I’S B N’ing…

Otherwise known as getting your ISBN on…

What are they? Why are they necessary? Do I need one for my book? Should I get my own or use the one provided by the POD/ebook vendor I am using to self publish? Where do I begin?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. From the Bowker website: “The most important identifier your book can have is the ISBN. …ISBNs provide unique identification for books and simplify the distribution of your books throughout the global supply chain. Without an ISBN, your book will not be found in bookstores, either online, or down the street from your house.” By the way, Bowker is the only official U.S. source for ISBNs. Their website can be found here.

With yesterday’s lengthy post on Self Publishing Options Today, I touched on the subject of ISBNs. If you are going to self publish, my opinion on the matter is clear — get your own ISBN! Here’s why:

  • You retain greater control over your product. If no more than being able to dictate where it is sold, having a service provider ISBN may limit your distribution channels. ‘Tis true — some service providers try to force your hand to use their ISBN number in order to gain a wider distribution; however, if you are a savvy self publisher then that simply means you will have to do the work to be distributed to those channels rather than the service provider. Why do all the work writing, editing, formatting, uploading, tweaking, proofing, etc. and then put someone else’s name and mark (the ISBN) as publisher? After all that’s done, it’s simply print-on-demand…
  • You have started a small business for yourself. Not that you need yet another task for your list! Just being an author means you will be wearing many different hats — whether you self publish or go the traditional route. Having and using your own ISBN means you are the publisher too. Your book will be written and published by you, whatever name you choose for your publishing company…
  • You have opened up a new niche for yourself. You’ve gone and done it. You’ve self published your own book, through your own publishing company. Now what? Use the information you have gained through the process to help the next aspiring author walk the path. Write some posts on your blog about your experience. Do a list post with the top 10 things NOT to do when self publishing. Write to Inspire and Nurture!! Use the experience to gain audience!

The benefits are many. The control and freedom over your work is unmatched. Of course, this is coming from a self proclaimed control freak. It’s probably one of the reasons I have worked in the I.T. field for more than 20 years — the end users are clueless so I can control the situation and outcome. That is as long as poor Mr. PC decides to work with me and not against me LOL!

On the serious side, you should look into ISBNs. It is an easy process to secure your own. It is not that expensive. If you purchase them in a block instead of individually, you can get more bang for your buck. Best of all — you will be glad you did when it is all said and done…

Time to share…
Your own ISBN vs a service provider ISBN — that is the question. What are your thoughts for and against obtaining your own ISBN?

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