Going Wide – Getting your ducks in a row

Gratuitous cute picture of ducklings – some almost in a row

I was going to start today by showing you how to upload to arguably the more important distributer, Kobo Writing Life (the other big one being Apple Books, at the moment, but who knows?) Instead, I need to cover a bit of housework first. When uploading several books you really need to gather all the assets you need into one central location.

ASIDE: Let’s be frank here, if you have only one, or maybe two books, I recommend you stay in KDP and KDP Select until you have more. If you write stand-alone books you might also be better staying in KDP Select. If you write a series and have a minimum of three books ready to go then wide might work. Give me six or nine months and I hope to have have a more prescriptive answer to give you.

So I have eight books and counting in my Thomas Berrington Historical Mystery Series, as well as two bundles, soon to be three. It may not sound a lot but each of the platforms you are going to upload to want to know a lot of information which, if it’s not all gathered together, can be a pain to find, if you can even find it.

Some of the things, in only a semi-rational order because each platform asks them at different points are:

    • Author name – nothing worse than having a series of pen names and then forgetting who you are
    • Title (duh)
    • Series Title – and if the platform doesn’t remember it (I’m looking at you, Apple Books) make sure you always get the spelling right
    • Date of original publication. This is a pain, but fortunately KDP or any other distributor will have it shown on the dashboard
    • EBook ISBN
    • Print ISBN
    • Audio ISBN (none of them asked for it, but it’s worth including anyway)
    • Blurb (back cover copy)
    • Search Terms
    • EBook (and potentially print) cover
    • EBook (and potentially print) interior

 

When I started to upload I discovered I had each these assets but they were scattered all over the place. I have a spreadsheet with all my ISBNs in and what book I used them on. I have blurbs but not held centrally. You get the picture. It’s a pain in the rear finding all this stuff, and then doing it all over again for the next book and the next.

So – I use Scrivener and love it (if you want to argue then this is not the place). It lets me hold all the assets I need in a section I call Metadata. It doesn’t look pretty, but it works. If you use something else then I suggest you open a Word document, or any other text document, or a spreadsheet, and gather everything you need together for each book.

I also suggest, and this even more strongly, is that you organise your folder structure to keep everything logical. Mine is all held on a local Dropbox folder that synchs immediately to the cloud so I always have a safe copy almost instantly (as well as a Time Machine backup). I have a folder like this:
WRITING -> Author Names -> David Penny -> Thomas Berrington -> Book Name -> Covers / Research Notes, Scrivener, Vellum, Images…

I know, they should be alphabetical but you get the idea. The point is, when I need to do anything I always know exactly where to find it.

So, in each Scrivener file, as I said, I have my metadata. It looks something like this (truncated)

Thomas Berrington Historical Mysteries
Breaker of Bones
PUBLICATION DATE: June 26 2014
EBook ISBN 9780993076107
Print ISBN 9780993076114
Audio ISBN

SEARCH TERMS
spain
alhambra
granada
eunuch
private detective
moorish spain …

Spain, cordoba, granada, private detective, eunuch, moorish spain, islamic, castile, alhambra, malaga

If you’re wondering why I have two sets of search terms, really I should have three. KDP likes them in a list but only so many in each field, B&N and Kobo like them comma separated, I think Apple (but one of them, anyway) likes them separated by semi-colons (which I still need to do).

I then have a separate folder for my blurb and then everything is in that one location and I can refer to each for upload. If, like me, your series name is relatively long I recommend having that in the metadata as well. It’s really easy to make a typo and then you’re screwed until you fix it.

If at this point you are banging your head against the wall and your eyes are spinning in their sockets don’t worry, because gathering all this together will save you a whole bunch of time and trouble later on.

I’m fortunate in that I run a MacBook, so I use Vellum to compile everything into eBook and Print. If you can I recommend it. One major advantage is that it lets you check which platforms to compile for and creates a separate cover image and interior for each. This might not sound much, but each platform has slightly different requirements. Vellum also has a section where you can list your other titles – Also By. If you’ve ever uploaded an eBook to Apple you’ll know that if it has links to Amazon they scream in a high-pitched voice and make the sign of the devil at you. Vellum takes care of all of that for you. All you need to do is upload the correct epub or mobi file and the links work for each platform without you changing anything at all.

Bear in mind though that you might need all those extra IDs in your metadata. That’s next on my list of to-do’s once I finish uploading and the books go live.

All right – I’m done for today. This post might be considered boring! But, sometimes boring is sanity. Without gathering everything together you are going to curse as you open up a portal to upload your book and find you have to go hunting for almost every single item of information.

Get your metadata (and this is only a snapshot, not the whole thing), keep it updated, and you will be grateful. Calmness will reign – in your writing life, at least. Hey, I can’t work miracles. Not even me.

Until the next time…

 

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