Sunday 16 June 2024

ISBNs - Should you buy them for your books? And where do I buy them?

I've been asked several times by self-published authors about ISBNs. Questions like: do I need them? Where do I buy them? Can I use the one's Amazon provides, so here I have gathered some information together, because it can be hard to find out up-to-date information.

Okay, let's start at the beginning. The ISBNs Amazon provides for both ebooks and paperbacks can NOT be used anywhere else outside of Amazon. If you want to 'go wide' - meaning sell on other bookselling sites or in shops - for ebooks go to Smashwords, or actually Draft2Digital (who have taken over Smashwords so it's in the process of being merged but not completed yet - as of June 2024). They issue free ones for ebooks like Amazon, but they don't do paperbacks.

As for buying ISBNs, which you will have to do if you want to sell paperbacks outside of Amazon - and don't want to use their extended distribution option (I'll come back to why it's best not to in a minute) - each country has its own rules, and you have to buy them in the country you are resident. You can not buy them from another country as it is linked to the country you are paying tax in. For the US, it is Bowker, and in the UK it is Nielsen. Each country has its own rules with them, how many you can buy and for how much. If you are lucky enough to live in Canada they are free! Here in the Netherlands where I am, I can only get 10 at a time, they don't do bulk selling as they don't want large gaps in numbers, and it costs me almost 300Euros. ISBNs are not cheap.

USA: Bowker: https://www.bowker.com/isbn-us

UK: Nielsen: www.nielsenisbnstore.com/Home/Isbn

To put your paperback books up 'wide' outside of Amazon, you need to go to IngramSpark who will distribute to Libraries and other places, making them orderable in shops. Now the twisted thing here is that Amazon actually use IngramSpark for their distribution, so if you ARE using their extended distribution for your paperbacks in Amazon with free ISBNs then you will have to faff about transferring the book over from Amazon to IngramSpark, and then upload your book with your own ISBN. It is possible. I have done it with Dead Lake. However, with my other paperback Sleep as I didn't have it in Amazon Extended Distribution, so I just put it up on IngramSparks with its own ISBN. Amazon will pick up the one with the best price, so although in some ways it is duplicated, it is not noticable to the buyer.

Now, back to why it's best not to use Amazon's Extended Distribution. Besides the fact you get only a titchy tiny royalty doing it that way, Libraries will NOT buy from Amazon, so if you don't have your book with IngramSpark, they will say it is not orderable as far as I understand it. I have a friend who is an editor for the big publishing houses, and this is insider information. Publishing houses hate Amazon due to their monopoly, so won't buy in bulk from them. But it is a personal choice.

IngramSpark: www.ingramspark.com

IngramSpark is a bit of a faff to use, it's a bit out-of-date and slow in its system, but they were quite helpful with the transfer. They have just made it free (this year - 2024) to put up books but you need to have the complete finished product ready to go. You can get a template for a cover, they are slightly bigger than Amazon. Any edits are free up until 60 days after publication on IngramSpark, but after that if you want to make changes it will cost you $25 each time. BUT the workround is becoming a member of ALLi (Alliance of independent authors) and you can get free codes for this.

I have as yet been unsuccessful obtaining an author copy from IngramSpark for comparison because I ordered one, and wasn't prepared to spend over £23 postage for one book for it to be tracked etc, so only paid for basic postage and it never arrived. When I asked them two weeks later if they had any information they sent me quite a rude reply telling me off for not paying the extra! I said I wasn't prepared to pay that much for one copy of my own book! (because they are UK based and I am not).

Just to clarify, you can only buy ISBNs in the country you are residing in. And the ISBNs that both Amazon and Draft2Digital/Smashwords provide are not transferrable to anywhere else.

Through Draft2Digital you can publish paperbacks too. I chose IngramSpark because they automatically distribute to Libraries and shops. 

If you are looking for more information on how to self-publish, check out these two guys who have all the information for free! 

David Gaughran

Dave Chesson, Kindlepreneur 





Friday 31 May 2024

Happy Publication Day to Blood River! 🥳

It's finally out into the world, Blood River, the third book in Tricky's Tales, and the finale to this little three book triology and storyline. 

Tricky is such an easy character to write. Her words flow out easily as I hear her voice in my head, and I love everything about her and her world. And there is still plenty to discover. I'm confident there's more from Tricky - besides the two short tales I have planned, but for now I am working on a few non-fiction related projects, while I gestate on a couple of darker novels. 

This book is my tenth fiction book (and my fifth novel), and I don't tire of writing fiction, if anything more and more ideas are filling my head. I wish for many things, including a massive Tricky fan base, which maybe one day would lead to a film or series in her world, which I might hopefully be involved in creating. But I also am busy with my non-fiction writing as I have two books and a short exclusive in the works, along with a course. I also have a couple of writing-related books to produce for self-published authors, but there just seems to be less and less time in the day. 

And all the while I am studying and reading. I am enjoying the proofreading course I am doing, as it is already impacting my own writing as I start using some of the methods I am learning and noting things in my writing. It will bring an accreditation recognised by publishing houses in the UK, but I don't see my career going that way. I just wanted to prove to myself I can be an expert in something. 

When I started out as a self-published author, I was unsure about my decision, though I didn't want to jump the many hoops that publishing houses or agents set, or be told to change my ideas and rewrite my books to satisify some niche they have decided it needs to fit into. I write across genres because that's what I write and I don't want to be boxed in by a market, one that is unlikely to pay me much. Or my book judged by one person to be deemed worthy, which really just means sellable.

I have also watched others get deals and either end up disappointed or see their writing become more and more vacuous as they struggle to deliver a 'marketable' book. In fact being part of a local bookclub and seeing them pick the 'bestseller-listed', 'latest literary sensation' has made me definitely turn away from traditional publishing. As I read these books, I wonder how they were picked up in the first place, because I can name at least ten books by my self-published friends that are ten times better. 

But the problem is that they're 'self-published', and that is a no-no to most readers because that's what they have been told by the press and the publishing houses. The biggest lie is that there is no rift between the two: self-published and traditionally published, but there is. For me it has been seeing friends get deals with big publishers, friends that used to be supportive and interested in my books and writing, but then suddenly stop. And even though you still share and promote their books, they never return the favour, because they don't dain to be seen to promote or help a self-published author, especially if they don't write in the same genre - that'll look bad on their social media feeds. It can be quite heart-breaking. 

So for all those reasons, and the lack of transparency in the publishing industry and their authors who daren't be honest about anything they experience, pretending it's a bed of roses, for fear of losing their deal, I have really settled into being a self-published author. I don't expect much money from it - if any - but I live in hope of someone with a large following raving about one of my books and making some sales. And really I just want people to enjoy the books I write, I don't need them to win awards, or spend my life touring places to try to get them visible - the best way to have your book marketed is by word of mouth. (I say this, but I spend a small fortune on marketing. It costs an arm and a leg to give your book away for free - I kid you not).

So that's my current view on being a self-published author. I say current because you never know what might change. And that's the fun about being self-published - you have unlimited opportunities.

And if you are still reading, thanks for taking the time. And if you are a reader of my books, and/or a lover of Tricky, please do leave a review. The more people that do, the more likely more readers will pick up one of my books! 



The Landmass - Tricky's World


Tuesday 28 May 2024

Review: Quest for Love: Memoir of a Child Sex Slave by Anneke Lucas

Quest for Love: Memoir of a Child Sex SlaveQuest for Love: Memoir of a Child Sex Slave by Anneke Lucas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book in a week, which is super fast for me. It was as compelling as it was disturbing and I'm still struggling to put into words my thoughts about it.

Reading through reviews I see people victim blaming and just disbelieving this account, and I can understand why they might, because it is a lot to take on, and in such great detail. But as someone from a traumatic childhood - though nothing on this scale - your ability to recall the very visceral details of a moment of abuse stays with you a lifetime. Although Anneke had help and support to accomplish this complete recall and her feelings about it.

I live in the Netherlands and to think much of this was perpetrated by a Prime Minister just over the border in Belgium, and that a case (Dutroux) was covered up by an investigation team to placate a network that undertakes pedophilia, torture and murder on this scale, is sickening. Since the Jeffrey Epstein case, and people like Prince Andrew being involved, this book allows you to see how it is possible. It seems that money and power really can allow you to do anything.

Anneke Lucas recounts a certain time period of the abuse, and alludes to 'training' she had. I would have been interested to know more about that and who was involved, but I also appreciate that there comes a point where you can't keep going over such horrific events. Plus it makes me wonder if it will make her a target again.

This book is not for the faint-hearted and would trigger anyone with sexual abuse in their history. It is not an easy read, especially with some of the detail, and I felt devastated, frustrated, angry and disgusted throughout the entire reading. But the one who I reserve the majority of my anger for was her narcissistic mother. She was utterly disgusting and without any remorse for her treatment of her daughter. I really would have liked to have seen justice done there. I myself had a narcissistic mother and it made me wonder if had she had access to such a place would she have taken us there, but no matter how difficult and jealous she would get, I do believe that morally she was not that corrupt.

I'm so grateful Anneke was able to get out of it alive, and I felt a strange sense of serendipity when she mentioned during her near-death experience having visions of Paramahansa Yogananda, because I bought his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, just last year, and it's currently on my tbr pile.

I also loved her words about healing:

"Healing breaks our heart so that love can enter. Healing from trauma is to feel suppressed feelings so that we can expand and feel everything. It means to go inward, to connect with our own truth and so connect with greater truth, so that we can know what we know with certainty, because we can feel it, because we are in touch with our true selves."

And her words about our current corrupt power systems, couldn't be truer:

"The psychopaths who attempt to rule the world have no access to their inner selves, and are trying to know themselves only through outward means, through status and control, needing to feel superior in order to feel worthy."

"Even as we steadily move into a more enlightened era, the slaves to power, bound to earth and its riches, are fighting tooth and nail to protect their lies and way of life, which is creating the turbulence we are experiencing today."

This is not my first reading on such a topic, so I had an idea of what I was going into before reading. Just as Anneke is not the only person trying to shed light on these horrific goings-on. You need to be mentally prepared, because they will give you a mental hangover which is hard to shake, and may never leave you - unless, like some of the other reviewers, you just choose to disbelieve it all.

Thank you Anneke for sharing this with us. I admire you strength and your courage.


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Wednesday 15 May 2024

Happy one year anniversary to Kill The Goblins! 🥳

It's already been a year since the release of  my first non-fiction book: Kill The Goblins! Time just flies. And to celebrate, I have put the ebook on sale for $0.99/£0.99!

I've received some wonderful reviews for this book, and I hope to get it into more hands and help a lot more people with it. It's not for everyone, but it doesn't contain any spiritual woo or self-help jargon - in fact I wrote it for people that shun self-help! So if you think you might find it helpful pick up a copy. 




Miranda K, a veteran of trauma recovery, provides in-the-moment practical strategies to combat unwanted, destructive thoughts.

Are you aware of the things you say to yourself? Are they friendly or mean? Do you have a busy head, full of lots of thoughts that leave you confused or overwhelmed? Do you find yourself arguing with the thoughts in your head, trying to get them to stop?

Kill The Goblins provides more than 15 ways to deal with those thoughts. Each one provides a simple action you can take as soon as you’ve finished reading. You can also take an in-depth look at potential root causes, and learn how to change the way you think and feel to gain inner balance and security on a daily basis.

Designed to either be read in from cover to cover, or dipped into for quite easy in-the-moment solutions, Kill The Goblins is for everyone. No spiritual woo, no self help jargon, just practical strategies for every-day use. Equip yourself with the tools to kill the stream of negative thoughts in your head that stop you from pursuing your dreams, and distract you from living the life you want.

“I found this book easy to read and informative. Miranda’s sharing of personal life and mental health experiences and revelations make it feel as if you are having coffee and chatting with a wise friend who learned her lessons in the trenches. This book is packed with practical, concrete methods to help you change your thinking, master your mind, and get to the root causes.” Debbie Hampton, The Best Brain Possible




Tuesday 16 April 2024

Review: Deep In The Shadows, by Amanda JK.

Deep In The ShadowsDeep In The Shadows by Amanda JK
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a quick read - unless you want to linger over the tweet-length collections of micro-fiction within. And really you should because there is plenty to devour.

They have been gathered in sections by genre, though the majority are dark. I like how Amanda is able to convey emotion or a story in these tiny bite-sized nibbles. I especially like her dark horror bites; they grip you in just a second, and leave you pondering.

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Review: Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E Fiest

Flight of the Nighthawks  (The Darkwar Saga, #1)Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a life-long fan of Raymond Fiest's books, and all the stories in Midkemia too. It had been a while since I have read one, and that made this book challenging and it referred constantly to previous storylines, some of which I could remember parts of but not all.

This is the first of the Darkwar Saga and was really just setting up the storyline and plot and going over all the characters and their history, some of it eluded to rather than fully explained. The moments of action in this were the most enjoyable parts and went past fast.

The writing is good, though I do feel that the storyline lacked a lot of originality and felt repetitive of previous books, and I was surprised to find very obvious typos in several chapters all the way through. For a big publishing house, they're maybe not paying their proofreaders enough!

I will still recommend Fiest's books, because as I say, this is setting up for a lengthy saga and just reacquanting the reader with the world and characters.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

Review: Mrs. Stockley's Parrot, by Michael Wombat

Mrs. Stockley's ParrotMrs. Stockley's Parrot by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael Wombat is one of my favourite authors. I enjoy his writing style and his brilliant stories, and this collection doesn't disappoint. It's full of ordinary as well as extraordinary tales. As always Michael writes across genres, so you will find some unique concepts in the fantasy sci-fi genre, a little bit of horror, suspense and even a touch of romance. They run the whole gamut.

My favourite is Mrs Venturey, speculating on who Jack The Ripper was, with a kicker of an ending. I also loved Escape Pod and The Rendelsham Forest Incident, both brilliant, unique and contrasting sci-fi fantasy concepts. And Love Me Do is a really enjoyable tale, which maybe because I live in Holland and it has a Dutch touch in it, but I also liked the idea of dead parents still match-making.

If you like an ecelectic mix of story ideas, I definitely recommend it.

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Saturday 2 March 2024

Do you leave book reviews?

Did you know only 1% of readers review books? 

I'm a member of a local bookclub where there are around six or seven regulars that don't leave reviews. I try and encourage them, but even though they all read a lot of books they don't really consider doing it. And for the big bookseller lists (which they mostly choose their books from), those have been sent out to hundreds of authorised reviewers and other famous authors, and so already hundreds of reviews before they've even been released, so why bother? 

But for an indie authors, like me, it makes all the difference.

I get it - every time you buy something on line you get an email asking you for a review now, and it gets tiresome. I delete a lot of those emails too, unless it's something I feel strongly about. But on most book selling sites, reviews increase a book's visibility. After so many reviews the system's algorithm pick it up and promote it. And for indie authors like me who don't have the money publishing houses do to buy their way onto bookseller lists, ever single one counts.

Myth Busting: leaving a review doesn't mean you have to write an essay. Just one line saying whether you liked it or not is enough, or failing that, leave a rating.

If you want to help an author without spending any money, please consider leaving a review. 🙏




Monday 12 February 2024

Review: Red Valentine by Michael Wombat

Red Valentine: Disturbing love stories for grown-ups (Red Wombats)Red Valentine: Disturbing love stories for grown-ups by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a little bias because I love Michael Wombat's writing, and it doesn't matter what he writes, I know I will love it. He is such a master of words and vocabulary and describes things in ways no one else can.

In this collection of love stories, some of which are brief, the reader enjoys all sorts of tales, some comical, some historical, some about new love, some sad, and many deadly. There's something for everyone in this collection.



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Thursday 18 January 2024

Review: The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

The Woman in MeThe Woman in Me by Britney Spears
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Britney for years. She has great energy and I have a couple of her albums. There was always an edge of naivety to her, but the way her own family have taken advantage of that and used and abused her is incredible! And only in America would it be legal to enslave someone!

Her father should be in prison. I can't believe he's not being prosecuted and doing time. How did a judge not see straight through this? Tell a court she's incapacitated so you get power of attorney over all her wealth & also her body autonomy. But then force her to work & go on tour year after year & at a non-stop show in vegas for 3 years using threats and bullying, constant survellance and manhandling by 'security guards'. Constantly use the threat of never letting her see her children to get her to do this. If she acted out or resisted too much he put in a facility. The last time he did that they kept her drugged on Lithium for 3 months.

If she is SO incapacited to need such a 'conservatorship' how come she is able to perform so many shows? How did the judge who agreed to all this not realise that - her shows were worldwide knowledge. And those children, who were taken off her by her ex, who got full custody of them when they were just 5 months & 18months. He'd spent next to no time with them prior to this. How was Britney so wholely unsupported?

And all this came about because she was devastated about a break up and losing her children, and she acted out - unfortunately publically, though for you and I we could have done that - gone and had our heads shaved - and no one would have noticed! The paparazzi are again to blame in another person's downfall because of their inability to respect a person and their privacy. They made her a spectacle, the media judging her, the public deciding she was unfit, thus allowing her father to step in and imprison and abused her for thirteen years. This would be unbelieve if it was written in a ficton novel. If they had left her alone, it might not have gone so far. There really need to be laws put in place over this kind of stalking, pestering and haranguing.

Britney only got out thanks to fans who realised what was going on & fed her info - like that despite what her father said she WAS allowed to choose her own lawyer. Something a judge should have done in the beginning - speak to her and make sure she knew here rights!

Did the judge not look at the family history here? Britney's parents divorced due to her father's violence when she was a child but reconciled when they started benefitting from her wealth - she bought then house & cars. Even her mother was complicit. People have been sent to prison for less.

I'm so glad she is free now, and able to get her sense of self back. I think she's incredible for still being able to share it all with us in this book.

In terms of the actual writing, the first few chapters were badly written, as though someone had been given notes and not made any embellishments to them. It didn't flow at all. I don't know if Britney DID write this herself, but if she had a ghost writer (which is usually the case) they didn't do a great job in that respect - though I did get a sense of Britney's voice from about the third chapter on. But a developmental editing team should have picked that up.

In parts it does feel repetitive, but in some ways I feel it was the only way to give the reader a true sense of the repeated horror of this situation. And there are a lot of people who get mentioned and it's not really clear who they are or how they came into Britney's world.

If she is someone who interests you, definitely worth a read.


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Wednesday 3 January 2024

Review: YellowFace by R F Kuang

YellowfaceYellowface by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read this for my up coming bookclub meeting, and have to say I was gripped and read it super fast for me! It helps that I'm a writer who used to live on Twitter, so this crosses both worlds I 'lived' in, but this book made me beyond grateful that I'm a self-published author.

It covers the idea of plagerism. The book is written in first person point of view, by the person that stole a book - from a friend, who they witnessed the death of. It's full of moral ambiguity, as it also shows the dirty underbelly of true trolling within the publishing industry as well as by bystanders and also uses the whole 'culture appropriation by white people' narrative too.

It's a boiling hotch-potch of all these topics, and shows how someone can be torn down so easily by those that are jealous of another's success - and yet the person torn down was also jealous of another's success - like the snake eating its own tail.

It also shows the dark underbelly of publishing and the 'next best thing' and how authors have to write to market if they want to make any money. Money is very much alluded to in this book but numbers are never given, which I think is always a shame. Publishing is really about making money off another person's back. An elite set of people in large publishing houses gets to decide who will be successful and rich and who won't. I found it fascinating, but also wondered how much was exaggerated and how much was true.

I'm interested how the other readers in my bookclub found this book being as none of them are writers and never use twitter. I wonder if it might have gone above their heads.

I enjoyed it, others might not. But it's fast paced and well written.

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Review: Nation, by Terry Pratchett

NationNation by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Terry Pratchett. I have all his books and read the majority of them - and not just discworld - but I struggled with this book. I found it hard to get into and very slow. It was interesting but felt like a pirate book really.

I wonder at the time of reading it compared to the when it was written. The concept of end of the world from tidal waves and the remaining populous reforming with various cultural differences and how that might look has altered since its time of publication in 2008. The world has taken on a very dystopian feel since 2015, what with climate changes, earthquakes and pandemics, all end-of-the-world scenarios. Also the discourse on immigrants and refugees.

Pratchett also throws in the whole Gods thing too, and a sort of circular concept of this one place being the beginning of all places.

An interesting read but not one I felt particularly inspiring or funny. I was surprised it was turned into a theatre show in 2009. I didn't think it was one of his better stories or commentaries on human society.

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