A Complete Guide to 3D Book Covers and Bundle Covers

(A complete guide to 3D book covers was updated on 17/01/2018)

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Still, people do it all the time.

Some authors on the market could sell a book with only their name printed on a black cover, but let’s be honest: we are not there yet. For mere mortals, covers are just as important in marketing as the catchy title and interesting blurb. You can try and design it for yourself or pay a pro to do it for you. Here are the pros and cons of 2D and 3D book covers, and some of the most popular cover design websites.

Advantages and disadvantages of 3D book covers

A 3D cover is an excellent thing to have: makes your book look “real” – and you feel like a real writer! With the help of the right software, you can easily create images that look like photos of printed books. If you would like to use your cover for marketing purposes, a 3D rendering of your 2D cover is necessary.

Your 3D book cover then can be used in your author email signature, share it on social media platforms and websites, and create amazing looking banners.

3D book covers work well with any genre: authors from all over the sprectum, including fiction and non-fiction use them.

However, you cannot use 3D covers in most online shops: they would not only look out of place on a virtual bookshelf, but are forbidden. The iTunes guide explicitly says (12.9): “The art can’t be a setup shot, three-quarter image, or a 3D representation of the book. Don’t use photographs of the book’s physical cover as cover art.”

So impressive as they look, you shouldn’t use 3D covers of your stand alone books anywhere else than on your website and social media.

3D book covers for bundles

Everybody loves a bargain. Bundling ebooks together is much better than bundle selling traditional books. Carrying the 40$ Harry Potter paperback boxset home with you could result in long-lasting and unwanted health-related consequences. (Mostly back-pain. Or divorce.)

harry potter bundle boxset 3D cover

Bundle-selling ebooks, however, is a great way for readers to save some money and an even better way for authors to get their readers read the whole story. If 2,000 people read the first book in your series, and 1,000 buy the second, chances are that only 500 people will buy the third. It is not because your writing got worse; people simply loose interest over time. If you can get them to buy all book sin the series at once, it is more likely that they will eventually finish it. (Nobody likes wasting their money on books they never read. Oh wait, there is even a Japanese word for it.)

For bundles and collections, authors often create 3D book covers but they are not accepted in all stores. Google Play or Amazon accept 3D covers for bundles, but iTunes does not. Seasoned authors, like Britney King (see the example below) already know that and prepare both 3D and 2D covers of their bundles.

Which one looks better? It is only a question of preference. 2D bundle covers are more widely accepted, but 3D bundle covers are also very popular.

The Bedrock Series: Books 1-3

Hire a professional

I consider myself fairly creative: I’m a person of words. When it comes to design, however, I can’t tell good from bad.

Thankfully, it is not difficult to find a professional designer for designing a 3D cover. If you don’t have a friend who is a pro in InDesign or PhotoShop, pick one of the following websites to do the job for you. (If your favourite website is not on the list, please tell us about it in the comments.)

3d book covers - A Wall for teeth and stingers - Blacktip Island - The deep within offers a full service. You can select a package consisting of either an ebook cover or both ebook and print cover, then share your ideas about what you would like to see. They also help you out, if you have absolutely no idea. Pay by Paypal and receive your cover by email within 14 days. If you are not satisfied, they change it for you or give a full refund. The ebook only package costs $349, and it even includes a 3D book cover generator for marketing purposes. Still not convinced? Check out the full portfolio here. (We’re not affiliated with them in any way, just really like the service.)

3d book covers -The Wayfaring Swan - House of Tears - Chained

If you are looking for something more affordable, Vila Design can do pretty much the same thing, but for a fraction of the price. Starting at $45 and increasing with the number of stock images used and photo manipulation required, their covers are beautiful and available for everyone.

They also offer a 3D cover service and can design a whole marketing package including Facebook banners and bookmarks.

3D book covers - Achilles vs. Mecha-Hector - Willows of Fate - They Call Me Alexandra Gastone

Fiona Jayde Media provides plot help, layout design (page setting), cover design (with the possibility of a photoshoot with a professional photographer!). And also a video trailer; yes, book trailers are on and trending. The options are endless: for $50, she generates 3D books from your cover, for $100 extra she gives you the banners and avatars necessary for your branding. Pick the package that is right for you or ask her for a quote.

Make it for yourself

If you are at least a bit more visual than I am, you can set out making your own book cover. There is nobody to know your book and your ideas better than you anyway.

This guide is specifically focused on designing 3D book covers, but we already have articles on book cover fonts, book cover sizes and book title punctuation:

Try Canva: you can design your own book cover for free. With a simple Google or Facebook login, you can use it either online or on your iPad.

I spent a good 25 minutes playing with it and creating the design below: it is quite simple to use and offers tons of free or cheap pictures, fonts and layouts. You can also upload your own pictures (just make sure that you’re only using loyalty free pictures on your cover).

Some pictures appear to be free at first glance, but if you are planning on selling your book, that counts as commercial use. Make sure that you don’t get yourself in any trouble: take your own photos or pay for a license.

Once you are done, you can share your cover on social media or embed it into your website. There is also a “Share this link” mode, where you can invite your friends or coworkers not only to see, but to edit your cover. The only downside of it is that it doesn’t offer 3D book cover generator – you can easily transform them though. I’ll tell you how in the next chapter.

3d book covers

3D book cover generators: make your own

Rendered 3D books

If you find PhotoShop complicated, purpose-built software, like Boxshot 4 can do the job for you. Starting from $79 is a bit on the expensive side (but with a free demo version). It can’t only design book covers but groceries, magazines, and other 3D objects. They also operate a free online service: you just upload your front and side, set lighting and reflexions and render.

The BossEye 3D Box Shot Maker can do considerably less, but it is free. Just set the side and front image, and it gives you the 3D book cover. You can even set a shadow!3D book cover with shadow

If you would like something which looks more like a book and less like a box, works simply from the browser. Pick your style, upload your image, enter your email address and be happy with the result. The picture above was made using, and I can hardly believe that this book has never been written. The only backside is the spine: normally you would have the title and author there, but Adazing keeps it black.

Creating your 3D book cover: a step-by-step guide

The aforementioned 3D book cover generators are all amazing, but they offer limited customization options. If you would like to have something very special, you can also have a go and do it yourself.

You will need:

  • your book cover in good resolution,
  • a 3D book cover template (you can get one easily from any stock photo database),
  • your spine in a separate image (if you are using a template with spine),
  • a photo editor, like PhotoShop, Gimp or Pixlr,
  • and a lot of time.

The spine is extremely simple to make: you just need to write the author’s name and the title vertically upwards (on downwards, if you are American) in front of a white background or the background colour of your book cover. If your color is a picture, you could pretend that the picture continues on the spine, like here:

3D book cover generator

In case you are good with PhotoShop, or at least not afraid of it, there are plenty of guides and templates out there to teach you the how to. If you feel like spending around 30 minutes creating your 3D cover, you can follow this guide. They show you how you can create your 2D cover from nothing and how to simply 3D it.

Since not everyone can afford PhotoShop, you can also use Gimp and Pixlr. Pixlr is also great if you don’t have acces to a desktop computer or prefer to work online. If you are using Pixlr, just open the file with the cover template, insert your cover and drag the corners until they match. You can do the same with your spine.

So, go and grab your mouse or wallet and get yourself noticed by the cover.

Also, feel free to share your own book cover in the comments.

Happy publishing!


Amazon Ebook Market Share 2017 – is it big enough?

Amazon Ebook Market is not the only store for reaching your readers.

(This article was updated on 25/10/17 with recent data.)

When it comes to publishing an ebook, Amazon is the first thing many people think of. Obviously, Amazon is a dominant player in online book and ebook retailing. However, when it is about global publishing, doors keep opening to new stores, business models and channels: and as an indie publisher, it is your task to explore them. (You can read more about the different business models here.) As an indie publisher, you have to explore other opportunities to make your ebook publishing efforts more profitable on the long term – you can’t simply rely on one big distributor. Who knows what will tomorrow bring?

It may surprise you how many potential readers and what portion of your possible earnings you may lose if you publish only on Amazon ebook market. Why would you do that, especially if you already have your own ebook converted? Look at our numbers and you will understand why it is crucial to go to other ebook stores as well.

This article starts with an in-depth analysis of our recent sales numbers, then we introduce the a recent Author Earnings Report to understand how ebook sales work in the US, UK and on emerging markets. We close with some interesting facts on Kindle app and Kindle reader market share.

Publishdrive’s analysis on Amazon ebook sales

PublishDrive analyzed the sales numbers of publishers signed up and found that in case of English titles only 39% of the sales volume came from the Amazon ebook market (2017 first 3 quarters). It is unquestionably a huge share, but still, if you are exclusive with Amazon Kindle through KDP Select, you may lose 61% of your potential readers and sales. You may earn more money in stores and markets you have never thought to be more suitable for your target group.
Continue Reading…


The Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing Costs

Self-publishing costs may grow over your budget if you do not plan ahead or you are not aware of the type of expenses. You may save costs if you have some extra skills or time to develop them on your own. Let’s see what self-publishing expenses you have to cover if you want to publish your own ebook.

In this article we summarise the most important cost types you may have, and we add an approximate amount so that you can estimate your self-publishing costs on the long term.


1. Writing an ebook

As an author you usually write on your own, but in this case, your time is your biggest cost. Depending on what your goal is with your book, the actual writing can take a lot of time and hard work.

If you think of writing as a career, you might want to spend more money to make sure what you create is a quality product (e.g. hiring an editor or a ghostwriter). In this case, think of writing as an investment that can bring you enough money for the rest of your life.

If you write books just for fun or as a hobby, you’ll probably spend less time on writing. You can also hire a ghostwriter to do the hard work for you.

Skills needed: writing, creativity, tons of patience

Alternatives: hire a ghostwriter

2. Editing, or hiring an editor

Editing your ebook can be the highest expense, but it can turn your book from good to outstanding. You can hire a professional editor who does all the work for you including developmental editing, content editing, copyediting.

Hiring an experienced editor can increase your expenses. If you decide to get one, we suggest doing some research first and reach out to more than just one editor before you commit and start shelling out money.

The cost of an editor usually starts at $ 0.005 per word and can go as high as 0.08 cents per word. That is why it is important to do your homework first.

In fact, you don’t always need to hire a professional editor. If you want to keep your costs low, ask writers, authors you know to edit your book. A fresh set of eyes can make a difference.

Skills needed: impeccable grammar skills

Alternatives: hire a professional editor, ask early readers

3. Proofreading an ebook

When you think you’ve finished, review your writing to make sure you fix any spelling mistakes before your final product hits the stores.

Even a book with excellent content won’t be able to bring you too much money (or even jeopardize your reputation in the industry as a professional author) if it’s full of errors.

You have several options for proofreading your book. First, you can use software solutions such as spell check in Microsoft Word or to get rid of the biggest mistakes. Then you can hire people on to do that for you. Or you can even hire a professional editor (which may increase your costs), or you can join a writer’s group to exchange manuscripts with others, which is a cost-effective option.

Skills needed: high level of grammar skills

Alternatives: hire people on, hire a professional editor, exchange manuscripts with other writers,  ask early readers

4. Cost of book cover design

If you want your book to stand out, you need a killer cover.

A good cover design can develop your brand as an author, boost your ebook sales and help your readers identify your book by its cover. You want to make sure your book cover attracts your reader’s eyes because eventually, this is the first thing they bump into.

Designing an outstanding cover is far more work than just choosing the right fonts and colors to make your cover look good. A book cover – that draws interest – demands high design skills and a high level of knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.

You can also find great cover design tips at, or do some research and find free templates online. There are also other great design tools like Canva, Boxshot or a book cover editor software. If it seems too much work for you and you’re thinking of hiring a professional at any point, it should be for the cover design part. Hire an experienced cover designer and save yourself the extra hours to focus on more important things like branding and positioning your book.

Skills needed: design skills, advanced Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator skills

Alternatives: hire people on, research and find free templates, use Canva or other book cover editor

5. Ebook conversion

Ebook conversion may be easy to look over if you want to read on your own device, but you need to invest in high-quality conversion for commercial purposes. If you consider yourself tech-savvy, you can format your manuscript yourself using free platforms like Sigil or you can hire an expert to do it for you. PublishDrive offers ebook conversion services for 0.5 USD per page, and for that, you can download your epub which is ready to use.

Skills needed: HTML5, some common aesthetic skills, Sigil or other HTML editor knowledge

Alternatives: outsourcing to PublishDrive or other services

6. ISBN for ebooks

ISBN is a unique identifier for your book which is an industry standard from ancient times. However, as a self-publisher, you have to buy ISBNs and do the necessary administrative tasks – which are a real pain for an entrepreneurial writer.

At PublishDrive, we got rid of the inflexibility of ISBN and introduced our identifier which is widely accepted by our retailers. So no more hassle with ISBNs which speeds up the publishing process for all of us.

Skills needed: patience, administrative skills

Alternatives: no need for an ISBN when you publish your ebook with PublishDrive

Now you finally reached the point where you can actually sell your ebook! 🙂

7. Ebook distribution

When your book is ready, you can start thinking about distribution models. Many of the authors believe that they can do it on their own, but if you want to focus on your biggest strength, on your creativity and writing skills and building your reader base, the best is if you leave all operational and administrative tasks for someone else.

You can hire a whole qualified team if you want to sell on your platforms on your own, or you can simply partner with a trustworthy service provider who does the job for you. PublishDrive may help in this case with a royalty based pricing, so there are no upfront costs when you start selling your titles everywhere.

But do not forget that you have different expenses for different business models. Many of the publishers only look at the nominal value of the royalties but bear in mind that though these costs may vary, your income from these business models can be in some cases surprising.

Consider volume over value, and you may get a more reasonable profit from a less attractive royalty structure

Agency model

The usual pricing of an agency model is between 30%-50% for the retailers. It means that you set the price and you will receive around 70-50% royalties on the net sales. The agency model is the most widely used business model around selling ebooks.

In PublishDrive we have the following stores with agency model (on 5th December 2016) and with the following pricing structure:

Barnes & Noble
ciando.com in agency model
Gardners Network
iBookstore (iTunes)

Subscription based model

Subscriptions are monthly fees that a reader pays to read either unlimited ebooks or there’s some limit included (such as 5 books and 3 audiobooks etc.). This way, the readers pay less, but publishers may earn more since publishers are paid out based on their list price or in some cases based on the number of pages read. Anyway, it is a fair deal for authors, publishers and even for readers.

We see that subscription business models are valuable: one of our publishers could earn 2.5 times more with PublishDrive and half of their revenue (in value) comes from subscription-based business models. This shows that subscription business models have not just a future, but the present as well.

PublishDrive has the following platforms integrated with subscription based business models:


Library model

There are thousands of libraries out such as schools, public libraries, academies, universities and in some cases, corporate libraries that are waiting for you to list your ebook there.

Library models can help readers to lend a book for a specific period or just simply read it from one spot. We also see that the demand for unique and niche content is specifically needed in libraries who are in the digital transition of their traditional work.

At PublishDrive, we partnered with the following digital library services to make sure your ebooks are available for many librarians in over 40k digital libraries.

ciando.com in library model
Gardners Network, but there is lending opportunity.

Skills needed: business development with all retailers, building out your own accounts, financial terms, managing all accounts, managing all technical requirements, managing all ebook updates, consolidating all sales reports, intelligent analysis of sales reports, billing, managing financial thresholds, then collecting your money

Alternatives: you can do everything by building out your team putting a lot of effort (time and money) to find knowledgeable people, or you can partner with PublishDrive.

8. Marketing costs

When it comes to promotional expenses, you can spend a whole lot of money – but it doesn’t have to be like this.

Depending on your budget, you can partner with ebook blogs to promote your books like GoodReads, IndieReader and Whattpad or you can choose websites to do the same such as Write Globe, Writers Support. Some others offer free services like Noble Authors or Creative Designers and Writers.

You can also collaborate with other authors, use BookBub email list advertising or other software. If you decide not to spend any money on promotion but have the time and effort, you can do all the promotions by yourself. Guest blog, host online events, manage all your social media platforms, build relationships inside the industry and do free ebook giveaways. Your goal is to engage with readers and to put your name out there.

Remember, most of the promotional costs tend to be a waste of money so choose your promotional options wisely.

Skills needed: online marketing knowledge, basic IT and HTML skills

Alternatives: hire someone to do it for you, reach out to your community to promote your book, use your blog and social media sites, create a website, do ebook giveaways

By now you know all about the costs that may arise during self-publishing an ebook and you might want to hear a total amount. Self-publishing costs can depend on many things. If you’re a newbie or an experienced author you probably have different kinds of costs. It also depends on your goals what you want to achieve with your book and on how well you want your book to sell and so on.

So how much does self-publishing really cost?

      •    Writing: free if you do it
      •    Editing: depending on the length of the manuscript, usually between $0.005-$0.08 cents per word, an average total can be around 1500$/book (optional)
      •    Proofreading: depends on the length of your manuscript, somewhere around $700-$1000 (optional)
      •    Professional cover design: $50-200$ (for good featured positions in stores needed)
      •    Ebook formatting: free if you do it on your own, usually $50-200$
      •    ISBN: $19-125$ per title, with PublishDrive you don’t need ISBN anymore
      •    Ebook distribution: depends on your business model – usually a percentage of sales
      •    Marketing: depends on your budget – from free until the sky

All in all, as you can see from this post, there are quite a few factors that can affect the cost of self-publishing so after all, the question is not how much does it cost to self-publish a book but how much are you willing to spend on your book. In this case, the sky is the only limit.


How to Increase Your Ebook Sales – 5 Tips

Do you have a new interesting book for your readers? Great.

Do you offer it in the form of an ebook? Also great.

Do you have weak sales figures?

Not that great, but we collected the five most essential tips for you which can instantly help you increase your ebook sales.

  1. Design a professional cover

How do you know that the cover is the main reason for declining sales? The answer is simple: If your book always gets good reviews but it is not selling.

Your book cover is the first contact to your potential customers. It has to get the first interests and make readers want to look into your ebook. It should raise attention, but at the same time, the style of your book cover has to fit both to your target group’s taste and also to the content.

Here are some good examples of what a professional book cover should look like:

      Ebook cover example to increase ebook sales              Everyone's a Genius - ebook cover that increases ebook sales


These covers are delightful, attractive and doing a good job giving visual form to the written content in the book.

Some common mistakes to avoid when designing your book cover:

  • Too much information on the front cover
  • Long titles
  • Poor background
  • Utilization of poor images
  • Using too many colors
  • You want to do it all by yourself

Keep in mind that a good cover is an advertisement for your book, an opportunity to stand out in the crowd. So keep it simple and clean.

As a famous book cover designer, Chip Kidd, once said: “a book cover is a distillation. It is the haiku of the story.”

Finally, don’t forget an attractive book cover is an investment: hire a professional designer for it. At Dribbble, you can choose from more than 11,000 designers from all over the world, and you can define who are you looking for.

  1. Find the right price level that increases ebook sales

The production costs of an ebook are much lower than that of the printed ones. Accordingly, your sales price should also be set at a lower level. As a rule of thumb we advise you to always stay under $ 10 and use price promotions to attract new readers.

Due to the fact that selling more books doesn’t increase your production costs, you can also try out a lower price level (0,99 – 2,99 $ per book) or even there is a way to sell your book for a few days for free. Finding the perfect price for your ebook is not easy, and you can completely get lost looking through all the different kinds of ebook pricing models.

If you want to read more about the existing business models in the ebook industry, take a look at our previous blog post here, where we discussed ebook pricing models in greater detail.

  1. Sell your ebook in different online stores

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: sell your books through various retailers globally. You can hear a lot about the big players in the industry such as Amazon, Kobo or Apple but keep in mind: there are a lot of other retailers and wholesalers in the marketplace that you might want to consider make your ebook available through.

Some retailers like Barnes & Noble, Apple or Amazon have also self-publishing services to interact with their distribution platforms smoothly.

Others, like Scribd, OverDrive, Baker & Taylor or Gardners are book wholesalers, bringing digital books into certain marketplaces. If you pick a self-publishing service to do the digital uploading to ebook sellers for you, make sure your book gets into – at least – the big players and take a look at the niche sellers as well to see if they fit your books target market.

Publishing is not about Amazon anymore, especially not in emerging markets where the growth rate of the ebook market is above 200% and the major ebook stores are not dominant. More customer contact will result in higher sales volumes, so publish your ebook on multiple platforms. However, searching for, finding and contracting new retailers takes a lot of time and so money. Use professional aggregation sites who will help you through the ebook management process as the ERP for digital publishing.

  1. Help your readers find your ebook

Writing your book is only the first step in the book making process, but hard work comes when you try to sell it to your audience. Defining your target group is not enough. You have to guide them to find your book. And how will they find your book? You need to build a strong web presence.

If you have a website or a blog use it to promote your book to generate leads and drive traffic by displaying your book on the home page.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Goodreads can help you to interact with your audience. Make sure you have regular updates on your social media sites and provide useful content to your readers.

Don’t forget to build an email list to develop your target audience. An attractive cover, the right categorization and a nice preview of your content are also essential elements in finding your audience and increase your ebook sales.

The key points are:

  • use your website/blog to promote your book
  • social media sites are valuable marketing tools
  • use SEO to build traffic
  • build a mailing list
  1. Get your ebook reviewed

A good review can make all the difference regarding ebook sales. It provides you the chance to interact with your readers and build engagement among them.

A good book review and word-of-mouth attract more customers because customers trust more on other people’s opinion than on classical company advertisement.

For that, you cannot buy reviews, but you can build out your professional partnership with bloggers who may be the right marketing channel for your readers. Give free ebook copies to bloggers who will hopefully promote your ebook on their platform. Keep in mind that sample-giving is an excellent marketing tool, but it is not allowed via your website if you want to sell your ebook also in online stores.

Instead of your homepage use the different media tools, like Facebook and Twitter to give samples to your potential readers and fans who will be grateful for them.

Improving your ebook sales take up a lot of work, and you have to put the time in to see results. These tips can help you start learning about the right techniques and methods to use when you want to increase your ebook sales. Remember always to communicate and interact with your readers, which not only can increase your sales but also bring awareness to your work.

You have additional thoughts or insights on the topic? Share it in the comments.



Sales analytics in PublishDrive

We have new, detailed sales analytics in PublishDrive! Our objective is to increase your ebook sales with a global reach and help you understand the market and the performance of your ebooks. That’s why we give you the best tool in your hand for sales analytics, so you can see how well your books perform.

PublishDrive is the most intelligent ebook publishing platform made for you. Try it now!

What can you see in sales analytics in PublishDrive?

  • You can follow realtime sales data with filtering, so you can check the most important specific metrics for your books. Such as filtering by country, title, contributor or store.
  • You can understand deeper what the driver of growth for your books is. You can see the bestselling categories, countries, the best price tier for your books and you can understand where most of your revenue comes from.


How can you use our new feature, the sales analytics?

Click on the „Sales” heading in your Menu in PublishDrive.

sales analyticsYou can always choose Chart or Map view.

ebook sales

sales analytics

You can add filters about term, your content and sales.

sales analytics

sales analytics

You can choose from the following options in order to analyse your sales data:

  • Publisher/Imprint
  • Title
  • Contributor
  • Series
  • Adult content
  • Category
  • Right status
  • Language

You can choose the following options to clarify your sales data:

  • Store
  • Country
  • Purchase type
  • Price tier


Here is an example for filter use:

sales analytics

On the first chart you can see the volume and value of your sales.

sales analytics

Under this column chart you can see your best performing titles.

sales analytics

In the following section you can see your best values (category, price tier, country, store)

sales analytics

On the right side you can see the ‘Best performing titles’ and the ‘Best performing countries’.

sales analytics

sales analytics

On the left side you can see the ‘Price tiers’ and the ‘Proceeds by store and country’.

sales analytics

sales analytics

Check out our new feature in your PublishDrive account! 🙂


ISBN for Ebooks: Myths & Facts, and The Story Behind the Numbers

Relax, you are almost there. You wrote a book, you edited it, and you probably have your cover and pricing and marketing all in line. There is nothing else left than to upload it and enjoy the well-deserved success. Or is there?

Many people think that applying for an ISBN is like going to the dentist: a painful, unavoidable necessity. They push it into the back of their mind, try not even to think of it. In the following article, we will demystify ISBNs, tell you everything you ever wanted to know about them (and everything you didn’t), guide you through the application process and offer some alternatives.

What does ISBN stand for?

That very long number just under or above the barcode on the back of the book is designed following a very strict set of rules. The rules are made by the International Standards Organization (ISO): they sell the rulebook to countries or companies, who then sell the International Standard Book Number to you. ISBN was developed in 1970, designed to make referring to books and different editions of the same book easier across the publishing world. It started with ten digit numbers, but since 2007 they consist of 13 digits so that they can be also read as barcodes. They can be assigned to books, audiobooks, even apps belonging to a book.

However, journals, magazines, and other periodicals, cannot get ISBNs: they have an ISSN number assigned to the whole series which doesn’t change with every new title.

So isn’t it just a random number assigned to a book?Ebook ISBN example

No, it isn’t. The first 3 numbers are the “prefix” element; this currently can be either 978 or 979. (And yes, you simply put 978 in front of old ISBNs to make them 13 digits.) The next group is the registration group element: it can refer to a country, a language group or a particular territory. (10 digit ISBNs start with the country identifier.)

0 and 1 stand for the English language, 615 in the example above stands for Hungary. If you are interested, you can check out the whole list of registration numbers here. The next group of numbers, the registrant element belongs to the publisher or to the agency giving the ISBN number.

You might already noticed that all these groups have a differing length of digits: if the registration agency expects the publisher to publish several books, the registrant element is shorter, giving more space for the publication element, and vice versa.

You can buy the list of 900.000 registrant elements in a very expensive book. The next set of numbers refers to the particular publication. And the last number is the check digit: it is always a single number, the weighted sum of the digits the ISBN is made of (used for error detection).

What is ISBN good for?

ISBN is a unique identifier belonging to a specific format of a book: an audiobook version, an ebook version and the revised second edition of a book all have different ISBNs. If you ever went to language school holding a textbook just slightly different from everyone else’s, you know how important it is to actually check for matching ISBNs. New editions, even with a new cover, however, don’t get a new ISBN, unless they have been rewritten.

ISBNs are a very handy way to order books, refer to them and check books in circulation: the main reason why recent statistics struggle to provide indie sales data is the lack of ISBNs in the industry. It is also a powerful searching tool if you are looking for a specific version of a book.

How do I get it?

Well, it depends on where you (as a person or as a publisher) are based. The International ISBN Agency is giving out the registration group identifiers to local authorities who then decide what to do with them. In the US and in Australia, the only place you can get an ISBN is called Bowker: you can buy them as cheap as one for $125 or a prefix for 10 ISBNs for $250.

In the UK, you can buy them from Nielsen, one for £89 and prefix for 10 for £149. Other countries, such as Hungary issue ISBNs for free: in Hungary, the National Library is responsible for giving out ISBNs. You can get one within four days on the promise of sending in to the library six copies of your book (called “legal deposit”) within 15 days of getting published – by law.

You can check the agency in your country or language here. They will ask you the title, authors, publisher, publishing date and genre before issuing one. For an extra fee, you can get your book put in a list like the Books in Print database, to enhance discoverability.

So, do I need an ISBN for my ebook?

Almost certainly not. First of all, there are no rules stating that you need an ISBN in order to publish books – at least definitely not in England or in the US.

On the other hand, you might live in a country where it is a legal requirement (you can just search on Google for “is ISBN required by law” in your language to figure it out – it varies by country). Unless you are thinking about getting a physical copy of your book into bookstores, you won’t need an ISBN.

Neither Amazon nor iBooks requires you to have one (we neither). However, if you would like to sell your books in several stores, you still need a unique identifier, just to make your life (and your retailers’ life) a bit easier: we developed PUI (PublishDrive’s Unique Identifier) which is a fast, free and simple way to get an identifier globally accepted in stores and libraries.

No days of waiting, no high fees. PUIs are automatically assigned to your books during the publishing process.

Happy publishing!


How to Effectively Promote Your Ebook on Social Media

Promote your ebook on social media

For self-published authors and writers of any kind, social media holds the key to free online marketing and a worldwide audience with their ebook. As those publishing their own work likely don’t have the budget from a comprehensive promotional team, these easy and free-to-use platforms offer the perfect alternative, so long as you can properly harness their power. In this article you will see the basics how to promote your ebook on social media.

It’s not enough to post a link to your book’s Amazon page on the day of its release; finding success on social media is a carefully crafted and well-thought-out pursuit. This guide provides the basics to start building a far-reaching and efficient social media marketing campaign.

Establishing a Presence

With success on these types of sites based largely on number of followers, likes and shares, it can take a while build up your accounts in order to have the greatest promotional success. Forward planning is essential.

It’s no use setting up your first Facebook or Twitter account a week before your book is about to go out to the publisher. Instead, give yourself as much time as possible and work on building up your followers and making your presence known to them.

Once you’ve attracted a large enough following, your social media accounts basically act like a giant mailing list where you can focus the information about your books and how to buy them.


Post Frequently but Not Excessively

Establishing a presence means staying active, and this is one of the biggest problems a marketing campaign of this nature poses. Fans need a constant stream of good quality, relevant content in order to keep their attention on your pages. The more often you post, the more chance there is that potential new readers will stumble across your accounts and invest in your product.

However, there is a flip side to this. Excessive posting can easily be seen as spam and will turn away just as many readers as it attracts. While on platforms like Twitter there’s no harm in reposting a tweet a few times a day, constant repetition or posts will begin to grate on your followers.

Similarly, superfluous statuses about what you had for breakfast or the fact you’re going shopping is not likely to drum up support. Keep it thematic and relevant to your work.

Interactivity Is the Key to Success

Content is just as important as frequency when posting on social media. As previously mentioned, one essential factor is keeping it significant, but another key strategy is to create interactivity. Not only do fans love the opportunity to talk to their new favorite author, this sort of activity also increases your visibility on the platforms because of the algorithms used to work out what is visible in the news feeds of users.

Invite discussions by asking followers questions surrounding the themes in your work, or create polls for idea feedback. It’s also important to remember that visuals are more impacting than text, so add as many pictures to the mix as possible.


Ebook Releases on Social Media

Once you’ve created an active, interactive and comprehensive social media presence, you’re ready to prepare for your actual product release. Once you’ve set a date, you should plan your marketing campaign to take place in the run-up. Many people believe they don’t need to start sharing and posting until the book is out for sale, but they’re losing valuable time by waiting.
Update your followers on all the key events, such as finished drafts, returned products from your beta reader, finalized cover design, etc. As soon as you have a date, set up an event and invite people. If you market right, this event will grow and grow, and your first-day sales will significantly benefit.
Another great tactic is to set up a competition: in exchange for likes, shares or retweets, offer users a place in a prize drawing that will give one winner an exclusive copy of your book. However, it’s important you stay within the term and conditions of any specific platform.

On the day of the release, the spam rules go out the window: post as much as you can—everything from pictures, reviews, snippets, quotes, opinions, and sale statistics. Flooding the pages of your followers, only when necessary, means they know when it’s time to pay attention.  

Protecting Your Investment

Finally, but perhaps most often overlooked, there’s no use creating a comprehensive marketing campaign only to have it brought down by harmless malware and frustrating hacks. Malvertising is an increasingly common type of security breach in which suspicious links are sent from an account to all of your followers. While they provide no substantial risk, users are so weary of the problem that they’ll be quick to disconnect from your accounts for their own safety.

The most common cause of this is password infiltration, which can happen for a number of reasons. To minimize your risk, be sure to keep your passwords complex and unique, and change them every few months. Similarly, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to stop your details being intercepted while on unsecure public WiFi networks. VPN review site Secure Thoughts provides a more comprehensive explanation of this if you want more information.


Social media is far too useful a tool for any ebook author to overlook. In terms of reach, cost and ease, it’s by far the leading promotional option for self-publishers. So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already set up your accounts, then head over and do it now!


About the Author: Caroline is a blogger and long-time marketing expert. She has long harnessed the power of social media for her own projects and is always happy to share what she’s learned with others. You can find Caroline on Twitter at: @CultureCovC


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Negotiating techniques for publishers

If you do business in the publishing industry, you have to develop your own negotiating techniques. When you are doing online business with different partners such as editors, authors, designers, retailers, distributors, literary agents, you will shortly reach the status when you have to learn how to negotiate. In the publishing industry I have already had many business meetings and in overall, I found out that many usual sales or negotiating techniques would not work either because of the nature of the industry or just because it does not fit to my personality. And most of all, if you want to build a long term partnership, you have to be genuine and authentic to your partners, but most importantly to yourself as well.

At PublishDrive we negotiated terms with retailers and publishers and we always wanted to reach a mutually beneficial end result. I summed up my usual business development negotiating techniques what I can advice to anyone in the industry wholeheartedly.

  1. Be humble

When you are getting into a partnership you always have to show your excellence. But people like other people who do not brag about their success, but who are willing to embrace them with their humble mentality. Do not push your own success and results into the face of the people, let them discover it through the excellence of your team.

  1. Show your intelligence and expertise

Do not push yourself too much, instead of being an inconvenient bragging person, show your intelligence and expertise with market data and research studies. Even if no one asked, try to build your pitch in a way where you can show off your great knowledge of the market, cool trends which are new information for the listener.

  1. Listen, listen and listen

Many sales people overestimate their charm and their communication skills, so they are giving the talk all the time. But first, you have to know whom you are talking to, so you have to ask first a lot of questions to understand how you can convince them in the first place. Do not make your sales pitch as an intro, but try to build a relationship through communication and through giving something away. In a healthy partnership if you give in, you will certainly get to take away as well.

  1. Behave like you are dating

Investor relationships or customer acquisition is like dating: you can fall in love or just hate each other in seconds. First impression and the way you behave at the first sight will have a stamp on your relationship on the long term. If you are dating, you do not want to be an open book in the beginning, you want to explore the other person in pieces on your own. You want to get the other excited about what you are doing. So be attractive with showing your results, your vision, keep them updated how things are going, but do not push too much without getting any interest from them. And most importantly, have fun, because dating should be fun for all.

Do you have any other cool ideas how to negotiate better and in a more authentic way? Drop us a line to and we are happy to have your guest post on our blog!


Publishing Books on PublishDrive – Step-by-step Guide

The first step for your global publishing after signing up is to create your epub and upload it to PublishDrive. Publishing books on PublishDrive? Watch this video or keep reading.

(Article and video updated on 16/02/2018.)

How to upload a book?

Choose the Add book from epub option on the home page or click Add book / Add book from .epub.

Your book page comes up: this’ll be the dashboard not only to upload your book, but to make any changes in the future. All parameters you see here can be changed any time without even withdrawing the book. Read this article on making changes on your book.

Drop or upload the content file (epub) and the cover file (jpg). We accept epub 2 and epub 3 formats and don’t run epub validation during upload. We check epubs for validity in the background. If there are any errors in the code, we’ll try to fix it unless the book is unopenable.

Once you drop your epub file, we read whatever metadata your epub file contains and automatically fill in those fields. The rest of the fields you’ll have to fill in manually. The required fields are: Publisher/Imprint, Title, Language, Page number, Category, Description, Suggested retail price, Publication date.

Mandatory fields

Choose Publisher/Imprint: The imprint has double function. We use imprints to display the publisher in most stores (so you can be displayed under your own name or under the name of your publishing house), and we also use imprints to set the stores your book is going to.

ISBN field: just leave it empty if you don’t have an ISBN. We’ll automatically assign an identifier to your book. If your book already has an ISBN, you are welcome to keep it and use it. Read more on our ISBN policy here.

Contributor: This is the field for your author, illustrator and translator. If your book is in the public domain, please always add the translator as contributor. If your book is not in the public domain, there is no such requirement. (But we still recommend it as common courtesy.) You can use your pen name in the contributor field, but please don’t use pen names that could be misleading for readers.

Title and subtitle: Enter the title as it is to be seen on the cover, but with “Title Case”. Follow the title capitalisation rules of your language. The subtitle should go to the subtitle field. Most stores display the subtitle using the same case as the title, separated by a colon. For example, Title: Subtitle. Our content review team uses Amazon’s metadata guidelines when checking the books. According to those, please don’t add any keyword in the title, subtitle or series field.

Categories: Select up to three categories for your book. You can enter your BISAC code or select from the list. You can also just start typing the category you would like to use and it will come up. Your book will display in the stores withing the category you chose. The more specific you are, the more likely it is that your possible readers find your book.

Series: The accurate name of your series. Please make sure that you always enter your series name exactly the same way, for example don’t enter A Mean Mushroom Book once and Mean Mushrooms next. If your series is indicated properly, shops will automatically organise the books in the series into series pages. If your series field is not empty, you can add the volume in the next field. Just enter a number.

Language: Signal the primary language of your book. You can add multiple languages. If your book is a Spanish coursebook where the instruction language is English, please select “English” as primary language and add Spanish as secondary language. If you select “Spanish” as the primary language, your book will be displayed to Spanish speakers, not to English-native Spanish learners.

Page number: The ebook has a different number of pages depending on whether you read it on the computer screen, tablet, e-reader or smartphone. Number of pages does not really make any sense in terms of ebooks… But the option is there to let the readers know how long the book is they are paying for. If an author does not have a print version, we ask them to calculate the number of pages not by opening the book on different devices but by knowing how many characters are on a page in an average print book (1024). Many stores (Amazon or Kobo) calculate their own numbers based on the length of the book. Others will use the number we send in.

Description: it should be unique and accurately describe your book. Please don’t add any references to prices and any links. It should not contain any explicit words or phrases.

Add Digital list price and Publication date. If you give a future date, pre-orders will automatically be allowed and your book will be available to pre-order immediately in the stores that have this option.

Don’t forget to signal your rights under Rights management: we don’t ask for any proof (unless we see something fishy), but would like to know whether your book is in the public domain, you wrote it or you are the publisher.

Optional fields

Optional fields include:


Keywords (It only comes up once your description has been filled in. Just enter some keywords separated by commas.)

Target Audience (Required for children’s books.)

Territory rights (Start typing.)

Print version list price, ISBN and publication year

Publishing books

Just save to publish! If your profile is complete, you can send the book to stores immediately.

Publish a book in Publishdrive

Publish a book in Publishdrive

Before publishing the books, our colleagues will review them both automatically and manually. If everything is fine, PublishDrive will send your titles to the stores.

Do you need to change something? You can update your metadata (price, description or even an updated epub file) any time and we’ll send the updates to the retailers.





Order an ebook conversion in Publishdrive

PublishDrive is the most intelligent ebook publishing platform where you may ask for ebook conversion if your books are available only in docx, InDesign file, rtf, html or PDF. After conversion, you can publish your beautiful ebook to iBooks, Kindle, Google Play and to 400 other outlets easily.

Technical details about the ebook conversion

You have to pay a one time fee for ebook conversion based on the complexity and length of the book (average price: 0.5 USD per page). We prefer to receive docx, InDesign file, rtf or html as an input format, but the print PDF can be uploaded as well to make sure your ebook will be similar to the print book version. After successful conversion your files can be downloaded via PublishDrive, so you can use them on your own as well (so you as the copyright holder will be able to sell those ebooks in your own shop, but not in the stores where PublishDrive is publishing your books already).

We will get in contact with you regarding your ebook conversion order and it takes usually 3 business days per one book. But in case of complex and long ebooks it may be a longer period.

Ebook conversion order steps in Publishdrive

Register for free in PublishDrive and log in.

ebook conversion

Choose “Add a book” option in your account and select the ‘Order conversion to ebook’.

ebook conversion

Follow the instructions.

ebook conversion

Provide your book details.

ebook conversion

Upload your book manuscript and cover file. You may add more source files like docx, pdf, indd, etc.

ebook conversion

Provide the accurate number of characters and images. Open a text editor program and check it out.

ebook conversion

ebook conversion

ebook conversion

After typing in the accurate numbers, you’ll be able to see the price of conversion. When you accept the following conditions you can save and pay.

ebook conversion

You can pay via Paypal.

ebook conversion

ebook conversionAfter payment, wait for your epub file getting ready. We use human power to create your beautiful ebook, so it takes usually a few days until it is converted. Your ebook will be high quality, commercially valid file which is the first step if you want to sell your ebooks globally.

After successful conversion your epub file can be downloaded via PublishDrive.