How to Get ISBN for Self-Publishing a Book

If you want your readers to identify and buy your book among millions of others and you intend to sell your books to libraries, bookstores, online marketplaces, and wholesalers apply for an ISBN or make sure your self-publishing company assigns one for you. Knowing what ISBN stands for and how to self-publish a book with ISBN correctly is crucial for self-published authors. 

Read this blog if you want to learn everything about ISBN – what ISBN is, the advantages of ISBN for self-published authors, how to get an ISBN, and whether you need one for your book. 

What ISBN Stands For? 

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit numeric code that works as a universally unique identifier for books. Just like a barcode or QR code, an ISBN includes information regarding a book, such as the name of the publisher, title and edition, version and language, and country. 

A different ISBN is allocated to each edition or version of the same book. For instance, if your book is published as a hardcover and an eBook, they would get two separate ISBNs, allowing publishers, distributors, retailers, and online marketplaces to quickly find the exact book. 

ISBNs are generated using a specific mathematical formula and contain a check digit that validates the entire set. ISBNs are allotted to only published books. ISBNs are not assigned to magazines, academic journals, and other periodicals. 

Format of an ISBN

Each book’s ISBN is divided into 5 parts, each representing a particular element of a book.

First part: Perpetually 3-digits long prefix element (either 978 or 979)

Second part: The registration group element that identifies the country, the geography of the publisher, and language area.

Third part: Identifies the book publishing or self-publishing company.

Fourth part: Categorizes the book’s title, edition, and format. 

Fifth part: The check digit that mathematically verifies the rest of the numbers. 

Importance of ISBN for Self-Published Authors 

Self-publishing a book is a smart option, but the most important thing to do here is to obtain an ISBN from Bowker (US) or Raja Rammohan Roy (India). Without an ISBN, Bowker wouldn’t register and assign a publishing name, and you would not be able to sell your book through multi-channel distributors like Amazon, Booksophile, Google Play or traditional retailers. This means libraries and bookstores are less likely to sell a book that’s not listed within their database. You need an ISBN if you wish to put your book up for worldwide distribution.

Let’s make this more understandable.

As an author, you want your reader to choose your book from the hundred books on display. But most often, information in your book may overlap with the information in another book. For instance, you may have written a self-care book about practicing yoga. You might use keywords in your metadata, like ‘yoga,’ ‘pranayama,’ ‘tips,’ and ‘self-care.’ The problem arises when an author of a popular book titled ‘Yoga for Weight Loss’ may have used similar details on distributors’ and retailers’ catalogs. 

ISBNs separate your book information from other authors, making it easier to identify and locate your book.  

Benefits of Self-Publishing a Book Using a Publisher’s Existing ISBN – Do You Need One? 

Gives Your More Sales Leverage 

When you self-publish a book with the ISBN of an existing self-publishing company like Writat, your book gets more exposure and sales. This is because the publisher’s name alone will push your sales, as they will advertise your book with the other published books. This is not possible if you try to obtain an ISBN on your own. 

They are Cheaper this Way

Choose a self-publishing company that gives ISBNs at a lower price. The cost of ISBN, in general, is $125 per book. But most publishers buy them at a bulk price ($ 225 for 10 ISBNs). This means you can get it from a book publisher at a reduced rate. Ours is probably the cheapest ISBN service because we give it free of cost for all our authors. 

However, there are certain cases when you do not need an ISBN, such as if you are interested in selling your book directly to your reader, either by hand or through your own Instagram handle or website, or if you are a nonfiction author and you have a pre-established audience. Example: Selling your physics textbook to the school where you teach. 

That said, Writat prioritizes assigning an ISBN to any book publishing project you wish to start for worldwide distribution. 

Where to Get an ISBN? Does Writat Offer ISBN?

There are a few recognized places from where you can acquire your ISBN. You can purchase from Raja Rammohan Roy in India, Bowker in the US, Thorpe-Bowker in Australia, and Nielson Book Agency in the UK. However, the process is exhausting. 

 The two distinct advantages of purchasing your ISBN are a) it enables you to create your own Publishing Imprint and b) you can move them with your book to a different platform anytime. 

Writat offers free ISBN when you self-publish your book through us, allowing you access to all our retail and wholesale distribution partners worldwide. Instead of you paying $125, we give it at no cost and don’t let you go through stress applying and filing forms. 

When Do You Need an ISBN?

You must get your ISBN ready before you design your book cover, as the cover includes a place for the barcode, which contains your ISBN. You can buy your ISBN even before you publish your book.

Self-publish your book with Writat and get your Free ISBN. Contact our publishing consultant for more details. 

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