For eBooks, the answer is nearly an unequivocal NO. If you're going to be selling your eBook at Amazon, B&N, iBooks or KoboBooks, it's a definite no. Given that that's the list of most self-publishing retail portals, that's pretty much the answer: NO.
But: if you're publishing through an aggregator or distributor, like Smashwords or Draft2Digital, the answer is maybe--you need to ask them.
If you are putting your book out in Print, yes, you will need an ISBN. You can acquire an ISBN, in the USA, by going to RR BOWKER. If you need more than 1 ISBN, the 10-pack, at $250, is your best bargain (10 ISBN's for $250, versus 1 ISBN for $125.00). Easy math, right? If you have print and digital, NO, you cannot reuse your print ISBN for your eBook. If you have a formerly-published print book, NO, you cannot reuse the ISBN for a new edition of the book, a new version of the book, or an eBook version of the book. If in doubt, read your retailer's FAQs.
For a more detailed explanation about ISBNs, please read our in-depth article, Do You Need an ISBN for Self-Publishing? All the ISBN news that's fit to print!
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Well, the best alternative is to have us take a look at them, to see if we can give you the benefits of Conversion from InDesign. However, for some folks, that's not a possibility--their print layout people won't give them the source files, for whatever reason. They'll only output a PDF. If that's the case, keep reading:
Conversion to ebook from any word-processing format is less expensive, by far, than converting from PDF. If your PDF was made with InDesign, visit the following link for exporting RTF (Rich Text Format, a word-processing format that is compatible with every type of word-processor in existence) from the final print file (PDF): http://adobe.ly/Ujw1wn .
This is NOT the same as "Save as....RTF" in InDesign or Adobe Acrobat. This process, at the link, gives you a much better output to be used for eBook conversion and formatting.
Use the instructions in the first section "Export Text." You can even use the Indesign Tagged Text option, which will retain all formatting. The regular export option will retain all normal formatting, like bold, italics, etc.
Sending us, or any conversion house, a word-processing file (Word, Open Office, Libre Office, Word Perfect, Scrivener, etc.) will save you a lot of money.
If you have a PDF, but either don't have the InDesign Files, there isn't a good way to turn it into a word-processed file, that's usable by the normal, non-geeky person. Those online "convert your PDF to Word!" websites do not work. While what comes out from those online sites looks okay, it's a mess "underneath," in the code, which is what we use to make your book.
If you do have the InDesign files, or your designer does, use the information at that link to obtain a good source file for your conversion. Make sure, however, before your InDesigner sends them, that s/he concatenates them, so that the file we get is a single file, in the right order. This is important; if we have to take the time to sort the files out and concatenate them in the correct order, we'll have to charge for the clerical time required to do this work.
But seriously: if you have access to your InDesign files, the BEST alternative is to have us make the book from those files. It's a lot less expensive than conversion from PDF, and you get an eBook product that looks a lot like your print book.
If you are an AOL user, you might have trouble downloading or saving attachments from browsers or from within your email, because of the way AOL has its email set up. Please read these instructions from AOL/AIM, (scroll down the page for "downloading") to learn how to save a file from your email to your computer without opening it first. Go HERE to read the instructions: How To Download Attachments from AOL
Metadata--literally, meaning "data about data"--(you can't make this stuff up!) is used by search engines, libraries, bookstores, etc., to help people categorize and locate books. Metadata "tags" are like individual keywords--like the things you see on Amazon in the tag list--words that people might use in searching for your book, or a book like yours. The Metadata "description" is a paragraph--think of it like the blurb on the back of your book. What will hook people into reading it?
There's a great article on PBS.org, from 2010, that explains metadata in minute detail, and it's well worth reading; you can find it here: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/10/a-self-publishers-guide-to-metadata-for-books285.html . I highly recommend reading it, in order that you can understand, and take advantage of, the metadata fields (keywords and description) available to you, not only at Amazon, Nook, etc., but as part of the information that we embed, invisibly, inside your ebook, helping search engines and retailer searches find your novel, biography, poems or other book.
Need help figuring out what keywords to use? Search Amazon for books in your niche or genre that are at the top of the charts, and see what keywords (tags) they are using; compile a list, and then pick the ten best. Don't reinvent the wheel!
Are you a new writer, just starting out? Or an experienced writer, looking to polish your craft, preparatory to publishing? Here at Booknook.biz, we only recommend the places, courses, people and resources that we've used, tried, and in which we believe. Do you need a critique group, but want to stay away from the harsher free-for-alls available on the Net? Then the Holly Lisle courses may be for you. Are you trying to world-build, with epic fantasy? Again, the Lisle courses have something you can use, all the way down to building your own language.
The Writer's Boot Camp forums are divided by courses and each class within that course, and hundreds of students may be taking the same class as you are, at the same time. The forums are fully moderated, and the action is never "too" rough and tumble for even the faintest of heart to deal with. I know that I hear, around the Net, quite a bit, that people are afraid to use critique groups because "they're too mean," and that is never an issue at the WBC forums.
The mini-clinics and bigger courses are both excellent. If you're hesitant about trying the bigger courses, try one of the Mini-clinics first (they're incredibly affordable and helpful; I'm a big fan of the Plot Clinc myself) and get your feet wet before you jump in to deeper waters.
There's something here for literally every writer, at every stage of his or her career:
Mugging the Muse (hint: this one is FUN!)
Some of these courses are simply a BLAST. I know that people have told me that Mugging the Muse is a hoot, and I enjoyed the Page-Turning Scenes mini-course. I hope you'll find something here that you can use to help you achieve your writing goals.
Or, if you don't see anything here just yet, take a browse at the How To Think Sideways Store:
As Holly Lisle says: write with joy! And good luck to you from the folks at Booknook.biz. We hope you find our Resources helpful.