The Importance of Legitimate ISBN Assignments

ISBNs are essential to selling your book. The ISBN is linked to essential information about your book: what the book is, who wrote it, and what the book is about. Since the ISBN is an extension of the book itself, you should be aware of what you are buying, and who you are buying from.

The US ISBN Agency only allows certain Channel Partners, such as Publisher Services to purchase and redistribute ISBNs. This means that when you purchase an ISBN from Publisher Services, you know that the ISBN is coming from a legitimate source. Because your ISBN is provided through a legitimate source, you can be sure that your book data will be communicated through the official bibliographic database (Bowker’s Books In Print), and will have as wide a reach as possible through this data.

This may not always be the case with illegitimate resellers. When selecting who to purchase an ISBN from, there may be ISBN resellers who claim to sell "authentic" or "trusted" ISBNs. While these sellers are certainly tuned into buzzwords, unless they are an authorized Channel Partner, those very same buzzwords can mean the opposite of what they are. Please be aware that there are unauthorized resellers of ISBNs, and that this activity is a violation of the ISBN standard and of industry practice.

If you use one of these illegitimate ISBNs, you will not be correctly identified as the publisher of record in Books In Print or any of the industry databases, such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or in the databases of wholesalers such as Ingram. This will make it harder for your potential readers to find the book easily. Discovering the consequences too late can lead to extensive costs to apply for a new prefix and reassign a new ISBN, and can potentially lead to the application of stickers to books already printed and in circulation.

Think of an ISBN as a driver’s license for your book – it tells retailers everything they need to know about your book at a glance. However, if you buy an ISBN from an illegitimate source, it’s along the same lines as buying somebody’s driver’s license on a street corner; you’re certainly buying a license, but you don’t know whose you’re buying!

You have spent time bringing your book to life, make sure you obtain an ISBN from a legitimate source like Publisher Services to make it available to as many potential readers as possible!


Pre-Flight Check: What is it? & Why is it important?

One of the services that Publisher Services provides complimentary to our book printing customers is a Pre-Flight check of printer-ready PDF files that have been provided to print book covers and interiors. What exactly is a Pre-Flight check? Pre-Flight is checking your book’s files to make sure they are good to print. Without carefully going over your files and approving them for the printer, there is a greater likelihood that something could go wrong and mistakes will be missed. A Pre-Flight check is just the kind of pre-printing look your files need before they go to print.

When we receive your files, we check to make sure:
  • The trim size specifications match the print order. For example, if you’re ordering a 6×9 books, the page size shouldn’t be set up for 5×8.
  • The cover file (and the interior file, if necessary) is properly set up with the proper bleed. If the pages and/or cover are not set up correctly, images or text could get cut off when trimming the book to size.
  • Files do not have the fonts, graphics, and other inserted elements, properly embedded into the PDF. If we receive a file that contains fonts we don’t have here, the book may not print correctly, for example.
  • Color elements are not saved in CMYK color mode. Most graphical programs have the RGB setting as the default. Printing is a four-color (full-color) process. Make sure you’re using CMYK.
After we check your book, we will do the following free of charge:
  • Convert to PDF from MS Word. While this will ensure that your fonts are embedded, we may not have custom or purchased fonts. If this is the case, we’ll let you know.
  • Convert the cover and inside pages to CMYK if needed.
  • Add your bar code to your back cover.
  • Crop your pages down to the proper trim size. If your margins aren’t set for the right page size, though, we may not be able to crop. We’ll let you know if we can’t do this.

We will also alert you to any other items we find that will impact the printing of your book.

However, there are a few things that we don’t check for. As you are your own publisher, you want to be confident to have looked over the following very carefully before getting to the stage where you are providing print-ready files for a print job:

  • All editing should have been checked, double-checked, and corrected before submission. One thing that tends to help is to print your manuscript and look at it that way instead of on your screen. You might catch things you didn’t see before. We also provide a printed proof copy prior to completing your full print run. You’ll have a final chance to check your printed proof for any last minute and missed errors, but you really should be confident that the editorial integrity is wholly intact.
  • Page numbers match the Table of Contents. Changing up more than a few sentences inside the book can throw off whole paragraphs and pages. Check them over and correct them before submitting your files for printing.
  • Images are matched to their appropriate captions, figure titles, etc. Another step that should be completed before submitting files for printing.

Publisher Services is pleased to provide a Pre-Flight process for every print job where we haven’t designed the files. You can be assured we’re looking to catch problems and help you fix them before a printed proof is created for your final review. We want to help you publish and print the best book you can. We appreciate your printing business!


ISBNs for Ebooks

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number”. It is a unique identifier for books, eBooks, tapes, and DVD’s. The ISBN numbering system is used worldwide and publishers around the globe identify their work in this standardized format.  Each title or edition must be identified by a unique ISBN. In essence, the ISBN is similar to a license plate which guarantees that each book type product is identified uniquely.  If a book is available in both hardcover and softcover (perfect binding), each must have a unique ISBN assignment to differentiate the two binding types.

Over the past 4 years, ebooks have become the largest growing segment in the publishing industry.  Ebooks also require unique ISBN assignments from their printed counterparts (if any). In addition, each type of ebook is supposed to have it own ISBN assignment. 

To complicate the matters, there are a variety of different types of digital file formats. Amazon Kindle uses MOBI, AZW (Kindle) and KF8 (Kindle Fire). All other ebook resellers use a standardized EPUB format.  As per BISG and ISBN guidelines, authors are supposed to use a separate ISBN for each digital format they provide.  In practice, most independent self-publishers assign a unique ISBN to the EPUB version of their work and use it for Amazon as well. The Amazon system automatically creates a proprietary identifier called an ASIN for each title format uploaded to its database. Sales on Amazon are primarily tracked by ASIN .

It is important to note that ebooks sold on a author’s website do not require any ISBN identification.


Top 3 Common Book Printing File Problems

You’ve spent a long time writing your book, and we recommend you spend a little more time looking over your book before sending it to print.
Most printers will pre-flight check for common file problems before you print. If you print with us, we can correct some at no charge. However, there may be some corrections that we can’t fix on our end. The three most common problems are wrong page size, text justification, and low-resolution graphics.

The page size on your file might be set up for your default word processing application, which is usually 8.5”x11”. If you want your book to be 5.5”x8.5”, we can reformat to that size, but at additional cost. This will also increase the number of pages in your book. To avoid this, you can (and should) set up your page size for your final trim ahead of time.
If your text is also typed using the default setting on your word processing application, it may also be left-justified. This will make the text edges look uneven when printed. Left-justified text will be uneven on the outside of the page on even pages (right-hand side) of the book, but it will be uneven on the inside of the page on odd pages (left-hand side). To make sure the text looks even and easy-to-read, use middle justification. This will ensure the text edges are even on both sides of the page.

If your images in your book and on your cover are low resolution, they will print blurry or pixilated in your finished copy. There’s no way to add resolution to images, so you will want to make sure your pictures are all at least 300 dpi or greater. If a 300dpi image is not available, you will either have to remove the image, or accept a low resolution image in your book.
Aside from these three common file problems, there are many
other things to look for:

-Bleed allowance
-Text placement too close to trim
-Correct color profile of cover images

-Fonts embedded if submitting PDF
-Margin size


Tips for Author Websites

Regardless of where you are in your writing project, you've certainly considered the importance of a web destination. Social media is a wonderful outlet, but having your own informational website is ulimately the best way for readers to find you.

Content should be at the top of your list. Yes, even before links to purchasing your book! Consider the reasons you would visit one of your favorite author's website. Maybe you want to learn more background about their latest book or what they are working on next. Here are some drivers to author websites:

  • Former releases. New authors take note. Visitors seek out information on both future and past titles. Give them titles, distinguish series and make it easy for readers to purchase.

  • Exclusive content. Get creative. Sure, the basics are good (somewhat extended bio, insight to most recent book), but give them a taste of your personality. Some authors post book recommendations. You may want to think about tie-ins with your social media.

  • Updates. We all need a frame of reference. Readers making the effort to find your site want to be in the know. Post and date interviews, appearances and anything else of relevance. And be specific when your next title will be released. You can be vague for a time by posting "Summer 2012" but once you have the month locked down, add a banner on the front page that can't be missed.

Take the time to thoughtfully consider a clean, simple site with these elements and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of repeat traffic to your author site.


The Power of Music

Music and the written word can create a wonderful collaboration. In fact, there are too many examples where one has had direct influence over the other to list. You may have an author blog you follow who mentions music or posts playlists. Most famously Twilight series author, Stephanie Meyer, has posted playlists for each book in the series.

If you ever wonder how to keep fans engaged on your website or blog, creating a playlist to share is a great addition. Playlists can be created to reveal mood, character background or simply share what gets you in the mood to write! It can also help you to keep content fresh without having to write a full post. Consider incorporating a monthly or weekly list into your posting routine.

You can even go a step further and routinely share your playlists on your Facebook page or through specific apps using music services such as Last.FM and the new (to the US Market) Spotify. The real power is in the sharing because it's one more way you can make a personal connection with your readers and fans.


If you already incorporate playlists into your writing feel free to share examples.


Discoverability in the New Era of Publishing

In an era where book store chains are disappearing while the number of e-distributed books and new authors are rising, how will your book get noticed? This is the burning question everyone is asking as they mull over self-publishing. Recently publishing strategist, Jane Friedman, delivered a keynote to the Writers' League of Texas Agents Conference discussing the "state of the book" and she did not mince words.

Her key note was titled "Is The Book Dead? Who Cares!" where she addressed the fact that the publishing industry is moving from a place where limited shelf-space is no longer an issue. Wrap your mind around that for a moment. This makes for a great situation for authors in making their works available. It's easier than ever before. But because there are more titles available, how can you get your book in the right hands?

Friedman believes "we have not stopped improving" the digital process (both publishing and distribution). So don't limit yourself. She explains how she believes some of the most creative storytelling of the moment is happening on television (she cited Madmen and Six Feet Under among others). Yet others believe the future of revealing a story lies with movies or games. In other words, the future is unwritten. It's up to you!

TechChi has posted a brief review of Friedman's keynote. Among the info you will find there is a slide used to show the many avenues authors can connect with their audience. You may have read recently this being called the "transmedia approach." If you haven't seen the Social Media Wheel take the time to analyze it and see just how vastly you can build and connect to your audience.

And lastly, we wanted to share a related post The Passive Voice turned us onto today. It's about a series written by Fortune magazine where various people share their experiences of making it in the current economy and how they have reinvented themselves. Author Paul Levine demonstrates this by showing how his routine has become less writing-intensive and more focus given to online book forums, Facebook and monitoring his book sales. It's a brave new world.