To ISBN or not to ISBN

My internal debate made external, cross-posted at Amazing Stories

These flowers are made of old books - I found them at Concord Art's Market
These flowers are made of old books – I found them at Concord Art’s Market

Oh, and apologies, I am missing both the period key and the question mark from this keyboard – hope to rectify it later today! 

I’ve been on the brink of buying a ten-pack of ISBN numbers a half-dozen times the last few weeks. The reason I haven’t just pinched my nose and stepped off into the deep end is, quite frankly, money. For that ten pack, which should be adequate to publish two novels in paper and multiple e-formats, it will cost me $250. Which is a fairly large chunk of change to  lay out on a speculation at this point in my life (full-time student, mother… etc).


So I have been wondering how bad it would be for me to publish without an ISBN. I have already done so with my short stories, using the oh-so-simple KDP process to publish them. I will be attempting Smashwords soon. I know, I keep saying that. Really, I’m busy, and the writing is not even third or fourth on my list right now, I am afraid. For the novel, however, I wanted to make a print version available through Createspace, and I already have one bookstore who is willing to carry copies for me.


In order to sell it, I am told, I need an ISBN, and a barcode. I wonder how much that still holds true, though, in the shifting lines of the publishing world. If the novel is generally available in e-book form and then in print only as needed for specific orders, I wonder how that would work? I do not want to price it out of the market, the print edition ought to be no more than any other traditionally published trade paperback, $14.99. I see self-published trade paperbacks on sale for more than a hardback and I wince. I don’t imagine those sell very well at all.


I still have not made up my mind. I’m consulting my mentors in the business. I’m taking a close look at my budget. I know that if I choose to go through Amazon or Smashwords without one, and I’m not careful, they wind up listed as the publisher. I know with Amazon that can be fixed, because I have done it with my shorts.


One way or another, I will have this book out very soon. I have waited so long, and I’m working on multiple other projects, I need it done, and I’m proud of it. Also, my kid’s friends want to buy copies.


I’m muddling through all of this, exploring new ground for me. In my explorations I am reading the work of those who have gone before. Dean Wesley Smith ( shares this quote “This writer as publisher is nothing new, actually. Before 1950 or so, self-publishing was an accepted form of publishing. Only from 1950 to 2008 was it looked down on. Now it is accepted again. Only difference is the difficulty and delivery systems.”  I find this inspiring as I tread down the road to self-publishing.


Finally, I decided to buy an ISBN from Createspace for the novel. It was $10, and allows me to publish under my own imprint, Stonycroft Publishing. I submitted my files, and while waiting for them to be reviewed I continued on to the distribution channels and spent a further $25 for the expanded distribution. I’ll blog at length soon about the Creatspace experience. So far, it has been painless.




3 responses to “To ISBN or not to ISBN”

  1. If you buy an ISBN from Createspace, they will always be listed as the publisher. You don’t need an ISBN for Kindle, B&N, and Kobo ebooks. Good luck!

    1. Not necessarily. If you have your own imprint, which i do, that is indicated as publisher if you so choose. I received my proof copy today, and nowhere on it does it say CS as publisher or anything else. Now, the ebooks will not have an ISBN, so they will be releassed by KDP and later, Smashwords.

  2. Oh, sorry. I just read about the $10 imprint fee in a thread from January of this year. That’s cool. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of that before. Maybe it’s a new feature they’re offering.