Impact & Inspire with a Book

Do I need an ISBN for my Book


There are lots of questions and lots of confusion around ISBNs, for example:

  • Do you need an ISBN?
  • What is an ISBN?
  • Where do you get an ISBN?


Here is what you want to know about ISBN’s BEFORE you start writing your Book:

What is an ISBN?

The letters ISBN stand for International Standard Book Number. And it’s just what it sounds like: a unique identifying number for your book. It is a global standard and required by most retailers. Through December 2006, ISBNs were 10 digits; now they are 13 digits.

An ISBN usually looks something like this: 978-1-945209-05-5.

The first element (978) indicates it is an ISBN.
The second element (1) indicates country or language.
The third element (945209) indicates the publisher.
The fourth element (05) indicates the title and format.
The fifth element (5) is a check digit (a number that verifies the other digits were entered correctly).
When someone looks up a book, the owner of the ISBN is listed as the publisher of record. (Note: The ISBN is separate from copyright; owning an ISBN does not necessarily mean you hold the copyright.)

The ISBN is usually located on the back cover of a book and listed in the front matter along with the publisher, copyright, and so on.

Do I need an ISBN for my Book?

Great question, here is the answer:

If you plan to sell your printed book in bookstores, libraries and wholesale companies, you will need to have an ISBN for every format and edition of your book. This includes publications in different languages.

For example, in the case of paperback and hardcover versions, a separate ISBN for each version is required. An eBook requires its own ISBN as well.

The ISBN is used internationally and for that reason requires a different number for each version of your book.

So, go back to your ‘why’, why do you want to write your book and what do you want the book to do for you?
When you are clear on your why you will know if you need to buy your ISBN.

Reasons for NOT needing an ISBN

If you are only publishing an eBook, and you have no plans to write and publish anything more, you won’t need an ISBN.

Or, if you plan to publish through Amazon KDP only and not use other online platforms or retailers, you can request Amazon provide you with a free ISBN.

Using the free Amazon ISBN is fast and convenient and a great option when you are using your book specifically for promoting yourself.


Here are some of the main benefits publishing on Amazon:

1. You have access to high royalty numbers.

If you self-publish on Amazon you can earn up to 70% royalties. This depends on the overall size and format of your book, though.


2. You only need to prepare one manuscript format.

When you publish on Amazon, you’re given a way to simply and super easily prepare and format your word document pages into a professionally set up book. There are multiple chapter styles, chapter headings and the text fonts to choose from and applied with the click of a button.

All that’s required is the download of the KDP app and the upload of your manuscript into it, making the entire process quick and easy.


3. You have more access to global markets and selling opportunities.

Trying to offer your book to distributors, retailers, schools, and libraries, you’ll find they have no interest in selling your work because most likely it won’t  be a good ‘fit’ for their customers.

By using Amazon, you’re given immediate access to a global platform that billions of people use on a regular basis. Your future customers can order and have their book delivered directly, or instantly download the kindle version of your book, at their convenience.


4. You are permitted to revise your title at zero cost.

Unlike other self-publishing platforms, Amazon gives you the option to fix errors if you spot them after publishing. You’re permitted to upload a revised manuscript at no cost. They’ll replace the file that is offered as a download once you finish the upload and authorize the changes you’ve made. That makes it a lot easier to present a professional product to your target audience at all times, make updates, or move content around based on the feedback you receive from.


5. You can have Amazon promote your book for you.

Amazon allows you to purchase advertising on their platform to help your book be noticed by more customers. Through Amazon Advertising, custom ads can be created for readers who are the most likely to be interested in a book like yours. You get to set the budget that you spend each month, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to pay if someone decides to click your ad.

There are some eligibility requirements to meet and Amazon must approve your creative work, which requires 72 hours after submissions, before it will be permitted for display, and is one way of attracting additional interest for your book.


6. You may have a better chance to generate sales for your book.

Amazon sells more books than any other publisher on the Internet today. The sales on this platform are so enormous, in fact, that customers buy more titles from them than any other publishers combined. That means you’re in full control of the process, from start to finish, while gaining access to the largest customer base in the world that is interested in titles like the one you’ve written.

Most authors are able to have their title become live on Amazon with its own listing in 12 hours or less.


7. You’re able to write as many books as you wish and create book series’, for example. 

If your writing takes the form of shorter how-to books or follow on books, you can still take advantage of what Amazon offers to authors. Short-form content sells well at the $0.99 price point, giving you the option to create content or stories that generate profits for you.

Although that means you’ll receive 35% of the list price, it doesn’t take long for those revenues to begin adding up. The sales statistics are updated hourly, which means you’ll know how well your book is selling today, yesterday, and historically. That gives you information which can help to promote better sales over time.


8. You receive your royalty payments faster than traditional publishing.

Amazon pays you royalties from your book sales each month. During the first month, there is an initial delay of 30 days where a hold is placed on the revenues earned. That is still faster than what authors receive in payment from print publishers, who would offer royalty payments once per quarter. Some publishers only pay royalties once per year. After you go through the two-month wait, you can be paid monthly thanks to the payment structures offered on Amazon.


9. There are minimal technical issues to manage when working with Amazon.

Amazon handles all of the technology issues which may occur after your listing goes live. If a customer struggles to download your kindle, then they work with the platform’s customer service agents instead of dealing directly with you.

Amazon’s engineers make sure the uptime of the site meets or exceeds expectations. The entire transaction is handled by the platform as well, which means you’re not stuck worrying about credit card processing fees or similar issues. Everything is handled through your dashboard for convenience.


10. You’re not forced to purchase hundreds of books.

If you worked with a vanity publisher in the past, then you would often be required to guarantee a specific number of books being sold to get your title into print. For many authors, that meant paying for the books upfront, then trying to recoup the money by selling them on their own through book signings and similar events.

With Amazon, the books and kindle are all handled online, eliminating the investment need to get yourself  a load of books!

In conclusion:

If you have plans to have your book available for sale and you are focused on selling, making money from sales of your book, it is a good idea to buy your own ISBN, including for use on the Amazon KDP platform.

Simply ‘google’ how to buy an ISBN in your country and a tip, stay with the regular, reputable provider, Bowker.

For example:

This is the link for Australia


Here the link for US citizens


For Canada, use this link


The UK/Ireland has this link


…if you find any of these links are no longer taking you to the right place, simply use ‘Google’ and find the correct one for your country!


However if you have plans to have your book work for you, using the Amazon platform and promotion and marketing strategies you discuss with me as part of working with me, you may be well off using KDP’s free ISBN and have your book return you much higher income than merely royalties.

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