Today I thought I would look back at one of the pre-publishing steps – Getting an ISBN.
Getting an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), is one of the final steps before publishing. Without one, it’s basically impossible to sell the book! For example, Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace will not publish a book without an ISBN (Createspace even gives you an option to get an ISBN directly from them).
Different countries have different processes for getting an ISBN. Being Canadian, I used The Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS), part of Library and Archives Canada.
The first thing I had to do was join CISS. Originally, I thought this would be something akin to creating an account on any website – 5 minutes and Boom, account created. Then I’d have to apply for an ISBN and wait who knows how long for that. But I was wrong.
Instead of just registering as an author, I was registering as a publisher. Then when I was done I received a notification that my account would need 5-10 business days to be validated and approved. Yikes, wasn’t expecting that!
As luck would have it, though, it took approximately 1 business day to validate my account. What? This is a branch of the government we’re talking about? I won’t lie, I thought 5-10 business days was going to be government speak for 1-2 months. So huge props to whoever is running CISS so efficiently! From that point, getting an ISBN was as easy as could be, thanks to some extra help from CISS in the form of a very detailed email.
It turns out the website is going to be overhauled in a few months, drastically streamlining the ISBN application process. This is a really good thing, because that form looked pretty complicated, and I would have had no idea what to put down for half of the questions.
Fortunately, CISS is aware of this, and sent out a helpful email letting me know I could ignore most of the questions and only needed to fill in a select few fields. I must say, I’m really happy they took the extra step to send that info out along with my registration approval because it made the ISBN registration very quick and painless.
An important note for anyone planning to release a book in both paperback and ebook – you need two ISBN’s – one for each version. This is super easy though, you just fill out a form for each one and the only difference is an ebook is “Electronic Book Text” in the Product Form drop down menu instead of “Book”.
And that’s it! All done! The ISBN’s were generated immediately because I was already assigned an ISBN prefix when my publisher account was approved. As a result the entire process ended up taking far less time than I anticipated, was totally free, and I was able to publish earlier than I’d planned.
I’ve reached the stage of my self-publishing saga where I need to find an editor. And, like most things, it’s turned out to be more complex than expected.
I have a few qualities I am looking for in an editor. First, I want someone who is interested in the genre of book I’ve written. Getting a children’s book editor to copy-edit a psychological literary fiction isn’t necessarily going to be a good fit. You would prefer someone with experience in your genre. So that’s my first qualification. Second, I would like to find someone that either lives in, or has spent time in, the Vancouver area. A lot of my scenes are based on real locations in the area and I think it would be useful to have someone familiar with the actual location to give input on my descriptions.
Initially, I went to the BC branch of the Editors Association of Canada (EAC) for my search. They have an online directory of editors where you can input some specific qualities and it spits out a list. I did this, and picked out 3 editors who looked like they’d be up my alley. I sent them emails and awaited their replies. I received responses and, unfortunately, all of them were booked up. However, one editor was kind enough to direct me to another resource listed on the EAC webpage that I’d managed to overlook – the BC Editors Hotline.
So the gist of it is: I email the hotline my request and key information about my project, the hotline coordinator sends the request out to all of the members, and anyone interested is free to respond to my post.
I didn’t know what to expect with my post, but the response was far greater than expected. I received 18 emails within a day and a half. Yay! People are interested!
So I set about the task of separating out the editors who sounded interesting to me and the ones who did not. Cutting the list down was easy to begin with. Three people spelt my name wrong. My name! How could I ever trust an editor who can’t even spell my name correctly in the email they send asking me to hire them. It’s not like it wasn’t right there in the hotline post, right above the email address which, by the way, also includes my name.
Boom, down to 15.
Next up was availability. I posted the date I aim to have the manuscript back by, but a few folks still put their hats in the ring for a later date. I’m ok with that, and if anything changes they could move up the list, but as is their ranking dropped relative to those who were more likely to complete the editing in the timeframe I need it by.
Next – experience. Some people directed me to websites, others listed relevant experience in their email. I tried to pick out the ones who looked like they’d worked on a similar genre. That relates back to the first quality I posted above.
Then there is attitude – in a tight field of what looks to be really skilled people, I turned to this. Some emails were very business-like, and that’s ok. Other’s seemed downright friendly and genuinely interested. I like kind people, so I gravitated to these emails.
In a related note – I was disappointed with one individual in particular. I’m not going to name names of course, but I just want to point out that I’m not a fan of overly pushy or rude people. I’m certainly not going to work with someone who makes me feel uncomfortable just by reading their emails.
Finally – price. One of the most important and hardest things to talk about is price. It’s like when you negotiate a salary with a possibly new employer – it’s a little awkward. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much I like someone if I can’t afford them. And the range of quotes I received has been nothing short of surprising. The lowest quote was $650USD, while the highest was up to $3700CAD. That’s a huge range! And the worst thing is, based off what I’d heard at the self-publishing seminar I attended earlier this year, I was expecting to pay around $600CAD. Basically, I wasn’t ready for how high the quotes would be, and my bank account wasn’t either.
That said, I slowly whittled the list down from 18 to 3. And last night I made my final decision. It wasn’t easy, and I’m really dreading contacting the people I didn’t choose to give them the bad news. I would probably be a terrible manager – I hate giving people bad news. And I hope they all know I appreciate their time and understanding.
But I’m looking forward to getting this done. Judging from the samples I received, this editing is going to be huge for helping polish my novel and ensuring it looks as professional as possible. And that is something that, in the long run, will pay for itself.