Facebook Author Parties/Events and Why We Do Them

Over the summer, I participated in a Facebook event unlike any I had ever been to before. It was an online Women’s Fiction Summer Party. A collection of women’s fiction authors banded together to hold a Facebook event that lasted several hours (5!). By cross-promoting the event, these authors were helping each other to increase their fanbase and mailing lists.

This same group of authors is hosting their next event, a Facebook Author Holiday Party on November 7, 2017. So, if you want to see this phenomenon in action, check it out!

The idea seemed ingenious to me and was one I wanted to learn more about, so I contacted one of the participating authors, Patricia Sands, to see if she’d be willing to fill me in on the process behind the event a bit more. After spending a lovely hour talking with her, I knew I wanted to share this information with you as well, so I asked her to write today’s guest blog post–the first ever on the Emerald Lake Books website!

So, without further ado, here’s Patricia’s feedback on how to hold a successful Author Party on Facebook for your fans.

The key ingredient to success is organization.

After being a novelist for eight years, I have learned many lessons about interactions on Facebook with readers. The bottom line is that writers and readers all benefit from opportunities to connect with each other. Make them fun!

Facebook author events are always chaotic with many conversation threads going at the same time. It is essential to refresh your page regularly to keep up with the chat. Some people actually follow along on a second device, such as an iPad, phone, or another computer. I have not mastered that technique yet!

The Setup

There are Author Assistants (AA) who offer services to manage such an event. In my opinion, this assistance and experience are crucial to the success of the party. What our AA offers us is priceless. She helps put together graphics and makes suggestions with regard to the theme.

To participate in the event, each author commits to be present at a specific time and to provide at least one giveaway as a raffle prize for the readers.

Once all the authors are on board, the AA sets up a Google document or Excel spreadsheet. Each author enters their information into the spreadsheet, including desired time slot, name, giveaways, questions they want asked, website, Rafflecopter links, etc.

Facebook Author Event promo exampleWe typically have a theme for each Facebook author event (usually seasonal, for example, Summer Party) so our AA can prepare promotional graphics for us.

Each author shares about the event through all their social media platforms. We may even send a “save the date” message out first.

Our event is also cross-promoted as a Goodreads event. However, we hold off on serious promotions until a week before the event. At that time, each author invites all their “friends” on Facebook and Goodreads.

The Event

During the event, each author has a half-hour time slot (or whatever works based on the length of the party and number of authors) to be featured to the attendees. (Scheduling consideration is given for different time zones.)

The AA introduces each author at the appropriate time, including posting an author photo and book covers as well as other basic information about:

  • the author
  • the book being promoted at the party
  • their giveaway.

Ebooks and paperbacks are the standard prizes for giveaways. However, everyone makes an effort to add more creative prizes, from something as simple as Amazon gift cards or book bags to coffee mugs and candles.

At our last party, since my book was set in France, the biggest prize I gave away was a box of macarons (cookies) from France. It was a big hit.

For each giveaway, a question is posted by the author, always accompanied by a photo of something relating to the topic. The more fun you can make it, the better.

The AA monitors everything, keeping track of participants and winners. She comes in at the appointed times to introduce the next author and keeps everything to the established timeline.

The AA also sets up a Rafflecopter raffle, which fans must enter to be eligible for the BIG prize (established by the authors) and tasks must be completed to enter (such as subscribe to newsletter, “like” certain social media pages, “follow” on pages, etc.) Often the authors will all kick in an agreed amount for the “big” prize…say ten authors will each contribute $10 to offer a $100 gift card. Or $20 each and have a few smaller gift cards as well.

The After-Party

At the end of the event, the AA sends an email to the authors with contact information for the winners and a separate document with all of the new names.

Authors also go back into the event once it’s over and “like” any new person who attended.

Our experience with these events has been positive. We try to maintain meaningful topics for our questions that allow readers to tell us something about themselves, rather than us doing the talking. Each author attempts to respond to every comment posted on their threads…although this is not always possible when there is a high attendance.

The key thing is to make it fun, sincere and interesting…with good giveaways.

Patricia Sands, authorBestselling author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else, and calls the south of France her second home. I Promise You This, Book 3 in her award-winning Love in Provence trilogy, was published May 17, 2016. Her next novel, Drawing Lessons, was released by Lake Union Publishing on October 1, 2017.

Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author PageAmazon Author Page or her website. There are links to her books, social media, and a monthly newsletter that has special giveaways, photography from France, and sneak peeks at her next book. She loves hearing from readers.

Patricia is represented by Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency.

What to Look for in an Endorsement

Before the design work on your book can be completed, we want to incorporate any endorsements you have secured for your book. The earlier we have these, the better, since there are design decisions that have to be made regarding the use of your endorsements.

For example, do we include one (or a fragment of one) on the front cover? On the back cover, do we use more endorsements or an author bio? How many pages of endorsements do we include inside the book?

Endorsements can be a compelling part of what convinces a reader who doesn’t know you to try your book.

Elements of a Book Endorsement

Therefore, a well-written book endorsement consists of a few different elements.

  • It typically consists of 1-3 sentences of clear and concise information that recommends your book to prospective readers. You’re not looking for a novel here. Just a few sentences that can easily be repurposed in marketing materials as well. If the endorser has more to say, ask them to use the lengthier version of their endorsement as a review on Amazon. But for the book itself, you just want 1-3 sentences.
  • It includes a specific call-to-action. For example, in this review left on Amazon for John Suscovich’s Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans, the endorser instructs the reader to “read it twice and build it.” The call-to-action is clear, specific and actionable.

I can’t say enough good things about this chicken tractor design, John really did his homework. It’s well worth the price, read it twice and build it.

  • The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books by Tara R. Alemany - endorsement exampleIt uses creative language that catches the attention of the reader. Sometimes that language echoes a key point of the book or its title. Other times, it’s just eye-catching because it’s unexpected. For example, for The Plan that Launched a Thousand Books, we prominently featured an endorsement from global business celebrity, Jeffery Hayzlett, on the front cover because it was exactly what we wanted a prospective reader to hear.

I have two best sellers under my belt and I wish I had read this book before I had written them. This would have saved me a lot of TIME and MONEY. A big help to a new author!

Want to see some examples for inspiration? Here’s a good assortment of endorsements that contain the elements outlined above. They’ve for a book called Take Their Breath Away.

Who to Ask for Endorsements

Usually, you want to ask for endorsements from individuals who are an authority of some kind, whether it’s because of name recognition or a title that’s visible. Oftentimes, they are in the same industry the book is related to, but not always.

There are rare occasions when you may use an endorsement from someone who isn’t well known, simply because the endorsement itself is powerful. For instance, when a client has gotten amazing results based on what you teach in your book, sharing that as an endorsement can be an effective marketing tool. Prospective readers will be able to relate to the desire for better results and want to repeat the success of your client.

So, as you consider who to ask to endorse your book, think about a good cross-section of people. They may be influencers in your industry, peers or colleagues who have a similar target market, or even clients. Ideally, you want to ask those people who are your raving fans, because their energy and enthusiasm will shine through in what they write for you.

As for how to ask for an endorsement, we go into detail in Sample Support Requests.

How Many Endorsements Are Enough?

There isn’t a magic number of endorsements to have. It’s more about the quality than the quantity. One well-worded, powerful and impactful endorsement can do more for your marketing than a dozen weak, lukewarm testimonials.

So as you decide who to ask and which endorsements to use, think about it from the viewpoint of a prospective reader.

  • Is the endorsement understandable and relatable?
  • Is the endorser someone I recognize or might want to emulate?
  • Is the language engaging and motivating?
  • Is the call-to-action clear?

If you can answer “yes” to each of these questions for the endorsement you’re evaluating, then it’s a good candidate to be used with the book.

We usually wait until we have all the endorsements back in order to rank them according to how impactful they are. The phrase or name that stands out the most to us typically goes on the cover somewhere, assuming the design allows for it.

The rest of the endorsements can fill a few pages in the front matter of the book.

If there are more endorsements than we want to use in the book itself or we receive some “really good ones” after we’ve already moved into production with the book, then we reserve the others to be used on marketing materials or on the author’s website. They can also be used in the book listing descriptions themselves.

As a rule of thumb, we typically try to have 2-4 pages of endorsements inside the book with 2-4 endorsements per page depending on their length, and 1 or 2 endorsements on the cover itself, which may be fragments pulled from the best endorsements used inside the book.

However, we don’t force it. We’d rather have fewer endorsements than to use poor ones.

And if we get a large number of raving reviews, we don’t limit ourselves either. John Suscovich’s launch team had so much to say that we included 6 pages of the best testimonials he received simply because people loved what he’d created and they were achieving great success as a result of following his plans. Raving fans are an author’s greatest joy.

Where to Use Endorsements

There are so many ways to use endorsements, and we’ve mentioned a few of them within the context of this article. But here is a consolidated list with a few other ideas thrown in.

  • Front cover
  • Back cover
  • Inside the book
  • Book listing descriptions
  • Website
  • Bookmarks
  • Social media
  • Launch team materials
  • Speaker banner
  • Press releases

And be sure to ask your endorsers to add their testimonial as a review on your book listing as well.

Sample Support Requests

Sometimes asking someone for help can feel awkward, making it difficult to figure out what to say. If you’re stuck getting started, here are some ideas and sample requests you can model your own emails after.

Of course, if the person you’re reaching out to is someone you know well, then these examples will only serve to remind you which details you need to share with them. They don’t need to be as formal and linear as they need to be when you’re talking with someone you have a more professional relationship with.


Influencers are people you want for endorsements and to be part of your launch team. Their name recognition and authority can go a long way in driving a successful launch for you. Before you ask for your support, though, make sure that you are 100% prepared and respectful both of their time and reputation. The easier you make it for them to support you, the more likely they will if they can.

That means giving them as much time as possible to read your material, highlighting one or two chapters you think would be especially of interest to them. In your request, you might also offer to write two or three sample endorsements for them to consider and make their own or a theme you’d like them to touch on.

For example, when I asked Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, to endorse The Best is Yet to Come, I asked him to specifically touch on the message of hope offered within the book. With all the other endorsements I’d received thus far, no one had mentioned it and it’s an important theme to the book.

The resulting endorsement read:

This book is about finding hope against all odds, even in the darkest of situations. We all face pain, disappointments, heartaches and struggles in life that can sometimes lead down a seemingly hopeless path of deep devastation; yet Tara shows us there is always hope. Through brave and inspiring honesty about her own difficult personal experiences, she shows us that hope is always within our grasp if we make the choice to embrace it and that, no matter our situation, the best really can be yet to come.

Ivan Misner, Ph.D., NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of BNI®

So as you write your own request for an influencer’s support with your book launch, here’s an example of what you might want to say:

Dear <Name>,

Thank you for the work that you’ve done in <their chosen field>. As I’ve followed you online, I’ve learned <share some key things they’ve taught you> from you. And I’m truly grateful.

I’m writing today because I’m hoping that you might be willing to support me a little further.

My new book, <Title>, is being released on <Date>.

I was hoping you might be willing to take a look at it and possibly offer an endorsement for it, if you like what you see.

I’ve attached a pre-release copy. Chapter <x> on <subject> may resonate with you because <reason why>.

I know that your time is limited. But if you’d be willing to take a look and let me know if you’re able to help, I’d appreciate it. If I don’t hear from you by <date>, I’ll reach out to you again, just to make sure you received this message.

If it makes things any easier, I can provide a couple of sample endorsements I’d love to receive and that you can modify to make your own.

Either way, thanks for all that you do!


<Your name>

If they agree to endorse your book, then when they send their endorsement, you may choose at that time to ask if they’d be willing to also post it on Amazon as well. If you do that, be sure to provide a direct link so that it’s as easy as possible for them to say “yes” to.

If your book listing isn’t up yet, then save this step for a later date. At that time, write to them letting them know that the release date is approaching and that you appreciate their endorsement of the book. Provide them with their endorsement text again (don’t expect them to remember where they put it) and a link to the listing, asking them if they’d be willing to post it on Amazon for you.

As your launch date approaches, you may choose to reach out to them with information about the resources you’re providing your launch team and asking if they’d be willing to participate as well.

If you ask for all three things up front in the same email, it will feel overwhelming and they’ll be less likely to say, “Yes,” if they don’t know you. By “stepping” the request, they can bow out at any time, but whatever help they do give you will be beneficial to your launch.


It is very important to have a strategy in place that drives book reviews. This goes beyond what you print in or on the book. It starts first with reviews on your book listings on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Shelfari and others. But it also includes bloggers, podcasts and more.

The focus of this particular outreach letter is to ask for reviews on book listings. The reason we’re starting there is because these reviews have the greatest potential to sway buying decisions.

Think about it like this…

When you go to the grocery store, the items nearest the checkout are frequently low-ticket items purchased as an impulse buy.

The closer you are to the point of purchase, the more likely a positive impression will tip the scales in your favor.

In addition, you can influence Amazon’s search algorithm and increase the likelihood of them promoting your title in their newsletters if you have a substantial number of reviews and a solid sales rank. Ideally, you want at least 50 reviews. 100 is preferable. The more you have, the more momentum you build and marketing your book simply becomes that much easier.

Reviewers don’t have to be people you know or who are familiar with your work. They simply must be people interested in your subject matter.

I’ll write more in future about how to get reviews using social media, but for this post, I’m going to focus on sending an email to someone you know to ask for a review.

Here’s a sample you can use as a template for your own message:

Hi, <Name>.

I hope you are doing well.

I’m writing because I have something I’m hoping you’d be interested in helping me with. My new book, <Title>, is coming out on <Date>. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really excited about it.

I need to find reviewers for it, though. The more reviews I have on the book listing when it launches, the better off I’ll be.

Would you be interested in reading it and leaving an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or whatever other review site you like to use?

I can send you a pre-release digital copy if you’re interested.

I’m hoping to have as many reviews as possible already on the listing page by the launch date. But even if you can add it within the first month after its release, I’d appreciate it.

Let me know if you’re interested or not.


<Your name>

Some authors include an incentive in the message as well. For example, they might offer to send a printed copy of the book once it’s released or to offer bonus material.

Whether you offer an incentive or not is up to you. But if you have the resources to do it, it’s a nice acknowledgment of their time and effort.

Keep in mind, though, that you cannot offer to pay for a review, good, bad or indifferent. You’re seeking honest reviews, so you don’t want to make the mistake of giving the impression of bribing anyone.

While it takes a bit more proactive management, you may decide not to mention any incentive at all when requesting a review, but then circle back around after they’ve given one to send them a “thank you” gift of some kind. Acknowledging their time and effort is important, even if it’s only to say “thank you.”


Last, but certainly not least, are your peers. If you have colleagues who serve in the same industry or collaborators whose target market is the same as yours, having them introduce you to their following can expose you to a whole new audience already interested in what you have to share.

Depending on your relationship with your peer, this request can take many different forms.

You might want them to partner with you on a joint venture. For instance, perhaps you know someone whose own book is intended for the same reader. Why not bundle them together as a special promotion and offer both titles to each of your audiences for a discounted price?

Or perhaps they have a webinar or podcast that you could be a guest on that allows you to highlight the topic of your book and make a special offer to their audience?

Or maybe they’d be interested in an affiliate deal where they can sell copies of your book and earn a percentage of the proceeds.

There are plenty of ways that this can play out, so I’m not going to provide a sample email here.

Needless to say,  you’re going to want to demonstrate that you know who they are, what audience you share, why your material is beneficial to them and their audience, and what you propose doing together.

It may take some imagination, but it’s where the fun comes in. People helping people. You win. Your peer wins. And your shared audience wins.

Launch Team

Influencers, clients and peers all are welcome additions to any launch team.

Typically, you’ll ask people you know fairly well to support you. Or you may not know them at all, like your followers, but they feel they know you and they love what you do.

Either way, the “ask” here is fairly simple. You want to communicate your excitement about the book and its value to your readers. And you want to assure your launch team members that you’ll be making it as easy as possible for them to support you.

We often put together a page of content they can use with sample status updates, shareable images, links to book listings, contact information in case they have questions and more.

It also includes our launch schedule and various ways that they can support the process.

Here’s an example of what that email might look like.

Dear <Name>,

I can hardly believe it! My new book, <Title>, is almost finished. It’ll be released on <date>.

This book is for <intended audience>.

I’ve put a lot of my heart and soul into this book, and I’m excited to finally have it see the light of day. It’s going to <positive impact>.

I was wondering if you’d like to be part of my launch team? If you’re interested, you can sign up here: <URL>.

You’ll receive a PDF of the book so that you can enjoy it too, along with a link to a page with sample status updates, shareable images, links to the book listings, contact info for my publisher in case you have questions and more.

I know some people are very busy. So we kept things as simple as possible. Our status updates are designed so that you can prefill your social media calendar (like Hootsuite, Buffer or PostPlanner) and let it run on autopilot if you want. Or you can participate regularly in the different activities taking place.

I’m hoping that you’ll help me build a buzz about the book. So if you’re interested, please join my launch team here: <URL>.

I’d really appreciate it!


<Your Name>

Identifying Your Source Files

Are you considering republishing your book with Emerald Lake Books? Perhaps it’s time for a second (third or fourth) edition? Or you haven’t received the results or support from your current publisher and it’s time for a change?

Whatever your reason, Emerald Lake Books does periodically take on titles for republication if they’re a good fit for our catalog.

If this is a move you’re considering, here are a few things you should know.

  1. Before republishing your title, check your existing contract to make sure that you have retained non-exclusive rights to your work.
  2. Carefully read through the agreement to discern whether there are any potential issues with your intended move, and what the procedures are to obtain the source files for your book. Oftentimes, a nominal fee is charged because the publisher will have to update the source files to remove all references to their ISBN and publishing house.
  3. Be prepared to wait as long as a month to get your source files, sometimes longer if the publishing house you’re leaving is in a state of turmoil or upheaval.

Understanding Source Files

So what exactly is a source file and why do you need it?

HTML Source FileThe source files for the interior of your book are often maintained in Word, InDesign or some less common publishing-related software. The cover may be designed in InDesign or Photoshop or other image-related software, and that’s a separate file (or set of files) from the interior.

A simple text-based book may consist of only two source files, one for the interior and another for the cover.

However, more complicated titles that involve more design work or have a larger number of images may consist of dozens, even hundreds, of files that work together as a package. When books are designed using InDesign, there are often content files, link files, document fonts, style sheets and more that combine together to create the finished result.

Whether there are 2 files or 200, these are the files that the publisher used to create the interior layout for your book as well as the cover.

From the source files, the publisher often will create a PDF to present to the printer and to you. PDFs ensure that there are no unintended shifts in font or design as the file moves from one computer to another.

So, the latest copy you have of your book is often the PDF that you were given as a proof or galley for review. Or possibly you received a subsequent updated, final version after your approval. However, this PDF is not a source file and cannot easily be used to republish your work. (It’s not impossible. It’s just limiting and far from ideal.)

Source Files at Emerald Lake Books

At Emerald Lake Books, the interiors of our titles are designed either in Word or InDesign, depending on the complexity of the project. For us to republish your work at minimal cost to you, we would need the original source files in Word or InDesign. That way, we can make the necessary changes to update the publisher references and assign a new ISBN to your book.

That’s not to say that we can’t create new source files from the PDF that you have. But the costs associated with republishing your book will be higher since we have to effectively redesign the layout.

Therefore, whenever it’s possible, it’s in your best interest to obtain the source files from your previous publisher if you can. All you need to do is request the source files from them, comply with their procedures for obtaining them, and then provide the source files to us using DropBox or HighTail‘s free file transfer service, whichever is easier for you.

It should be noted that having the source files is not the only factor in the costs associated with republishing your work. We do have a set of design and content standards that must be met as well. Assuming your book meets our criteria, the process should be a simple and fairly straightforward one. However, if our evaluation reveals that the design or content are not up to our standards, we will provide you with an estimate that clearly outlines the costs involved to meet those standards.

Second Chances

Once the stress of having to choose a new publisher has passed, many authors start getting excited about the prospect of republishing their work. They often take advantage of the transition to a new publisher to add new content, fix errors that got passed them the first time, improve their cover design, or to change or revise outdated content. They also view it as a second chance at the book launch and all that they wished they’d done differently the first time.

So while no one ever wants to be put in the position of having to find a new publisher, if you embrace the experience, it can be a fun and rewarding one with the right publishing partner.

Everything You Need to Know About Editing

Types of Editing

There are four levels of editing.

Proofreading is the lightest, where someone essentially is reading for glaring errors. Oftentimes, you can use beta readers for this purpose. Essentially, you’re asking early readers to read your book before publication to point out any missed typos or errors.

Next is line editing, where grammar and punctuation are specifically checked to ensure they are accurate and meet style guide standards.

After that is content or copy editing, where grammar and punctuation are reviewed in addition to clarity. In other words, you’re asking the editor to tell you whether “this makes sense.”

Lastly is development editing. It includes all of the above but also assesses whether your book as a whole flows in a way that achieves your objectives for the reader and doesn’t contradict itself or make too broad a jump.

A Note About Ghostwriting

Beyond these forms of editing, there is ghostwriting. In that instance, you give your ghostwriter all the information they need to write the material for you. This is a highly specialized skill and the fees associated with it reflect that. Some ghostwriters only accept 2 or 3 projects a year because of the level of effort required to accurately capture the author’s voice as well as present their material–to take on any more would mean they couldn’t do any of them exceedingly well. For that reason, you’ll see prices for ghostwriting range dramatically based on the experience and expertise of the writer. I know some ghostwriters who will write a full-length book for $10,000 and one who is at the top of his field who charges $130,000 per book.

Where to Find Editors

Sometimes authors tell us that the book they are considering publishing with us has already been edited, so they won’t need that service when we publish their work.

While we are happy to accept someone else’s editing, the material does have to pass our standards for publication. And that sometimes means we need to re-do the edit.

What we find out in those instances, oftentimes, is that the author found someone on Fiverr or they hired a friend who is an English teacher. While this may cut costs, it’s not always a viable solution.

You want to find a book editor if you’re working on a manuscript or an academic editor if you’re working on articles, academics or essays. They use different style guides (Chicago Manual of Style vs American Psychological Association) to determine what’s acceptable practice. These people keep up with the changes to the style guides and make sure that currently accepted practices are being used.

While we love and adore English teachers, it’s uncommon for them to keep up with the latest changes in the industry.

Editing is one of the services we offer at Emerald Lake Books. But, should you be looking for additional resources to explore, try visiting:

In both of these organizations, you’ll find a mix of editors, so look for those who offer the kind of editing you need for the type of writing you’re doing.

Pricing for Editing

When it comes to pricing for an editor, the standard practice is to charge per word, although some charge per page or per hour. The “per word” rate is a much more concrete number than the others, so it’s softer on the budget.

However, if you are considering working with an editor who charges per page, make sure you know what size they consider a “page.” (Or ask for the average word count of a page.) If the editor you are considering charges per hour, find out how many words per hour they edit on average.

Other Things to Note

Many editors will do a sample edit for you, where you give them an agreed-upon number of words and they return it edited, so that you can determine if you’re a good match for each other.

When you write a book, the two most significant places to spend money are on cover design and editing. One gets people to look more closely at your book, while the other forms an impression of how valuable what you have to say is. You can have the best advice in the world to share, but if it’s poorly written, it won’t be perceived as worthwhile.

This is especially important if you want to sell significant quantities of your book or use it as a business-building tool, because the quality of your book then reflects the quality of your business.

What is a BISAC subject?

When you assign an ISBN to a book, you will need to determine the book’s most suitable categories. These categories should match or be similar to its BISAC subjects.

First, let’s get that acronym out of the way. BISAC stands for “Book Industry Standards and Communications.”

Next, it’s important to understand the purpose and application of BISAC subjects. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) created this list to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information between businesses within the North American book industry. This includes Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Bookscan, Bowker, Indiebound, Indigo, Ingram and most major publishers. Even some libraries use a book’s BISAC subject to make it easier for patrons to find books.

A committee within BISG is responsible for creating a hierarchy of topics, breaking them down into sub-categories. While they don’t provide a description for what topics belong in every subject, they do create usage notes for the BISAC Subject Headings (the highest level of the hierarchy of codes).

You can access the complete list of BISAC subjects here. The list starts at the top level of the hierarchy. As you drill down into the subjects (the “parent”), you’ll find a variety of related subcategories (the “child”).

Every entry in the hierarchy has both a code and a name. This information does not need to appear anywhere on or in your book (as a matter of fact, we recommend that you don’t include it in your book), but it’s often used when creating an online book listing. Some online retailers will request the BISAC code while others ask for your book category. They represent the same information.

Optimizing Your BISAC Subject

When identifying suitable categories for a book, one of the strategies we use at Emerald Lake Books is to select child categories from different parents. This gives the title more exposure.

For example, when we published The 143rd in Iraq, we selected a BISAC category in History and another in Biography.

When we published Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans, we selected a parent category of Business & Money because one of the subcategories is Agriculture. We also chose Science & Math because Sustainable Agriculture is a child category there. And, given that it is a set of plans for constructing mobile chicken housing, we included the book in Engineering & Transportation as well.

You can’t afford to be dismissive of this process. An improperly classified title can significantly impact how quickly new readers find your work. We actually spend quite a bit of time understanding a new title’s audience so we can determine its best categories.

The categories can be changed later if you find they aren’t working for you. As a matter of fact, that’s a strategy we employ to give our titles even greater visibility, especially within Amazon.

Since we don’t include the BISAC subject on the physical book anywhere, we can change categories as often as we’d like. Therefore, we can target Amazon categories with very low competition, ranking the title quickly in that category, which impacts Amazon’s algorithm and gives the title more visibility. Once we’ve created that visibility, we can tackle a more competitive category.

In retail stores, shop owners will use the BISAC subject to determine on which shelf your title belongs. So you always want to make sure that whichever categories you choose, you are selecting those that will make sense to the reader. This is just one more reason why knowing your ideal reader for a title is so imperative.

As a result, part of your on-going strategy for marketing your book should include periodically re-evaluating and adjusting the BISAC subject you are using to maximize the exposure of your book.

What is a LCCN or Library of Congress Control Number?

The Library of Congress has a program called the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program. Its purpose is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s collections.

Once the book is published, these preassigned control numbers become “Library of Congress Control Numbers” or LCCNs. Strictly speaking, the LCCN is the control number for the bibliographic record entered into the Library’s database, not for the book itself.

However, libraries use the Library of Congress database, as well as other databases, to stay up-to-date on available titles, and the only way they will find your book is if it has a bibliographic record listed in the Library’s catalog.

When an LCCN is assigned to a title, the publisher adds it to the copyright page of the book. This number is then referenced in the Library of Congress database so that libraries know it exists.

It is important to note that there is no relationship between applying for an LCCN and copyright registration. They are two different programs entirely.

Unfortunately, the LCCN isn’t something that most authors even know to ask for. Yet it’s something that all libraries use. So by not requesting one, authors often miss the opportunity to have their books discovered by libraries.

Unlike ISBNs, which retailers and distributors rely upon, libraries use the LCCN to identify a title, not a format of the book. The version you apply the LCCN to should be your “best version.” Meaning that if you have a hardcover version, apply it to that. If not, apply it to your paperback. If you lack that format as well, then apply it to your eBook. As a result, you only need one LCCN as opposed to ISBNs, where you need one for each format of your title (excluding Kindle versions).

And also unlike ISBNs, LCCNs are free.

It typically takes about a week to get the number assigned, although depending on the time of year and current demand, it can take significantly less time (we’ve received them in as little as 2 days) or much longer if there’s a backlog of current applications for numbers (like around the holidays).

To apply for an LCCN, you start by creating an account at http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/newaccount.html and following the prompts. It can take one to two weeks before your account is issued, so make sure that you account for that in your book launch planning. It’s best to apply early and have it for when you’ll need it than to wait until the last minute and be held up by not having it.

Once your account is issued, you log in to the system and provide all of the relevant information about your book.

While we typically apply our ISBNs very early in the publishing process here at Emerald Lake Books, filing for an LCCN is done much later in the process. The reason is, for the LCCN application, you need to specify things like the approximate page count, trim size and a few other things that we may still be adjusting very late in the design stage.

Therefore, in an effort to be as accurate as possible, we wait until all edits are done and the interior design is fairly complete before filing for it.

However, since it belongs on the copyright page of the book, it’s something we must be sure is completed before we send the book off to the printers.

It’s also very important to note that once you’ve published the best version of your book, you are required to mail a copy of it to the Library of Congress for cataloging and inclusion in the Library.

Submitting your book to the Library does not guarantee it will be cataloged, but if you don’t submit it, you can be certain it won’t be!

Unfortunately, the Library doesn’t respond to status updates, so the only way to tell if your title has been accepted into the catalog is to periodically check the Library of Congress Online Catalog.