ISBN Advice for Self-Published Authors

By Jason Boog Comment

Bowker launched the Self Published Author site today, sharing advice for indie authors about topics ranging from an overview of self-publishing platforms for your book to writing back cover copy.

Bowker is the US agency that writers and publishers must use to register for an International Standard Book Number (or ISBN) for their book. The new site shares some useful advice about why an ISBN matters and how to get your ISBN. Here’s an excerpt:

If you are publishing a book, you are a publisher. You don’t need a corporate entity to purchase ISBNs. You can purchase them under your own name, or create a name for yourself as a publisher – e.g. “Laura Dawson Publishing”. This name does not need to be registered in any way … There is no such thing as an e-ISBN. ISBNs are ISBNs – some identify physical products in the book supply chain, others identify digital products in the book supply chain. Vendors who ask for information about your e-ISBNs are using incorrect terminology – they simply want the ISBNs of your digital products.

The site also encouraged indie authors to share as much information about the book as possible, making sure your metadata is available for search engines, booksellers and readers. Check it out:

Metadata is the information about your book – title, author, price, subject category, description, etc. My Identifiers allows you to enter all the relevant metadata about your book, and update/correct it as needed. The metadata then gets sent out in a data feed to all the major search engines and most bookstores (online and brick-and-mortar), as well as to thousands of libraries. Keeping your metadata accurate and current is probably the best thing you can do to market your book … A new ISBN is warranted only when the changes mean that the changed product is distinctly different from the previous version and customers would be confused.

If you self-publish your eBook through Smashwords, you can get a free ISBN through the digital distributor. Read more about Smashwords’ ISBN program here.

In addition, Amazon’s CreateSpace program includes a free ISBN option.