Ask Tania: ISBNs, Websites, Marketing Platforms, Schools - HELP!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Dear Tania,

I am happy to say that I have begun the journey towards becoming a self published children's book author. My story is complete, my illustrator is bringing my words to life, I have set up a Facebook page and I am doing A LOT of research on self publishing and putting my book out there. 

It is a process and every step is a learning curve. So, basically, I wanted to ask you for advice on a few things: Do I need an ISBN, where do I get one and why exactly do I need one? How important is it to have a website? I don't want to give away too much about my book and the story before it is published, so if I do set up a website, what am I supposed to write about? And apart from Facebook and Twitter, are there any other platforms that I can use to market my book? For example if we talk about visiting schools, libraries and book stores, I can only approach them once I physically have a copy of my book in hand, right?


Dear Anjal,

Congratulations on your self-publishing journey! It's an exciting road and one that is full of excitement and development. You will learn so much!

Your questions are very detailed--some of them fall under my 'how long is a piece of string?' category! but I will try to answer them in a way that is helpful.

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is vital. You cannot publish without it. It's what 'publishes' your book. With this number, your book can be found in bookstores and online worldwide. Each country has its own ISBN provider (in Australia it's Thorpe Bowker), so you will need to research the provider for your own country. I recommend buying them in lots of 10 as it's a lot cheaper, they never expire, and you can use them whenever you like.

A website is also vital if you want a) marketing and promotion opportunities and b) presence. With one click of a button, potential buyers and fans can get all the info they need. It's low cost with worldwide exposure, so yes I would have one!

Look to the hundreds of thousands of other book and author websites for inspiration on what to put on your website. You can either start the website now to build hype or you can set it up and send it live once the book is published or you can set up a UNDER CONSTRUCTION site that just gives a little bit of info, then send the website live once you're on the market.

As a new author, you can't spend your life worrying about people 'stealing' your ideas. No one is going to do that unless they want to be sued for plagiarism, and even if they wanted to, they wouldn't be able to glean enough information from a website to go about their plagiarism activities. If someone loves your idea and wants to do something similar, you have no control over that, alas--that is the way of the world. If every author worried about such things, they might as well just lock their manuscripts in a drawer. :) So drop that worry and just get your work out there.

There are myriad ways to market your book online and Facebook and Twitter are two of them. Others include Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and your own blog. It really depends on your book and how much time you want to commit to promotion.

Schools and libraries are a great way to market your book, but yes, you would need to have a book to take to these readings and presentations. I have a mass of information in my Flying Creator e-workshop on presenting to schools (as well as many other tips on starting out in the industry).

Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!


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