ISBN numbers???

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Transitoria
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ISBN numbers???

Post by Transitoria » June 28th, 2010, 1:14 pm

My prize for making it to the quarterfinals in the 2010 ABNA competition is a single, paperback copy of my novel, MAN OF THE HOUSE, from CreateSpace which is a self-publishing service. I plan to seek legitimate representation of my novel after one more polishing edit, but want to know what the implications are of having this copy made. CreateSpace asks if I want to have an ISBN number assigned to my book. My question is; Should I do this or not? The ISBN is optional.

I was considering entering another story in the Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest when I noticed the following disclaimer:

This contest is open only to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Published books include self-published books with ISBN numbers.Those who have published books in other genres besides fiction remain eligible.


Has anyone had problems with getting a novel published after getting an ISBN number assigned by a vanity press?

Neil Vogler
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by Neil Vogler » June 28th, 2010, 3:11 pm

Hi Transitoria,

My advice here is: tread very carefully. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that once you have an ISBN assigned to your book, you can't get another one assigned to the same title, even if it's a different version. Basically, there are major advantages to getting an ISBN attached to your book -- IF you are serious about giving it a massive self-publishing push. An ISBN is like an official stamp declaring that your book exists (and, I believe, will help you and others track the sales, get it into libraries etc). However, if you're planning on trying to get this book published somewhere down the line via a more traditional route, then avoid getting an ISBN at all costs. Basically treat this as a very small test run -- a vanity run, or a "pilot edition", if you like. Make it clear in the forward that it's unfinished, or unpolished, and is the precursor to another, more comprehensively edited version. Who knows, maybe one day this "limited test run" will be a valuable collector's edition!

Assigning an ISBN now to this book - unless you've formulated a massive, military-like PR campaign to shift thousands of copies (and if so, good on you!) -- will hurt your chances of "legitimate" representation later on. No agent will take a punt on you if they can put the title of your book into Publisher's Marketplace and see that it's already got an ISBN and has sold 32 copies over three years.

I hope this helps -- I'm sure Nathan can weigh in with some much better advice than me. Good luck with it all!

Neil

Penang
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by Penang » June 28th, 2010, 3:47 pm

I had the same offer after completing the NANO challenge. I did get an ISBN number but I never made it available for purchase. I got my proof copy and that was all I did. So technically it has never been published and will not affect my chance of getting a publishing contract. Like the previous poster said the ISBN makes you book "exist" but really it already does according to copywrite. A publisher won't care if you got a proof copy of your book before submitting to them. They'll really only care if you made it available to the public. If you decide to do it just make sure that after you get your proof copy, which is most likely the free copy that they'll give you, that you don't approve it for publishing.

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polymath
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by polymath » June 28th, 2010, 8:34 pm

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It's a unique ten- or thirteen-digit number and bar code identifier used internationally for tracking distribution, sales, inventory, and ordering. Each edition of a title has a unique ISBN: casecover, massmarket paperback, trade paperback, overseas editions, new editions, substantially revised or updated editions, etc.

R.R. Bowker is the U.S. concessionaire for ISBN assignment. Any ISBN assigned becomes a publisher, author, edition, and title identifier in their database. If a title with an ISBN is in print, it will be listed in R.R. Bowker's Books in Print publications, online and print catalogs. A title edition of one copy not released to the public or in print won't be listed in Bowker's publications, but will be accessible in their proprietary database if assigned an ISBN.
Transitoria wrote:Published books include self-published books with ISBN numbers.
That seems unequivocal to me. A CreateSpace self-published publisher ISBN will be assigned if selected. Choosing no ISBN assignment will prevent it being considered a self-published book. I'd suggest considering the sole copy a trophy memento and a benchmark on the road to success, but avoid premature identification with an ISBN as a published work in order to preserve first publication rights and remain a contending first-time novelist.

In my publishing venacular, I'd call it a beta copy, a mockup for preview purposes and imposition testing. ARC stands for Advance Review Copy. They come next after betas on the path to publication track.
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carolm
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by carolm » June 30th, 2010, 9:58 pm

I posted in the Ask Nathan thread about this today - how do you choose to not have an ISBN number? I was doing my daughter's book and didn't see how to do so. Hers can have one - no problem - but mine is a different story...

CarolM

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polymath
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by polymath » June 30th, 2010, 11:29 pm

CarolM,

My understanding is CreateSpace doesn't offer an option for choosing no ISBN assignment. User provided or CreateSpace provided are the only standard options I'm familiar with. I'm not certain though. I haven't been all the way through their publishing process because I couldn't find that option up front. My response to Transitoria was based on the special case indication the ABNA contest award copy allowed that choice. And my suggestion was to opt no for the sake of preserving first time novelist status.

Lulu, however, I know does offer a no ISBN assignment option. Like for self-publishing and self-distribution purposes. That's my interest, using them as a book manufacturer for short production runs for local distribution and in-house client projects. They're cheaper than the local print shop, and more convenient than doing them in my desktop publishing workshop, for about the same cost as Lulu charges without doing all the printing and binding work.
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carolm
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by carolm » June 30th, 2010, 11:59 pm

Polymath -

When I first sort of messed around with the CS stuff in Dec, it was different than it is now - but I didn't make it far enough into the process to get to the ISBN, IIRC. The talk on the Nano boards was that it wasn't assigned until you actually published it, not for the proof copy. Yesterday, when I started my DD8's, it was in the first page and not an option, but Transitoria had said:
CreateSpace asks if I want to have an ISBN number assigned to my book. My question is; Should I do this or not? The ISBN is optional.
Was wondering if I'd missed something. Guess I'll end up using my free copies [I have several that expire today and am still waiting for file approval, plus a couple of other codes] for my DD8 even though it would be way cool to have a copy of mine - JIC it never actually gets published ;).

Hmm... I have two from ABNA and 3 total [me/DD8/etc] from Nano... wonder if there's a difference somehow in how you go about ordering it... There didn't seem to be in the email I got last week...

Thanks :).
CarolM

Transitoria
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Re: ISBN numbers???

Post by Transitoria » July 2nd, 2010, 2:43 pm

I thought it was optional, but apparently it is not. The CreateSpace site asks if you want one assigned or if you already have one. I tried to opt out of either, but it won't let me. I may abandon the rest of the process so no book will exist. I hope I've not screwed myself in the process.

On a happier note, I got a glowing review from an unbiased person who read the entire novel. It was really encouraging. There is an excerpt of the first four chapters on my website, http://www.TammySetzerDenton.com.

I also designed the website by myself with no previous skills. I did it through VistaPrint and the website matches my business cards.

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