More Fun With the ISBN Number

by | Oct 29, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

I’ve grown so accustomed to cranking out my blog posts on Monday afternoons, I almost forgot to schedule one for today. Thanks to the magic of WordPress, I can write this in the morning and schedule it for the afternoon. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be out on the road, unavailable for writing or even posting!

I recently had an online conversation with a graphic designer with many years of experience. He’s one of the people I’m considering for my next novel design, and we emailed back and forth after connecting on Twitter. After reading my message, he checked out my latest video on book-building, where I discuss ISBNs, LCCNs, and Cataloging-In-Publication data. He then asked if I’d done a video or blog piece just about ISBN.

I haven’t, and I thought, That’s a great idea. So I’m going to roll out a three-part series drilling down into each of the topics I covered only a little on my last post and video. This week will be on the ISBN.

You probably already know you can get your own ISBNs from Bowker, but did you also know that many indie authors only get the “free” ISBN from CreateSpace? As my new designer friend mentioned to me, “CreateSpace is fine for printing, but using an ISBN they provide usually makes them the publisher, as they purchased and own the ISBN.” 

Amazon Author?

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What does that mean, makes them the publisher?” And that is a very good question indeed. The way I think of it is this: if you are okay with being an “Amazon-only author,” and don’t care about having your books available elsewhere, then that route may be the way to go. It wasn’t for me.

So when I created my publishing company, I bought a block of ISBNs from Bowker. Those ISBN numbers now belong to me, so I can use them for my own books or for any books published under my own imprint. Because I did not go with the Amazon/KDP/CreateSpace model, I am not under Amazon’s control.

In order to do this right, I made a decision to assign a full three ISBNs to each of my titles. One ISBN is for the print version, which is available via Print-On-Demand from IngramSpark; one is for the e-book version distributed via Amazon; and the third is for the e-book distributed via all other channels. That last category makes the e-book version available via Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo…you name it.

The rules of the road regarding ISBN numbers have changed over the years, and I might not replicate this exact process for future publications. For now, however, it works: you can get my books in print or e-book formats from your favorite online distribution channels – they even show up on Wal-Mart’s website now – or you can buy the paperbacks direct from me.

That’s my little overview on ISBNs. You can customize somewhat, based on your own needs and goals. But above all, you have to decide how much control you want Amazon to have over your titles. For me, as an independent, my current model was the way to go.

metaphysics

Psychology Is Sort of a Hobby of Mine, or Why I’ve Always Been So Interested In Metaphysics

I chose the image above for today's blog post for a couple reasons: first, it's cool, but second, it's also kind of all over the place. And isn't that what metaphysics are all about?A quick Google search shows the definition of metaphysics as "a field of philosophy...
20/20

2020 Vs. 20/20: What We Saw Then, What We See Now

Grinding through the first few months of 2021, I presume nearly everyone wants to shut the door on 2020. After all, the tragic COVID-19 pandemic and—at least in the United States—chaotic election drama left millions exhausted, overwhelmed, and just plain traumatized....
author

Are Authors Typically Obsessive-Compulsive?

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in author blogs toward the confessional. After all, no one wants to read about your characters all the time, and God knows that readers don’t want to read about marketing. They want to know something about you. Happy to oblige. Although...
biscuit

“What Do You Want for Nothing—A Rubber Biscuit?”

Readers who are old enough to remember the Blues Brothers’ cover version of The Chips’ Rubber Biscuit will no doubt understand the reference in today’s headline. For everyone else: just shorten it to “What do you want for nothing?” I guess that’s my way of saying,...
break

You Deserve A Break Today

The last few weeks’ worth of blog posts have been downers, and I appreciate everyone who has read them, sent me messages, and in general been encouraging. This week needs to be lighter. A lot lighter. So I’m going back to one of my favorite topics: writing. I’m on a...
meditation

Which Is Better For Writers – Meditation or Exercise?

A while back, I did an interview about creativity, and I talked about meditation and exercise. I also talked about a few other things like journaling, play, and being disciplined about a schedule.For writers, you might think meditation is going to be the number one...
travel

Travel Feeds the Soul

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu I wish I could say I've always loved to travel. Maybe I'm good at being in a different place; the getting there is sometimes a whole other story. Traveling to a foreign locale can be...

Blatant Self-Promotion Post

This week is The Big One: the 2nd edition of Miles of Files launches on Mar. 10th, almost 15 months to the day of its initial release! When I won a book cover design from 99designs, I immediately thought of Miles. I was never quite as enamored with the original cover...
Whizzers

Authors’ Pandemic Sales and The Dubious Metric of “Necessities” Vs. “Luxuries”

​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...
money

Do What You Love, and the Money Will Follow…Right?

Recently, I was reading a post from an online trainer who coaches authors and other professionals. This trainer discusses the contrast between writing for money and writing for passion. In other words, the age-old conundrum: if you do what you love, will the money...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...