Monday, April 19, 2010

Alphabet Soup

Every once in a while I like to entertain you with the 'Process' of Self-Publishing. Today's entry is about all the codes one needs to buy:

Now that the writing is “done,” and while I wait for the book to be laid out, it’s time to tackle some of the other aspects of getting a book published. And this is where you come upon a veritable alphabet soup of abbreviations and codes: DBA, ISBN, BISAC, LCCN, etc. And the licenses, and so on.

The first step was coming up with a Fictitious Business Name; I discussed, earlier, how I arrived at the name, “Crosswalk Press.” But first I had to make sure that no one else in San Diego County (and I looked further afield than that) was using that name, whether for a publishing business or not. And fortunately - - oddly - - the name doesn’t appear to be in use anywhere in the U.S. So I filed for a Fictitious Business Name ($30), but hadn’t realized that by using my home address on the form, that meant that I would have to publish my home address in every book printed (and I hope there will be a lot of them). So, back I go to the County Recorder ($30) with a P.O. Box that I had obtained the day before ($32). Then I needed to advertise that I would be Doing Business As (DBA) Crosswalk Press. That has to run in a paper (circulation doesn’t matter, but there is a specific list to choose from) for four consecutive weeks. I think it’s sort of a “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” ie., no one can challenge it after that period of time has passed. But, with trying to do everything, each of which is on its own critical path, I’ve had to do certain things in parallel before the business name is assuredly mine.

And this is where the other codes come in: ISBN (International Standard Book Identifier; it’s unique to each edition of every book published anywhere in the world. It’s the 13-digit number that appears above the bar code); it takes a week to get this, and once you finally have it, you can get an EAN (European Article Number: basically it’s the bar code, above which the ISBN number is printed) (10 ISBNs + 1 EAN: $300) , SAN (Standard Address Number—assigns a specific number to each address in the publishing business; it’s supposed to make electronic transactions easier) ($50). This doesn’t appear on the book.

Only once you have these codes can you apply for the next series of codes: PCN (Preassigned Controlled Number, like LCCN—Library of Congress number; this helps in cataloguing the book.) This also requires an application and approximately a one week wait. Then one needs a CIP (Cataloguing in Publication) number: bibliographic information on a book that hasn’t yet been published. Publishers of fewer than 3 books, though I don’t know over what period of time, are not eligible, but can get P-CIP  numbers – Publishers Cataloguing in Publication) Self-publishers are only eligible for PCIP numbers ($50). You have to get this from someone who knows how the cataloging system works. For this you need the Copyright page out of your book – that page with really small type and a lot of numbers near the beginning of the book that no one reads? It’s important for this. But I also have to have my final cover, so I’m waiting on that before I can apply for the PCIP.

But, wait: There’s more! BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Classification) number. This identifies the subject heading under which your book should be catalogued, and the author gets to/has to make that determination. So, based on my exhaustive search of the database, I’m identifying my Subject Heading as: Biography, Historical; and History, Jewish. (I can’t choose more than two here, but under a PCIP application I can choose as many as I want, and there I’ve chosen a bunch, including: History, Military; History, Russia; History, Poland; War, Russo-Japanese; Anti-Semitism; Russian Revolution, Events Leading to; and Czar Nicholas (Nicolai) II. The BISAC is also one of those rare, free codes. All that money for digits no one understands or even looks at, but it’s part of the process.

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