Here are some pointers on how to best enter your book’s metadata, upload your manuscript for publishing, and everything else that goes into the ordering process.
When I first imagined this series of articles, I expected I’d write them in sequential order, where I would complete one part of the publishing experience, write about it, and then move on to the next. Well, that all went out the window when it became clear that many parts of the publishing process were going to be happening simultaneously.
This week’s post stems from a conversation I had with Patrick, my BookBaby Publishing Specialist. During that conversation, we covered a lot of ground, including metadata optimization, manuscript uploading, book sizing, eBooks, Print-On-Demand (POD) royalties, cover design, and more. I have other articles planned for design, POD, and eBooks, but if you’re in the midst of a self-publishing project, I urge you to call your Publishing Specialist to ask them whatever questions you have. (You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org — I’m happy to offer advice, but keep in mind, I’m no expert.)
Previously, on my self-publishing experience…
Leading up this call with Patrick, I had already received two marketing consultations from Smith, and I incorporated all the changes from my copy edit. Now that my manuscript was finally finished, I was ready to publish.
If you don’t like talking on the phone, BookBaby does allow you to place your entire order online, but I don’t encourage you to do this on your own. Publishing a book is confusing (What’s KDP Select? What’s DRM? What price should I set for my book? When should I set my release date?), and it’s so much easier to pick up the phone and talk to someone who knows what it all means. As I mentioned in my article on Amazon consultation, it takes a long time to properly fill out things like your book description and keywords, so you will probably not be able to complete your order on the phone, but it’s still comforting to have someone help you out.
Learn from my mistakes: What I should have done was log in to my account first and look at all the different sections of the ordering process so I could have been better prepared to ask Patrick all my questions. It wasn’t the end of the world — I simply followed up after our phone call with a few emails — but it will make you better prepared to look at the BookBaby website first.
Here are some of the highlights of the ordering process.
BookBaby offers a plethora of trim sizes and binding options. What you choose will depend on the kind of book you’re publishing. My book is genre fiction (fantasy), and there are two trim sizes that are the most popular choices for a book like mine: Digest (5.5” x 8.5”) and US Trade (6” x 9”). According to Patrick, Digest was the standard for genre fiction, but that this has gone by the wayside a bit, and either size would be fine.
We decided that US Trade would be a better fit for my book for a couple of reasons.
- It would help to get the page count down a bit, which impacts the price of the book. My book is 74,000 words, and the difference in page count between Digest and Trade is about 20-30 pages. So, by going to a larger size, I can reduce the cost of printing on demand. (I will cover this in detail in the POD article.)
- I wanted a little extra room for the text the be able to breathe in the interior, which may seem to counteract point number one, but I think it’ll be worth it.
- I wanted the cover to be a little bigger. Your mileage may vary with all of these variables. If you’re writing a mystery or romance or something that will likely be read on the beach or the subway, you might want to go with an even smaller trim size and choose Pocket Book (4.25” x 6.87”).
I will go over the reasons for this in greater detail in the POD and eBook articles, but, Patrick helped me select a retail price of $14.99 for printed books and $7.99 for eBooks.
You have a choice to make. You can either sell your eBook on every bookstore, or you can opt in to KDP Select and grant Amazon sales exclusivity for 90-days. This page on BookBaby’s website explains the ins and outs of the program better than I can, but the biggest reason to make your book exclusive to Amazon (again, just for the first 90 days) is that you can offer short-term deals on your book (e.g. making it free for the first weekend). Boosting your sales like this can really increase your search rankings, so I opted in to the KDP Select program.
One note: KDP Select will automatically renew every 90 days unless you go into your BookBaby account and opt out. Just something to keep in mind.
DRM stands for “digital rights management,” which is a technology that is meant to protect copyrighted works. In other words, a DRM-enabled eBook should be harder to steal than one without DRM.
BookBaby offers you the chance to select DRM or not. I asked Patrick for his thoughts, and I’m including them here:
The trend right now is moving away from including DRM, with the thinking that it only really impacts people who have legitimately purchased the book. Someone who wants to pirate material is probably going to find a way to do that. But for the average reader, DRM means that they might face a hassle when loading the book onto new devices or sharing it with a family member. Author John Scalzi opted out of DRM for the eBook version of The Human Division, and included some text along with the standard rights/copyright notice:
“The author and publisher have provided this eBook to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices.”
I personally don’t like DRM. I still remember back when the music industry used it. My iPod died, and I couldn’t load my purchased music on my new iPod because I couldn’t deactivate it on the old one. That gets pretty frustrating.
That was enough for me, so I opted out of DRM.
For an author, few things are as scary as this:
This is a pop-up window that appears during the ordering process on BookBaby’s website after you have uploaded your manuscript and before you check out.
Hopefully, you have hired a professional editor for your book. I did, but if I can be perfectly honest, as I was incorporating my editor’s changes I was making other changes as well, and I’m sure I added more errors to my book. Not having money (or time) to pay for yet another edit, I ran my book through Grammarly, hoping to catch any stray errors (and I did), but my book is 74,000 words long and I’m sure some got through. (Frankly, every time I open my manuscript I see something I either need to or want to change, and every time I do so, I run the risk of making things worse.)
Given that, clicking the “This is my final manuscript” button was pretty scary.
This pop-up window DOES NOT mean I am never getting another chance to see my text before this book goes out to stores. At some point in the near future, BookBaby will send me PDF proofs and I can use that for one last pass through the text (literally a proofread).
But what this message DOES mean is that, from now on, any changes I want to make to my manuscript are going to cost extra.
How much extra? There is a $50 base charge, plus $2 per editorial change. So, if during my proofread I catch three typos, my total charge would be $56. If I wanted to make a global change (e.g. change “Steven” to “Stephen” through the manuscript) that would still be counted as one correction. Replacing an entire page, on the other hand, would incur a different cost. (See this page for details.)
One of the mistakes many authors make is to set a release date too close to when they place their order. Patrick advised making your release date about 120 days out from when you place your order, but even that might be too soon because a lot will depend on how quickly you approve your design and formatting proofs.
So, set your release date 120 days out and know that you can change that date right up until you approve the eBook design. I gave myself a few extra days and chose Monday, November 18th. That’s a week ahead of Thanksgiving, which should still give me plenty of time to market and sell my book for the holidays.
After I talked to Patrick, I had my Amazon optimization phone call with Smith Publicity. That entire phone call was about how to craft the best metadata to help readers find my book on Amazon. This screenshot was taken from the BookBaby “My Account” section, and it’s where you actually enter that info.
My Amazon consult was very helpful on the front end — so I knew how to best fill this information out. But BookBaby also offers a service, metadata optimization, that will help you ensure you are truly getting the most mileage out of your info. I loved having both services. The phone call gave me incredible insight and the BookBaby service made me feel like I had a pro double-checking my work. If you can afford both, I would recommend it, but if money is an issue, I would opt just for the metadata optimization, which is $99. It takes some of the pressure off of the ordering process.
Stay tuned for more adventures in self publishing. Still to come: design, printing, print on demand, and more. Comment below if you have any questions about any part of the publishing process, or if you feel like I left something out. And keep an eye out for my humorous YA fantasy novel, The Dragon Squisher, coming this Fall. (Follow me on Instagram at authorscottmccormick!)
Read the rest of the series:
My Self-Publishing Experience. Part 1: Placing An Order
Book Marketing and Social Media Promotion: My Self-Publishing Experience, Part 2
Book Editing: Part 3 Of My Self-Publishing Experience
Amazon Optimization: My Self-publishing Experience, Part 4
Metadata Optimization For Your Book: My Self-Publishing Experience, Part 5
How To Get Cover Design And Formatting That Fits Your Story: My Self-Publishing Experience, Part 6
How I Landed An Audiobook Deal: My Self-Publishing Experience, Part 7
eBook Distribution: My Self-Publishing Experience, Part 8
Successful Book Printing And Distribution: My Self-publishing Experience, Part 9
Tell your book’s story with metadata
Choosing The Best Categories For Your Book Sales on Amazon
Marketing Planning For First-Time Authors
10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Book Launch Party
Things I Wish I Had Known Before Self-Publishing My Book