Tag Archives: ISBNs

Need Your Own ISBN? It’s Easy.

Of course, the first question is, do you need your own ISBN?

The long and short of it is—YES, YOU DO.

Here’s a site that provides a quick and dirty explanation of why indie authors should own their own ISBNs instead of letting Amazon or Book Baby or any of the other packagers give you one for “free.” As the site will make clear, there are hidden costs to this perk.

So if you’re convinced, as I was, how do you get an ISBN?

It’s really not hard at all.

In the United States, ISBNs are sold through a company called Bowker. At http://www.bowker.com, you’ll find a link for “Authors.” On this page, you’ll be invited to click on various links promising help with your project, but for now, you’re interested in the link called “ISBN United States.”‘

Bowker

Next, you’ll click on a link to “Get Started: Order ISBN.”

Bowker Order ISBN page

On the next page, you’ll be able to scout the various plans and set up your “MyIdentifiers” account.

Bowker buy ISBN now page

At present, Bowker sells a single ISBN for $125, ten for $295 (they were on sale for $250 the day I wrote this), or 100 for $595. What should you do?

This is another personal choice. Experts online vary in their recommendations, but all seem to agree that most authors will need more than one ISBN. For example, if you buy just one at $125, use it for your ebook in the Kindle Store, then choose to create a POD edition needing its own ISBN, you’ve already spent $250—because each edition of your book requires its own ISBN. Most indie authors publish more than one book. Many publish more than ten books! How many books you expect to write will probably dictate the choice you make.

Note that the page offering you the ISBN options also offers you a chance to purchase a bar code. This code will eventually go on the cover of your POD book, providing the ISBN and the price you set for your book.

You can delay the bar-code purchase until you are actually ready to produce your cover. When you buy your ISBN(s) and create your Bowker MyIdentifiers account, you will find a link allowing you to purchase the appropriate bar code for that ISBN.

Bowker Manage ISBNs page

When you buy a bar code, your MyIdentifiers screen at Bowker will allow you to set the price that will appear on the bar code.

I chose to set this price to zero. Why? Because if you later want to change the price for any reason, you must produce a new cover with a new bar code. Uploading this new cover will cost you $25.

However, if your bar code reads “zero,” you can price the book any way you want, and other sellers can attach their bar codes over yours or charge whatever they want.

You will still set a retail price at Ingram for individual purchasers. Bookstores who might order your books to sell on their shelves get their discounts based on this price. At Ingram, you can edit both the price and discount over time if you like.

Bowker seems set up to accommodate even the most uneducated users. Like all technology, it requires you to follow a set of steps, but in the long run, negotiating these steps will give you the control you want over your work!

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

Some Helpful Advice on Copyright, ISBNs, and More

Books leading to a door in a brick wallJoel Friedlander is always a wonderful resource. Today’s “Mailbag” covers some important questions about copyright and ISBNs, as well as some questions about vendors and formatting decisions. Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, Copyright, ebooks, indie publishing, Money!, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

Crazy Journey: Designing My Own Book for IngramSpark

Magic book

Advice from a number of other self-published authors and bloggers led me to decide that my preferred path to getting my two previously published horse-racing mysteries out in print under my own copyright was to buy my own ISBN and start out at Ingram before moving on to Amazon’s CreateSpace. But I’m probably not alone in my panicked reaction at downloading the IngramSpark “file creation” specs.

My experience creating my ebooks for both Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing at Amazon was a breeze. I formatted my mss. in Word, uploaded them, and voilà, I had books. No errors, no “tickets.” But IngramSpark? Holy barf, Batman! What does all this stuff mean!

I hereby report that I am moving forward in my quest to conquer Ingram’s formatting requirements. I thought I would post progress reports, perhaps in hopes of encouraging others whose guts churn like mine did at the site of all those incomprehensible and unfamiliar commands.

Frustrated man at typewriter

If you’ve been through this, I hope you’ll take a moment in the comments to share your experiences, good or bad! (Even to tell me I’m just plain nuts. I won’t be offended! Really!)

 

Please note up front: The posts I envision chronicling my journey for better or worse are NOT how-tos! I am not an expert on InDesign, on formatting books, or on Ingram’s requirements. I can’t possibly match the expertise of professional book designers. I am simply sharing some observations and experiences, ideally as encouragement or in solidarity with others.

I have no idea where this effort will land me. I may be wasting my time on a task that doesn’t lend itself to amateur efforts. And after all, Ingram will sell you a template for around $50, as will other book designers—I haven’t tried a ready-made template, but might for the next book. I do have a funny feeling there’ll be some of the same technical work and correcting that I’m doing for my InDesign proof. We’ll see.

But here’s my rationale for moving forward on my own:

green smiley happy

  • First and foremost, it’s possible that I CAN do it. I won’t know till I try.
  • Trying this out is not prohibitively expensive. One blogger who considered Ingram’s requirements beyond the pale counted $500 in purchased ISBNs as part of his costs; I haven’t made a decision about that phase of the process, but I do know I won’t be writing 500 books in the next few years—and I’d still have to buy ISBNs if I want to be distributed through Ingram, whether I hire a professional designer or not. In the meantime, I’m making a $20/month investment in software and an hour or so a day in time.
  • I’m not on a strict deadline: I see this whole business of learning to market my books as a long-term project. Okay, so it takes me a month to do what a professional designer could do in a day. That’s not prohibitive, either, though for others it well might be.
  • Besides, I like learning new skills. Weirdly, I find this fun! It empowers me to see how well I can accomplish what, at the start, looked so daunting. And maybe I’ll put these skills to use in the future. So if it turns out I have to give up and hire a professional, I’ll be out a nominal sum but I’ll have gained an experience I value. Again, my idea of value is probably not everyone’s.
  • I’m not alone! Book designers are wonderfully generous with their expertise. I spent a whole day reading almost every article on Joel Friedlander’s superb site. I’ve found other marvelous sites I’ll share.

Bleu curve

Since this is a preliminary report, I’ll start with some preliminary stuff. Baby stuff.

Like figuring out what “trim size” means.

Basically, it’s about how big (height and width, not page length) I want my book to be. (Here’s an infographic on trim size.) Ingram supplies a list of options, and I measured a few of the trade paperbacks on my shelves with a ruler. Smaller trim size means more pages. I started out choosing 5.5X8.5.

Like figuring out that I needed some software.

Working with the graphic-design program at my university to produce a slick magazine told me that the designers’ preferred platform was Adobe InDesign. But InDesign came with some built-in liabilities:

It’s expensive.

It’s scary as hell.

Could I just use good ol’ Word? After all, even my ancient “2008 for Mac” version offers all kinds of formatting options that I’d already mastered for my ebooks.

Q mark flowersI invested some time searching for “InDesign vs. Word” online. Not surprisingly, the professionals gravitate to InDesign as offering more control and more options even for plain text documents like mine. Not surprisingly, the comments sections were sprinkled with claims that a) everybody already had Word so it was effectively free; b) Word works fine; and occasionally, c) sure, professionals tout something we all have to pay them to do.

To me, comments like c) denigrate professionals and the expertise they’ve built up over the years. But were the rebels right? Could Word do the kind of job Ingram accepts (and readers want)?

I actually don’t know the answer to that. (Do you? Share!)

You can use Word: the File-Creation Guide at Ingram directs you to be to sure to create your pdf using the print dialogue box, which is where you can find the specific Adobe Acrobat formats you need.

But the Guide specifically says that they can’t support material created in Word. So using Word looks as if it might limit my chances for getting help from Ingram if I need it.

According to the designers, justification in Word can’t match an apparent algorithm in InDesign that prevents “rivers” of white space from irregular word spacing and other anomalies from marring your pages. It does seem that InDesign’s kerning, tracking, and leading options are more sophisticated. (Are they? What do you think?)

alarmed smileyChallenge: Money! Adobe stuff costs $$$.

Solution: Adobe allows a 30-day free trial and then the $20 monthly subscription plan. Twenty dollars for a few months—the cost of one meal out each month—doesn’t seem outrageous, especially when I’m having fun.

worried smileyChallenge: Learning Curve! Adobe stuff is hard!

Solution: Buy a freakin’ book! Sorry, all you sweet video producers. A, I can’t watch your videos from home because they devour my data; and B, I can’t remember enough and have to watch again and again. At my university, we have access to the inestimable Lynda.com; I’ve watched the videos several times. But when you’re sitting at home staring at a blinking cursor, you must be able to thumb through the index and look things up!

My local Barnes and Noble offered a few alternatives. I chose Classroom in a Book because I liked the pictures. Uh, okay, I chose it because it did look as if it gave me a step-by-step combination of visual and text instructions. I’ll review it as a learning tool down the line.

I’ll end this first post with a quick word of encouragement: if you’ve ever delved at all into formatting with Word—using Styles, for example—or if you’ve ever worked with an app like the Mac “Preview” program, or “Paint” on a PC, where you can select, resize, edit graphics, etc., you already have a majority of the skills you’ll need to do basic text formatting in InDesign.

big smile smiley.jpg

So, today’s takeaway:

  • You can get definitions and guidance through some terrific online resources.
  • You may or may not need software. If you do decide tackle InDesign, it’s not prohibitively expensive.
  • You can learn the software. You’re probably two-thirds of the way there! I’ll report on how I did it in future posts.

 

7 Comments

Filed under business of writing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing

Almost Everything You Need to Know about ISBNs

Found this on Chris the Story Reading Ape and commented,

Pressed this to Just Can’t Help Writing. I read a post where an expert on indie publishing told readers it would cost more than $300 to get an ISBN. Having gotten mine from Smashwords, I couldn’t help wondering what he was talking about. This article helps clear that up. Thanks for sharing it!

Become-a-writer

To read this article, click on the link or photo of Author Laurie Boris below: almost-everything-you-need-to-know-about-isbns/

Source: Almost Everything You Need to Know about ISBNs

Leave a comment

Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, Money!, Myths and Truths, novels, Publishing, Self-publishing, Smashwords, Writing