Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stupid self-publishing mistakes I have made: ISBNs

I should have either bought a block of ISBNs from Bowker or just used CreateSpace services to get my ISBN. What I did instead was just buy one ISBN from Bowker and now nickel and dimed my way into spending too much for a book that’s sold less than 30 copies so far.
Here’s the problem: I wanted to get my own ISBN so that I could get my book sold at Apple’s iBookstore, which requires an ISBN. So I spent $125 to get the one ISBN I thought I needed instead of spending $250 to get a block of ten, not knowing at the time you’re supposed to have a different ISBN for each format of your book: Kindle, paperback, PDF, audio or EPUB (the Nook, Lulu and Apple iBooks all use the EPUB format).

There was also a little vanity involved: rather than identify my book as self published, which would be the case if Lulu or Amazon’s CreateSpace were the publisher, I wanted to create my own imprint. Part of that reasoning, of course, was that I knew many places would not review self-published books, but let’s face it, I don’t have the time nor money to pretend to be an actual publishing company.

So when it came to publish the paperback through CreateSpace, I chose the option that would register an ISBN with Bowker and list Mallard Mysteries as the publisher. It was pretty cheap, I think something like $10 as opposed to spending another $125 at Bowker for one or $250 for 10.

But then I had the clever idea to also make my books available to libraries, only to find that the Library of Congress won’t issue a catalog control number for self-published books. But CreateSpace will get you a LOC number, but only if you don’t pay the $10 to get an ISBN issued to yourself.

All in all, I would have been better off not buying an ISBN just for Apple’s iBookstore because I haven’t sold a single copy there and I would have been better off just using CreateSpace’s free ISBN listing CreateSpace as the publisher. After all, it’s conceivable some library somewhere, maybe the Denver Public Library because Good Cop, Dead Cop is set in Denver, might have bought the book. And many book clubs won’t consider books for their groups unless the book is theoretically available through their library.

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