Hello, all! Kimberly here from Jera Publishing. Today your Self-Publishing Short is on ISBNs. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique number assigned to all distributed books. (By the way, you should not say, “ISBN number,” because, technically, that would be “International Standard Book Number number!”)

If you want to sell your book on Amazon, or at any retailer, you need to have an ISBN assigned to it.

Every version of your book requires a unique ISBN. If you are publishing a paperback and a hardcover, you need two ISBNs. If you do a special edition cover, that also needs its own ISBN. Most eBook distributors, however, no longer require you to assign an ISBN to an eBook, but you can if you want to.

Part of the ISBN identifies the publisher of the book. As a self-publisher, this would be you. I suggest you set up a business name to publish under (or use your existing one) and buy the ISBNs under that business name.

If a company offers a “self-publishing” package that includes an ISBN and royalty payments, they are likely a subsidy or vanity publisher; the ISBN belongs to them, and you would not be self-publishing. It is crucial that you understand the difference, which will be the focus of my article in next week’s newsletter.

You can buy ISBNs through Bowker, United States’ ISBN Agency, at www.isbn.org. They sell a single ISBN for $125 or a pack of ten for $295. I recommend the ten pack.

Don’t buy the ISBN barcode from them, even though they will strongly suggest it—just ignore them. Most printers (CreateSpace, IngramSpark, etc.) offer these barcodes free of charge.


Kimberly Martin

Kimberly Martin

Self-publishing specialist with over 15 years of experience, speaker, and coach. In my spare time, I can be found reading, hiking, taking photographs, riding my motorcycle, spoiling my three rescue cats, and decorating the Jera office with my collection of vintage typewriters.
Kimberly Martin
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