ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s a globally accepted standard for identifying books. Your book needs an ISBN if it is to be viable: most retailers require it and it helps people find your book.
Probably the only reason not to have an ISBN is if you aren’t going to sell your book and don’t care if people read it. But if that’s the case, why write or publish it in the first place?
If you go with a traditional publisher, they will provide the ISBN. Easy peasy.
If you self-publish, you need to obtain an ISBN yourself. Though you may be able to buy it from the various organizations that help writers self-publish, all ISBNs originate from Bowker. I suggest going directly to them.
Don’t be shocked, but a single ISBN costs $125, while a block of ten currently runs $275. Each version of your book needs its own ISBN, so you could quickly burn through five: hardcover, paperback, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF.
Some companies that support self-publishing buy ISBNs in bulk and then provide them to clients at a discounted rate. However, before you go that route, carefully investigate the details to make sure you are aware of any limitations. This isn’t to imply there are dangers with this option but simply a warning to check before buying.
There is more to know about ISBNs, but this will get you started.
In “Why Self-publishing Versus Traditional Publishing Doesn’t Matter” I pointed out that both options have the potential to satisfy the core needs of a writer seeking publication. Writers must carefully consider the pros and cons of each option before pursuing either one. The next four posts will consider some of these issues.
To start the discussion, here are five reasons why a writer should go with a traditional publisher:
1) Wider Distribution: Traditional publishers have distribution avenues that are effectively not available to self-published books. Sure, there are work-around solutions, but they’re limited and require much time and effort. Traditional publishers handle the distribution; easy peasy.
2) An Advance: Traditional publishers provide an advance. Self-publishers don’t. While the advances are getting smaller, they still exist.
3) More Prestige: An author of a traditionally published book earns greater respect and garners more esteem.
4) Higher Quality: Traditional publishers generally produce a higher quality product. There are more eyes looking at it to catch errors.
5) They Do the Heavy Lifting: What about e-books, hard cover and paperback, press releases, cover designs, ISBN and bar codes, back cover material and author photos? A traditional publisher handles all these items. There’s nothing for the author to master or worry about; traditional publishers make it happen.
Given all this, why would anyone want to self-publish? Next week, we’ll consider why.
What would you add to this list?