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Self-Publishing scares me

Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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I have already self-published 1 poetry book (my first one was vanity press) and I'd really like to get started on the third one. But the thing of it is, I don't know what to do first!

My second poetry book has certain kinks I'm trying to work out (like getting a bar code and ISBN number!) and this has caused some trouble because I don't know how to do these things! :(

I checked isbn.org and read what they have to say about ISBN numbers and bar codes but I'm supposed to buy these things in bulk but I only need ONE right now.

I'm also concerned about selling the books online. I have no problem packaging/shipping them, but I am finding it hard to trust bookselling sites. I mean, they're controlling the entire sales transaction....

I do want to self-publish my poetry books but it's really scary treading the self-publishing path.



here's a POD i found - they have a book return feature too

Here's a POD I found that has a "Book Return" feature thats new

Its Illumina Press


If you use it, let us know how it works please


Hi Dawn,

Unfortunately, you can't buy just one ISBN number . . . I think, last time I checked, you have to buy a minimum of ten. The good thing about that, though, is you can assign one for hard back, one for paper, etc. And, when other books come in the future, you ISBN's are already taken care of.

A lot of authors are using e-commerce to sell their books themselves and making it work, as I'm sure you already know. It's a lot of work, but that's to be expected. What's frustrating are those who believe all they have to do is set up a site and list their books . . . and that's it . . . :wha You don't strike me as that type of person, though. :grin

Self publishing is VERY scarey, but it's an option I'm seeing more and more authors consider for numerous reasons. I don't recommend POD only because I've had too many poor experiences that have left a terrible taste in my mouth. Sure, there's return programs . . . but that's only ONE of the issues I've seen with POD. So, weigh all your options before taking this step. (I know you will. :) )



Hi, Jenn,

Thanks for your post. Sorry I didn't get around to it until now. I normally don't check this board. (Yeah, I know: I shoulda put it into the self-publishing board! :smack )

You're right: I *am* willing to do more than just list my books on a site and expect them to sell.

A friend was kind enough to help me out on this whole self-publishing thing. And it REALLY helped, too! I truly think that the more educated I am on this, the better I can deal with it and even execute it.

I'm not so scared of self-publishing anymore. OK, OK: I *am* scared of having to do ALL of the formatting myself. NO (BLEEPING) FUN!! :head BUT I now feel better about doing that since I've learned more about it.

I think any business venture would be scary. Taking on the job of being a self-publisher is like starting a business. And, you know, that's really not too far off. :)

Take care!



Hi, Dawn, From what I heard when I asked about bar codes is that you can get one bar code. You just have to say you want one. I don't know how true that is, but sure hope that's right. How many authors need ten of them...

Hope you're doing well and everyone.

Hugs, susie


Hi, Susie,

Thanks. :) Actually, it's not so much the bar code I'm having a hard time getting, but the ISBN. I need an ISBN before I can get a bar code. You need to buy 10 ISBN numbers; I think only one with a bar code. They are pretty cheap, about $10. But until I can get the ISBN, I can't get a bar code.

Take care.




Can you resell an ISBN?

Say you want to publish two novels. So you buy a block of ten ISBNs. But I only need two. Can I re-sell the other 8 to other self-published authors? Or when you buy your ISBNs, do you have to name all ten books they will be assigned to?

If they can be resold, maybe a bunch of folks interested in self-publishing can chip in together for a block of ten and "share" them.

Frankly, the cost of 10 ISBNs is what made me go ahead with a vanity POD instead of self-publishing--it cost so much less in the end run than buying ISBNs, buying bar codes, paying for printing and distribution. If it weren't for that cost, I might have chosen the traditional self-publishing route instead. (But probably not--I just did not want to do my own distribution and shipping.)



It would seem odd to me if you were able to sell ISBN numbers. An ISBN identifies you. It tells the publishing world that your teeny-tiny publishing company located in the U.S. published this book. Since ISBNs are assigned to a particular entity, I'm not sure how you could get around that. Yes, you can "borrow" one (like some POD companies will do for you), but that is because they are the publisher.

I've recently purchased a set of ISBNs for my teeny-tiny Degree Press. Between the book and the 3 potential e-books, I will be using four of the numbers by the end of 2005. You'll find a use for them.

Tom Nixon
The SmallPress Blog



I agree. ISBN identifies your publishing company. I mean even if you only publish one book, still it's your company. And who knows, you may decide to publish another book soon...

Lee Tasey

Dear Greenwolf,

Check out iuniverse.com. They are probably the best POD publisher in the country. They offer many editing services and the books look and feel great. Good artwork and page layout, too.

I'm also thinking about self-publishing. If you know your audience, and know how to get the book to those people, POD may be the way to go.


Thanks for the tip but I've already had a book published by a POD publisher: Booklocker.

Linda Moran

I self-published, no POD and I can tell you it was a lot of work. Now I'm peddling it myself. On the other hand, I have complete control over my book. I bought the ten ISBN's, but I've since learned that if you buy 100 ISBN's they have a different format. Some bookstores see the 10 ISBN format and reject you on the basis that you must be a self-publisher! But I'm not trying through bookstores so it doesn't matter to me. It wasn't that expensive to buy the ten ISBN's.
When you self-publish, you have to get your own graphic artist for the cover, and you have to format your book in Adobe In-Design. THAT's where the expense comes in, not to mention a lot of time learning In-Design.
The format of the inside of my book came out great; the cover came out okay. It just doesn't present that well on amazon for some reason. -- Linda

My book on amazon.com


Linda, I think your book looks great. Did you do everything yourself or hire some help? Also, how did you get the "Search Inside" thing working... I thought Amazon requires at least 10 titles per publisher to get into that program....


Linda, I agree with maestro: The book looks good.

About the ISBN: The very first number in the ISBN indicates how big (or small) of a publisher you are. If bookstores are refusing to carry your book based on that number, then that is a shame because there are a lot of very good self-published authors out there with only one or two books to their name (and these titles have gone through many printings and won awards).

But I have to agree that self-publishing a book takes A LOT of work. Still, I think it's a matter of personal choice. Self-publishing isn't for everyone.


My understanding is that a block of 10 ISBNs costs around $200.

Weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. POD publishing, I decided to go with POD. I paid just $120 more than it would cost me to get my ISBNs, and I got an ISBN for my book, cover design, printing each time the book is ordered, distribution to Amazon.com and B&N.com, and shipping, so I don't have to handle any of those time consuming things, and I can concentrate on writing instead. On the other hand, I only get a royalty on each sale instead of 100 percent of the profits, and the per book price is higher than it would have been had I self-published.



"and I got an ISBN for my book, "

Yes, you did, but it's important to remember that you don't own the ISBN, an important distinction.

Tom Nixon



Not to mention you can't get your books reviewed or placed in bookstores...

You gain some, you lose some.


Feb 20, 2005
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I went the self-publishing route after about 11 months of submitting to about 30 large and small publishers. Got too anxious to see my work in print ;)

Luckily, I reside in Canada where ISBN's are issued at no charge and the "designer" at the POD company graciously created the barcode. In addition to the cost of the printing, I paid the POD company to design a "custom" bookcover. Here's my GRIPE with the company - I sent in my "dummy" cover idea and low and behold THAT was what they used for my cover - and charged me for the custom design. Negotiations with the POD led to a very slight discount. I will DEFINITELY not use that POD again. Now that I'm through ranting...

I enjoyed the control I have over the book, but marketing is something I'm not great at (especially on a limited budget and after printing costs). I had 300 copies printed and have 33 left that I can't seem to move. My book is a how-to and it was entirely by chance that I was able to sell multiple copies to three vo-techs. Also had a few online and Amazon sales. I figure I made about the same, after expenses, that I would've made in royalties with a traditional publisher.

I must admit though that I regret not waiting a little longer and trying more & more traditional publishers.
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