Are you an author or a publisher? How indies are making their own rules

Tomorrow (or maybe today or last week, depending on when you’re served this post) I’ll be taking part in a Book Industry Communication debate on the future of ISBNs. I’m providing the author perspective, so as part of my research I canvassed opinions to see what the mood is.

Much of the feedback centred on whether authors should buy ISBNs or use the free ones from CreateSpace, Smashwords et al. There were sound arguments on each side. But what emerged for me was the way self-publishers view ourselves. It’s a snapshot of our times that goes a lot further than a little piece of industry bureaucracy.

For and against

juliaj

Julia Jones

Julia Jones, one of my co-conspirators at Authors Electric, said she bought ISBNs ‘to behave like a publisher in every way’ – a view shared by many. Plenty of authors feel to have their own ISBN is more professional, lets you be seen and counted, and gives you control.

jo

Joanna Penn

Other writers – among them author-entrepreneur Joanna Penn – feel having their own ISBN makes no difference: ‘I can’t see any benefit, or evidence that having a paid ISBN helps you sell more books’. As Joanna sells whopping numbers of her novels and non-fiction books, we certainly can’t argue with that. (I agree with her. Personally I’d rather put the money towards a better cover or more editing time.)

michaelnm

Michael N Marcus

But it was a comment from Michael N Marcus, who writes and publishes books about self-publishing that hit a bullseye for me: ‘If you want to be known as an author, the ownership of the ISBN is unimportant. If you want to be known as a publisher, own the ISBNs you use.’

Now that’s a very interesting view. We’ll return to that in a moment.

But look, no ISBNs at all

dan

Dan Holloway

Most striking was Dan Holloway, who publishes experimental fiction and poetry – both his own and that of others. He doesn’t use ISBNs at all – even for printed books. He says: ‘I write and publish for a niche, dedicated audience, providing an experience they can’t get elsewhere. I work with selected independent bookstores and galleries and send customers to them for my books, rather than having my books available everywhere.’ He’s not even on Amazon.

Dan is a firm believer in direct selling: ‘We should be trying to get our fans to buy direct from our websites if we can to foster community – we want to nurture fans with stickability, who will become our bedrock over the years, and the best way to do that is to have a hub that exposes them to us, our ideas and worlds, and all that we have to offer. I buy all my music direct from bands, for example.’
You might think this is a recipe for obscurity. Au contraire, Dan’s ISBN-free books have twice received special mentions for the Guardian‘s first book award, been shortlisted for the Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize, and been voted ‘favourite Oxford novel’ by readers at the Oxford branch of Blackwell’s.

Author or publisher? Or something else?

I keep coming back to Michael’s interesting distinction and I think he’s nailed something important. Certainly I put most effort into building an identity as an author rather than a publisher. Like Dan, I am most keen to find people who like my imagination and preoccupations, my way of thinking. Having said that, I like publishing and I want to publish myself; I enjoy the control and creativity. I can also, if needed, wave a CV that demonstrates years as a production editor/chief sub/editorial manager, so perhaps that’s why it’s no big deal for me and you should discount my view as I’m not typical of self-publishers.

Other authors feel ISBNs are an important part of their brand and image – one of many signifiers of their professionalism.

Now, more than ever, there is no ‘one right way’ to self-publish well. We’re all finding our own paths. You might be a Dan, a Julia, a Roz, a Joanna. Most probably you’re something else again. I’d love to know. Oh, and wish me luck tomorrow.

What kind of self-publisher are you?

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  1. #1 by Dan Holloway on September 29, 2013 - 7:30 pm

    very good luck for tomorrow!

  2. #3 by lornareid on September 29, 2013 - 7:45 pm

    I’ll likely be going down the ISBN route, as I would prefer to be the publisher of record, rather than CreateSpace and co. Still, it does have cost implications, and, if you’re as indecisive as I am, much time lost mulling over a publisher name ;)

    • #4 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 10:49 pm

      Ho ho, Lorna -what to call your company is a hilarious dilemma! Whatever name you choose, it will seem weird at first. Then you’ll get used to it. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. #5 by Minuscule Moments on September 29, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    Thanks enjoyed the read, very interesting.

  4. #7 by Wendy Jones on September 29, 2013 - 9:31 pm

    A really interesting debate. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Hope it goes well

    • #8 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 10:50 pm

      Hi Wendy! it’ll be interesting to see which way the debate goes. My feeling is that the ISBN could still be very useful, but the system isn’t keeping up with the times. Who knows whether anyone will agree with me?

  5. #9 by Julia Jones on September 29, 2013 - 9:51 pm

    I used to be a bookseller, I still want to sell through bookshops and have my books stocked by wholesalers. Having my own ISBNs is part of this process. If readers notice any difference between a Golden Duck book and, say, a Penguin, all I want them to notice is that Golden Duck’s production values are top quality. Then they can decide whether they want to read my stories. This week I was told that my forthcoming book couldn’t be reviewed in Armadillo magazine not because it was or wasn’t a good story but because they’ve “reached their quota” for self-published titles. I can’t see how attitudes like that help shops, schools or readers. Just blatant discrimination – in my opinion.

    • #10 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 11:04 pm

      Hi Julia! Thanks for expanding on your great quote. It’s interesting that you seem to have found your efforts don’t stop you being put in the category of self-published rather than ‘small imprint’. As you say, quotas aren’t serving the reader – but it will probably take time to change minds in the industry. I don’t know anything about Armadillo but I’m guessing they think they’re very progressive by even accepting self-published titles. Sigh.
      As a bookseller, what’s your take on the ISBN question? I’ve found that my CreateSpace ISBN doesn’t stop booksellers wanting to stock me. I go into the shop, show them my books and they react to the quality and my pitch. There was one bookseller who looked me up on Gardners and exclaimed ‘CreateSpace’ in a loud voice – I thought I was sunk but he became one of my staunchest supporters. However, I have no idea what happens in situations where a bookseller checks out my books and I’m not there to show physical copies or otherwise persuade them.
      And it has to be said that most books don’t get anywhere without a push. An ISBN isn’t enough. Regardless of who publishes a book you need sales reps or mentions in the trade press or readers coming in to ask for them – don’t you?
      Sorry, I’m still rehearsing for the talk. I’m imagining I’ll have a lot of corners to fight.

  6. #11 by acflory on September 29, 2013 - 10:09 pm

    When I decided to self publish I researched what I ‘had’ to do, and apparently I had to have an ISBN. So I bought one and away I went. However in reading your post, I’ve realised I also like having complete control over my work, and that includes having my own ISBNs. I think there are a lot of indie authors like me who no longer fit into the neat categories of author or publisher. We have to be both, whether we like it or not.

    Would I prefer not to have to get an ISBN at all? Absolutely. It’s one more cost, one more hassle, one more job I’d gladly give up. But while ISBNs are necessary [for whatever reason], I’ll continue to buy them.

    • #12 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 11:06 pm

      AC, thanks for stopping by. Here’s to creative control.

    • #14 by Dave Morris on September 29, 2013 - 11:32 pm

      I think that’s hit the nail on the head. “While ISBNs are necessary [for whatever reason]…” But what are the reasons, if any? I actually do buy my own ISBNs, but I’m not sure what benefit it confers on me. A non-Createspace ISBN certainly won’t get a self-published book stocked in Waterstone’s or reviewed in the Telegraph.

      • #15 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 11:47 pm

        No it won’t. Books sell to shops by introduction – either by an impressive review, a sales rep, an author or a fan who orders the book and perhaps persuades the bookseller that it’s worth looking at.
        Even the coveted press reviews don’t seem to make much long-term difference to sales (according to the other authors I know). There may be a short-term blip, but it’s negligible compared with campaigns that keep the book in the reader’s radar constantly and consistently for a long time. That’s the way book marketing is going now. Successful authors keep the book in readers’ attention fields. Even if an ISBN means you get a review in a national newspaper, that’s not sustained attention. So I conclude it’s better to put the money you’d have spent on an ISBN into marketing to an email list, for instance.
        But as I said, I don’t have a typical view!

      • #16 by acflory on September 30, 2013 - 1:56 am

        I only publish ebooks so don’t have access to the Createspace ISBNs, but somehow having my own ISBNs gives me a sense of security. Why that should be, or what ISBNs actually /provide/ I have no idea. :(

      • #17 by danholloway on September 30, 2013 - 11:13 am

        This is what I always responded when people threw up their arms in outrage at my lack of an ISBN – I know it may be different for high volume comemercial fiction, but for my readers in the poetry and literary fiction market, the “added bonus” of an ISBN – availability – IF ordered -through Amazon and chain stores would amount to not enough sales for me to have to take my mittens off in winter to count them on my fingers – the bonus in sales (aside from anything else) in having a direct selling environment, and creating a USP around authenticity and the independent ethos has been, well, enough to give me frostbite – plus I got full-length interviews in places like Writers’ Digest who were fascinated to hear about the approach

        • #18 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 7:18 pm

          Hi Dan! Kudos for following your own path – and as you say, there’s the spin-off of people talking about it (like here!). And I just mentioned you in my speech this afternoon, where a few delegates were tutting and shaking their heads. ‘No ISBNs? At all?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘And he’s doing very well.’

          • #19 by danholloway on October 1, 2013 - 11:24 am

            :) I love getting people tutting – sometimes I feel like a seven year-old who’s been left out to play on the street after dark!

  7. #20 by Henry Boleszny on September 29, 2013 - 10:27 pm

    My wife and I’ve gone both ways with our publishing business. We began in the 1990s with self-help books but focused on vocational education resources in the 2000s. Our earlier titles all had ISBNs because our market (bookshops, libraries, newsagents) relied on them when doing title searches. Our Voc Ed resources don’t have ISBNs for the same reason. We were burned too often by some ‘customers’, so we decided to rely on word of mouth. Our business hasn’t suffered for the lack of an ISBN on our resources despite having two national suppliers competing in our market,

    I feel the real determining factor on this issue is whether or not an indie author wants a book to be visible in markets that depend on ISBNs. This article suggests that those markets are shrinking or diversifying to include titles without an ISBN. The future for authors (whether indie or ‘trad’) certainly looks interesting.

    • #21 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 11:13 pm

      Hi Henry! We certainly do live in interesting times. I don’t think readers now need ISBNs to look for books – indeed there are many far more intuitive ways to search. I talked to a bookseller who said the majority of customers who are looking for a book don’t ask for it by ISBN. They’ll know the title or the author or have a vague idea from an article. As soon as we developed intuitive ways to search the ISBN ceased to be so important as a means to find a book.
      If you’re managing to run a publishing business without ISBNs (if I’ve understood correctly) that’s very interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. #22 by Ryan Petty on September 29, 2013 - 11:25 pm

    Roz,
    Thanks for a great post.
    I am at the final editing stage on a book that I think has little potential to sell through bookstores. But libraries, public and collegiate are another matter. Do you know if libraries find ISBNs useful or desirable–particularly in self-publishing situations, tied to an author’s own imprint? Thanks!

    • #23 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 29, 2013 - 11:53 pm

      Hi Ryan! I’m afraid I don’t know much about libraries and how they operate. There’s a chance that they may not even know what CreateSpace is, as much of the industry is ignorant of what happens in the self-publishing world! However, I’ve been getting my Nail Your Novel books into college creative writing departments and the CreateSpace ISBN doesn’t seem to have been any hindrance.
      Can anyone else help?

  9. #24 by Alys B. Cohen on September 30, 2013 - 12:01 am

    I think the US needs to not charge for ISBNs. If they were free like in every other country, we wouldn’t even need to debate whether or not to use our own ISBNs.

    However I have heard the argument that, while anyone can get a free ISBN and unleash an unedited NaNoWriMo “novel” (50k words does not a novel make) upon the word, a personal ISBN shows that someone has invested in their own work. It’s something that readers can see. They don’t see the expense of editors or paying people to do covers. But they do see “published by X.”

    • #25 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 8:58 am

      I agree about the charges, Alys. The UK charges for them too. But in some countries they’re free, subsidised by the Government. I don’t think Government subsidy is the answer here (and probably not in the US either) as we need our tax money for other things like health and education. But I do think that ISBNs could be free to authors and publishers, and funded by the industry bodies who will use that data.

      As to the argument that an ISBN demonstrates an investment has been made, I’ve heard that too and I think it’s mistaken. All it shows is that someone knew to buy an ISBN! And I don’t think it’s that visible to readers. They judge a book on so many other things first – what they’ve heard about it, what the cover looks like, the blurb – and the sample they read. Sure, if readers know what CreateSpace or Smashwords are they might be put off – but even if they are it’s probably one of the last things they look at.

  10. #26 by jpgrider on September 30, 2013 - 12:45 am

    Hi. Great post. I am self-published, but registered to own my own publishing company just to publish my books. In doing that, I decided to buy my ISBNs instead of using Createspace’s, Amazon’s, etc. What I noticed, however, is that when I had used the Createspace ISBN, they distributed to libraries. With my own ISBN #s, they do not. Now I don’t know how to get into libraries on my own. I’m a little disappointed, because I bought ten ISBNs. I still have more to go through before publishing using Createspace’s ISBNs. Live and Learn I guess. But if anyone knows how I can get into libraries with my own ISBNs, please, please share that information with me.
    Thank you so much.

    • #27 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 8:59 am

      JP, how disappointing. We had another commenter above who wanted to know about getting into libraries. I’m afraid I don’t know the answer, but I’m curious to know too.

    • #28 by Alys B. Cohen on September 30, 2013 - 9:06 am

      The difference is that Createspace prints. If a library wants to buy copies of your book, how can they order that? You need to have your ISBN connected with to a book printer or distributor who has print copies on hand. With your own ISBN as you’re doing it, how would you distribute?

      I have my own ISBNs, and I’m funding my own print runs through IngramSpark, and provide my ISBN. Libraries or anyone else wanting to order copies can order them through Ingram, who serves as my distributor and printing service. I am the publisher.

      I’m not sure how it works if you use a Createspace ISBN with Ingram. I *think* it would be the same as for me. I upload my info and book, and have Ingram list it. But I’m not sure what restrictions Createspace has. By issuing you an ISBN that they do pay for (the cheapest Bowker sells them is $1 each if you buy 1,000 or more at a time), Createspace hopes to print and sell your book at a profit to them. If you take your ISBN and let someone else print, that’s money lost to them. But maybe they allow it, and maybe Ingram will order the books through Createspace, which, again, defeats the purpose since Ingram also has a printing division.

      Being your own publisher does come with more footwork than using Createspace or a similar company as your publisher. With your own ISBN, you’re the publisher, and you have to put it all together, essentially your own business. With Createspace’s, they’re the publisher and basically have it all as a package. The trade off is control. You ultimately have less using Createspace’s ISBNs, but more using your own. With more control comes more work on your part. With more control comes more financial investing.

      • #29 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 9:54 am

        How here I’ll reveal my ignorance, as I don’t have any dealings with Ingram directly. Possibly something happens behind the scenes but I don’t have those puzzle pieces.
        But I do get my books into shops. I use CreateSpace Expanded Distribution, but that doesn’t get into the Gardners database so I also registered my books with Nielsen. They are perfectly happy to take a CreateSpace ISBN.
        But you’re right, there are certain aspects of control that you get if you pay for them, such as printing anywhere you like.

      • #30 by Daniel R. Marvello on September 30, 2013 - 1:31 pm

        We publish books through both Lightning Source and CreateSpace. We use CreateSpace for distribution to Amazon only (no Expanded Distribution) and Lightning Source for distribution to everyone else.

        Alys has it right. When you go through Ingram Spark, you are printing through Lightning Source and distributing through their distribution partners, which include the Ingram Catalog, Baker & Taylor, and several others. When you go through CreateSpace Expanded Distribution, you are printing through CreateSpace and distributing through the Ingram Catalog and probably others.

        The difference is that Lightning Source only deals with “publishers,” so you are expected to provide your own ISBNs. If you’ve moved your book from CS to LSI, you cannot use the free ISBN you got from CS because that ISBN points back to CS as the source of the book. Your own ISBN points to *you the publisher* as the ultimate source of the book.

        Having your own ISBNs gives you the freedom to print and distribute your book wherever you want and consistently have the ISBN identify you as the ultimate source of the title. Because we own our own ISBNs and do not use CS/ED, we are able to use the same ISBN at LSI and CS.

  11. #31 by Daniel R. Marvello on September 30, 2013 - 12:51 am

    Most of the debates I see about ISBNs stem from a basic misunderstanding of the Grand Purpose of the ISBN. The purpose of an ISBN is to give customers a unique number that will deliver the exact title they want in the exact format they want. The book industry adopted the ISBN as a universal way of putting a specific book into the hands of their customers. The ISBN identifies the originating country, publisher, and title/format of a book. If I order a hardback copy of “My Memories of a Future Life,” the bookseller better not deliver a paperback. If I order EPUB, the bookseller better not deliver MOBI. The ISBN was designed to allow the world’s book distribution framework to get the *right* book into the hands of the customer asking for it.

    The waters got muddy after the introduction of e-books. I blame Amazon, but all e-book vendors have had a hand in this. What changed is that retailers side-stepped the book distribution system, which was completely print oriented (and largely still is). Amazon created an author portal that allowed authors to upload books into their system and sell those books directly to customers. Amazon assigns an ASIN, which is effectively a private ISBN. You don’t need an ISBN for a Kindle book because that book only exists within Amazon’s ecosystem. When you upload that same title to NOOK Press or any other retailer portal, you are submitting the book directly into that vendor’s private domain. None of these systems talk to each other, so there’s no need for a universal identifier.

    The closest thing we get to a distributor in the digital world is Smashwords (and now Draft2Digital). And guess what? Smashwords requires the EPUB version of your book have an ISBN in order to distribute it to multiple vendors (aka the Premium Catalog). Sure, Smashwords can provide that ISBN for you, but it lists them as the publisher. Maybe you are fine with that and maybe you aren’t; that decision goes back to the publisher versus author question. Draft2Digital originally used the same ISBN for EPUB and MOBI, but changed that when it was pointed out that they were violating the Gospel According to Bowker.

    In a world where authors directly publish their books to retailers, an ISBN is not necessary. The retailer knows what book it is dealing with and assigns its own unique number. In a world where authors distribute their books to multiple retailers through a central distribution system, we do need ISBNs to serve the original purpose for which they were designed: making sure readers get the right book in the right format.

    As far as I can tell, the primary reason authors get all bent out of shape about ISBNs is because they have to pay for them. If ISBNs were free, most of the whining would go away. My publishing company solved the problem by investing in 1,000 ISBNs. It’s a sunk cost now, so at $1 a pop, I don’t mind burning a few on a new book. To this day, I do not assign an ISBN to the MOBI format of our books. That format is not in distribution–it is only available on Amazon–so the Amazon-assigned ASIN works just fine. Our paperback and EPUB editions DO go into multi-vendor distribution, so I do assign ISBNs to them. We want our publishing company to be the publisher of record forever. I can use my ISBNs wherever I choose to print my books (e.g. CS or LSI).

    For the most part, self publishers have a legitimate reason to eschew ISBNs, even for print books. The fact is that bookstores are highly unlikely to order their books to begin with. When you upload your book to CreateSpace, the odds are very high that your book will sell on Amazon.com and nowhere else, even if you are in Expanded Distribution (and don’t get me started on ED). If you are a fiction author, your print sales will be, at most, 5% of your digital sales (with less than 1% even more likely.) Who cares if your paperback edition says it is published by CreateSpace if no stores are carrying it anyway? The few readers who buy it on Amazon.com certainly don’t care about the ISBN.

    I guess my bottom line is that ISBNs make sense in an orderly world of book distribution like what existed prior to Kindle. With the chaos that reigns in the book industry now, it is much more difficult to understand the value of the ISBN. If digital distribution ever becomes as centralized as print distribution once was, the ISBN will again be king. Or maybe it will be the ASIN that reigns by the time that happens. ;-)

    • #32 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 9:06 am

      Great summary, Daniel! And you might be interested to know that print publishers aren’t even following the holy Bowker rules.
      My bookshop told me that HarperCollins didn’t bother to let people know they could order Lord of The Rings with a black cover or a white cover, thus annoying the people who thought they were getting a black book and then got a white one. And he said a publisher of maths revision books put out a book with three different interior layouts and different content, all under the same ISBN. The sky is falling.

    • #33 by Daniel R. Marvello on September 30, 2013 - 1:13 pm

      “…thus annoying the people who thought they were getting a black cover or a white cover.”

      You just nailed the philosophy behind all of those Bowker rules about when you need to issue a new ISBN. It is all about customer satisfaction. As I said before, the ISBN is designed to make sure the customer gets exactly the book they wanted.

      For example, you technically don’t have to assign a new ISBN when you release a book with a new cover, but Bowker recommends you do so if you have reason to believe customers will complain about ordering the book and not getting the cover they thought they were going to get.

      Dan Halloway’s approach is a great example of when an ISBN is not necessary. He operates outside the distribution system. In a way, he is his own distribution system. The only person who needs to know how to match the book to the customer is Dan.

      • #34 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 7:22 pm

        Yes, I mentioned the black/white cover problem in my speech this afternoon. Somebody from Nielsen said it wasn’t technically against the rules, but surely they could use common sense. As you’ve pointed out, it isn’t serving the customer.

  12. #35 by Katie Cross on September 30, 2013 - 1:29 am

    I’ve been debating a lot about this myself, so I was really excited to read the different viewpoints. I think Joanna Penn hit the nail on the head for me. I think a lot of good points are being made by a lot of commenters. This has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing!

    • #36 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on September 30, 2013 - 9:09 am

      Hi Katie! Yes, I was beginning to feel I was the only stick-in-the-mud. I can’t see that it does me any good to buy ISBNs and I was so pleased to see Joanna felt the same.
      But as Daniel said above (and others have repeated too) the real issue is the price. When the ISBN system was started, it probably justified the costs charged. But admin doesn’t have to cost anything these days; it could be virtually self-service, so would cost the end user nothing. (Maybe it already is self-service; I haven’t tried. But how could it cost hundreds of dollars to issue a list of numbers?)

      • #37 by Katie Cross on October 1, 2013 - 1:22 am

        Yeah. The biggest driving force away from ISBN’s for me is cost! As if it isn’t costing enough to self publish, to throw that in? Yikes.

  13. #38 by Julia Jones on September 30, 2013 - 6:04 am

    Daniel Mandello has it – as far as I’m concerned. I bought 100 ISBNs many years ago when I was a bookseller running a small local publishing imprint. Like Daniel I assign different ISBNs to different formats of the same title so customers can be sure of getting what they want. I don’t want to have to do all my marketing directly and feel lucky that my print books are in wholesalers (and wholesalers, by the way are becoming much more interested in having an e-catalogue as well) I think you’re right Ros to focus on the emotional aspects of this (though I think they are secondary, for all the practical reasons explained by Daniel). I find it helpful to think of Golden Duck as a publisher and that separates it from me as the author and helps me mentally to focus on the completely different functions of creating, producing and marketing. When I’m in marketing mode the books almost seem to have been written by someone else.

  14. #40 by Beth on October 1, 2013 - 1:21 am

    Great article. Thanks for clearing up this issue for me. I always wondered if buying an ISBN was necessary if you self-publish. Seems to simply be a matter of preference.

    • #41 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on October 1, 2013 - 8:52 am

      Cheers, Beth! As far as I can see, having your own ISBN makes no difference to whether your book is discovered by readers or how they regard it. If it makes a difference to your soul, do it. If not, spend the money on something else to make your book better.

  15. #42 by Ileandra Young on October 1, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    Wow.
    I just bought my first set of ISBNs and the price was a bit daunting. Okay, it was a lot daunting, but I do feel better for having done it. Not so much because I think it will help me sell more books (it certainly won’t), but the professional appearance it gives means a lot to me.

    This isn’t a hobby for me. This is what I want to do. So surely I want to do it properly? Or as properly as I can do, since I can’t possibly work at writing and self publishing full time (at least until my boys are a little older).

    It think the ISBNs are a security blanket for me. And a way to prove to myself (not so much anyone else, just me) that I am taking this seriously.

    Also, spending so much money on a list of ten numbers forcing me to take the rest of it seriously. It’s a motivation thing for me; why ‘waste’ that money on ISBNs if I’m not going to do the rest properly? So I’ve been paying for editing, formatting, photoshoots and covers… to do it all properly.

    • #43 by philipparees on October 1, 2013 - 9:45 pm

      I shared your implied optimism. I did likewise and ISBN’s led to enhanced listing with Nielsens ( more moolah) and the hope of book shops accepting, and professional design of cover (won award!) but none of this has yet led to stocking on even independent bookshops but the night is young and that ( from your photo) is your plus on me. I am on my way out! Best of calculated good luck. ISBN equals ‘In Spite of Barnes and Noble? Your ducks are in a row which gives you the right to shoot. I hope your shots tell. Mine have not, Yet!

      • #44 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on October 2, 2013 - 4:30 pm

        Hi Philippa! It’s a long game, this book promotion business. I think we’ll all have greyer hair before we feel we’ve cracked it. (Maybe I already have, but don’t know… :) )

        • #45 by philipparees on October 2, 2013 - 4:46 pm

          I did not mean to sound discouraging ILeandra! I think we all are still fencing not only in the present dark but tomorrow all may change and what decisions we made turn out differently because this whole world is spinning at the moment and we just get on when the carousel stops for us. I should add that for me the ISBN was necessary for LS, and yesterday an error made by them was instantly acknowledged, corrected, apologised for and immediately remedied at their expense. That’s rare these days.

          • #46 by Ileandra Young on October 4, 2013 - 9:25 pm

            That is rare actually. Glad they fixed it though. :)

            And yes, to some degree, I worry about the decisions I make now and how valid they will be later. But that’s part of the risk to do with self pubbing isn’t it? And for some reason I don’t mind.

            Well I know what the reason is; it’s because the decisions are mine. If it’s the wrong one, fine, I can learn from it. If it’s the right one I can learn from that too. But I enjoy knowing that there’s no one to blame but me.

            Does that even makes sense? o.O

            • #47 by philipparees on October 4, 2013 - 9:55 pm

              It makes perfect sense Lleandra. And pretty much what I felt when I bought ISBNs and turned publisher. Good luck with it all

    • #48 by rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris on October 2, 2013 - 4:28 pm

      Can’t argue with that – the ISBN as a motivational tool! Like new gym shoes. go for it, Ileandra!

      • #49 by Ileandra Young on October 4, 2013 - 9:26 pm

        Cheers Roz. :)
        I’ll be updating regularly on how it all goes. :)

  16. #50 by pd workman on November 7, 2013 - 5:13 pm

    Best of both worlds – I live in Canada, and ISBN numbers are free. So I applied for my own.

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