Posted by: Debrah Martin | April 3, 2016

Dotting the i’s and traversing the BISACS

mountain pathNot a new kind if dance or an extreme kind of Himalayan trek, although at times it may feel as difficult, uploading your book to either Amazon Createspace or Ingram Spark. This is a back to basics kind of post therefore to tackle some of the trickier bits. Setting up an account on either Createspace/Amazon KDP, Ingram or any of the publishing platforms I’ve mentioned so far is pretty easy. It’s what come after that is more difficult. Not uploading interior files, or covers. Not writing a good book description (although that IS difficult but there’s plenty of guidance on this in WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE  at Chapter 14), and not even finding effective keywords (again, have a look in Chapter 16 of WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE for help with this). Three of the most difficult elements to deal with are these:

  1. Book size
  2. Bisacs
  3. Taxes

In reverse order (as with all the nest announcements), don’t ignore your taxes when publishing your book(s). By that I mean that, if you are not a US citizen, take heed of the fact that most publishing platforms you can self-publish through are US based. If you sell your books- as you hope you will – the business will (correctly) deduct US withholding taxes of 30% from all payments made to you. You will then have to go through the rigmarole of recovering it, unless …

  1. You use eBookpartnership as mentioned in Digital dilemmas for self-publishing authors, or,
  2. You follow all the right procedures, complete all the right forms, and get yourself an ITIN (Individual Tax Information Number) as explained in Chapter 17 of WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE .

Moving back up the list, how do you handle the BISACS? And what are they? BISAC (Book Industry Standards and 7 basic plotsCommunications) codes are a “standard used by many companies throughout the supply chain to categorize books based on topical content.” BISAC codes are established and controlled by the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), and used by Nielsen BookScan and all publishing/distributing platforms to categorise your book. It’s therefore a darn good idea to get the BISAC right. How do you do that? Going back to BISG, they offer a helpful tutorial here: My code choice for WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE was between:

LAN002000 Authorship

LAN005000 Composition and Creative Writing

LAN027000 Publishing

In the languages arts and disciplines codes:

The full set of codes can be found here:

I opted for LAN002000 Authorship as the most appropriate eventually.

So now we’ve navigated the BISACS, let’s look at what you’ll eventually hold in your hand when the print publishing process is complete – a book. What size, what cover finish, what interior page colour?  Is there no end to the choices you have to make?

Here are some basics to help you with your decisions:

Book size: I always choose 6 x 9. It is a standard size for the trade, it’s one of the larger print book sizes, meaning less pages, and therefore less cost to produce and more profit for the author, and it looks substantial. It means business. Other standard sizes include the following (Createspace’s list of standard trim sizes for a cream page interior):

But… books with cream paper must be one of the following: 5″ x 8″, 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, or 6″ x 9″ to be enrolled in Expanded Distribution. Colour interior books have a different range, which can be found here:


If you’re publishing in full colour there is a cost – a major cost, so research your options well. A comparison between Createspace and Ingram for a full colour children’s book in the Createspace user’s forum had this to offer (


“Full color runs $3.65 for a book between 24 and 40 pages.  After 40 full color pages, the cost starts going up.  Also, CS charges us by the page, not by the size of the page.  So I’d use the biggest size CS has for your test book…Right now … it’s near impossible to be price competitive w/premium color at LS… The LS standard color isn’t worth considering for most books… paper too thin, colors too washy. Even if you decide to eventually do your book at LS, I’d do it here (Createspace) first.  Why?  Glad you asked.  At LS, EACH change to cover or interior costs $40…”

pages of bookAnd as a little bonus, white or cream paper interior? Well, most mainstream is printed on cream paper, it feels better, doesn’t have a bold white glare to it, nor the self-published feel of the 90’s when the first wave of self-publishing swept in… Case made?



Interested in maximising your success as a self-publisher? Do have a look at WRITE, PUBLISH, PROMOTE and bag yourself some bonuses if you’re pre-ordering while you have the chance before it’s released on 5th April. Have a look HERE to find out how.




Find out more about me and my books on my website:

or follow me on Twitter and Facebook


And download the first in my Patchwork Trilogy HERE free.




All images courtesy of Creative Commons or the author.  


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