That book you wrote? Here’s a new way to promote it

Learn more about TimSo you’ve self-published a novel that, in your humble opinion, the whole world should read.

But how do you get the word out?

Just putting it on Amazon isn’t enough. There are millions of books competing for attention and to stay visible, your book needs to be selling briskly on a daily basis.

Posting on social media can help, of course, but those who don’t know you personally might be on the fence about reading a book from an author they’re not familiar with yet.

That’s why I created the Discovery List. It’s a simple spreadsheet full of book titles, but it gives you bonus points if you have reviews for your book, or if readers add a “Love Note” about how much they enjoyed reading it.

My idea is to go directly to the source—the authors themselves—in order to find out what we should be reading in the vast ocean of self-published books, and collect them all in one place.

In other words, I’m making a list of every self-published book that’s worth reading.

It’s easy to add your book to the spreadsheet. Just go to the Discovery List home page and use the forms to add your book, plus a review if you’ve got one.

Do it today and you can still be a part of the First 100 books. Once we have 100 books, I’ll let our 4,800 blog readers know that the spreadsheet is available for download—and let everyone sort and click to find self-published books they’ll love!

“How to keep a marriage happy and unbreakable”: This 5-star memoir reveals the secrets

Learn more about TimThe Discovery List is off to a great start, and I’m finding solid gold already!

I’ve made it my quest to find every self-published book worth reading, and to do this, I created a spreadsheet that we as a community can add to.

It’s called the Discovery List, and whether you happened across a great self-published book or wrote one, we want to hear about it.

Cover for Twenty Years: After 'I Do' by D.G. KayeI love featuring books that got great reviews, so without further ado, here’s this week’s best self-published book:

Twenty Years: After “I Do”
Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging
by D.G. Kaye

Review: Lauren Scott at Baydreamer gives it 5 stars, and raves:

D.G. Kaye’s memoir, Twenty Years After “I Do” piqued my interest for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been married for thirty-one years to a man who is not only my loving husband but who is my very best friend. I wanted to read what the author had to say on the subject, and she certainly inserted many pearls of wisdom of which I agreed with.

Debby offers snippets of insight from her own experiences on how to keep a marriage happy and unbreakable. She adds how humor can lighten any heavy situation and intimately writes of how sex ultimately changes from dating to married life. Most importantly though, she conveys that love has no timeline. Couples should enjoy each moment together and unconditional love will carry them through the difficult times. I was moved by this lovely collection of stories from Debby’s marriage to Gordon, and how she met true love when she least expected. An enjoyable read and one I highly recommend! Read the whole review

You can pick up a copy of Twenty Years on Amazon, and connect with the author on her blog, D.G. Kaye, Writer.

With your help, together we can find every self-published book worth reading and make the Discovery List a one-stop shop for excellent indie books.

If your book isn’t on the List yet, add it today!

The First 100: Have you discovered (or written) a book we should know about?

Learn more about TimCollecting “every self-published book worth reading” in one place is no easy feat.

Yet, this is my mission. And I need your help!

I’ve set about creating a spreadsheet, which I call the Discovery List, and so far it’s got about 35 books. Once we have 100 books, I’ll make the spreadsheet available for download.

I want to make sure yours is on there!

For self-published authors, it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. These days, anyone can publish anything—and they certainly do.

But often, when a serious author writes a quality book, it struggles to stay afloat in the sea of millions of other self-published books.

This is because if it’s not selling each and every day, Amazon and other retailers won’t promote it on their sites, which, in a vicious cycle, results in less visibility and even fewer sales.

That’s what the Discovery List is for: to break that cycle and make finding these superb books as simple as sorting a spreadsheet.

Have you discovered—or written—a book you think people should know about?

Your book could be part of the First 100!

Share your discovery with us today, and tomorrow I’ll feature one of the First 100 books—for our 4,800 blog followers to discover and read.

The Discovery List: My quest to find every self-published book worth reading

Learn more about Tim

It’s the age-old question: Since anyone can publish a book these days, how do you know which books are worth reading?

In my quest to find the answer, I created the Discovery List.

It’s a spreadsheet of self-published books, and I invite your submissions. As long as a book is self-published and worth reading, we all want to hear about it—even if you’re the one who wrote it!

So why create a whole spreadsheet of books instead of relying on the national bestseller lists?

This is because it can be difficult for self-published books to crack these bestseller lists. Most authors are the sole promoters of their books, and without the proper budget or know-how, it can be tough to get noticed.

Amazon, meanwhile, has its own list where it ranks books by sales. And to be fair, you can assume that whatever is selling well is probably worth your time.

The problem is that unless a book is selling briskly each and every day, it tends to fall down the list and get buried in the big Amazon book pile very quickly.

A shame, really, because there are so many more excellent books out there that no one knows about.

This is what the Discovery List is for! It helps you find books that are definitely worth your time—even before any sales are made.

The Discovery List leans heavily on reviews and “Love Notes”—quick blurbs that let readers know how much you liked a certain book.

Currently, there are 34 books on the Discovery List. Once we have 100, I’ll make the spreadsheet available for download, and you can sort it any way you like to find books you’re sure to love.

Want to let us know about a self-published book that’s worth reading? Help us reach our goal of 100 by adding your book or book review today!

If you’re a Canadian author, you’re one of the luckiest people in the world

Learn more about TimToday we discuss ISBNs. Have you self-published a book in Canada? Color me green with envy.

by Timothy Pike

One of the best parts of my job as a self-publishing assistant (besides working with writers who are over the moon about having just finished their novels) is telling clients that they’re about to save a lot of money as their books go to press.

Angel Maker by Barry B. Wright (Cover design by Bri Bruce)

Angel Maker by Barry B. Wright (Cover design by Bri Bruce)

This is why Canadian authors, like Barry B. Wright, author of Angel Maker, are among the luckiest people in the world.

I’ll get to why this is, but first, let me grumble for a minute.

As Americans, too much of our time and energy is spent thinking about ISBNs. The International Standard Book Number, really just a book’s ID number, is such a simple concept, yet lives rent-free, day in and day out, in our heads. (I’m assuming most people spend their mornings sipping coffee and pondering the finer points of ISBN’s. No? Just me? Okay then.)

ISBNs are easy to spot in the wild. If you were to take a book off your shelf right now and flip it over to the back cover, you’d see a hyphenated number above the barcode. That’s the book’s ISBN. But it’s not just some random number.

Those 13 digits (older ISBNs have fewer digits) identify not just the title, but also the publisher, edition, size of the book, and the format—whether e-book, paperback, or audiobook. The good news is that ISBNs are hardy souls; no matter the agency that issued them, they’re valid and recognized anywhere else in the world, forever. The bad news is … well, it’s not actually bad news, as you’ll see in a moment. To understand why, though, let’s start with some background about the largest bookseller in the world.

The 800-pound gorilla of the industry, Amazon, is widely regarded as the best place to self-publish a book. This is not just because of its massive platform of readers, but also because they are able to print copies of your book—one at a time—and ship them off to your customers without you having to lift a finger, a service called print-on-demand.

Amazon also offers you a free ISBN when you publish your book on their site. Seriously, they’re handing ’em out like Oprah over there (“You get an ISBN! You get an ISBN! Everybody gets an ISBN!”)

Well, not to spoil the party, but it looks like I’ll have to be the one who sits in the corner of the room and tells you that you’d be better off passing on the free ISBN, and instead purchasing one of your own.

This is because—I’m just going to say it—it makes your book look more professional. Your goal as a self-publisher, and certainly the goal of my publishing service, is to make your book look like it just came from a New York publishing house. And the free ISBN, unfortunately, doesn’t help with that—for a variety of reasons.

First, “Amazon” will appear on the record as the publisher of your book (yawn). Also, bookstores don’t like to stock books with Amazon-issued ISBNs (and that closes doors that you want to stay open). But there’s another reason to get your own ISBN, one that you might not know about—and it’s a lot more fun.

You get to create your own publishing house! It’s called an imprint, and that’s the name that will go on the back of your book and be tied to your ISBN, making you the publisher on record, not Amazon. The fun part, of course, is thinking of a name for your imprint (Barry went with “Wright Escape Publishing,” which I thought was perfect.)

So let’s say you’ve taken my advice and decided to get your own ISBN. If you’re an American author, you’ll soon be dealing with a company that traces its roots back to New York City in 1868—and a German immigrant who had a brilliant idea.

Frederick Leypoldt was a bookstore owner who had been in New York for over a decade when he decided the world could use a better system for keeping track of all the books that were being published. So he started the company that would become known as R. R. Bowker, which today is the exclusive provider of all ISBNs in the United States. (Leypoldt, apparently, was a busy man; he also founded Publishers Weekly.)

Upon visiting the Bowker website, American authors are faced with a choice: one ISBN for $125, or ten for $295. This is where strategy and planning come in: weighing your long-term needs against today’s budget.

Most authors are just publishing one book in the here and now, which might leave them tempted to go with the lower-cost option. After all, why spend $295 when you can spend $125? But let me tell you why this is almost never the way to go.

First off, I always recommend publishing your book in more than one format—paperback and Kindle to start with—in order to reach as many readers as possible. Each format requires its own ISBN, so this means you’ll need at least two right off the bat.

Do you plan to write and publish more books? If you pony up the extra dough now, you’ll have eight ISBNs left over that will at least feel like they’re free over the next several years as you continue to publish books. They’re yours to keep until the end of time. Didn’t I tell you ISBNs are hardy souls?

So grabbing the 10-pack for $295 is the best route to take. That’s the “bad news” that actually isn’t bad at all, because at $29.50 per ISBN, it’s significantly cheaper than buying just one, and you’re coming out way ahead. This is what I do for my clients when it’s time for ISBNs.

I should mention that even though the publishing packages I offer are a “done-for-you” service, I don’t just slink off into a cave and emerge 90 days later with your finished book. Most authors I work with love to have input into the process.

For example, they might have a particular vision for the cover, or wish to work closely with the copyeditor. I also like to be there to answer questions along the way, and communicate with authors about their options at each stage of the project. Every book is a lot of fun, and I take great pride in making it look phenomenal.

And with Barry, I had the added pleasure of informing him that he was very lucky indeed for being based in Canada. Why is that?

It’s because for Canadians, ISBNs are free. That’s right, as a Canadian, you can get your very own ISBN for $0 down and $0 a month. The government takes care of issuing and keeping track of ISBNs for all Canada-based publishers, and gives you an online account to manage your book titles and request new ISBNs when needed.

Go Canada!

By the way, you should really check out Angel Maker and pick up a copy. It’s a World War II–era spy thriller with a healthy dose of historical fiction, and characters that feel so … real. Barry’s also got a Fan Club at ChapterBuzz that he’d love for you to join if you wish to throw your support behind one of our most talented authors. You’ll also meet many more.

At the very least, be sure to give him a follow so you can stay up-to-date on his new material!

How about you? If you’ve self-published, what was your experience with ISBNs? Let us know in the comments!

I’m Timothy Pike, founder of ChapterBuzz, and self-publishing coach specializing in helping you publish a beautiful book to the virtual shelves of Amazon—and even the real shelves of your local bookstore.


Wikipedia: R. R. Bowker
Wikipedia: Frederick Leypoldt
Wikipedia: Publishers Weekly

Share your writing prompts, and let’s conquer writer’s block together!

Learn more about TimHas a certain writing prompt ever led to a waterfall of words for you? Or can you think of a good one that probably would?

Share it with us!

As we prepare for #NovelingMates, the bring-a-friend writing challenge starting in June, I’d like to give some inspiration to the writers who are already signed up by sending daily writing prompts.

Writer’s block can be a real downer. Perhaps you’ve stared at a blank page for far too long. You might even have some good ideas but aren’t sure how to put them into words.

That’s where writing prompts can break the ice, so to speak.

You might be surprised how quickly imagining a scenario in detail, or simply starting your first paragraph with certain words, gets that pen moving over the paper. Even if it’s not related to the novel you’re writing (or want to write), it often opens the floodgates.

Got one for us? Add your writing prompt in the comments below.

I’ll compile all the prompts and send them out—with credit to you—to everyone who signs up for #NovelingMates.

And if you’d like to write a chapter a week this summer, we’d love to see you there.

This fantasy novel has hit #1 on the ChapterBuzz Chart!

Learn more about TimCongratulations to author Mel Hankins, whose fantasy novel, Belonging to the Alpha, has soared to #1 on the ChapterBuzz Top 100 Chart this week!

Mel has made her novel available for you to read for free for a limited time, so stop by and get lost in the world she has created.

Cover of Belonging to the Alpha by Mel HankinsHere’s what Belonging to the Alpha is about:

Leah is a teenage girl who also happens to be a werewolf. Her Dad is a high-ranking Warrior in the most dominant Pack that Silvermoor City has ever seen, and she is destined to be the Luna of the Alpha there. She, however, bonds with an unworthy Omega. To complicate things, the Alpha chooses Leah. After being brutally attacked by her Omega boyfriend, Leah must decide which path to follow. Her wolf or her destiny?

Enjoy this page-turner and help Mel keep that #1 spot! Start reading now

Writers, wanna be discovered?

Learn more about TimIf you’ve written & self-published a book, but can’t seem to stand out on Amazon, now there’s an easier way!

I’m working on a project called the Discovery List, and it’s a spreadsheet of book titles—yours included, hopefully— that are self published. In other words, truly delightful books that we may not have heard of.

Maybe you don’t have a ton of dough to fork over for advertising. Maybe you aren’t the world’s most gifted salesperson (Who among us is? We’re writers, dang it!) Or maybe nothing that you’ve tried has moved the needle.

Here’s the way I see it: any self-published book that’s for sale on the virtual shelves of the internet is just another book waiting to be discovered by readers.

That’s what the Discovery List is for!

Say goodbye to being #1,830,475 on the bestsellers list, behind major releases from traditional publishers and a bunch of big-budget cookbooks. This is your moment!

To get your book onto the Discovery List, just go to this page and submit your “Discovery Press Kit”—which consists of your book + one review on a blog—and I’ll be sure to add it to the list.

You don’t need to have a review, but it will help your book stand out.

Once we have 100 books on the list (we’re ⅓ of the way there) and 5,000 blog followers (currently 4,700), I’ll make the list available for download and let readers dive in!

Add your book

Have you read “Free Country” by George Mahood?

Learn more about TimEven though I just started putting together the Discovery List, a spreadsheet that showcases outstanding self-published books, I keep finding hidden gems among the books that have been added so far.

Case in point: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain, written by George Mahood, and discovered by Reg Spittle.

Cover for Free Country by George MahoodIn a recent blog post, Reg waxes enthusiastic about this humorous story. Here are some of his thoughts:

Wearing just underwear emblazoned with the British flag, George Mahood and his buddy left Land’s End in southwest England without a penny, determined to bicycle to the northern tip of Great Britain. They would rely on the generosity and good hearts of the people, from pub owners and accommodation hosts to the police.

If you have not read a book by George Mahood, you are in for a treat. His writing in Free Country is even more entertaining than his story’s premise and is powered by humor and down-to-earth human touches.

Read Free Country today! It’s available on Amazon.

Have you read this, or another great self-published book lately? What did you think? Add your own book review or Love Note, and your input will help us keep finding excellent reads!

A time-travel romance novel for the ages

Learn more about TimThanks to all authors and book reviewers who have contributed to our Discovery List so far!

Each week, I feature one of the best self-published books we have on the list so far, based on reviews.

Have you written (or discovered) a great self-published book? Add it to the Discovery List, and it might be the next book featured here.

This week, the best book on the list is…

Cover for Partners in Time by Stevie Turner

(Review: John Maberry of Views from Eagle Peak gives it 4 stars.)

Here’s a taste:

John Finbow, a successful writer, and his wife Kay move into Southcombe Rectory, a large Victorian house that has been empty since the 1960s. It had previously been owned by the Cuthbertson family who had lived there for generations. Their marriage is under strain, as John, 39 would like children before he gets too old, but Kay, 34, does not.

When John is working in his study soon after moving in, he is disturbed by the sight of a young woman who appears out of the blue on his sofa. Emily Cuthbertson, whose old bedroom is now John’s study, was 25 at the time of her death and the youngest of 8 offspring of the late Reverend Arthur Cuthbertson and his wife Delia. Emily had died in 1868 but is now unwilling to leave behind her old life on earth, due to having missed out on a family of her own whilst being a companion to her widowed mother. Emily is still desperate for a husband and children, and John is the answer to her dreams.

One hundred and thirty years separate them. Will Emily and John’s love survive time’s relentless march?

Discover it for yourself on Amazon!

Have you discovered a self-published book that deserves a spot on the Discovery List? Whether you wrote it, reviewed it, or just discovered it, you can add it here and help others make discoveries of their own.