Your ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a key tool to getting discovered by the people who buy eBooks. What is it really? This 13 digit number is used by the publishing industry to organize all printed, audio and digital books worldwide. The specific facts that a self-publishing author provides to register a title’s ISBN with Bowker are its Metadata.
Let’s look carefully at the information required for Section One of an ISBN registration using different published works as examples.
Section One: Title and Cover
1. Title: Confessions of an eBook Virgin
2. Subtitle: What Everyone Should Know Before They Publish on the Internet
Make sure these fields are EXACTLY the same, including upper and lower case, as what is seen on your cover and cover page.
3. Main Description: The word count limit for this section is 350 words.
Fiction descriptions use a hook, describing the storyline without giving away the ending. This isn’t a synopsis that you would send to an agent. It is more like a movie trailer, enticing someone to select your eBook among many other options.
This example, from Addison Moore’s self-published romance bestseller Someone to Love, is 147 words:
What happens when two people who don’t believe in love happen to fall madly into the most beautiful relationship they could ever imagine? A train wreck.
When twenty-year-old Kendall Jordan transfers clear across country to Garrison University, the last thing she’s looking for is a one-night stand. Unfortunately, that what’s exactly what gorgeous Cruise Elton [has to] offer.
Kendall has long since come to realize that love is an illusion that never lasts, and Cruise couldn’t agree more – but something deep inside her wants him all to herself. So, Kendall devises a seat of the pants plan to ‘play the player’ and proposes that Cruise tutor her in becoming a female version of himself, Garrison University’s own playboy.
Real feelings begin to emerge, and neither Kendall nor Cruise knows how to classify them. Everything they once thought they knew is redefined as they discover, in one another, Someone to Love.
Nonfiction book descriptions are focused on the benefits for the reader. A self published author would compile a list of ‘features’ and ‘benefits’ to write this up. A feature answers the question “What is it?” A benefit answers the question “What’s in it for me?” In this nonfiction example, Rob Eagar’s description, employs a compelling bullet section for Sell Your Book like Wildfire using only 143 words:
Promote and Sell Your Work!
You’ve written a book, but if it doesn’t sell, what’s the point? In Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, marketing expert Rob Eager explains how to use the best promotional methods available to get your book noticed and drive sales. You’ll learn how to
- Increase your book sales by driving readers to bookstores and online retailers
- Build a brand that makes your book stand out from the crowd
- Secure more media interviews and speaking engagements
- Connect with key influencers who spread your word of mouth
- Create raving fans who buzz about your book on Social Media
Ignite your confidence to sell more books and make more money as an author. Whether you’re a first-timer or an old-hand, self-published or traditionally published, a novelist or a nonfiction writer, this is the only marketing guide you’ll ever need.
As demonstrated by these two bestselling authors, a well written description will get your work noticed.
4. Cover: In order to upload your cover image, it needs to be a .jpeg file with a minimum size of 3MB and a maximum size of 4MB.
People do judge your book by its cover, so make sure it is remarkable. What do I mean by that? Create a clean, compelling and simple design that holds up in sizes that range from a thumbnail (5/16 X 9/16 inch), an e-reader size of about 3 ½ by 5 inches and letter size (8 ½ X 11 inches) for a PDF format or tablet.
The eBook cover is very different from a paperback in that it is seen only on electronic devices. Fussy details like flowery fonts will get lost. Keep the fonts clear and clean, even if hand drawn. A central image, photograph or drawing will often be a grounding visual for the title and author name. Every genre, or category of book, has a certain ‘look’ or aesthetic. Romance often has a swashbuckling man or a beautiful couple kissing. Cookbooks have a central photo of the author or a dish that is mouthwatering. Nonfiction titles tend to be longer so their covers are often text-based.
Unless you have a knack for visual design and the time to learn the ropes, hire someone good to do this for you. Shop the covers of eBooks and see what really appeals to you. Pick out a few, find out who designed them and contact them directly. Prices range from $40.00 to $400.00. I paid $200.00 USD for my cover by Scotland based Kit Foster Designs. The benefit: I never hesitate to upload my cover image and promote my book.
5. Upload a PDF: A PDF is a Permanent Document File. It has a fixed layout, meaning that content blocks and images are no longer changeable like in a WORD document. Bowker uses your eBook’s PDF to create keywords that index it for discoverability.
This file is for Bowker’s internal use and isn’t going to be sold. To create a PDF, take the WORD file of your final manuscript and change it into a PDF file with a data converter such at Calibre. Make sure that the final size of your PDF is less that 40MB.
Summing it up: Your ISBN is one of the most important tools to stake your claim in a wildly competitive marketplace. A book description, .jpeg cover and PDF file are critical pieces of metadata that organize your eBook. Librarians, reviewers, eBooksellers and the publishing industry at large find your book using this thirteen digit number.
Author/Blogger/Speaker Laura Shabott has learned how to self-publish and is empowering others to do the same. “Confessions of an eBook Virgin: What Everyone Should Know Before the Publish on the Internet” is her first nonfiction title. Rated five stars by her readers on Amazon, iBook, IngramSpark and Kobo, the easy to read, step-by-step guide takes people from an idea to a finished digital book. She lives in Provincetown with her partner Jacques Macara, a retired commercial fisherman and a wonderful cook.
Amazon book listing
Bowker book listing