Self-Publishing Guide – ISBN Number

by Rachel Sawden
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ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number”. If you plan on using a printing service besides Amazon you will need one.

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What is an ISBN Number?

It is a numeric commercial book identifier that every single book printed from 1970 onward has. They used to have 10 digits, now they  have 13.

Each ISBN consists of 5 elements:

  1. Prefix element – three digits, usually 978 or 979 these days
  2. Registration group element – this identifies the country, geographical region, or language of the imprint.
  3. Registrant element – identifies the particular publisher
  4. Publication element – identifies the particular edition and format of the imprint.
  5. Check digit – this is always the first single-digit that mathematically validates the rest of the number

None of this is really important to understand except that you will need one if you are using Ingram’s printing services.

Every country issues its own ISBN numbers. If you are in the US, Canada, or another large country, Google will show you where to apply. There may be a cost depending on your country.

How Do I Get an ISBN Number?

I live in Bermuda, and all I had to do was email the person who runs the National Library. She sent me a form to fill out and within a few hours she sent me back my ISBN number for free.

Note: If you plan on publishing only through Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing will automatically assign you an ASIN number when you upload your book.

Next step in my self-publishing guide: Back Cover Blurb and Book Description.

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