This will be the first of a series of blog posts, summarizing our Self-Publishing Checklists. This one will cover all of your pre-publishing prep work, starting with getting your ISBNs and finishing with your title page. We’ve put together this guide to help authors through the process of self-publishing. Our goal is to give you a framework to hopefully make the task of publishing your book seem just a little less daunting.
Remember that this isn’t meant to be the only way to get a book published, and won’t include all of the information you will need (that would be difficult to list in one place). However, where it’s lacking, we’ve included links to outside websites and blog posts that we’ve found helpful.
we wish you luck on your publishing journey!
1. purchase an ISBN
The first step is to get your book's ISBN. You can buy your ISBNs from Bowker (for authors based in the US) from myidentififiers.com.
REMEMBER: you need a separate ISBN for each format of your book. So if you are publishing as ebook, paperback, and hardback, you need 3 ISBNs.
If you don’t want to pay for an ISBN, here are your options:
This essentially means that Amazon or IngramSpark will be the publisher of your book, rather than you, because they control the ISBN. We would recommend paying for your own ISBN, so that you have control of your book, and aren’t bound by a single service.
If you choose a free ISBN option, you will simply ask for one from either Amazon or IngramSpark when you create an account and upload your manuscript.
2. assign your ISBN to your book
You’ll need to create an account with MyIdentifiers when you buy your ISBNs (assuming you bought from Bowker).
steps to assign ISBN
1. Click on the tab My Identifiers on your account page.
2. You should see a list of your ISBNs (however many you bought). Click Assign Title to assign one to a book. Then you’ll fill out the meta-data and information including but not limited to:
REMEMBER: You can come back to edit your meta-data and book information later, but you cannot un-assign an ISBN.
3. Repeat for the different formats of your book. (You will need to assign a title and fill out all of the information for each format: ebook, paperback, hardback. So it is possible to have the same book use three ISBNs, and three slots in your list).
4. It may take a few days for the ISBN to be approved. Once it is, your book is automatically added to Bowker’s Books-in-Print database (which is what bookstores and distributers use to find the books they order.) And that's all there is to it!
3. turn your ISBN into a barcode
This is only necessary if you are publishing your book as a paperback or hardback, and want to have the option of having it for sale in a physical brick-and-mortar store. You don’t need a barcode for an ebook.
steps to creating a barcode
1. Input your ISBN to a free barcode generator to turn it into a readable image. You can simply google a generator and find one you want to use (there are tons out there).
2. You then take this image and put it on the back cover of your book before uploading your cover to your Print-on-Demand service. Make sure you follow their guidelines for where to place the barcode. (generally in the bottom center of your cover). We’ll go over the guidelines later in more detail.
alternatives to creating a barcode
1. If you get your ISBN from either Amazon or IngramSpark, they will place their barcode on your cover themselves (you simply need to click the option when uploading your manuscript).
2. You can also pay Bowker (the company you bought your ISBN from) to turn your number into a barcode, but they charge you money when you could just get it for free by doing it yourself.
4. apply for an LCCN
Now that you have your ISBN, you can apply for a LCCN (a Library of Congress Control Number), which is an identification number used by the Library of Congress for books in their catalog. If you are only publishing as an ebook, you don’t need an LCCN (and in fact can’t get one). This is only for print books. Also unlike an ISBN, you only need one LCCN for both your paperback and hardback formats.
steps for apply for an LCCN
1. Create an account with the PCN Program (Preassigned Control Number Program, which is used to assign LCCNs before a book is published).
2. Request an LCCN and fill out all of the required information (basically the same data you used to assign an ISBN to your book) and submit.
3. It may take up to 2 weeks for it to go through the system, but is often less. You’ll receive an email with your number. If you make any changes to your book’s publishing data (like a change of the release date, or adding another contributor) be sure to update your PCN profile accordingly.
send a printed copy to Library of Congress
Once your book is printed, you will need to send a copy to the Library of Congress. After your book is live, you can simply order an author copy (not a test copy, because you don’t want the temporary barcodes or not-for-sale bands on the cover).
5. create your title page
Now you have everything you need to create your title page, which is a page in the very beginning with all the information about your book in one place (sometimes called a copyright page).
your title page will need to have
And that's it for this section of the checklist. All of your prep-work is done. Next we'll cover building your manuscript files and choosing which Print-on-Demand services you want to publish with.
You can find the full checklist on this page, if you'd like to view it all before we summarize it in these posts. Or you can get a free, downloadable PDF version of the full guide by signing up to our mailing list on the right menu. You'll also have access to our upcoming marketing checklist (once we finish it, that is). Or, if you prefer, check back for the next post in this series!
Until then, happy writing!