After doing all the setup and tweaking and uploading and tweaking again, I got to the point where I could actually submit the book for publishing.
As I’ve already explained, while CreateSpace does allow Author copies, Amazon does not. No big deal, let’s just order the damn book already and make sure it looks as it should.
Postage to Australia is a bit on the hefty side so I ordered a couple of copies, clicked on the PayPal button, forked over the cash and sat back.
Not that long, it turns out. The estimate was about three to four weeks, but the book arrived in two. I’m guessing they err on the side of caution, and it’s a bit of a bonus when you get that big, fat package in the mail and you know what it is, even though it’s early. Oh, the excitement!
So how did it go? Did it work out? See for yourself:
Ta-da! Not bad, not bad. I quite like the matte texture of the cover. That’s a nice option. I’m used to a glossy one, but I think the feel comes out alright although the darks are very dark indeed. It’s always the way – how things appear on the screen is not a true indication of how they’ll come out when printed, and that’s true of every book I’ve printed.
You can see this more clearly on the rear, where there’s a lot of dark:
And the positioning of the ISBN comes out trumps as well. Chuffed with that. The spine looks like this:
It doesn’t come up too clearly in the shot, but the front bleeds about a millimeter or two onto the spine. Nothing drastic, but it does demonstrate that you cannot have absolutes in your printing – always assume that the cover might shift a little this way or that, and don’t stick anything sensitive onto the edges.
Yup, that’s cool. I like the choice of cream over blanch white, it feels better and the print isn’t so hard on the eyeballs. I’m glad I fiddled with the margins so much. You can see that the distance fro the spine to the text is comfortable, not squished into the binding, and the distance from the outer to the edge is also comfortable.
The ISBN and front matter is all good. I don’t mind the table of contents, that’s fine. There is an extra page or two at the back (not shown here) with “Made in the USA, San Bernadino, CA.” Which is interesting. I think Lulu out-sources its printing to be closer to the point of delivery, whereas – guessing here and please correct me if I’m wrong – Amazon would have its own presses.
In future, I might consider putting page numbers at the bottom, leaving the chapter heading at the top. We’ll see.
So that’s that! The process is similar in many ways to how Lulu does things, with certain differences involved, mostly around the uploading and proofing side of things. KDP is not heavily restrictive in the way it does things and there are some smarts that help you out along the way.
In the previous post, I spoke about how to get the cover to play ball. By downloading the template you will save yourself a lot of trouble, but how does one use it?
I like GIMP. A lot. I know there are other graphics programs that do a lot of stuff easily but GIMP has just been my go-to and probably always will be. Hats off to the developers.
Anyway, to use the template, open it in GIMP.
You’ll notice on the right hand side there’s the “Layers” pane. I added my front, spine and rear layers underneath. By adjusting the transparency of the top-most layer (the template) I can see how I fit in the guidelines at any time:
To turn off the top layer altogether, when I’m working on things directly, click the eyeball next to the layer. Also use this for when you’re exporting your final image.
Note the rear: I’ve kept the blurb clear of the barcode area because KDP, like Lulu, will automatically stick a barcode on that spot. Can you change it? No. Why not? Because it’s a standard spot and there’s really no reason to have it customisable. It’s like software engineering, really. Yes, it probably could be customisable, and we could put a whole lot of man-hours to getting the darn thing to be on the other side, or rotated, or put on the top, or the spine. We could do that, yes. Or – OR – we could not, and recognise that it’s not really an issue and state very simply that that’s where the barcode goes and apply the developers to better, more important tasks.
Sorry. One of the most annoying phrases as an engineer I hear is, “Can we make it customisable?” Rant over. Moving right along. Where was I?
Ah, yes, the template. So you’ll see, straight away, that the eBook cover is not going to work. It doesn’t have a spine. It doesn’t have a rear. You’ll need to knock those up. I used a picture of Eel Grove for the rear, because it’s a dark image and sits well against the light blurb.
For the spine, I whipped up an underwater theme, graduating from the light to waves to the dark reef-bed. The text had to be rotated to run down the spine, and I added a slight drop-shadow to help with the contrast.
When it was all done and I was chuffed with how it looked, I exported it. KDP wants it as a PDF. Gimpy can do this, no sweat, but the resulting PDF file is 17 MB. For you spring chickens, that ain’t such a thing, but I remember the time when our harddrive was 40MB all up, and the speed of a modem of 1200 bps.
Anyhow, I uploaded it to KDP and sat back.
Oh. Poop. What have I done? The preview window on the KDP form looks… terrible. It’s like it’s.. it’s… it’s the tiniest bit on the bottom of the spine.
That’s what it looked like.
What has gone wrong? I’ll tell you. There’s a thing called DPI, or Dots Per Inch. Don’t worry too much about the details, but when I saved the image to PDF, it saved the data in a rather stretched format.
Back to Gimpy-boy (Yes, I call it Gimpy-boy):
Open up the Print Resolution dialog and the mystery is revealed. See that width / height? That’s because, translating pixels to ‘dots’ on a page means that I’ve made my picture stupidly large. Aha!
I adjusted the X and Y resolution from 72 DPI to 300 DPI and the width and height went to 9.25″ x 12.88″.
But the book is only 6 x 9, right? Yes, true, but we’re working off the template and we need to include trim and all of that. Anyway, 9.25″ is hella closer than 38″! Phew!
OK, so export to PDF again, re-upload and cross all digits and tentacles…
In the previous post I told you how I decided to try out KDP’s Create Space for the paperback version of Tedrick Gritswell.
In this episode, I’ll walk you through the uploading of the manuscript because it needs some examination, then start on the cover.
Once I had the physical output determined:
I formatted my table of contents and added in the ISBN as per Lulu’s instructions – it’s a simple enough template to follow, and I’m not about to deviate. Then I uploaded it.
Well, wasn’t that fun? I will argue that Lulu’s uploading mechanism is much cleaner and easier – you feel ‘safe’ as you go along. I will also argue that Amazon’s engine is quite advanced and did a lot of processing to make sure that my manuscript fit into its guidelines.
We can see some different approaches here: To be approved for GlobalReach, the onus is on you to make sure your book is in the right format, has the right dimensions, has the right ISBN and author and copyright, has the right pagination and table of contents. There are good resources of how to go about that, including my previous posts, so it’s not such a bad thing. It also means that you, as the publisher, are responsible for getting it right and they make sure you purchase a proof for you to check over before you can set your book free to the world.
KDP, on the other hand, takes a different approach. You upload your manuscript and it gets processed by a bunch of verifiers and validators, custom engines that grab your PDF by their dog-eared corners and shake them about, making sure its up to standard. Not that you’ll see what’s going on, but it does give prompts.
When mine came out the other end, there were many errors that were picked up, including the size of the document. The cool thing was, the engine did its best to modify my manuscript to conform to the required dimensions because, yup, I’d forgotten to set the dimensions of my page before exporting to PDF!
Why does this matter? Because by changing the size, I change the layout and flow, and the pages will, as a result, not be the same. And it seemed to get that. I’d like to try it again just to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it actually updated the page numbers and the table of contents for me. So a big tick here for Amazon on that front.
It makes sense, if you think about it. If they had to manually review all of the manuscripts coming up for quality and design issues, it would take about a day before someone hit the ‘F-It’ key and got a programmer to knock up an engine to weed out the most obvious issues before they reached a human. Nice.
Where it falls a little flat, though, is when I revised my manuscript, changed the dimensions to 6″ by 9″ and re-exported. The Auto-whatsit decided to over compensate and the inside margins of the book were too big. It took many iterations of trial and error to get it ‘just right’, which I did in the end. I think.
And that’s the other killer – currently KDP doesn’t offer the ability to purchase a proof at publishing prices. Lulu insists upon ordering one to make sure the end product is exactly what it needs to be, but there is no such facility on KDP. So I had to order my proofs as a normal purchase.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the cover.
Similar to Lulu, KDP gives you the option to DIY or to use their templates. I’ve found the templates fairly straight forward, but this time around I wanted to try the DIY approach.
To do this you can download a PDF or PNG with the dimensions of the front, spine and rear cover. Depending on the size of your book, you’ll get a different file, but the idea is that you have the width and height, along with a spine whose size depends on the number of pages and the paper weight. Mine looks like this (PDF): 6x9_Cream_270
As you can see, it’s broken into parts. You’ve got the front cover on the right, the rear on the left – which includes space for the ISBN barcode – and the spine itself.
Do you have to make your own barcode or include it as part of the rear-image? No, not at all. It will be auto-generated when you upload it. More on that later.
The important thing to notice here is the whole loosey-goosey nature of the cover. You have red areas, black dotted lines and broad white areas. Why not just a rectangle? Because books are imprecise. The stock is not the same from place to place. They are produced on whopping great big machines with whirling parts and clampy bits and things that go brrrrrrp! and each of those processes has tolerances.
When ordering proofs of my other books, I’ve noticed that, depending on where they are printed, the colour, cut, folding and finish is different. As such, you will need to allow for the guidelines they’ve given you. Yes, there is a good chance that anything in the red-zone before the black line will be visible, but don’t count on it. If it’s important, keep it in the white zone.
Also worth noting: If you’re a stickler for having things dead-centre, then prepare to pull your hair out. That buffer and trim at the right means that you will need to compensate your centreline on the front cover to be a squigion to the left. The same rule applies for the vertical direction. Don’t assume that you can grab your eBook version and slap it on the top.
Be prepared to fiddle, is all I’m saying. After you upload, examine the finished product carefully because it won’t be exactly as you had it.
Is that all? No, not really. There’s a fair bit more to go, actually. More in the next post.
In the interest of comparison with Lulu, I’m going to be documenting my experience with Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space for making the hardcopy version of my book.
Thankfully, Amazon supplies ISBNs. If you’re curious about how the whole ISBN thing works, have a read. I’m not about to go forking out big bucks for a number, so I’ll get a free one, thank you very much.
Tick the box and away you go. The ISBN is issues and it’s supposed to go… where? Good question. Thankfully, my experience with Lulu shows that it needs to be on the second page, after the title page, of your book, under the copyright notice.
I’m going to stick to this format, because it works. Speaking of format…
KDP doesn’t give you a visual guide for how the book will turn out. I guess it doesn’t really need to
The options chosen by default sound reasonable enough, but if you’re interested, like I was, in the other options, you can hover over the blue text and get hints. For the trim size, which is very important to get right, I needed to know what the book would look like in the end. Following the link in the hover-over, you get a table like this:
Whoa. Ok. Cool. You know what? Let’s just stick with 6″ x 9″ for now, yeah? If that’s the most popular, then why buck the trend?
Along with the dimensions, there’s also the paper type (cream, white) and the ink type (black, colour). I think I’ll go cream and black, please. One sugar. Ta.
Now, while we’re on the topic of formatting, I need to get the ebook manuscript and tidy it up, because, like Lulu, the upload to KDP recommends PDF. Makes sense. So, in OpenOffice, I need to set the page size and the margins:
Note the width and height are the same as those specified by KDP? Important point, that. I’ve also set the margin at 2cm to give a comfortable reading experience.
After this, I need to add in page numbers and chapters. I won’t reiterate that, since you can see how I did that here.
So far, we’re in similar waters, so that’s helpful. Upload to the KDP and let it do its thing.
Next comes the bit with the cover. Ooh, now with this, we can only upload a print-ready PDF. Lulu’s cover creator makes it pretty easy to do front, rear and spine, this might be a little more involved.
After you’ve made your project, pushed up your manuscript and made up your cover, your book is pretty much ready to distribute. If you’ve selected the option to have Lulu push your book for you, then there’s just two things left to do.
Like Smashwords, Lulu can be an aggregator, taking the pain out of submitting your work through the various channels. Smashwords has a bazillion (last count, anyway) eBook distributors (minus Google Play and Amazon). Lulu has fewer, but, as far as print books go, there are two important ones: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
It’s one of those trade-off situations: They take a cut of the price of the book and, in return they take the hard work out of submitting, pricing, updating, etc. Personally, I want to spend more time writing, and less time chasing up the various distributors, so this option is for me.
Opting into the GlobalREACH program is as easy as pressing the button that says, “Activate GlobalREACH”. Well, it’s not that easy.
Sure, any old shmuck can join up, but because we’re no longer dealing with just you, Lulu and Mr. Magoo, the third parties have certain requirements that need to be met. Remember how we needed the table of contents to be correct, and the page numbers in the right spots, and Copyright and ISBN to be valid, and the cover to be up to scratch?
This is why we went through all of that, because, if you follow Lulu’s rules, there won’t be any issues with the third parties. Still, you need to do one last thing:
Order a copy of your own book.
Not only is this a good idea in general, it lets Lulu know that you’ve received the book as if you were a customer and, therefore, are viewing the final product AS THE CUSTOMER. Think about it: If you bought a book online and, when you received it, things were out of whack, you’d be kinda miffed, right? Who would you blame? The author? The publisher? The printer? The Distributor? Well, let’s not get the audience off-side, eh, and instead make sure that everything is tickety-boo before pushing it out.
This is your last chance to make sure that your book is EXACTLY how you want it.
OK, so there’s money involved, because you’ve got time on the press, but, from another viewpoint, you’re not handing over $10k for a first run of a thousand books, you’re spending $20 to make sure your book is ready. It’s a worthwhile investment.
You can wait until Lulu has free shipping offers, or 30% books, or whatever, if that helps. A little thing that annoys me about having it printed and sent is that the printers are just down the road in Port Melbourne. They send it, via Toll, in Port Melbourne to my office in, you guessed it, Port Melbourne. Can’t I just go and, you know, pick it up from the press when it’s done? Nope.
Once you’ve received your book, check it over, each page, double check the table of contents, the ISBN (must match inside and out), the spelling of the titles, the colours and position of the cover, etc.
If you’re not happy, don’t approve it.
After any changes, you make a ‘revision’ in Lulu. Once you’re convinced you’ve nailed it, you’ll need to order a copy of that revision, and verify that it’s correct.
If you are happy, go back to Lulu and click ‘Approve’. It’s that easy. If you skipped to this bit, I’m going to print the last sentence again, just for good measure.
If you’re not happy, don’t approve.
If you need to make changes after you’ve approved it, that’s still ok, but you’ll need to understand that the third parties won’t be too happy if they’ve cranked out a run of a thousand for their hungry audiences, only to be told that the run was a dud.
Lulu allows you to make revisions at any time, so pump the brakes, make yourself a cup of tea and take the opportunity to get it right. It’s exciting, because you’re *this* close to having your book sitting on a physical shelf.
Left you hanging on the uploading of the manuscript. My apologies. Had to get foreign character printing fixed on Epson printers. Long story, don’t ask.
This is where your hard work shaping the cover will pay off. You’ve made the front and the back cover, in the correct dimensions, so all that’s left to do is upload those two images.
Here, you’ll find Lulu’s cover creator. It’s fairly intuitive, although a tad clunky. Hey, it does the job. You’ll see that there are a few features, like Background and Themes. Ignore them if you have your title and author in the cover image. They’re good if you haven’t included these, and are just uploading a background image in the cover.
But you have, right? Cool. So, on the right pane, there’s the “Add Images” button in orange? Click it. Find your pictures and upload.
If your network connection is anything like mine, go and have a coffee while you wait. The maximum file size is 10MB, so if you’ve trimmed your pics to the right size, they’ll be good to go. Once they’ve uploaded, click Done and they’ll appear on the sidebar. This is a picture of a rather cool bird in the Melbourne Zoo.
And this is where the prefill gets ugly. If you’ve put your title as part of the image, click on the text box with your title and author and delete the text in the fields.
I don’t think you can delete the fields entirely, unless you go to Themes and pick ‘image only’, but I don’t bother. Clearing the text suffices.
Notice, too, that the barcode of the ISBN is already overlaid (The one in the picture is not a real ISBN). That’s where it’s going to live, so if your back cover ain’t right, fix it and re-upload.
Tidy up and Blurb it up!
Clearing the text in the front page text boxes is fine, but you’ll still have those camera images hanging around. Don’t worry about them. They are there if you’ve picked a theme that has multiple picture areas. Anyway, they won’t show up in the final cut. If they really bug you, click on the Theme tab and choose a front page theme with no picture inserts.
On the back cover (on the left), you’ve got a ready made text box. Use this for your blurb if you haven’t included it in the image, otherwise leave the field blank.
Click on the ‘Preview’ button on the bottom right, and you’ll be taken to the preview screen.
Not bad, not bad. The little dashed lines are the ‘trim‘ lines, so anything outside of them will be lost. Remember that. Note that this still isn’t the finished product. If you’re happy with the overall job, hit “Make Print-Ready Cover”. This will transfer all of the information into one big PDF, and you’ll get to review that in the next step.
Which reminds me: If you’re not satisfied with the manuscript or the cover at any stage, even AFTER you’ve published, you can go back and change it. Just know that Lulu insists that you check your book carefully to make any necessary changes BEFORE you publish.
It’s not so bad when you look at it like that. Enough beating around the bush.
Upload Your Manuscript
If you haven’t made a project, that’s OK, do that now. Log into Lulu and click ‘New Paperback’ from your author page.
Put in your title – be very careful about the spelling – your name and hit Save & Continue. If you want to set it up for private viewing first, get it all sorted and then push it out, hit the Make Available only to Me. Clicking this option will skip the ISBN bit. If you decide to go public, you can add it in later.
If you click on Sell on Lulu, Amazon & Barnes and Noble, you’ll get to the ISBN page.
It’s pretty straightforward. If you’ve got your own, use your own (But you cannot re-use an eBook ISBN, or a different format), or get a free one from Lulu, or don’t bother at all.
Once you’ve sorted that, copy down your ISBN and put it into your manuscript on the copyright page. Then export to PDF. On the next page, you’ll upload:
Hit Browse… choose your PDF or Doc. I prefer PDF, because it’s pretty much WYSIWYG. Don’t forget to click the ‘Upload’ button, or it won’t upload. You can upload as many parts of the book as you need, and these will appear in the bottom panel. If you do revisions, you’ll need to delete the old revision from here and replace it with the new revision.
Anyhow, once that’s done, click next: Lulu will convert your documents into a print ready PDF which you can view on the next screen
Download the converted PDF, check it over, make sure the conversion process hasn’t altered anything drastically. You might find that an adjustment of margins
Then it’s time for your cover. And my lunch break is well and truly over, so I’ll have to put that in the next post.
When you have finished converting your front cover, you need to slap your forehead and say, “Oh, right!”
Because, unlike eBooks, real books have a spine and a back cover.
You’ve got three options when it comes to cover design. Firstly, you can make an image for your back cover, just like your front cover (my preference). You can also use a flat colour or pattern, which isn’t so terrible, really. Lastly, you can use Lulu’s advanced cover editor, which I haven’t had the pleasure of fiddling with yet, but from my understanding it’s a matter of you creating the entire wrap around cover, including spine and safety margins, as a PDF.
For simplicity, I’ll assume you’re making your own back cover image. If you’ve used the Lulu template for the front cover, keep it. The dimensions will be the same. As for the spine, you can set this to a constant colour in the Lulu cover editor afterwards.
Text, Blurb and ISBN
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Lulu will insert the ISBN on the back cover for you. That’s a big help, because you know that it will be to standard, it won’t be fudged up with JPG artefact or anti-aliased or anything.
The bad news is that you don’t really get a choice where it lives. For the most part, I don’t care, but you might if you’ve included a graphic in the lower right corner of, only to have it covered by a barcode. Also, it’s black and white with big numbers. That’s the way it has to be. My advice is to put any significant image away from the lower right, and you’ll be fine.
See here, this is the resulting PDF after pushing my bits through Lulu’s online editor (We’ll cover that later):
For Jolimont, I’ve taken a zoomed shot of the front cover, lowered the brightness and increased the contrast, so that light text shows up nicely on top. For the spine colour, you can use the colour picker to sample a pixel, or you can type in the RGB colour code.
When it comes to writing a blurb, you don’t need to include this in your image. When you design your cover in Lulu’s online editor, you can have text boxes. Set the font, set the colour, set the alignment, and type away. This is useful in case you’re still teasing your blurb: You don’t want to have to upload a graphic for every minor change.
As for the spine text, Lulu gives you a spot for the title and the author, pre-filled. You only need to adjust the size and font to suit, and you’re good to go.
Lastly, you can insert the Lulu label on the spine (if it’s thick enough) and the Lulu book id on the back (next to the barcode) by clicking the check boxes in the Lulu editor.
So, really, all you need is the front cover image (check!), the back cover image (check!), and the rest you can do online.
If you need to have two tones in the spine, or your own font, or any of that, you’ll need to go with Lulu’s advanced PDF cover upload. Can’t help you there. When I get around to trying it, I’ll let you know how I go, but until then I’m sticking with the online editor.
Whew! What a ride! We’re almost there. After this it’s a matter of uploading all your bits, filling in the blanks and going with Lulu’s Global Reach program to do some of the heavy distribution for you, like getting your book to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Last post I showed you how to begin converting your eBook to a paperback. Choose the font, format, etc. and begin by separating out your first page from the rest.
Now fix up the rest of the front matter.
After your title page, add a page devoted to the copyright, ISBN and any further edition, front cover or publication information. I do my own front covers, and publication / printing is at the mercy of Lulu, so I can’t help there, but you will want a copyright.
Lulu can give you a decent copyright, similar to the below.
Make sure you get the year right. And who it’s by. You wrote the book, right? So it’s copyright to you.
Oh, there’s that ISBN again
Yeah, there it is. I usually put in
ISBN XXX-XXX as a big red flag to remind me to replace it with the ISBN once it has been issued.
Copy it and paste it exactly how Lulu gives it to you. While it’s pretty much a bunch of numbers, the separations do have significance, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to double check if you compare the numbers in blocks.
Just… copy it exactly, ok? CTRL + C, CTRL + V. Job done. Move on.
Table of Contents
“Charlotte’s Web” has a table of contents. So does “Celtic Fairy Tales”. “Street Fighter” does not. And guess which of these books people have read? (Hint: It’s not Street Fighter)
I’m also very embarrassed that a novel based on such an atrocious screen play is even sitting on my shelf. Excuse me while I wash my hands.
Back to the table of contents: This is actually really easy.
Create a new page (after your copyright and ISBN), click on the “Insert” menu, then “Indexes and Tables” and then “Indexes and Tables…”. If you’ve marked your Chapters as ‘Headings’, then you’re golden. If not, go back and make all your chapter headings as ‘Headings’.
Hit the ok button and, boom, the TOC is made for you.
If you need to style the TOC, click on the element in question, like the Contents Heading and set the font / weight / size as necessary.
One last, but very important, tip: As you shuffle stuff around, add in pagination, modify breaks, etc. the TOC may not (will not) keep up. You need to right click on the grey area of the table and press “Update Index/Table”.
NB: Be sure to Update the Table as the last step before exporting. The Table of Contents must match the page numbers of the chapters perfectly.
When you publish your eBook, you can assign an ISBN to it. You know that butt ugly barcode that’s sitting on the back of a book? That’s the one. In digital format, you don’t need to worry about having a 13 digit set of numbers spoiling the view. After all, it’s just ones and zeroes, right?
In hard-copy format, it’s important to get it right.
Once you’ve got an ISBN, you it gets registered in a magical bucket in cloud-land denoting the title of your book and author and publisher and date. There are rules around them, and they cost money to get from Bowker, and they have a certain format and all of that. As an indie, I don’t particularly care too much for the details. All I know is:
a) I have to have one if I want to formally publish my title and
b) I have to have one if my book is going to live in a library or get distributed
Which are both things that I would like very much to do.
I can just use my eBook one, right?
No. You cannot. If you’ve gone to the Bowker website and purchased your own, that’s fine, and you can use that IF it hasn’t been tied to another book, even the ‘digital’ format of your book.
In essence, if it’s hard-copy, it’s not the same book as your digital copy. It’s a different, and therefore requires a different ISBN.
Publishers buy ISBNs in bulk, and get significant volume discounts, so they don’t mind the cost too much. Me? I can’t afford the price of a single ISBN for each book, so I use the free option available. That’s right: Smashwords and Lulu offer ISBNs to their authors for free.
What’s the catch? Well, you are still the author. You still own the book. You maintain all rights to it. What gets set is that SW or Lulu get put as the publisher. If you have a publishing house, or you want to become one, then a free ISBN is not what you’re after.
Do I have to have one?
No. You don’t. Smashwords will happily publish your book, but you cannot distribute it via iTunes or Kobo… they want an ISBN. It makes life easier. Which is fair.
The same goes for Lulu. You can make your book, print it, and have people buy from Lulu directly, but it cannot be included in libraries or pushed to all distributors.
Long story short: If you’re serious about publishing your book, you want an ISBN.
OK, I want an ISBN.
For Lulu, it’s important to have your ISBN before you upload your manuscript. Why? Because you need to follow format rules in order to be accepted for global distribution, and three of those concern the ISBN:
You must include the ISBN on the first page in from your title page
You must include the ISBN as a barcode on the back cover.
The ISBNs included MUST match those of the book (goes without saying, but, you know)
Lulu will offer, as part of the book setup portion, your choice of free or BYO. Personally, as an independent author, I’m up for anything that makes it easier to publish, so I hit the free option. Then, within a second, you’ve got it. This number will be tied to your book. Copy it, paste it into the first page of your book (straight after the title) and you’re set.
To repeat: Get your book ready to be uploaded to Lulu first, then start you Lulu project, get your ISBN, put that into your book, then export it and upload it.
That’s rule #1 out of the way. We’ll get to barcodes and requirements for printing and distribution in the next few posts.