The Learning Curve

So I wrote a book (actually, I’ve written four now).  You would think that would be the hard part.  

It’s not.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, editing is no piece of cake either.

It turns out, however, that the really hard part is figuring out the in’s and out’s of publishing.  It would be enough if that was all there is to it, but with everything I learn, I have to ask myself, but how does that apply to a Canadian?  Sometimes, the answer is easy, it’s the same.  But more often than not, it seems, as usual, Canadians are the forgotten bastard stepchildren of the U.S.

For example, I want my book on Amazon.  Who wouldn’t?  They are one of the biggest booksellers in the world. But luckily, they offer two platforms for getting your book on their site.  Createspace for print on demand (POD) books and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for your ebook.

But wait a minute…What do you mean that only ensures my book will be listed on  How will my Canadian fans buy my books?  

What’s that you say?  You have Expanded Distribution to cover the rest of the world.  Sure, it means you’ll take another huge chunk of my profits (to the point that I will earn next to nothing for books sold through expanded distribution) but at least my book will be available on,, and

Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t hear you say

Turns out even with selecting expanded distribution, there is no guarantee your book will ever be listed on  The only way to guarantee it is to use a third-party distributor.  There are several out there, but I’ll discuss this option in an upcoming post.

Happy Canada Day!



The ISBN – Why you should have your own

The ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is an identification system for books, etc (including electronic publications). Assigning a unique number to each published title provides that title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier.

Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g., Kindle, Kobo, EPUB, MOBI, PDF) that is published and made separately available should be given a separate ISBN.  This means if you are planning on having a print copy, an epub copy and a Kindle (.mobi) version, you will need at least three ISBNs for every book you publish.

Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the book industry use ISBNs to identify publications and determine the publishing country. An ISBN is required for the sale and distribution of a publication. (For more information see the Library and Archives Canada website.).

When you are planning to self-publish, especially as a Canadian (or I imagine any other non-US citizen) it can get a little confusing because so much of the information available is based on the American experience (especially when choosing a distribution platform, but I’ll have more on that in a future blog). In the U.S., you must purchase ISBNs in blocks. There is a service called Bowker that seems to be recommended for this. But for me, as a Canadian, ISBNs are free. To obtain one, you just have to be a Canadian publisher or self-publisher physically and permanently located in Canada. They even have a handy online service that helps you to assign and manage your ISBNs. So far, I have only applied for an account, so I can’t tell you what the online service is like. I’ll let you know when I get that far. (The auto response from my online application was that it could take up to ten days to process).

Because in the U.S. you have to buy your ISBNs ($125 for a single ISBN!), many of the book distributors like Createspace and Smashwords make a big deal of offering free ISBNs. Amazon even goes as far as assigning their own identifier to Kindle formatted .mobi ebooks called the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) so that ISBNs aren’t required. I believe this is also the case if you are publishing with Nook Press, Barnes and Nobles self-publishing platform.

So if you get them for free from the publishing platforms, why bother going to all the trouble of signing up and getting your own? Does it matter whose number you use? The short answer is Yes, it does.

If you don’t provide the ISBN yourself, then you are NOT the publisher of your book, i.e. if you let Smashwords or Createspace assign one of their numbers, then THEY are the publisher, not you. They will be the ones listed in the Books In Print as the publisher.

I found several articles on this topic, all basically saying the same thing. Get your own ISBN. This article, in particular, does a great job of explaining it so rather than rehash it here, I’ll just post the link here.

Short and Sweet…Editing part 2

I’ve discovered that when I’m in the ‘zone’ and writing (typing) quickly, I talk like a pirate.


“I also had two smaller knives strapped to me thigh and me ankle.”

“I pulled out me phone and brought up the map Bryce had created for me …”


See?  I’m a pirate.  Arrrrr!

It’s late and that’s all I have for today 🙂


Punctuation Saves Lives!

Editing.  I hate it.

Writing, while not easy, is fun.  I get a scene going in my head and my fingers just fly across the keyboard. Sometimes, I just can’t seem to type fast enough.  I’m sure there is probably some scientific study showing that whatever side of the brain is the creative side (I can’t remember off the top of my head, ha ha), kicks into full gear when I’m writing.  

Editing, on the other hand, is a chore.  The opposite side of the brain, the logical side, is in command and second guesses everything.  The best way I have found so far to edit, is to read my words out loud.  It slows the brain down and really gives you a good sense of whether a sentence sounds right.  It also helps figure out where to put the damn commas, the bane of my existence as a writer.

punctuation saves lives

When you are writing, your first draft, probably even your second and third drafts, are nowhere near being ready, even for your beta readers.  At least if you want to keep them and not drive them crazy with all your mistakes.

To help with the editing process, I found Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King to be very useful.  

I also found these 10 rules for self-editing helpful (spread out over two posts):

10 Rules on Self-Editing (pt. 1)

10 Rules on Self-Editing (pt. 2)


My friend Google

I follow some of my favourite authors on their various forms of media.  I enjoy getting updates from them.  Often they are letting their readers know about their latest research trip.  Caving in South America, pub hopping across Europe, a safari in Africa….it’s all so exciting, and of course, totally out of my budget.  Luckily, my first book is set in a generic city that could be anywhere in Canada or the northern U.S. and more importantly, Google is my friend.

Need to know how to swear in Spanish?  

Google it.  

Need to know how to prepare scallops?  

Google it.  

How about how to make a really good cup of coffee using a commercial coffee maker?  Or, how to escape a choke hold?  What do bogles look like? What would be a good knife to have in fight?  What type of gun?  

Google has the answer for everything.

An entertaining result of all this googling, is the ads that now jump up on all the web pages I look at.  Since ads on a lot of websites are are actually targeted to you specifically based on recent Google search history, I am getting the weirdest assortment of ads.  As far as Google is concerned, I’m a knife and gun enthusiast who needs lessons in self-defence and gourmet cooking, who wants to buy a commercial coffee machine and is planning a trip to Spain.  Of course we are talking about the internet here, so I imagine there are way worse things to be.


Lisa 🙂

Registering my Copyright – Another small step….

Although some would argue it an unnecessary step, I registered the copyright on my upcoming series.  So why do some think it is unnecessary?

In Canada (and the U.S.), you automatically hold the copyright to any original work you produce. You can’t copyright an idea or a title; only the written expression of your idea. Basically, once it’s down on paper (or computer) it’s yours.  No registration necessary.

So why bother?

Just because you hold the copyright, proving your claim may be another story without proper evidence. Often it boils down to a case of “their word against yours”. Without proper protection, work that you have created, could end up making money for someone else.  Registering your copyright makes it that much easier to prove that the work is yours.  If the infringement happens in the U.S. and you end up in court there, it can also mean the difference between being able to collect statutory damages or just actual damages.

The real reason I did it?  I got a really cool certificate:


Actually, I didn’t know you even received a certificate for your registration (must have missed that in the fine print on the website), so I was pleasantly surprised today to open my mail.  I have to admit, it made me feel a little verklempt.  I’m one step (tiny, baby one) closer.


Reading, Reading, Reading…..

That’s all I seem to be doing these last few days….


Reading.  Reading everything I can find on self-publishing, the do’s the don’ts.  There is a lot of information out there, of course as with anything on the intranet you sometimes have to take the advice with a grain of salt.

I’ve also been hunting for a graphic designer.  No surprise, there don’t seem to be many in Winnipeg.  At least none that answer my inquiry emails.  Oh well, their loss.  I believe I have found the winner.  She’s based out of Melbourne, Australia, but with the intranet shrinking distances, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.