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:


 isbn-1The International Standard Book Number is known to all in the book world as an ISBN.   It costs $125 for one and $295 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.”  If you do a hard cover edition, it 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. Then think about the magic “repurpose” word … you could take a book that has become a bit long in the tooth, do a mix and match with chapters; combine some of them; do a rewrite of a few … and oh my, here’s another book … and another … and another.

With today’s publishing trend, especially in nonfiction, “less is more” –smaller, shorter books.  With that said, you can get 100 ISBNs as of this writing for $575 and 1000 for $1000. That should take care of just about everything in the repurposing arena.

And, it’s recommended that your own them outright in your publishing company name. Do not “repurchase” them from another publisher that than resells them, and that includes Amazon’s CreateSpace.

“Why?” you ask. Because … in the depths of it all, it shows that whoever/whatever you bought it from is the true owner via Bowker … it doesn’t matter what the sales literature says. Bowker is the only authorized direct seller in North America. And think about this … what if the company you bought your ISBN from goes belly up? Goodbye any type of control to yours.

Bowker is the mothership for ISBNs. Here’s there website that will take you directly there: 

BewareThe websites are occasionally updated—changed—so these instructions may also require updating.

How to Send for Your ISBN(s)

  • Go to
  • Click on bright orange button at the top that says “Buy ISBNs”
  • 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 24 hours at most; most authors get a response within an hour. Print out the list and put it in a file. Copy it to your computer.

The Application will also ask if you want a Bar Code, which costs extra (but not much). Take a pass. 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 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 … I just did a radio show with Laura Dawson, product manager for My Identifiers. It was an excellent interview … Make sure you listen in on the Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing radio show.YourGuidetoBookPublishing_graphic11-300x229


Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious 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 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord Indie/Fab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Unplugged, a two day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at . Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at

If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.

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