The short answer: $85. You can buy a single ISBN from IngramSpark and use it to print your book with any printer, and distribute your book to any country in the world. You own it, you control it; you never have to worry about your publisher going out of business.
We recently completed a publishing project for Somerspoint Press, the self-publishing imprint name chosen by clients Jacki and Jan for their book about “a Medically Challenged Horse Who Found Fun, Friends and Fame.”
Actually, it is two books. The paperback carries this imprint name for ISBN 978-0692189412. The second edition is a hardcover and it uses Ingram's proprietary number instead of an ISBN. This edition cannot be sold in stores which is the point. Jacki and Jan can sell this direct to readers (and not be undercut by Amazon!).
Helping authors establish and control their publishing brand is our specialty. Understandably, a number of questions arise about how to do this, and why for that matter.
Here are 5 frequently asked question. Feel free to drop more questions in the comments.
Self-Publishing imprint FAQs
Why should I own one? Who cares!?
There are 3 primary considerations:
- Branding: the name of the publisher is of public record. The name must match the name used by the person or entity that bought the ISBN. For example, Jacki and Jan bought their ISBN using the name Somerspoint Press. Amazon buys their ISBNs for KDP Print using the imprint name of “Independently published”.
- You can use any printer. If you use a free ISBN like one available from KDP Print, the only printer you can use is Amazon (KDP Print replaced CreateSpace but the same rule applies for free CreateSpace ISBNs). Free ISBNs carry restrictions so read the fine print. (Amazon, like IngramSpark is an authorized reseller and they can also sell you an ISBN.)
- You can apply for a Library of Congress Control Number (US-issued ISBNs, only). Only publishers of record can get these numbers. Again, they are unavailable to authors that use free ISBNs because they are not the publisher of record.
Note: an ISBN is not required by most eBook retailers.
Do I need to establish a company, or file for a “doing business as” (D/B/A) name to buy or use an ISBN?
No, it is optional. However, if you want to accept payment in the name of your self-publishing imprint you may need to file a D/B/A.
Do I need to open a bank account?
No, see the above answer. Companies like Amazon, Apple and IngramSpark just need a bank account to pay you your royalties. This can be your personal banking account, or one established in the name of your self-publishing imprint.
What if I need more than one ISBN?
Why buy from IngramSpark? Why not Bowker, MyIdentifiers, Amazon, or some other company?
A single ISBN costs $85 from IngramSpark, $99 from Amazon, and $125 when bought from Bowker. There are just a few authorized resellers so you might find one for less, but these two firms are the largest. As noted above, buy direct from Bowker if you need more than 1.
Be the master of your domain
There are thousands of self-publishing imprints. In fact, we saw an interesting marketing statement the other day by one of the vanity presses. It said, “iUniverse, an Author Solutions, LLC, self-publishing imprint, is the leading…”
Note they call themselves a self-publishing imprint. You can do exactly the same thing for the cost of a nice dinner.
What will you call your imprint!? (Check out this article if you need to research a name.)