I guess I have to blog about boring stuff like ISBN#’s and Barcodes too. They are not nearly as fun to talk about as cover design and marketing – but I got to do it. Most people will need to buy an ISBN # for their book. I say ‘most’ because I have seen people who only want to print 25 books for a family reunion or something and I don’t think it is necessary in that situation. Some people may disagree. If you want to sell your book in a retail setting, you definitely need an ISBN. Most places will not accept your book w/o one and it will look unprofessional.
Bowker is the US ISBN agency. They are the source for ISBNs. You can purchase the # at www.bowker.com. Just go to Products and Services/Identifier Services/ISBN. You can buy one for $125 or a lot of 10 for $250. If you do more books, it makes sense to invest in the 10. It is super important to have a different number for each format too. So if you have an eBook, a printed soft cover and a hard cover – that would require 3 ISBNs.
An ISBN is a 10 and 13 digit number for your unique book. The reason it is so important is because this is how your book is cataloged in the thousands and thousands of books out there. Once you purchase the ISBN#, you will need to register it correctly. When Mira Publishing provides ISBNs to authors, we have asked for a form like this (ISBN Registration Form) to be filled out. The registration is essential because it places you properly in www.booksinprint.com. This is a database of all books – where libraries, publishers, bookstores, etc will go to search the marketplace for titles. You want to make sure you are on there and that your book is registered properly. Be sure to register each # for each format – eBook and print. You will also need an ISBN for other products such as audio books, DVD, CD, etc.
Bowker seems to have jumped on this author services bandwagon like every other Joe on the street. I noticed a service for submitting your manuscript to publishers for $99. I have seen services like this numerous times and I think they are bogus. I don’t have the money (like most new authors) to try every single one of these services from various publishers/printers so I guess you have to decide if it is worth it yourself. If you find one that works, definitely let me know! In my opinion, once they have your money they don’t give a crap. You have to consider the return on your investment too. ROI is a real thing and now that your book is your business, then you have to consider – If you spend $400 on some product to get exposure or whatever then how many books do you have to sell to break even at best? After printing cost, editing, and the service fee – maybe you have to sell 150 books. Well, that doesn’t sound very appealing to me. We will talk more about this with marketing blogs but cannot stress enough good old fashioned grass roots.
Anyway, so on to barcodes. The barcode is generated from your ISBN#. When you have your book in a store, they will scan this barcode and it will keep track of inventory and sales. You can also put a price in the barcode if you wish – some people leave price blank if they are unsure. The barcode needs placed on your back cover. The proper size of a barcode at 100% is 1.469” wide x 1.02” high. This can fluctuate a little smaller or larger if needed. The proper placement of the barcode would be 3/8” from the bottom and 3/8” from the spine. This is recommended but not mandatory. In the self publishing world – I have seen barcodes all over the place and every size. Being a self-publisher, you can really do whatever you want with your book. If you want to appear more professional though, I say stick to what is recommended.
Barcodes usually cost about $25. This is my gift to you for reading this whole boring blog on ISBN#’s and barcodes. Never pay for a barcode again! Here is a super easy link to get a barcode yourself online: http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/. All you do is put your ISBN# in and a price (if desired) and BAM – you got yourself a barcode. They will ask if you want a pdf or an .eps file. You can send this barcode file directly to your printer and they can place on book cover – usually for no charge. Be sure to scan and test barcode before printing!
Check out my previous blogs on cover and manuscript setup. If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted. My next ones will be about social media and getting your copyright.
As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.
…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.