Self-publishing: how to get an ISBN number in the UK and the US

ISBNWhat is an ISBN number?                                  

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and every book has one. It is a 13 digit number which uniquely identifies the title, edition and format.

So, how do I get one?

The answer to this question depends on whether you want to register a book in the UK or the United States. To register in the UK, you will need to register with a company called Nielsens. In the US, Bowker are the company you’ll need to approach.

Bowker will sell you a single ISBN number for $125. This sounds pricey, but you can also buy a collection of ISBN numbers in bulk for a lot less. If you do this, the price can go down to less than $1 dollar per number.

Nielsens in the UK will not sell you less than 10 ISBN numbers at a time. It will cost you 125 GBP for ten numbers, which compares very well with a single number in the States! Again, buying ISBN numbers in bulk will save you money, and some packages will bring the price down to less then 1 GBP per book. If you produce a paperback in the UK, you will need to file six library copies with various ISBN agencies around the UK, so bear this in mind when buying.

Buying in bulk sounds like the best option. Would it be wise to have more than one ISBN number?

Yes, for two reasons – 1. if you have self-published or are planning to self publish several books, or 2. if your book(s) are going to be available in more than one format. Each format of your book will need a new ISBN number, whether that be mobipocket, hardback, paperback etc – if it’s a new edition, it will need a new IBSN number. Simple.

We hope this advice was helpful to anybody who may be looking to self-publish. Remember, we ourselves offer a range of services for self-publishers that may be useful. For more information on this, return to our homepage:

Check Mate!

BlackboardOne of the things which unfortunately slaps you in the face about many self-published, first-time authors is that their books get uploaded complete with a whole host of easily rectified errors that any self-respecting editor would have picked up on and corrected.

Of course, editors are expensive – they can add hundreds of dollars, pounds, euros, etc to the cost of your book and, if you’re trying to do it all on a budget, it can quickly get prohibitive. While there can be no complete substitute for the eyes of a professional, a lot can be done by friends, relatives and other authors as part of a co-operative but they do need to be brutal with both you and the truth.

It’s worth compiling a checklist for them to work with – they’re not professionals and they’ll need to know what they’re looking for.

To get you started, and to show you what I mean, here’s an abbreviated summary of three of the most common error types.

  • Double words – such as as this. It’s particularly easy to miss when your sentence spans two lines
  • Wrong choices – for example; (they’re, there, their), (whose, who’s) and (to, too)
  • Silly words – modern nonsense such as ‘loose’ (instead of ‘lose’) and the awful ‘alot’

Don’t let anyone read your work who’s (!) afraid to criticise what you’ve written. This is not ‘just’ a novel, this is a commercial product which must stand or fall by its quality and you need to ensure it’s as near perfect as you can get it.

No-one makes allowances for beginners so don’t expect such treatment.