Is There an ISBN in Your Wallet?

Author Smarts: How to Get Your ISBN

How to Get Your ISBN

One of the most common questions the about to publish author asks is, “Where do I get my ISBN?” Excellent question—start here:

The International Standard Book Number is known to all in the book world as an ISBN. It costs $125 for one and $250 for a block of ten. It’s highly recommend that you purchase a block of 10 because the author usually has at least another book on the “back burner.” And, it’s recommended that your own them outright in your publishing company name.

And these days, the hard cover will be followed by the soft-cover version, requiring another ISBN, and one or more e-books. And of course, a revised edition (30% or more) could follow eventually, particularly if your first edition is well received. Bowker is the mothership for ISBNs. Here’s there website that will take you directly there: or you can go to

Beware: The websites are occasionally updated—changed—so these instructions may also require updating.

How to Obtain Your ISBN(s):

• Go to
• Click on bullet in blue below question, “Are you a new publisher applying for a block of ISBNs? The bullet reads: “Continue your application process on our secure server.
• Click on “Create an Account.”

• Click on “I Am a New Bowker Customer.”
• Fill out the two column form for “My Profile” and “Company Profile.”
• Fill out the two boxes at bottom, “Username and Password” (“User name” can be your name, your e-mail address, your publishing company, or … whatever.)
• Click on the box at the bottom, “I accept – Create my Account”
• Click on the “10 ISBN” “BUY” button and fill out the required information. (As suggested above, the 10 ISBNs is the better way to go in today’s one-author-multibooks-published publishing world.)

The process can take up to a week. The Application will also ask if you want a Bar Code, which costs extra (but not much). You don’t ordinarily need that as the author, so ignore that box. There are plenty of resources that you can go to for a FREE barcode and all book designers have the service to create it when they are designing the back cover—it’s necessary for the back cover of your book.

ALERT: When you know what the title goes with each ISBN, go back to either or directly to and get it logged in and posted. This will now tell the book world that your book is alive and ready for people to find.

© 2013 Judith Briles

judithbrilesJudith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd (, an author and book publishing expert and the Founder of Author U (, a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 30 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Her latest, Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms is just being released. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Your Guide to Book publishing on the Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at