"I can help you!"


I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Do I Need an ISBN to Publish My Own eBook?

The above question is a common one for authors taking their first dip into the ebook pool. The easy answer is: YES. But there's a bit more to ISBNs than that.

If you've decided to publish your own ebooks using ebook retailers like Amazon's Digital Text Platform, KoboBooks or Smashwords, you will need new ISBNs for each retailer. To understand why this is necessary, you must first understand what an ISBN is and does.

What's an ISBN?

International Standard Book Numbers or ISBNs are a 10 or 13 digit number used to identify your book or ebook and each of its revisions or editions. The first part of that number (the prefix) identifies the publisher. ISBNs are used for tracking sales data. Print books also have the ISBN embedded into the barcode, again for easy sales tracking.

Why do I need an ISBN for my ebook?

Distributors, bookstores, wholesalers and the general public use this number to order your book. If you plan to sell to bookstores, libraries (many are bringing in ebooks now) and some specialty retailers, you'll need an ISBN.

Can I use the same ISBN for one title that's in print and ebook edition?

No. Many retailers won't distribute your ebook or book if the ISBN has been used anywhere else, so it's important to take the time to register individual ISBNs as needed. ISBNs are not assigned by title; they are assigned by edition. Editions are determined by who published your book. If you're publishing your own ebooks, then every time you publish at a different retailer, you'll need a new ISBN number.

Example: My bestselling novel Whale Song has been published by 3 different print publishers, so it has 3 different ISBNs for those paperbacks. It also has 3 different ISBNs for ebooks I puiblished via Kindle, Smashwords and KoboBooks.

How do I get an ISBN?

If you're an author from the US, you can purchase a block of 10 ISBNs from R.R. Bowker at  http://www.bowkerlink.com or http://www.isbn.org. Some ebook retailers, like Smashwords, allow you to purchase a single ISBN directly from them. Just keep in mind that whoever has registered the ISBN (in this case, Smashwords) owns the ISBN and it can't be transferred if you choose not to publish through them. Never use the same number for different books or editions.

Canadian authors are quite fortunate; they don't have to pay for ISBNs. If you're a Canadian author, you can register your ISBNs at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/ciss-ssci/041002-2000-e.html. You'll first join CISS -- The Canadian ISBN Service System and be assigned your prefix. After that you can assign ISBNs to your ebooks and books easily and quickly online.

A special thank you to Russell B. for inspiring me to write today's post. :-) I hope I've answered your question, Russell.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
book marketing coach & bestselling author

1 comment:

Russell Brooks said...

Thanks for posting this. This really helps. I'm glad I'm Canadian.