Brandon asks about ISBNs and LCCNs
I have a question about how you handled the issues of the ISBN and LCCN.
When it comes to an ISBN, I don’t think I’m ready to drop $125 (for 1) or $250 (for 10) so that my publications can have them but I would like them to be more “official,” and also to apply for an LCCN which you apparently can only receive with an LCCN (unless I have been mistaken in my research).
Did you go the route of accepting Create-Space’s $10 ISBN and do you view any con’s over doing this versus buying your own directly from Bowker? What choice did you make over your imprint on record?
If you have any wider advice about this topic/issue I think alot of members may benefit from the wisdom of Hugh on your blog : ).
Thanks for the question, Brandon. I think this is an important issue for self-published authors, because there is a TON of information and opinion out there. I’m going to disappoint you with my lack of wisdom on the topic, however. I have the opposite of wisdom when it comes to ISBNs. What I have instead is dry experience, which isn’t nearly as exciting, but maybe we can glean something from it.
ISBNs are expensive. I purchased a lot of 10 for $250 back when I was making $300 a WEEK while shelving books. That was a massive investment, and I made it after reading a bunch of posts on a website for aspiring authors. It turns out that almost everything I’d read about ISBNs was wrong.
For WOOL, SHIFT, I, ZOMBIE, HURRICANE, and several other of my works, I use the free ISBN assigned to me by CreateSpace. With that ISBN, WOOL has been on the NYT Bestseller list on three occasions. It appeared in numerous Barnes & Noble bookstores as a print on demand book. It was sold by dozens of independent bookstores. At no point in the work’s success was it helped or harmed by not having an ISBN that I paid money for. Anyone who tells you otherwise is operating on false assumptions, personal bias, outdated thinking/data, or just talking out their butts.
This is telling, I believe: I have only used 5 of the 10 ISBNs I purchased back in 2009. I will never use the other 5, not when I can just allow CreateSpace to assign me one. As for LCCNs (Library of Congress Control Numbers), I really don’t concern myself with my works being registered at the Library of Congress. As long as readers can access them, that’s all that matters to me.
Is any of this wise? Probably not. Maybe you should be purchasing these numbers and concerning yourself with LCCNs. I don’t. And it hasn’t put up a single roadblock or speed bump. I concentrate on the writing and on my customer. I’m not suggesting at all that this approach is the best, only that it can work.