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Author-publishers can save money with coupons, and not just on groceries


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My late father and my brother have been addicted to finding deals and clipping coupons. So is my wife. I like deals, but I’ve been largely indifferent to finding coupons. Every week, however, I spend some time searching online for coupons before my wife heads to the supermarket. I’ve generally felt that saving a buck on Berio olive oil or 25 cents on Brillo is just not worth my precious time.

  • This week I saved $75 on two publishing purchases. $75 is real money, and definitely worth the short time it took to find the deals.

My supply of ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) had run out and I’m preparing the ebook version of my new paperback bestseller, Love For & From My 4-Legged Son—how an ordinary golden retriever became an extraordinary dog.

In some countries ISBNs are FREE, but not here in the USA. If you want your books to be sold through booksellers, you need ISBNs for each format (such as ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook). Bowker is the ISBN source in the USA. You can buy one for $125, 10 for $295 or 100 for $575.

The quantity discounts are impressive and if you think you’ll publish at least two books, you may as well buy a “block” of 10. If you are unsure of your publishing future, you can hold your nose and pay the $125, or pay about $35 from a reseller who buys ISBNs in bulk, or get a free ISBN from a publishing services provider.


The problem with these strategies is that a company such as Charlie’s ISBN Emporium or CreateSpace—not your own publishing company—will be identified as the “publisher of record.” That’s not a good way to build your empire.

On a silly whim I Googled “Bowker coupon” and I quickly found a coupon code that cut $50 off the $295 price! Bowker’s robot did not complain that I saved money.

I had initially planned to use a new FREE publishing service, Pronoun, for this new ebook. My early enthusiasm quickly waned (I’ll tell you why next week) and I decided to use eBookit, the company that had previously done a great job on some of my ebooks.

The normal price is a very reasonable $150. I found a coupon code to save $25 and I used that money to subsidize the cost of an upgraded PR release campaign.

In a few hours my wife will send me on our weekly coupon hunt. I doubt that I’ll save $75.


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