Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom: ISBNs

 I have over twenty indie books in print. To get ISBNs for those books, I had been going to Smashwords. Now, if you get a free ISBN from Smashwords, they become the publisher of record. I didn't want that, because it had 'indie' written all over it. At the time, indie was just beginning to ramp up and 'not very cool.' So after my first five books, I bought my ISBNs from Smashwords, at $9.95 a piece.

Little did I realize, they don't have you pay for those ISBNs up front. They take it out of your payment for your books. Since I went with Barnes & Noble and Amazon myself and didn't have Smashwords handle the distribution, I didn't really make a lot of money on Smashwords. Thus, I ended up having most of my pen name accounts there in the red (I don't consider Sweettale Books a publisher, because I don't want to get an LLC, thus, each of my pen names has its own Smashwords account).

I realized the more books I published, the more I'd owe Smashwords. At $9.95 an ISBN, there had to be a different way. And I found it, I think. is the only ISBN seller in the U.S. It's not cheap, and if you buy the ISBNs in bulk, you pay a lot of money. A single ISBN is $125. Ten ISBNs are $250 ($25 an ISBN). 100 ISBNS are $575, which is $5.75 a piece. That's almost half what they cost on Smashwords. And, if I'm feeling very industrious, 1000 ISBNs are $1000 (a dollar a piece).

Considering I have a lot more unpublished books on my computer, paying a lot less for each ISBN is worthwhile to me. But I don't need 1000 ISBNs. So I opted for 100 of those things, which should last me quite a while (I have about 35 unpublished books which leaves me 65 more ISBNs for future books...and at four or five books a year, that'll take me over ten years to use up).

Now, the normal author writes a lot fewer books than I write and don't have unpublished books on their computer. I have three friends who pooled their money and formed a type of publisher, using that name to register their ISBNs. When they need an ISBN, they just pay for it, register it with Bowker, and they have it cheaper than Smashwords would give them.

When you purchase the ISBNs from Bowker, you register the book with them at that time. You have to upload the cover and the book, indicate the genre and rights, and just about anything else considered. It's a lot of work, but I consider it a type of copyright, since the date's attached. It's not a formal copyright (those are around $40 a piece with the Library of Congress), but at least it's recorded somewhere.

Now, when I uploaded a book to Smashwords, the dashes were moved around in the ISBN. I'm not sure why or what that means, so I've written to Smashwords to find out.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing, so I can publish my next book, Kissing the Waves, by Markee Anderson. It'll be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble within a few days.

Have a great day,
SweetTale Books