Purchased vs Free ISBN Numbers

In addition to these books, I've published an audiobook
for Secret in the Stars, a coloring book, Botas Altas: Tall Boots
in Spanish, and a hard cover book.

By Linda Wilson   @LinWilsonauthor

    ISBN is the acronym for International Standard Book Number. It is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a specific book, an edition of a book, or a book product, such as an audiobook. Since 1970, each published book has been allocated an ISBN. ISBNs were 10-digits long until January 1, 2007, when the ISBN system switched to a 13-digit format. Books with 10-digit ISBNs can be converted to 13 digits. Each separate product—paperback, hard cover, e-book, audiobook, coloring book—are separate editions and require a different ISBN.

    ISBNs are product identifiers used by publishers, booksellers, internet retailers, and other supply chain entities. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the title, edition, and format, and is used for ordering, listing, sales records and keeping track of stocks. ISBNs never expire.

    The publisher normally supplies the ISBN. For self-published books, you are the publisher. You apply for the ISBN. Here's how.

Free ISBNs

It is tempting to take advantage of the free ISBN offered by KDP. Barnes and Noble also provides free ISBNs, and will register your ISBN with BooksinPrint.com®. I’m treading into territory I haven’t personally had experience with since I have purchased my ISBNs from Bowker. But information on various forums state that you can publish your book anywhere you like at the same time you publish through KDP. My understanding is that you will need to set up two versions of your book, one with KDP’s ISBN, and the other with B & N’s ISBN. 

    “Wide” distribution of your book means that you distribute through, but not exclusively, IngramSpark, D2D, and B & N and Amazon. If you want to go with a free ISBN check out forums on the topic. One person posted that there is no need to purchase an ISBN because ISBNs are provided free from both Amazon and B & N. One person published about 15 books through KDP which have been picked up by B&N. All books used Amazon’s free ISBNs; all are enrolled in “Expanded Distribution.”  

Purchased ISBNs

    My ISBNs were purchased through Bowker back in 2020 when I published my first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery. I purchased 10 ISBNs @ $295. One ISBN through Bowker is $125. Purchase prices go up from there, mainly for independent or small publishers who publish multiple versions of books. 

Here are some of the reasons Bowker encourages publishers to purchase ISBNs:

  • An ISBN improves the likelihood your book will be found and purchased
  • An ISBN links to essential information about your book
  • Most retailers require ISBNs
  • An ISBN ensures your book’s information will be stored in the Books in Print database
  • ISBNs are the global standard for book identification

The main reason I purchased my ISBNs is so that I could publish “wide.” Also, I thought owning my ISBNs could save me time as I explore different venues for the sale of my books.

Barcodes and QR Codes

Barcodes can be purchased from a company like Bowker. Some companies include a bar code with the purchase of an ISBN. Be careful, though. Since I’ve always used Bowker’s services I feel safe. I’ve purchased a barcode for each book @$25. To get a free barcode, you can use IngramSpark’s book cover template generator, according to online information from December, 2020. You will receive a cover template via email with a barcode on it you can use anywhere. Please refer to this website for information on obtaining an Amazon barcode: https://www.gs1us.org/upcs-barcodes-prefixes/amazon/barcodes-for-amazon.

For QR codes, you can google: How to get a QR code. You will find the information you need there. And read my last month’s article on “How a QR Code Can Help Book Sales,”  https://www.writersonthemove.com/2023/11/how-qr-code-can-help-book-sales.html.

Even though I plan to purchase more ISBNs from Bowker—10 more now that I’ve used all of the original 10—and it will cost me, I’m thrilled that I’ve published 10 books! It just goes to show, if you keep plugging away on your projects, you will eventually publish. You can be proud of yourself, and also reap the rewards that your books offer you every day.

It was a great holiday season for
book sales. Now it's time to find
different venues, such as book
readings at schools and
books stores, churches,
and community centers.

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two new releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at LindaWilsonAuthor.com, and on Facebook.


In the Spotlight: An Interview with Journalist & Nonfiction Author Jo Ann Mathews

 by Suzanne Lieurance

Journalist Jo Ann Mathews

In the spotlight this month is a writer who writes nonfiction books but also writers for newspapers and other print publications. 


Jo Ann Mathews lives and writes in North Carolina, and I wanted to find out more about her life as a writer.


Read this interview to find out what I learned about Jo Ann.


Suzanne Lieurance: Tell us about yourself, Jo Ann. How did you become a writer? What kinds of things do you write?


Jo Ann Mathews: Like all writers, I always loved to read, so I wanted to be the next Carolyn Keene and write my version of Nancy Drew. 


Who had time to write anything other than essays and research papers while in high school, college, and graduate school? 


Then, while teaching, I had to READ students’ essays and research papers. 


It wasn’t until my youngest son entered kindergarten and I was teaching part time that I decided to use my mornings to write my novel. 


It took two years, and it never sold! 


A quirk of fate started me on the path to writing feature stories. 


Our brand new, month-old Buick was stolen from a movie theatre parking lot. 


Rather than write about the inconvenience and disruption to our lives, I wrote a humorous piece about the benefits of being without a car, how neighbors and friends came to the rescue, bought our groceries, took our sons to their activities, how my husband and I could relax and dictate what we wanted everyone to do for us. 


I included how friends offered cars to us, and we got picky on which cars we liked the best. 


I started investigating other stories to write, and I learned that a neighbor of mine was the fiancé of Otis Wilson, a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, and that another player from a 1960s Bears winning team and his wife lived nearby.


I thought the story was from the women’s point of view. 


Both women consented to an interview. 


I compared the two women’s experiences and sent the story to my local newspaper.  


I got a call from the features editor, who asked me if I wanted to write as a freelancer for the paper.  


That started me on my journalism career.


SL: What is a typical writing day like for you?


JM: I go to my office by 8:30 Monday through Saturday and check the schedule of activities I wrote for myself the night before. 


I work on my assignments or my novel until noon, except on Monday when I attend the Monday Morning Shove via Zoom at 11am Eastern. 


I come back to my desk around 4pm to finish whatever writing I designated for that day. 


I finish by 5:30.


On Sundays I usually work on my novel or assignments in late afternoon.


SL: How did you decide to specialize in writing about women and adversity?


JM: Men get credit for accomplishments, but women are often overlooked.  


I wrote a list of my interests and realized I wanted to know how famous women, especially women writers, overcame the obstacles in their paths. 


I come from a family of women, my mother had four sisters and I have two, so I thought women should be recognized.


SL: How do you find primary and secondary sources for your articles for newspapers and magazines? 


JM: I do searches online to find out more about my topic and the person(s) I’m writing about.


I read published articles and contact people or topics mentioned in those articles when appropriate.


I call or email people where the subject of my story works. 


For example, recently I wrote about a woman who owns a window cleaning/commercial business cleaning company.


I knew of one company that hires her on a contract basis, so I called the business manager there and asked her some questions.


I find information on Facebook. 


Another recent story I was writing posted facts on Facebook about the event, so I got information there.


SL: What is the most difficult part of writing nonfiction for publication?


JM: Getting the facts correct. 


I contacted two people who were subjects of an event I covered recently to find out if what I wrote was accurate. 


It turned out I was given incorrect information to begin with. 


I was told one person was the chair of the event. NO. She was chair of a committee. 


Go to the source, confirm the facts and information.  


SL: What do you enjoy most about writing nonfiction?


JM: The broad scope of the topics I cover, and the people who have the information I need. 


The first assignment I ever got was on autism--which I knew nothing about—and I saw firsthand what autism is. 


I felt the emotion of the mother as she talked. 


I was riveted watching her son.


SL: Can you share a few self-editing tips for nonfiction writers?


JM: Reread and reread. 


Use the “Read Aloud” feature on your word processing program. 


Any questions about spelling, capitalization, usage? 




If you question something a person/s you interviewed said, call, text or email them to verify. 


SL: What writing projects are you working on right now?


JM: Two young women bought a building and turned it into a marketplace for vendors to sell their wares. 


A man sells his vinyl records, a photographer sells her photos, a nonprofit organization sells lightly used women’s accessories. 


There are about 10-15 vendors and a restaurant and bar. 


I want to know how they came to buy the building, why they wanted to have the marketplace, how their husbands reacted when they proposed the idea. 


I always look for stories to suggest to my editor.


I want to interview the president and CEO of a hospital, so I will propose that idea.  


I write the blog Women and Adversity and post twice a month, on the second and fourth Thursdays. 


I know. It should be more, but I tried more, and it wasn’t working. 


My post on Thanksgiving Day will be about Anne L’Huillier, who won the Nobel Prize for physics. 


I have already written about the other three women Nobelists. 


In December I will feature Friends Come to Call, the latest in the Tow Truck Murder Mysteries by Karen C. Whalen.  


It has a Christmas theme. 


The other post will be about Amy Vine, who sells wares in Michigan. 


I have a few more stories that are in the developing stages.


SL: What is your best overall tip for nonfiction writers?


JM: Besides being accurate with facts, including the correct spelling of people’s names--look around for stories. 


They surround us. 


What business just opened?  


What trends are grabbing teens? Young women? Older women? Men? 


People love humor.


Think of a humorous twist to a situation that will make people roar.


Sports are big.


Is there an ice skater, snow boarder, skier, swimmer who deserves recognition —especially if she or he is under 18 or over 50?   


SL: Where can we find out more about you and connect with you online?


JM: My website is www.jamathews.com


My blog is there, but a direct line is www.jamathews.com/blog


Jamathews124@gmail.com is a good contact.


Texting? 312-213-5638.

Jo Ann & Members of Her North Carolina Writers Group

For more author interviews and writing tips, visit writebythesea.com and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

Suzanne Lieurance is an award-winning author with over 40 published books and a writing coach. 

She lives and writes by the sea with her husband, Adrian, on Florida's beautiful Treasure Coast.


Build A Body of Work

By Terry Whalin 

Have you had golden moments of conversation which stick with you and your writing life for years? These may happen late at night during a writer’s conference or maybe in the car with someone on the way to a conference? During my decades in this business, I’ve had amazing opportunities and had numerous special conversations. 

Years ago, I was on the faculty of an East Coast writer’s conference and had several hours in a van to meet and get acquainted with a literary agent. It was early in my writing career, and he asked me, “What are you doing to build a body of work?” I’d never heard the term “body of work.” As we talked, I understood this agent was probing me for a long-term game plan in the writing world. At that time, I didn’t have a long-term plan and had written for a few magazines and published a couple of books. 

As writers, I find most of us are focused on publishing (or promoting) a single book or writing for a magazine. We are not thinking about building a body of work. This agent and I discussed our mutual friend, Jerry B. Jenkins who has written a variety of types of books but also published in print magazines. To build a body of work, it is important to intentionally be diverse. For example, I’ve written adult books but also children’s books. I’ve written for adult print magazines, but I also wrote a cover story for Clubhouse, a children’s magazine with Focus on the Family.

Early in my writing life, I began writing profiles of different bestselling authors. Some of my close writer friends questioned me about why I was doing this type of writing. I ignored the questions and continued writing these types of articles. I’ve interviewed over 150 bestselling authors and learned much more from each interview than I could possibly include in a 1200-to-1500-word article. I’m one of the few journalists who has interviewed Chuck Swindoll. Chuck told me, “There are no heroes in the Body of Christ. We are all like a bunch of guys in the back of a pick-up truck trying to get our stuff together.” Each one of these interviews brought great opportunity and helped me build my body of work. On another occasion, I was on the back lot of Disney Animation interviewing Glen Keane when he was drawing Beast in the film, Beauty and the Beast

For you to build a body of work, you will have to learn some key skills like how to write a query letter and how to write a book proposal.  When you learn the skill of writing these specialized tools, you can use them many times to pitch the editor, get an assignment then complete the writing on their deadline. When you are building a body of work as you are published more frequently, your reputation among the editors will increase which opens more doors and opportunities for your writing. 

The process of building a body of work doesn’t happen overnight but it is something every writer can do with their writing. What steps are you going to take to build a body of work?


Are you building a body of work? This prolific writer and editor encourages authors to take a long view in their writing life. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Authors: Why You Should Register Copyrights


Contributed by Margot Conner

Many writers are comfortable with the idea that copyrights are assigned to you as soon as you put your name to it. That is all fine as long as no one decides you are some little-known author, and they can copy your words into their own story. There are well-documented cases of this.

Unfortunately, you don’t own the legal right to use, possess, and give away the material you wrote unless it is registered with the copyright office. If you want undisputed ownership, in case of plagiarism, and the right to seek legal action in a court of law, you need to register a copyright with the Library of Congress.

This guarantees the return of your intellectual property if stolen. Or, in the case of its destruction, payment for it. It also gives you the possibility to prove you were the one who wrote it if someone else claims they are the author.

But here is the kicker… if an imposter goes to the U.S. Copyright Office before the true author and registers the work in their name, the true author will have to sue to invalidate the imposter's copyright. This is nearly impossible to win and would be very costly.

The "ownership" myth was destroyed in U.S. Supreme Court when the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation went up against WallStreet dot com in 2019. The outcome: an author cannot sue for copyright infringement unless their work has first been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Unless the work is registered you can't even sue to make someone take down the material they have plagiarized.

It doesn’t matter if you can prove you wrote something. Infringement on your rights is allowed. This court case effectively did away with the "copyright when you write it" concept that most authors believe in. If you cannot stop someone from plagiarizing your intellectual property the unregistered copyright means nothing.

Under section 506, criminal copyright infringement must demonstrate a valid copyright was infringed upon willfully and for the purposes of commercial or private financial gain.

OK, filing for a copyright can get expensive. But it is less costly than losing what you wrote or fighting a court battle that is maybe impossible to win without having that legal copyright.

I found a few ways to save money. If your writing a series, and you have the ability to wait until you complete all the books, then there is one cost to copyright them as a group, all at once. Otherwise, it will cost you $65 each time. 

You can register for a copyright at the Library of Congress: https://www.copyright.gov/registration/

This is my best advice: You will have lower fees for copyright if you belong to either the writer’s or authors' guild. They will also help authors in many other ways. I believe that the fee is between $10 and $25 to copyright through the Guilds.

Authors Guild: $135 a year, or $12 a month to be a member

•    Legal services
•    Free access to seminars, workshops and events
•    Resources list
•    Media insurance
•    Many others, including web services

The Emerging Writer level membership gives you a lot of bang for your buck and it takes much less to qualify. This membership level is only $9 (but no legal advice).

•    Traditionally published authors and illustrators with at least 1 published book in the U.S.
•    Self-published authors who have made at least $5,000 in the past 18 months from their writing
•    Freelance writers who have published 3+ pieces or made $5,000 in the past 18 months

Writers Guild: (expensive)

The Writers Guild is a labor union for film, radio, and television writers, composed of The Writers Guild of America East and The Writers Guild of America West. Both sites have much more in-depth information available, including eligibility requirements and dues.

Examples of Why You Should Register for Copyright of Your Work

Just to bring home the need for copyrights, take the following examples to heart.

Many famous authors who have the money to pay a good legal team get away with theft. Or the Publishers do. And some who plagiarize still go on to be successful, because their misdeeds are simply forgotten.

These examples were copied from several places. Source credits are in brackets.

Dan Brown: “The Da Vinci Code”
In 2006, Brown was accused of plagiarism by Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent. Then in 2007 author Jack Dunn sued Brown. The author went on to sue Brown for plagiarism two more times.
(Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/dan-brown-faces-possible-new-plagiarism-lawsuit-over-the-da-vinci-code-2017-10-18)

Alex Haley: “Roots: The Saga of An American Family”
Alex Haley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for his book. In 1978 Harold Courlander accused Haley of plagiarizing content from his book, “The African.” Haley ended up agreeing that he did use passages from Courlander’s book. The case was settled out of court.
(Source: https://medium.com/@hajiibrown/alex-haleys-roots-edf0be7bd0ac)

J.K. Rowling: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
Rowling was accused of plagiarizing parts of Adrian Jacob’s book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard.” The case was dismissed.
Then, “US author Nancy Stouffer alleged Rowling had taken material from her book The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, but without success.”
(Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/07/harry-potter-plagiarism-case-us-court)

Johnny Cash: “Folsom Prison Blues”
"Cash had lifted the melody from and much of the lyrics from a 1953 song “Crescent City Blues” by Gordon Jenkins." The case was settled for $75,000.
(Source: https://www.bcbe.org/cms/l“On February 19, 1981, ib/AL01901374/Centricity/Domain/739/Johnny%20Cash.pdf )

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord”
In 1971, Harrison was sued for “subconsciously plagiarizing’: The Chiffons‘ 1963 hit single ‘He’s So Fine.’
After a court battle, “Harrison was found guilty and had to pay $1,599,987 of the earnings from ‘My Sweet Lord’ to Bright Tunes.”
(Source: https://performingsongwriter.com/george-harrison-my-sweet-lord/)


Of course, there are other cases where someone becomes very successful and false claims are made to gain a big undeserved sum in a bogus court case. But even the unjustly accused will lose if they must spend their time to prove they are the rightful owner.

This happened to Taylor Swift recently. The case was thrown out of court. That is the other side of the coin. The lawsuit can be costly and stall a project. Being on either side is a waste of your time and money, so try to avoid all that stress by protecting yourself.


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/
@MargotConor (Facebook)

Journaling Goals

There are plenty of benefits to journaling from self-care and emotional wellbeing to problem solving and productivity. It's one of my favorite tools!

Last month on GoalChatLive, I discussed journaling with Jen Jones Donatelli, Creative Groove; Lynda Monk, director of the International Association for Journal Writing; and cartoonist Chari Pere. The panel shared their early journaling experiences, as well as thoughts on the value of a regular practice, options for journaling, and so much more.

Journaling Benefits

  • Lynda: Journaling helps you to know – and craft – who you truly are. It’s one thing to think our thoughts, it’s another to write them down. Plus, knowing yourself improves you relationships with others 
  • Jen: It gives you a reason to carve out time for yourself every day 
  • Chari: You get to say things to yourself that you wouldn’t necessarily say out loud 
  • Jen: Journaling also helps you track synchronicity 
  • Lynda: Manifestation happens when you think about what you want, write it down, and speak it

Journaling Goals

  • Chari: Pick one thing to write about: gratitude, a good deed, etc. Then, put a doodle next to it. The doodle should add to what you are writing 
  • Jen: Find ways to make your journaling routine really juicy: find your ideal spot, snack, or practice to make the entire experience enticing 
  • Lynda: Join a journaling community

Watch Our Conversation:

Final Thoughts

  • Jen: Give yourself some grace around your journaling practice 
  • Chari: Start by writing in 15 minutes sessions 
  • Lynda: Write about your thoughts and feelings, not just what you see and experience
How, when and what you journal about is up to you. Your journal. Your choice. Commit to setting journaling goals and enjoy the benefits that come from it!

* * * 

For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

* * *

What are your tips for creating courses? Please share in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

What Authors Need to Know to Avoid Vital Front Matter Booboos


To WritersontheMove Blog Subscribers and Visitors:

2023 has been a celebratory year for the release of the third edition of The Frugal Editorthe winningest book in my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, and I don’t want to let the year pass without sharing part of what my publisher says is approximately 50% new material in this edition.

He also says, “We really overachieved on this book. There's nothing within a mile of it in terms of scope and depth.” One of the reasons for such praise is the inclusion of information on front matter that is as likely to assure a great first impression for a book as a great cover and one that books on editing or publishing rarely cover. So today’s blog post (see below) is what you need to know regardless of the publishing process you have chosen for your book.

The new Frugal Editor also covers the magical properties of back matter including increased readership and book sales but it’s way too long for a blog post. Find the frugal e-copy of the book at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXQL27T/!)

An Excerpt from the Third Edition of The Frugal Editor

What Authors Need to Know to Avoid Vital Front Matter Booboos

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning
 HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

Because I am a book marketer and an English Lit major, I love front matter where I often find unexpected information, but when I am reading for entertainment, I hardly notice it. Readers tend to pay little attention to front matter unless we have a reason to do so but industry gatekeepers are pickier. That includes the professional reviewers both authors and publishers want to impress.

Front matter mistakes or intentional deviation from the norm are not as readily forgiven as those in back matter. The easy way to make sure yours is in the realm of industry standards is to request Gorham Printing’s beautifully organized, free Guidebook: Adventures in Publishing, Explore Book Printing. Though I include a long list of both front and back matter elements later in this chapter, Gorham gives you a basic (safe!) order for frontmatter fundamentals for paper books:

1.     Title Page

2.     Copyright Page (lefthand page)

3.     Dedication

4.     Contents (begins on the righthand page)

5.     List of Figures or Tables. In this book, “The Frugal Editor’s Extras” list in the front matter is a cousin to these lists in an effort to make finding information easier for readers much like table or figure lists do. Use it as an example of a way to deviate with your own idea for “extras”in your book.

6.     Foreword 

7.     Preface

8.     Acknowledgements

9.     Introduction

Note: Gorham’s list doesn’t mention a prologue. I like them when they come just before the first chapter in books of fiction, meaning nothing—absolutely nothing but a chapter title—should intervene!

Gorham’s book is a great tutorial that includes their printing costs for books from hardcover to spiral books (often used for the likes of cookbooks). You’ll find a couple more front matter considerations below.

No matter how you plan to publish, you may think of a good reason to deviate from what appears to be acceptable among publishers. If your research inspires an idea for front or back matter that might benefit readers or help to sell more books, you might negotiate with a traditional publisher to accommodate your idea rather than stick to their company-wide style guidelines. I remember a fine publisher had included a short paragraph highlighting their use of a font style that was especially appropriate for the topic of that specific book on one of its front matter pages. 

If you are self-publishing, know what rules you are breaking. Ask yourself if doing so would be welcomed by your readers and if it might attract the ire of a publishing industry professional. Ask yourself if the pluses outweigh the negatives or if you would feel comfortable saving your creative idea for a time when you are so experienced and established that your idea is likely to be accepted and emulated regardless of how brazen it is.

Of course, you can always choose a few books from your library or browse newly released books from publishers you admire at your favorite bookstore, too. Be sure to look at some of the best known books in the same genre as yours. This little exercise might convince you that your title can accommodate a little daring-do!

Here are some other less frequently used front matter components I promised you including the use of two title pages. What, you never noticed a second title page? They can be handy for keeping a nice, open layout with all the sections that should be on the left page where they belong. They are called the title page and the half-title page. Old-timers call title pages other than the first bastard title pages. In those pre politically-correct days, they were abbreviated versions of the title page that could be torn out before the book was bound. One defense for the keeping the practice is that authors can sign and personalize one page and the book still has one left untouched. Another is that an additional title page can separate the book’s text from long and complex frontmatter. The setup of a book’s frontmatter might be part of your publisher’s style guidelines and be nonnegotiable. If the frontmatter is quite long, there may even be a third title page just before the body of the book begins.

Note: An excellent example of a book that departs from frontmatter standards in ways that benefit both book and reader is Behind the Bears Ears: Exploring the Cultural and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape by R. E. Burillo (Torrey House Press, 2020). It includes a map of Bears Ears National Monument (US), an anthropologic timeline, and probably breaks some norms for the length of its introduction. This 407-page book also uses back matter effectively.


10.  Warning: Don’t neglect your acknowledgements page. There are ways it can be used effectively for both pre-promotion and general marketing. It is spelled Acknowledgements. With a d, please. Even very good editors can overlook a misspelling of this word, at least in part because they don’t bother to peruse front and back matter. “Foreword” is often misspelled, too. Don’t leave the out! Your spellchecker may not catch it!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson started what she considers her “real writing” career when most are thinking of retiring. She brings her experience as publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, retailer, and the author of those books published almost every way possible including traditionally, to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. She blogs at https://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com and https://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com.

Your Children's Story and the Message

 By Karen Cioffi, Children's Writer

I get a lot of clients who want to tell children something through a book.

These people want to send a message in hopes of teaching the reader something … something the author thinks is important.

People who want to write children’s stories usually want to teach and enlighten children, whether it's about bullying, being yourself, being kind, or something else.

This is a noble endeavor - the problem, though, is children don’t want to be told what they should or shouldn’t do. They want a story that they can get involved in, one they want to turn the pages to find out what happens next, and one they can connect with the main character.

The ‘icing on the cake’ is what the reader takes away from the book, the takeaway value.

So as an author, how do you get your message across without hitting kids over the head?

To start, the story should be about something kids will want to read about. And it should not overtly be about the message.

I recently read a client’s manuscript that flooded the story with the author’s message. Nothing was subtle.

So how do you tone down your message to weave it seamlessly and subtly into your story?

One way, if you’re writing a story because of a message you have, is to think of a scenario where your message could play out.

Your message or moral takeaway may be about doing the right thing, even if tempted.

Suppose the story is about Sammy, a kid who’s basically honest.

Sammy and his friends find a bag of money on a shelf in the garage of an elderly neighbor they’re cleaning the garage for.

It’s a lot of money, and Josh wants to split the money between himself, Sammy, and another friend.

After thinking about it for a minute, Sammy tells Josh to put the money back.

A few seconds later, the elderly neighbor walks into the garage.

Sammy was tempted. He probably thought all sorts of things before finally realizing it was wrong.

Nowhere in the story should it say, ‘Crime doesn’t pay.’ 

Let the reader come up with their own conclusions.

If the story is written right, the reader will get the takeaway value without realizing they are … without the author hitting them over the head with it.

A story that takes the protagonist on a journey should result in him growing in some way.

Using Sammy above as an example, maybe he wasn’t sure what to do under those circumstances. Maybe he thought about being dishonest in the past. Maybe he struggled with his honesty in little things.

He chose the right path and learned something about himself. He was an honest kid.

Again, your young reader wants a good story. They want to go on a journey – messaging should not be a part of that journey.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, rewriter, and coach. If you need help with your story, click HERE.

Karen also offers authors:

A guided self-study course and mentoring program.

A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

Self-publishing help for children’s authors.

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