Archive for December, 2012

Self Publishing Butterflies Buy Their Own ISBNs

The butterfly (representing a free ISBN from a self publishing company) is not the focus of the effort… it is the leaf supporting the butterfly (which represents your own self publishing company). Own your own ISBN, so it doesn’t matter where your butter flies.

The ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, is of particular concern to a publisher… and is generally confusing for an author.

But it is THE definition of a Do It Your Self publisher.

Owning the ISBN is the difference between being a self publisher who is a publisher and being an author who has engaged self publishing services. My self publishing advice is that you should own your ISBN and get a business license for your self publishing company. It’s worth the effort, which isn’t a huge effort, and worth the cost, which is a large-ish up front cost for the pack of 10 numbers, but comes out to about $30 per book.

The ISBN is a 13 digit number used to identify both the book and the publisher. Many self publishing service providers offer to assign one for free to your book project, and that will mean that their publishing company will come up under the listing for your book title until you re-publish with another number or another company. With all the marketing effort I put into my books, I prefer to own my own ISBN and therefore have the number follow my title no matter where or how I print it and offer it for sale.

The ISBN is not the same as the barcode. You can buy the barcode when you buy the ISBN, but you don’t have to. There are ways to make the barcode later, and if you don’t ever produce a short print run outside of the print-on-demand service, you won’t ever need it. When I publish through CreateSpace, I provide my own ISBN, and they use it to generate my barcode automatically.

ISBNs used to be 10 digit numbers, but then the earth’s population exploded with book-reading mammals and ISBNs needed to expand to 13 digits. There’s a converter for the 10 digit numbers to get them to conform to modern standards… you don’t just assign zeros to one end.

ISBNs are unique to a particular edition of a book. You can correct typos without using a new ISBN, but you can’t change content. An ebook, even if it is identical to the print book, will have a different ISBN.

By using my own ISBN number, I can do a print run outside of CreateSpace and keep the same ISBN number (and I also have to keep the same trim size and page count). If I accept the free number from CreateSpace… or any of the other companies that offer it, then I am not supposed to use that number as I produce the book in any other way. I retain all my options by using my own number.

The ISBNs are available online from only one company. While I can buy one, I prefer to buy the pack of 10 because I know I will use them, and they will be mine… all mine…. Bwahahahaha!



Col. C. J. Tippett flew the C-47 Skytrain

Col. C. J. Tippett trained pilots to fly the Douglas C-47 Skytrain over the Himalayan Mountain route in 1942. The pilots were Flying The Hump.

World War II pushed aviation pioneering hard.

Safety did not come first, because people were already dying on the front lines, and beyond.

War changed the rules, and aviation history is full of flights that today, would be considered recklessly irresponsible. But the flights were unimaginably heroic.

The Hump was a name that WWII pilots used for the Himalayan Mountains, and flying it in 1942 without adequate navigation, information, weather reports, and technical support was an aviation nightmare.

But American pilots, in conjunction with other Allied pilots, flew it every day for almost three years at President Roosevelt’s request.

The US had been sending American pilots and aircraft to China to fight the Japanese invasion for years on an unofficial basis. The Flying Tigers had been mercenaries, flying combat air missions against the Japanese over the Chinese mainland, until the US joined WWII and Roosevelt was able to officially recognize their efforts.

America was directly fighting the Japanese in the Pacific and supporting Chiang Kai-shek’s battle in China.

By 1942, Japan had blocked the Burma Road in addition to coastal China, and the only way to get supplies to the Chinese forces was to fly them in, over an air route that is, even today, considered extremely dangerous.

The civil aviation infrastructure was called on to provide pilots with the skill to fly this route, and the newly-formed Civil Aeronautics Administration Standardization Center in Houston, Texas, was a natural source for training.

Cloyce Joseph Tippett, then a First Lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve, was the Senior Advanced Flight Instructor at the Houston Standardization Center, and he also had plenty of flight time in the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, the aircraft assigned to the effort.

Tip trained pilots specifically for the conditions they would encounter on the route, and certified them for mulit-engine flying in the C-47.

Tip had been flying a CAA owned DC-3 for years and he was already known for his commitment to flight safety. Tip believed that preparation and training were the key. If the risk had to be taken, then the pilots had to be certified in instrument flying, multi-engine flight, and every kind of navigation possible. So he got to work.

The C-47 Skytrain was a version of the Douglas DC-3, the most reliable aircraft of the age. The C-47 had a reinforced floor and cargo door, making it more suitable for supply runs. But even so, the altitudes that pilots had to fly to get through and over the Himalayan Mountains were pushing the C-47’s design limits.

Additionally, the aircraft were often overloaded at take-off, and unpredictable weather forced pilots to push fuel ranges to skip flooded landing strips.

The crash rate was heartbreakingly high, but the pilots continued to fly the route, and the C-47 Skytrain performed admirably until finally replaced by larger, more suited aircraft.

In today’s aviation world of GPS navigation, constant radio communication, and multi-layered safety protocols, the conditions that routinely faced pilots flying the Hump were astounding… and unacceptable.

But not only did the pilots, crew, and support staff of the 1940s accept the conditions, they met the challenge and paid the price.

Some of the most courageous aviation pioneering took place there, and their stories are riveting. Tip was proud of the pilots he met and trained, and considered them his personal heroes.



Just A Couple Of Chickens Is About Raising Chckens

Self publishing a book about raising chickens is turning out to be a lot like writing a book about raising chickens!

I raised over 100 poultry chicks and I wrote two books. One was about raising over 100 poultry chicks.

And I’m writing about how to self publish a book… and I’ve noticed a very big difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens.

When I fussed about the brooder temperature for the chicks, they grew…
And when I changed their feed and water, they grew…
And when I went in and out of their pen, they grew….

They grew no matter what I did. And if I had left the roosters to their own devices, they would have also multiplied.

But when I was writing the book, every time I stopped typing, the book stopped progressing.
And even if I left it under a warm lamp, with plenty of food and water, it still didn’t grow.
Every time I turned my back on the chickens, they grew, but despite turning my back frequently to my book, it didn’t grow…

Unless I wrote another word, and another, and about… 100,000 more.

Then I went and self published my book, and once again, nothing grew unless I made it grow. There was some independent progress, as word of mouth drove book sales, but mostly, it was like writing it.

One bright side of all this work is control. I can choose when to write, where to publish, and what things look like. Some of my poultry grew surprisingly out of control, either in size or behavior. And I never knew what they were going to do next… whereas my book rarely surprised me with plot turns or out-of-control sales.

But maybe one day, there will be a writing project that grows when my back is turned. It has happened to self published projects before, and it is happening more and more each day.

So maybe the difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens is similar to the difference between nature’s creation and literary creation… that’s kind of deep!


Self Publishing a Book is like planting a garden

Tulip farmers count cash costs and infrastructure costs… and so must self publishers.

Most authors who self publish a book intend to make money selling it. Or at least want to break even on their costs.

As with any business venture, it’s important to define making money… and to measure results.

The cash costs of self publishing are easier to track than the infrastructure and effort. And keeping cash costs to a minimum is one way to get closer to breaking even or making money, but spending the right amount on editing and cover design is important in the same way.

My list of cash costs includes:

  • $30 for the ISBN number (it’s about $300 for a pack of 10)
  • $35 for copyright registration, filed before I self publish or submit to traditional publishers
  • $10 for proof and shipping of a finished hard copy of the book (this doesn’t count for an ebook)
  • $15 for a domain name (per year) for a website for my book. (I can make the website on a free site, but the domain is a yearly fee)
  • $50 for my assumed business name (business license fee)

My list of infrastructure and effort costs includes:

  • the internet and computer I use to write and produce the book
  • the skills I’ve learned to do book design, website design, book marketing, and self publishing
  • the space, furniture, utilities, and supplies I’ve used while working on the project
  • the time… my time… so. much. time…

And I can’t assign a dollar value to the second list. So once my book earnings top my cash outlay, at what point do I declare that I’m making money with my self published book?  Especially since I complicated my bottom line by paying for a professional cover and making a third short print run. Because I do count the second list as having a cash value… particularly due to the skills I’ve learned, since I’ve used them to get jobs to support my self publishing aspirations.

I track the costs, and I consider the effort… and I define making money as first earning back my cash outlay, and then earning money toward the infrastructure costs. And I value all the additional things that self publishing a book has brought into my life.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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