The first step, as mentioned previously, is that you need an ISBN. Now, the ISBN is inextricably tied to the identity of your book, and how people, institutions, and vendors find your book. One important point I read is that having ONLY ONE ISBN associated with your book is the best way to go, because if several ISBN numbers are associated with your book, the person, vendor or institution won’t know which ISBN to choose, and therefore may get, say, a version of your book that they did not want.
Why would you even have more than one ISBN, you ask? One possible scenario is that you self-publish, and then your book is picked up by a traditional publisher. Depending on the ISBN you chose to self-publish, your traditional publisher may not be able to use that same ISBN.
When you look at my chart, you see that there are two choices that incur little (Custom ISBN) to NO (CreateSpace-assigned ISBN) start-up cost. In starting up, you have to invest money in order to self-publish, so keeping costs down is ideal. However, should the aforementioned scenario occur, you will not be able to transfer these two types of ISBN, which means you’ll have one from self-publishing and one from the traditional publisher. You could spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on all these different choices; deciding whether or not you think it’s worth the investment is not an easy task.
Also, did you notice that all the ISBN choices have expanded distribution available? What is a distribution channel? Traditional publishers have to have a way to get their books out to stores, so they use these channels (will get into this more next time). This doesn’t necessarily mean it WILL be distributed through these channels, but simply that it will be available. Big difference.
Expanded distribution however does not include the channels that libraries and academic institutions utilize. They have their own distribution channels requiring a separate ISBN!
Ultimately, my reasoning was to give my book as many future options, knowing if necessary, I could assign a new ISBN to it in order to gain access to the academic side of the retail equation. I therefore chose the custom universal ISBN to give myself some flexibility, which I suspected would be key in this process moving forward.
This is my 100th post, by the way, so thank you all for reading on with me!