Tag Archive: about subsidy press

Self Publishing Butterflies Buy Their Own ISBNs

The butterfly (representing a free ISBN from a self publishing company) is not the focus of the effort… it is the leaf supporting the butterfly (which represents your own self publishing company). Own your own ISBN, so it doesn’t matter where your butter flies.

The ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, is of particular concern to a publisher… and is generally confusing for an author.

But it is THE definition of a Do It Your Self publisher.

Owning the ISBN is the difference between being a self publisher who is a publisher and being an author who has engaged self publishing services. My self publishing advice is that you should own your ISBN and get a business license for your self publishing company. It’s worth the effort, which isn’t a huge effort, and worth the cost, which is a large-ish up front cost for the pack of 10 numbers, but comes out to about $30 per book.

The ISBN is a 13 digit number used to identify both the book and the publisher. Many self publishing service providers offer to assign one for free to your book project, and that will mean that their publishing company will come up under the listing for your book title until you re-publish with another number or another company. With all the marketing effort I put into my books, I prefer to own my own ISBN and therefore have the number follow my title no matter where or how I print it and offer it for sale.

The ISBN is not the same as the barcode. You can buy the barcode when you buy the ISBN, but you don’t have to. There are ways to make the barcode later, and if you don’t ever produce a short print run outside of the print-on-demand service, you won’t ever need it. When I publish through CreateSpace, I provide my own ISBN, and they use it to generate my barcode automatically.

ISBNs used to be 10 digit numbers, but then the earth’s population exploded with book-reading mammals and ISBNs needed to expand to 13 digits. There’s a converter for the 10 digit numbers to get them to conform to modern standards… you don’t just assign zeros to one end.

ISBNs are unique to a particular edition of a book. You can correct typos without using a new ISBN, but you can’t change content. An ebook, even if it is identical to the print book, will have a different ISBN.

By using my own ISBN number, I can do a print run outside of CreateSpace and keep the same ISBN number (and I also have to keep the same trim size and page count). If I accept the free number from CreateSpace… or any of the other companies that offer it, then I am not supposed to use that number as I produce the book in any other way. I retain all my options by using my own number.

The ISBNs are available online from only one company. While I can buy one, I prefer to buy the pack of 10 because I know I will use them, and they will be mine… all mine…. Bwahahahaha!



The sundog of Self Publishing Advice

This is a SunDog. It’s like a mini rainbow… just like Vanity and Subsidy Press are like mini self publishing. There’s less chance of a pot of gold at the end of a sundog than a rainbow… do you see my analogy? I hope so… cuz it’s a stretch, I know.

What if true self publishing is not for you?  What if the time, learning curve, effort, follow-through, and set up are beyond what you are willing or able or ready to do?

Possibly some of the other kinds of publishing solutions are a good idea.

While there are a few “bad” publishing solutions out there in this new and exciting world of self publishing, not all of the vanity or subsidy presses are wicked. And not all of the self publishing helper services are a waste of money. Different book self publishing projects match different book self publishing solutions.

Vanity press is called “vanity” because the author pays to have the book published. There is no editorial oversight. The author can have a published book in hand with no obstacles other than actually writing it. It could be a book of blank pages, so that’s not actually an obstacle either.

Subsidy press is another kind of “vanity” press, again tied only to the author’s ability to pay. And both those kinds of publishing services are often dissed because of the lack of perceived effort on the author’s part in getting the book to market. In both these publishing solutions, the ISBN number is given to the author by the press, either for free or for a fee. So those companies are the publisher. It isn’t self publishing, but the author doesn’t have to go through the gauntlet of traditional publishing rejection or the mountains of work in do-it-yourself self publishing.

Vanity or subsidy press are an ideal solution for a book that the author wants to make available to either family and friends, or even the general public, but has no concerns for the long term rights ownership, publishing contractual details, or profit margin.

A family memoir, for instance. Or a fundraiser cookbook. Or a collection of a child’s poetry or artwork.

The long-term rights ownership is a concern because of the ISBN number having been assigned by that press, and that affects the publishing contract issues and the author’s ability to have the book printed anywhere else. The book may also be more expensive to print and sell in small quantities, which can make it unfeasible for a true self publishing approach.

For an author with a serious plan to market and support a book, but no time or ability to go the whole journey into self publishing, subsidy press can work well. The cost makes turning a profit on the book more difficult, but at least the book is out there and in reader’s hands.

The key to choosing the right solution for self publishing a book is to match the right publishing solution to the publishing project.

And the right match depends on the author’s ultimate purpose for the book.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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