Author Evolving: That time I had to get all new ISBN’s

As a businesswoman, I’ve known for a long time that to be successful, change is necessary.

The same applies to be being a multi-book author–change is inevitable, and it’s part of growth and evolution.

My ultimate goal has always been to take my publishing house, Make A Way Media, to a national level. With this goal in mind, I knew it would mean making tough decisions for my business’s greater good. At times, it was a painful journey.

I had already published ten books when the consultant I hired recommended that I change my name from Deirdre Pecchioni Cummings to Deedee Cummings. And she was right.

When she asked me why I chose to publish my books under the longer version of my name initially,  I explained how I had spent my entire childhood hiding from my given name, Deirdre Pecchioni. When you are a kid, you want to do everything in your power not to stand out in any way.

I stood out with a name like that.

My nickname has always been Deedee, but now I think Deirdre is a beautiful name. I regret that I spent two decades of my life not liking it because it was so hard to pronounce or spell. As an adult, I can fully appreciate the beauty of the name and recognize that being different is special in the best way.

Pecchioni is my maiden name, thanks to my Italian father. It is pronounced Peck-ee-oh-nee, and I tell people that it rhymes with pepperoni. Pecchioni means “keeper of the bee” in Italian. My ancestors were beekeepers. How many people can say something so cool about the origin of their name?  

Again, kids do not understand the novelty of such things and tend to hide from anything that might call undue attention to themselves, especially in a classroom.

Now, Deedee Cummings is what I most frequently go by in my everyday life. Almost everyone calls me Deedee Cummings so, why was I going by Deirdre Pecchioni Cummings again? See, even you are having trouble saying it!

That time I had to get all new ISBNs

Deedee Cummings became my new author name last year, but that was not the end of it. After I made this decision, I learned that I could not revise and update my new name on the already published books without getting all new ISBNs! THIS, was not in my evolution plans!

ISBNs are kind of like the social security number for your book. There is no other book in the world with that number, and the publisher of the book typically owns your ISBN.

An ISBN is also kind of like a fingerprint in that it holds the metadata for your book. This includes the name of the author and the title of the book. If you have to change either of these things, you will have to apply for a new ISBN.

It was not cheap, quick, or easy to obtain ten new ISBNs and revise ten books. But I did it. 

Sometimes you need to stretch and struggle in order to GROW.

Here is what I learned along the way, and I hope that these author branding tips help you on your author journey.

Author Branding Tips: 5 Things to Consider BEFORE you Publish

1)      Spend time deciding what your author name will be before you ever publish. Ask people what they think. If you will be a children’s author, ask kids what they think and ask them to say it aloud. Deirdre Pecchioni Cummings is quite a mouthful for little ones. Picture a child walking into a library and asking the librarian for their favorite books. They will remember Deedee Cummings with little effort.

2) Spend time deciding what your book title will be before you ever publish. You will have to get a new ISBN if you change either of these pieces of data (your author name or the name of the book) so choose wisely on both. Again, the best advice I can give you is to ask others what they think about your title. Ideally, they should read the entire book to be able to tell you if the title fits. Be open to suggestions and don’t dismiss other names that they think may work better.  This does not mean you must accept them. Just be open. A title can make or break a book. A title, along with excellent cover art, piques interest in the text. These two things alone can compel a customer to buy your book.

3)      You may want to consider buying ISBNs in bulk. You can do that- and it is much cheaper. In 2020 one ISBN is $125.00, while ten are $295.00. They go quick, which brings me to…

4)      You will need an ISBN for each version of your book. Are you only going to publish one book in print- then you’ll only need one ISBN. But if you have dreams of branching out to ebooks and audiobooks, you will need individual ISBNs for all those. This means if you want to publish your text in paperback form, hardcover, audiobook, and ebook, you will need four separate ISBN’s. Buying them in bulk will help you track these books better as the first several digits will be the same. Only the last few numbers will be different, and believe me, this too pays off when you have to type or write these numbers repeatedly.

5)   Decide what your long-range goals are. You do not have to have an ISBN or bar code on your book to sell it, but if you plan to be taken seriously as an author and plan to approach stores, libraries, and book festivals, you will need to have ISBNs for all of your books. Bar codes help too, and these also can be bought in the same place where you buy your ISBNs at, which is run by Bowker.

Last piece of advice: If you want to make a career as an author, buy your own ISBNs. Many publishing companies will assign you one of theirs, and it will be tempting to take them up on it as it will appear to be free or already included with whatever package you purchased.

However, you will forever be linked to that company instead of having your identifiers. If you self-publish, you are the publisher, and your own personal ISBNs reflect that and give you more control over your data. When you purchase your own ISBNs you will get an account, and you will be able to update your information regarding your book. When you elect to use the ISBN from another company, you lose this control.

I published my first book in 2014, and I knew none of this so I am passing on my hard-earned wisdom and Author Branding Tips with the hopes that this will help those who are just starting out on their publishing journey. Even if you have already published using a self-publishing company’s ISBNs, I would consider buying and assigning your own going forward.

I wish you the very best in your writing and publishing journey!

Author Branding Tips

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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