Pirates Trilogy to be produced by yours truly…

That’s right. My last narrator is unable to continue with this project due to life issues. Hey, I know all about life issues. Indeed, I do.

So, what do I do about Pirates, then? I’ll tell you, what I’m gonna do. With major encouragement from my wife, Diana, I decided to produce the Pirates Trilogy, myself.

That being said. I have already completed the Prologue, so for your listening enjoyment and visual candy of what’s coming, turn up your sound and have a listen…

Author and Producer, Brian K. Larson #sparkingimaginations

Do Authors Really Need an ISBN?

The short answer is, it depends.

ISBN numbers are thirteen-digit unique number that identifies your book. It actually stands for International Standard Book Number. This unique code captures information regarding the book’s publisher, title, language, edition, and version.

Prior to 2007, ISBNs were ten digits. With the boom in the book publishing industry, ISBNs have been extended to thirteen digits. One example of an ISBN is from my cookbook, titled, Cooking with Author-Chef (Not Iron-Chef) Brian K. Larson along with the category.

Published in the United States of America

ISBN: 979-8481865867


These numbers can be purchased at Bowker Identifier Services at myidentifiers.com and come in blocks of ten for $295 bucks or a single number for $125. There are also bundles of one-hundred for $575 bucks and a mega package of 1000 ISBNs for $1500 bucks that they claim can be used for 200 books (or editions of books). This is really the best deal if you have the cash upfront. Most independent authors don’t have these kinds of funds readily available, especially if you’re just starting out.

An ISBN is unique to one edition, so you can rack up a lot of numbers for eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions. You can’t use the same number for each edition, so it can become very costly. I’ve purchased blocks of ten and discovered that I need more in short order.

However, do authors really need this expense? Again, it all depends on your needs. Amazon offers free ISBN for paperbacks and hardcovers. However, not for eBooks. I no longer buy my own numbers since eBooks at Amazon have ASIN numbers that are unique for their platform.

If you plan on publishing exclusively in book stores or outside of Amazon, you may want to invest in a block of ISBNs. If you are only on Amazon, it may not be necessary since you can get them for free.

Another outlet that offers free ISBNs is Smashwords. They provide numbers that are unique to their platforms and are required for their distribution channels such as iBooks (Apple), Barns & Noble, Kobo, and other retail outlets.

Keep in mind that once you publish your book with an ISBN and republish a second edition, you’ll need to use a new ISBN.

Here’s a breakdown of some marketing strategies to determine if you need to buy ISBNs.

If you want to save money or if most of your business is based online, you may not need to purchase an ISBN. However, if you have an aggressive branding strategy for your name or publishing company or most of your publishing will be based in physical book stores, you may want to purchase them.

Another important note to know is that this unique number is not a Copywrite for your book. Copywrite is completely different from an ISBN.

There are a few disadvantages of not using an ISBN. It can be difficult to track eBook sales, your book won’t be available to readers who prefer print books and your book won’t be included in the books in the print database.

As I said earlier, Amazon and Smashwords do offer free ISBNs, so the disadvantages are minimal. With eBooks distribution, most companies don’t require one. However, there is a place to add the number when you are creating the publication.

To wrap up, ISBNs can be confusing at first, when in actuality, they are pretty straightforward. Plan on using one for your print editions, whether using a free one from Amazon or you purchase your own. For your eBooks, you don’t need one, but you certainly can obtain one if you wish.

Thank you for joining me this week.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

The keys to keywords

Welcome back to my weekly blog. This week, I’m discussing more marketing tips. In particular, Keywords. We’ve discussed how important it is for a great cover and the book blurb or teaser to draw in your prospective audience. There’s one more piece to all of this and that’s being found in the first place. You do that with keywords. 

Keywords play an important part in book marketing. You have to be discovered and to do this, you need to structure keywords so prospective readers will find you. Your awesome cover and cleverly written teaser won’t do you any good if you’re not being found in the first place.

If you self-publish on Amazon, there are seven slots on the book configuration page, that are given for your keywords. These slots are not only just for one word. You can use phrases and word groups to help you in Amazon’s search engine. You have to figure out what words or phrases customers are searching for. To do this, there are a few tools out there. The first one is free. It’s actually integrated right into the Amazon search field. When you choose Kindle Store on Amazon, you can begin by typing your first keyword. Amazon will tell you what customers are searching for. Then, you can pick those words and phrases and plug them into your keyword slots for your book.

I’ll use an example to give you an idea. If you’ve written a science fiction book, you could try typing science fiction in the search field and see what Amazon comes up with.

As you can see in my example, Amazon fills in some ideas for you. Science fiction kindle books, books, romance, fantasy, short stories, and megapack are just a few of the ideas for keywords. But, will these actual keywords work for you?

The answer to that question is complicated. Sure, customers are actually typing those search terms.

However, how much competition is there for that particular keyword phrase? There’s another tool out there that will tell you how popular the phrase is and how easy or hard it will be for your book to show up on the top pages, or will your book get buried below hundreds or even thousands of other books.

This tool is called KDPRocket and it costs about a hundred bucks. The good news is, that’s a one-time fee to unlock the secrets of keywords. You also get free updates and access to new tools as they are developed.

What this tool does is rank the keyword phrase by how often it’s searched for as well as how likely your book will appear with the number of competitors there are.

Here’s how this tool looks. I used ‘science fiction military’ in my search and this is a sample of what the KDPRocket tool returns. For the first search, you can see less than a hundred searches in a month are done with a competitive score of 45, meaning is moderately difficult for your book to show. However, as you can see just adding ‘books’ to the end of the keyword phrase, bumps up the searches per month to over sixteen hundred with the same competitive score. You’ll have a better chance of being discovered. This tool also shows you the average monthly earnings, the average price of the books and how many competitors there are.

It can take a ton of time researching keywords and phrases that will actually work, but then if you own this tool, it literally saves you hours of time. 

You can find this tool at kindlepreneur.com. Dave Chesson has been called the kindlepreneur of Amazon and has been recognized by Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post. This site is a tremendous source of tools available as well as a web course that you can watch to help with all your marketing needs.

As a self-published author, we’re really a jack of all trades. Aside from writing an amazing book, you need to learn how to format your book as well as marketing, have it edited, get book cover design, and learn how to write a successful book teaser. All these things will help you get your book in front of your prospective audience.

Keywords are just as important if not the most important item you need to understand. However, you also must understand that once you find the right keywords and phrases to use, prospective customers, change how they search for things all the time. This means, your keywords can go stale. So, having this keyword tool will help you discover what’s working currently. Changing up your keywords is a must. I find that if these aren’t updated, your books will fall to the bottom of the search engines. Bring them up to the top by refreshing and using new words every few months. If you find the right words, you’ll know when it’s time to change it up by gauging your sales and free downloads. If your sales begin to trend downward, then it’s time to dedicate some time to finding fresh keywords, because keywords are your keys to becoming a successful self-published author.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.