ISBN Number Adds Value and Professional Appeal to Your Book

An ISBN number is a great way to add value to your book and a professional look that comes from a simple bar code. But the big question is do you really need one? It all depends on how you plan on publishing your book and the extent you plan on marketing it.

This popular topic covers everything you need to know about the ISBN and how to obtain one in as fast as ten days.

Of course, now you're asking, "What does ISBN stand for?"

I: International
S: Standard
B: Book
N: Number

This 13 digit indexing number (it used to be 10 and was changed a couple of years ago) is used by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors to provide more effective marketing and location of your book once it is published and on the market. It helps identify your book or the edition of your book, how much it costs, and from what specific publisher it is available through. This is a unique number and is used to identify your unique book among millions of other books.

The simple serial number looks like this:

ISBN Number Sample

This bar code ISBN should be displayed on the back cover of your book in the bottom right hand corner.

Why do You Need an ISBN Number?

The 13 digit number is required for hard copy published books that the author and publisher want to market to book stores. If there isn't an ISBN bar code on your book, most bookstores won't touch it.

The number makes searching for your book a lot easier from the book seller and buyer perspective. It can also give your self-published book a more professional look and feel, not to mention increase your overall sales by allowing it to be included in many more book databases.

An ISBN number can be very useful and in most cases is mandatory if you want to sell your books on or off line. It all depends on how you plan on marketing and distributing your stories.

If you sell your own books independently, you don't need one. If you are going through any outside publishing agency at all, you will need to have an ISBN number to help book sellers locate, purchase, and sell your books or to even have them listed on their bookstore websites.

ISBN information embedded in your bar code isn't exactly cheap and should be figured into your writing budget if you plan on self-publishing your book. The information on this page provides you with the knowledge you need to properly obtain and register your number if you plan on self-publishing your fiction books.

If you are traditionally publishing or self-publishing your book, there are a couple of ways to go about getting your own ISBN to add to your book. Though they are optional, it is highly recommended that you obtain an ISBN number to increase the value of your published books and to help people find your books so they can purchase them easily.

There are a Couple Ways to Obtain an ISBN Number:

1. You can attain an ISBN through a publisher that publishes your book. If you are having your book published by a traditional publisher, do not purchase your own ISBN. Your publisher will assign one of their ISBNs to your work which includes their information within the number. This, of course, will be included in your publishing contract and you shouldn't have to pay for it directly. They buy their numbers in bulk for pennies on the dollar.

2. If you need an ISBN number for your self-published work, you can purchase your own ISBNs straight from the ISBN website.

Two Ways to Obtain an ISBN for Your Fiction

There are two ways of obtaining your ISBN number, one if you plan on self-publishing and one if you plan on getting a publisher to publish your book for you:

Method 1: (This is the more expensive and preferred method if you are self-publishing more than one book)

First, visit the only official ISBN number information and application source on the Internet. You can click on "Application for an ISBN Publisher Prefix" if you wish to make your purchase online, or click on the "Print form for mailing only" link to download a hard copy form to fill out and send in. The electronic ordering process is easier if you prefer to pay with a credit card. This process also takes only 10 days, so you can get your ISBN information a lot faster than mailing it in.

Once you are in the application, you can either choose the $250.00 option which will order you ten ISBNs or you can order a single ISBN for $125.00. Both of these ordering processes go through Bowker, the only true partner of

An advantage for receiving ten ISBN numbers is that you don't have to go through this process again until you run out of numbers, which is 10 books or major revisions to your books. This means you can publish up to ten of your books in hard copy or electronic form.

Method 2: (This can sometimes be a more expensive or free, depending on who you publish your book through!)

First, you can choose one of the many book publishers to publish your book for you. When you get an advance to publish, you will never have to deal with this as the publisher will take care of it. But if you go through a so-called "self-publisher" (like Publish America for example), you may have to pay for your ISBNs through them, even though they buy them in bulk with their information on them.

Of course, being associated with a publisher can have some good advantages like being associated with their reputation or brand and them submitting your book information to all of the major book stores. This route can be more beneficial, but you are limited in future revisions of your book and it can be more expensive depending on the publisher.

If you have any questions about the ISBN process, please contact me and I will answer your questions or concerns.

Online Editing Tool