With publishing open to everyone, authors are now the CEOs of their own publishing companies. Self-publishing requires authors to make all product decisions including paper color, font, book layout, cover design, distribution
Otherwise, the siren song of literary success will cloud your business judgment. After all, the prospect of seeing their book for sale in every online bookstore is tempting.
Publishing with an ISBN*
An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the holy grail of book distribution. Lulu provides them for free if your book meets certain requirements. Using our free ISBNs applies Lulu as the ‘imprint’ for your publishing. You can also purchase an ISBN too. Doing so allows you to own the entire process. Learn more about ISBN purchasing from Bowker, the US ISBN agency.
The ISBN is a bit like your book’s fingerprint. Retailer user it to both identify your book and track its sales. An ISBN paired with Lulu’s free Global Reach distribution makes your print and ebook available for purchase in online bookstores. The ISBN will list your book in global bibliographic databases. From these, any number of institutions, bookstores, and online retailers can discover it and offer it for sale. For authors seeking a broad audience, publishing with an ISBN is indeed a requirement.
ISBN and pricing
Regardless of the price your book sells for, you will always be paid the revenue you set when publishing the book. Unfortunately, retail markups often force authors to greatly reduce earnings per book in order to remain competitively priced. This revenue trade off is offset by the possibility of more sales. When a book is widely available for purchase, the reduced price is a trade off. Most authors are happy to make it.
*At this time, only Premium format books may be assigned an ISBN.
Publishing without an ISBN**
Depending on your ultimate goal and target audience, publishing without an ISBN may make more sense. Forgoing an ISBN allows more formatting choices and greater pricing freedom in the Lulu bookstore. These are advantages if you are publishing a book for a limited audience or to promote your business. For example, if you are a teacher publishing educational books, an ISBN is not required to reach your target audience. The same applies when publishing your family history or grandmother’s favorite recipes – your intended audience will be aware of your work and be happy to purchase it directly from you or from the Lulu bookstore thereby cutting out the middleman.
**Authors may choose Premium, Standard, or Photo Quality formats when publishing without an ISBN.
Publishing with AND without an ISBN
If your dream is to one day strike it rich as an author, you may wish to publish a Premium Paperback version of your book with an ISBN for wide distribution and publish another version without an ISBN using Lulu’s Standard Paperback format. This strategy allows you to maximize book exposure through online retailers while maximizing revenue through direct sales of a Standard Paperback. Sales from your web site, the Lulu bookstore, local bookstores, and events such as book signings do not require an ISBN. The Standard Paperback formats are printed using state of the air ink jet technology that significantly reduces manufacturing costs. Additionally, with no middlemen to pay, you have greater pricing flexibility that translates into higher earnings. The Standard Paperback format is also perfect for proofing, review copies, and giveaways.
As you consider the future of your writing think about your goals, your audience, and the options described above. The manuscript and cover files you created for the book you sent into distribution are the same files you will upload to create your Standard Paperback, or “personal stock” copies. With a few minutes of effort, you can be on your way to increased sales and higher revenues.
Writer extraordinaire and generally amazing guy, Glenn is the technical and content writer for Lulu. He also makes sure that every day is the best day ever.