Self-publishing: how to get an ISBN number in the UK and the US

ISBNWhat is an ISBN number?                                  

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and every book has one. It is a 13 digit number which uniquely identifies the title, edition and format.

So, how do I get one?

The answer to this question depends on whether you want to register a book in the UK or the United States. To register in the UK, you will need to register with a company called Nielsens. In the US, Bowker are the company you’ll need to approach.

Bowker will sell you a single ISBN number for $125. This sounds pricey, but you can also buy a collection of ISBN numbers in bulk for a lot less. If you do this, the price can go down to less than $1 dollar per number.

Nielsens in the UK will not sell you less than 10 ISBN numbers at a time. It will cost you 125 GBP for ten numbers, which compares very well with a single number in the States! Again, buying ISBN numbers in bulk will save you money, and some packages will bring the price down to less then 1 GBP per book. If you produce a paperback in the UK, you will need to file six library copies with various ISBN agencies around the UK, so bear this in mind when buying.

Buying in bulk sounds like the best option. Would it be wise to have more than one ISBN number?

Yes, for two reasons – 1. if you have self-published or are planning to self publish several books, or 2. if your book(s) are going to be available in more than one format. Each format of your book will need a new ISBN number, whether that be mobipocket, hardback, paperback etc – if it’s a new edition, it will need a new IBSN number. Simple.

We hope this advice was helpful to anybody who may be looking to self-publish. Remember, we ourselves offer a range of services for self-publishers that may be useful. For more information on this, return to our homepage: www.anysubject.com.

Write what you know about

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Write about what you know.

It’s a message which has been repeated over and over again but you’ll still find authors out there trying to do it. Being ‘Tricky-Dicky’ as my other half would put it. Just as the infamous ‘Tricky-Dicky’ didn’t get away with it (good try but no cigar), the authors who think that they can skip over details, fudge ignorance or adjust the laws of man and nature to suit their story’s plot, don’t get away with it either.

I’ll go one further. From the perspective of both a publisher and a reader, it’s a far better experience to read a simple story that’s been done to perfection than struggle through a complex plot written by someone who clearly didn’t know what they were talking about. The old adage about fool’s opening their mouths and removing any doubts regarding their cerebral capacity comes to mind.

This is today’s message. Say what you know and know what you say. Your confidence will shine through and, while it may not be the most stunning piece of prose to ever be written, it will (at least) be correct.

If you’re thinking “What’s this person raving about?” then you need to a) question your own standards and b) spend a happy hour reading the forum posts on something like IMDB.

Writing is a learning experience. You write, you learn, and then you write about what you’ve learnt.

When you least need Writer’s Block

Sink Plunger

A useful for tool for unblocking

Writing, in its broadest sense, is probably the last civilized tool to abandon a human being. I’m picturing here the educated prisoner holed up for decades in a dungeon, scratching poetry on the damp walls with a chip of stone.

Writing liberates; it gives a window beyond the present situation. It also gives substance to transient feelings, like love or despair. It’s the way the human mind gives shape to its thoughts, tracks them and gives them a certain permanence. It can stop people going mad and bring them back from madness, or sometimes it’s the outward manifestation of madness.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a prisoner, deprived even of scratchable walls, who composes pieces in his head and commits them to memory. I would love to know how it works. Would each morning consist of a review of all the finished material followed by creating new work? Or would there be some compartment in the brain where the finished parts were stored so as to be retrievable at a later date?

There’s a Spanish poet called Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer whose volume of poetry, finished and submitted to a publisher, was lost in a political revolution. Not something which ought to happen these days if things are backed up properly! Anyway, he wrote out all his poems from memory. I don’t think many poets these days, when set rhythms and rhyme schemes are unfashionable, would be able to do the same.  (The original function of rhyme was in fact to make sagas memorable.)

People can achieve extraordinary things when they’re pushed into it. Like writing by batting an eyelid when the rest of you is paralysed. Or telling yourself stories when you’re supposedly brain-dead but in fact still very much alive in your coma and just not able to communicate.

The worst scourge to afflict anyone whose circumstances were so reduced would have to be Writer’s Block. There would be no alternative activity; nothing to distract. A person would surely go mad in such a situation.

But Writer’s Block in my experience is a mixture of boredom with the task at hand and self-generating demoralisation at lack of inspiration or success. It isn’t even because the job is too difficult; without the handicap of Writer’s Block multiple ways of circumventing the problems would present themselves.

To return to our prisoner, inspiration is like the plant which blooms in an adverse climate (for very sound biological reasons – the plant hopes its progeny will experience better times). Discomfort, loneliness, misery of every kind, can squeeze the best out of us. The important thing is to keep a spark alive because depression and dehumanisation are powerful enemies.

There’s another piece of Spanish literature – a medieval ballad supposedly written and sung by a prisoner who “doesn’t even know when night and day are except for a little bird which sang to him at dawn”. The bird has been killed by an archer; the ballad finishes by cursing him. There may be symbolism behind that bird and that archer, but I prefer to interpret them literally. Out of terrible, bleak circumstances has arisen the most beautifully poignant of poems which has survived down the ages and which must have accompanied many people through dark times.