Indie Author Biz Tips

Short episodes (5 minutes or less) with quick tips for your author business, really any business.

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Biz Tip #04: Use Your Own ISBN

Being an Indie Author and Publisher means taking control of your intellectual property. Part of this is using your own ISBN, which identifies the publisher, NOT the author.


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My Helpful Links resource provides links for where to obtain ISBNs for US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Plus other links to help you in your author business.


To learn more about how to treat your writing as a business, get my book, Business and Accounting for Authors. It’s available in e-book, print, or audiobook formats.

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Hey, fellow indie authors. I’m Tora Moon, and I’m your Indie Author Biz Guide. And today I have biz tip number four. And this is Use Your Own ISBNs.

And I know in the indie author community, there’s a great debate on whether to use your own or use the free ones offered by Amazon and Draft to Digital and Ingram Spark. And because of the cost of ISBNs especially here in the United States, it can be very tempting to use those free ones.

But what happens with a free ISBN is that you’ve lost control of your IP, of your intellectual property. And why is that? Because the ISBN identifies the publisher, not the author. When you use a free one, you are now saying that Amazon, if you used Amazon’s ISBN, that Amazon is the publisher, not you and your publishing company and you don’t want to do that.

You have now lost some of the control of your book because if you’ve used that ISBN from Amazon on KDP print, you can’t go out and have that printed by your local printer or on Ingram Spark or Book Vault or one of the other services because that ISBN is now link to Amazon being the publisher of your book and they aren’t the publisher, they’re the printer and distributor of your book.

And when you use somebody else’s ISBN, it limits what you can do with your IP. When you have your own ISBN, I could take this book, Business and Accounting for Authors down to my local print shop and order like 2000 copies, if I’ve got a great big huge order, like if I’m selling to an accounting business or something like that. If I’ve used Amazon’s ISBN, I can’t do that. I have to buy my own anyway to do that.

So if you’ve used a free one, you may end up with multiple ISBNs for the same book. Now the ISBN is what bookstores use to order your book and look up your book on everything except Amazon. And now that you have multiple ISBNs for the same format of your book, like your print book, they don’t know which copy or which version is the right one. So you causing confusion with your customers.


So the action step for this tip is to check where to obtain ISBNs for your country and purchase or obtain a block for your publishing company. And it’s not for you as an author, it’s for you as your publishing company that if you follow tip one and you’ve established a publishing company for your Indie business. And if you’ve used a free ISBN in the past, maybe you consider publishing a new edition of your book with your own ISBN.

To learn more about how to treat your writing as a business, get my book, Business and Accounting for Authors, and it’s available on my website in e-book, print, or audiobook, or you can get it at your favorite retailer or order it from your library.

I hope this tip has helped you with your author business. I will see you on the next tip.


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