Print & Distribution Platforms
The 2 most advantageous platforms for self-publishing and distributing paperback books are Amazon, and Ingram.
Amazon / CreateSpace
Amazon is a ginormous, global, online bookstore. They own a company called CreateSpace, which is where we go to publish a book that will be stocked in Amazon. Amazon receives orders from all over the world, prints them on demand, then ships them to the customers. Brick and mortar bookstores do not order books from Amazon, nor will they order them from you.
Ingram / IngramSpark
Ingram has a book catalog and order fulfillment service that is used by a large percentage of brick and mortar bookstores all over the world to stock their stores. Store owners can’t afford to manage tens of thousands of small accounts with little publishers like you, so they use the Ingram catalog to order books. If we want our book to be stocked at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland Oregon, we have to submit the manuscript to IngramSpark.
Once we have formatted your book for paperback publication, we can modify the manuscript for ebook publication and create an ebook cover derived from the paperback cover. Then we submit the book again separately to Ingram and Amazon/KDP to become an ebook on both platforms.
ISBN & Barcode
You need an ISBN Number and Barcode for each book you publish. When Amazon supplies the ISBN, you should not publish that book with that ISBN anywhere else. If you want to other choices of where to distribute your book, then you should acquire your own ISBN through the Bowker company, just like a professional publisher would. You then use that ISBN everywhere you submit the book for distribution.
If you have several books to publish soon, you should buy a bundle of 10 ISBNs, along with their BarCodes. The ISBN number and the Barcode are two separate items. The ISBN number is to distinguish your book from any other. The Barcode is managing inventory with a digital barcode scanner.
When it comes time to submit a manuscript to CreateSpace, or IngramSpark, or Nook Press, you will be asked for your ISBN number during the process of submission. The ISBN Number and BarCode is also a graphic you must include on the bottom right of your back cover design graphic.
You do not need a copyright to self-publish a book, and you do not need to publish a book to acquire a copyright. Your book is legally copyright protected the moment you put the following on your manuscript:
Copyright © 2016 Author or Publisher Name
The purpose of applying for a copyright from the Library of Congress (LofC) is to store a dated, public record that proves that you have owned the manuscript since that date. The quickest way to prove ownership in a court of law is with a copyright from the LofC. Without this step, the only proof you will have is the dated digital file on your hard drive, or a hard copy you may have mailed to yourself without breaking the seal.
As the writer and publisher, you will be able to order copies of your book directly from Amazon or Ingram at wholesale prices. For example, a 100 page paperback book wholesale from Amazon/CreateSpace would only cost you, the writer, about $2 per copy.