6 Other Things You Need to Make Your Own Book: Optional ISBNs, etc.

Other Things You Need to Publish

In most cases, to get your book into stores, you’ll sign up for a seller account and fill out information online in a process that will require you to upload most or all of the following items:

  • Your book files (PDF for print-on-demand; MOBI for Kindle and EPUB for iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc.–Pressbooks produces all these files for you.)
  • Cover files
  • Book description (include relevant search terms)
  • Author information (your bio, adapted as relevant to this book)
  • Banking and tax information (The bookstores need it to pay you.)
  • ISBN (optional in many cases)

Book Upload Tips

Pressbooks produces all the book files you will need to upload. Just download them to your desktop then upload them into the bookstores.

Check the cover specifications for your intended bookstore. You may need to resize your file before uploading it.

When you write your book description, be sure to include keywords people might use to search for similar books because this book description will become part of the metadata the stores search when helping readers find books like yours.

People may search for books by you as the author. For readers who don’t know of you yet, give them an idea why you’re an authoritative source in your author bio.

Many bookstores will deposit royalties directly into your bank account and will report the income they pay you in royalties from your book sales to the appropriate tax authority. They will need your banking information to compensate you and your tax identification for reporting purposes.

ISBNS are optional in some of the most popular bookstores.

What Are ISBNs?

The ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a unique identifier given to your book, and to each format of it (ebook, print, et al.). It helps the publishing industry track sales in bookstores around the world.

Do you Need an ISBN? And Do You Want One?

The answer is maybe.

You are not required to purchase an ISBN to publish in most of the ebookstores.

Apple, Kindle, Nook Press and some others do not require an ISBN. Kobo does.

You don’t need an ISBN to publish on the Smashwords platform, but if they are distributing your book to iBooks and other retailers, you will. In this instance, Smashwords will provide a free ISBNs (with them listed as the publisher).

Createspace requires an ISBN but will also give you a free one (again, with them listed as the publisher). Kindle Direct Publishing will give you a free “Amazon Standard Identification Number” that is similar to an ISBN.

An ISBN is usually required to publish in print and print-on-demand venues. (One exception: The Pressbooks printing program does not require an ISBN.)

Where to Buy an ISBN (if You Want One)

Despite the fact it’s not required, many writers will want to make their book look more professional by obtaining their own ISBN. There are several places to procure an ISBN affordably:

  • You can buy ISBNs on the cheap from distribution companies who buy them in bulk. Some affordable resellers sell them for as low as $19.99. The downside? They’ll be listed as the publisher of your book. Would they ever assert that right? Probably not.
  • If you use a distributor, they will usually sell you an ISBN.
  • CreateSpace also sells a $10 ISBN that lets you list yourself, company or imprint as publisher, but you can only use that ISBN within CreateSpace. If you publish elsewhere, you’ll need to purchase a second ISBN.
  • Inside the U.S., you can buy your ISBN directly from Bowker.com at isbn.org for $125 apiece or buy in bulk, 10 for $295. You’ll own the number(s) and be listed on the record as the publisher.
  • Outside the U.S., you can purchase a number from the International ISBN Agency at https://www.isbn-international.org/.

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The Pressbooks Guide to Self-Publishing, 2nd Edition Copyright © 2015 by Pressbooks. All Rights Reserved.


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