Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Self-publishing offers writers another choice on the road to publication, whether they’re already traditionally published and/or e-press published, or unpublished. Although the author maintains control of the process, she also has a lot of hard work ahead of her. Education about self-publishing and the publishing industry is vital to a good product and creating a professional image.
No matter which publishing path an author chooses, Preparing the Finished Book for publication is the first step. So, butt in chair and write. Once the book has been written, the polished manuscript sent out to an editor, critique partners, and beta-readers, the tagline and blurbs written and tweaked, and the cover is in progress, ISBNs are next.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Libraries, bookstores, online retailers, readers, and bestseller lists use these numbers to identify books—much like social security numbers for people.
A book without an ISBN has one less method of discovery and its sales can’t be tracked for the bestseller lists. They’re optional at some self-publishing retail outlets. Others will assign or offer a free/low cost ISBN specifically for use with that outlet only. While this is an option, having multiple ISBNs makes the book more difficult to find. They also prevent sales from being pooled into a single count for the lists.
ISBNs can be purchased individually or in bundles from Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency. Buy one, ten, or a hundred. The price per ISBN is greatly reduced by purchasing more than one at a time. An author who plans to self-publish a series of five books may opt for the ten-pack bundle. More books means more ISBNs needed.
A couple important points to remember when figuring the number of ISBNs to purchase...
E-book and print versions of the same title must have different ISBNs. Boxed sets also must have different ISBNs. Example: Five books in a series will be available in digital and print formats. That requires ten ISBNs—five e-book and five print. The entire series will be released as an e-book boxed set. Add one more, for a total of eleven ISBNs.
Is self-publishing part of a long-term career plan? If an author intends to release many books over a long career path, a hundred-pack bundle could be much cheaper per book. Example (based on August 2014 prices): 1 ISBN=$125.00; 10 ISBNs=$295.00; 100 ISBNs=$575.00. Ignoring possible price increases, the cost for 100 ISBNs will be $12,500.00 if purchased singly, $2950.00 if purchased in ten bundles of ten, and $575.00 if purchased as a hundred-pack. Using only twenty of the hundred-pack is cheaper per ISBN than the per ISBN cost of two bundles of ten. $28.75 vs. $29.50. Use more than twenty of the hundred, and the price per ISBN drops even lower—as low as $5.75 each if all are used.
The ISBN should be included on the copyright page of both e-books and print. It should also be placed on the back cover of the print version.
Although ISBNs are available for low cost or no cost on most retailers’ self-publishing platforms, a universal ISBN connects the book on all outlets, making it easier for readers/buyers to find. It also adds to the professional image of the book and offers a chance at hitting a bestseller list.
While not all authors can afford to purchase ISBNs, self-publishing is a business and may require an initial financial investment. Editors, cover artists, and ISBNs cost money. Don’t approach the decision to self-publish lightly!
Check off item #5 on the to-do list! Only 10 more to go!!!
The To-Do List
1) Finish the book.
2) Polish and edit the book.
3) Write taglines and blurbs.
4) Create or purchase cover art.
5) Purchase ISBNs, if using a single ISBN for all retailers using the same book format (print or e-book).
6) Create front and back matter.
7) Format for e-book and/or print.
8) Update website, blog, and social media.
9) Create metadata list.
10) Plan a marketing and promotion strategy.
11) Publish the book.
12) File copyright paperwork, if registering.
13) Add buy links to websites, blogs, and social media.
14) Implement marketing and promotion strategies.
15) Write the next book!
Be sure to check out the writing craft series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and the writing career series, Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Career Handbook, in e-book at Amazon and B&N and in print at Amazon and CreateSpace.
Romance...With A Kick!