookstores and libraries use them first than any other wholesaler.

The fastest and easiest ways to get into Ingram Wholesaler is to sign your book and your publishing up with Ingram Spark. (You CAN apply to Ingram Wholesaler as a non-POD publisher, but they have VERY high standards, and most publishers are not accepted.)

It is not only acceptable it is IDEAL to have your book files up on Create Space AND up at IngramSpark at the same time. I have an article explaining why here.

Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED

Ideally, you will want your book up on Amazon through CreateSpace, but you want your book up for bookstores and libraries through IngramSpark.  To get in the Ingram wholesaler there are a number of steps you need to take.

This will allow you to get the best profit from Amazon from CreateSpace and the best distribution options to retailers like B&N through Ingram. If you have your own Ingram Spark account, YOU set the discount, and returnability factor and YOU own your distribution decisions… not CreateSpace.  

Ready? Here are the steps you need to take:

FIRST – You have to confirm that the ISBN you have on your book belongs to YOU. If you took an ISBN from Create Space, then you don’t own it, and you cannot take that book anywhere. (If you already have an ISBN and that you bought from Bowker or your own governmental agency you’re ahead of the game – you can skip this part…) But if you got an ISBN from Create Space, that means that they own your ISBN, and THEY own the distribution rights to that edition of your book. This is not good. I’ve written an article explaining why here:

Why You Need Your Own ISBN From Bowker

Buy your own ISBN from the proper entity. If you’re in the US, go to


SECOND – Sign up for an Ingram Spark account at WWW.INGRAMSPARK.COM. There’s an actual instructional videos on their site you will find helpful  Here is one here:

Once you’re all signed up for Ingram spark and they have all of your tax ID and bank information, you’re ready.

Sign into IngramSpark, give them your book information and upload the new file with the new ISBN.



Once you have your new ISBNs and you’ve registered then new edition of your book (yes, if you put a new ISBN on the book it’s a new edition) it is time to upload the new files (interior and cover) both to CreateSpace AND to IngramSpark.




Your ISBN is in THEIR account on CreateSpace and needs to be released from them before you can proceed to claim the book at IngramSpark.

This is how to get Create Space to release your title and allow you to claim it at IngramSpark:

Sign into your Create Space account and go to the distribution tab. Uncheck extended distribution to bookstores and libraries. You need to uncheck that button telling Create Space that you no longer give them permission to offer your book through their IngramSpark account.

Next, send CreateSpace an email through the customer service contact portal telling them that you have unchecked permission and asking them to release your book from their IngramSpark account.

Next, fill out the form found on THIS page: 

Then email the form and the ISBNs and titles of your books to: 

Wait for 5 to 7 business days to hear back from Create Space and IngramSpark that Create Space has released your ISBN from their Ingram Spark account and hear from Ingram Spark that they have accepted your title transfer.

Once you have completed the third steps (A or B), you will confirmation emails letting you know that you are all set.  Log into IngramSpark, and you should see your title in your dashboard.

For those that are worried about losing existing Amazon reviews on their Create Space listing…  once your new edition is up on Amazon, you CAN get your reviews from the old edition up on your new edition.  You have to go through your Author Central account and call the author central customer service group.  (yes, they DO have a phone number!) Just ask them to duplicate the reviews onto your new ISBN edition.

Hope that helps!


FAQ About Approaching Amazon Reviewers


Question: Is there a special way of communicating with Vine Reviewers? Or do you simply comment on their review like you suggested doing with regular reviewers?

You can click on the reviewers name and see if they have an email listed, email them and ask if they want to review the book.

OR  you can go to AMS.AMAZON.COM and pay $1500 to have Amazon offer your book to Vine Reviewers for you.

Question: What is the best way to find Top Amazon reviewers? How do you contact them?

I would go here  and just click on each reviewer, find their website or blog and get their email address that way.  When you ask for a review, give them the option of a PDF, an eBook, or a print copy.  Make sure you include your email address.

Question: Is it best to contact them before or after your book’s release date? And if before, how far out from the release date?

You should wait until the book’s release date because they cannot post a review until it is up and you want to have books in hand to send them the MOMENT that they ask.

Question: How many reviewers of the same book would you contact? Do you find there is a point at which contacting too many seems overboard or possibly unprofessional?

No number is too high.  I counsel folks to reach out to 20-25 reviewers each week and never stop.  Ever.


Announcing Our New LIFT OFF PROGRAM – We Sell Your Book to Stores and Libraries


What will it take to get your book into libraries and independent bookstores?

Introducing the New Shelves Books Lift Off Program

Ready to explore your book’s potential in the “offline” world? Let us help with a turnkey program that lets you see what’s possible before you invest a significant amount of time, energy, and funds.

Here’s how it works:

You send me your book, and I will read it and give you my HONEST opinion as to its chances in the book and library market. When a book isn’t widely embraced, it’s usually because it doesn’t meet current market standards. That’s why I want to see your book first. It gives me a chance to assess the potential for success based on my years of experience in this industry. I will be honest about your chances before I charge you a penny. (It’s kinda what I’m known for . . . . )

If we agree to proceed I will create for you:

  1. Sales plan
  2. Book Information sheet
  3. Marketing plan checklist (based on your input)
  4. Cover letter
  5. Sales call script
  6. Database of US Bookstores and Libraries with contact information

THEN, one of my highly trained staff members will call and email 100 stores/libraries to pitch your book. Our goal is to get your book into their databases and onto their shelves.

Once we have contacted 100 stores/libraries, we’ll send you a report detailing store responses: yes; no; or more information, please.

After you review those results and assess your book’s potential, you have three options:

  1. You can bring the work in-house using the materials and kit I give you.
  2. We can move ahead with another 100 stores/libraries for an additional fee.
  3. You can decide to focus on another segment of the marketplace.

What can you expect? In my experience:

A few books are accepted by 20-30 locations

MOST are tested in 10-20 locations

Some find a home in 5 or so stores/libraries

The Purpose? The Lift Off Program is designed to give you everything you need for a sales campaign plus generate immediate feedback and results from those first 100 calls – all in just one month.

With this approach, you haven’t invested a huge amount of money and have all the tools you need to use on your own going forward for this book and your next one.


We are currently accepting only 4 books a month in this program to give every client our full attention. So book now and save your spot!