Making Your Book “Real”

Sep 1 17:15 2011 Julie Beyer Print This Article

Here are some suggestions to help you with the publishing process to get your book to your audience.

Self-publishing can be a great way to get your book to market quickly; however,Guest Posting that leaves many of the publishing house details up to you. Never fear!  It is much less intimidating than it first appears. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can purchase ISBNs and barcoades, and you can register your book with the Library of Congress. Trust me on this. I have done this several times, and you really can do it yourself!

The ISBN:  A Book’s Social Security Number

If you look at the back and on the copyright page of any book, you will see a string of ten or thirteen digits called an International Standard Book Number or ISBN. Just as every person in the United States needs to have a Social Security number, every book title that is sold in bookstores or online must have an ISBN assigned to it.

An ISBN identifies both the publisher and one unique edition of a book. Reprints of the same edition will have the same ISBN; however, different versions (for example, hardcover vs. paperback) of the same book will have different ISBNs.

You can only purchase ISBNs from R.R. Bowker, the official ISBN agency for the US ( Since there is a discount for bulk orders of ISBNs, estimate how many book titles you plan to publish in a five- to seven-year period and order accordingly. Currently, prices are $125 for one ISBN, $275 for ten ISBNs, and $995 for one hundred ISBNs. Once you, as the publisher, assign one of your ISBNs to a publication, you will log it online with Bowker, and it will appear in “Books in Print,” a catalogue and online searchable database used by booksellers and libraries around the world. Simply put, this is how book buyers find your book!

A word of caution—it can be tempting to buy your ISBN from sources that offer to “sell” single ISBNs at discounted prices. Please note that these are unauthorized re-sellers of ISBNs who are violating the ISBN standards and industry practice. Once the ISBN agency assigns ISBNs to a publisher, that publisher cannot resell, re-assign, transfer, or split its list of ISBNs among other publishers. Thus, owners of these inappropriately reassigned numbers will never actually be the publisher of record for their own books.

Although optional, if you want to sell your books in a retail store you will also need a barcode. Unlike the Universal Product Code (UPC) system familiar to most Americans, books use the European Article Number (EAN) barcode system. These EAN barcodes are compatible with systems around the world.

Many companies create barcodes. I order my EAN barcodes from the Bowker Barcode website, the same company that assigns the ISBNs. When you order from Bowker, they will send an email that contains your barcode in various file formats. I used the .jpg format and inserted it on the back cover document just as I would any other picture.

Copyrights and Library of Congress

If an ISBN is like a social security number, the copyright for your book is its birth certificate. According to the copyright website (, copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” This protection pertains to both published and unpublished works. In fact, your work is protected by copyright as soon as you create it. Registration, currently available online for $35, is optional but recommended since a work needs to be registered if you ever need to file a lawsuit for infringement.
When you publish a book, your notice of copyright is placed on the copyright page. A copyright notice consists of:

  1. The copyright symbol ©, or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr." [You can create the symbol © by typing (c).]
  2. The first year that you published the work.
  3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, either your name or the name of your company.
Example: © 2011 Julie Beyer, MA, RD

Do You Need a Trademark?

Finally, if you intend to nurture a brand (such as “Confident Choices®”), or you create a logo for your publishing company, you may need more protection than a copyright. Unlike copyrights which protect entire works, trademarks (symbol TM or ®) protect “distinguishing words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors” from similar items manufactured or sold by others. Although you can apply for a trademark online, applying for a trademark is significantly more complicated than registering a copyright and often requires the advice of an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law.

Really, It’s that Easy!

I will admit that the one thing that held me back from publishing my first book was taking the step to purchase my first ISBNs. I knew I would feel obligated to use them, and I wasn’t convinced that I would write one book, let alone ten or one hundred. What I didn’t expect was that the act of ordering those first ten numbers transformed me. I began to feel like a publisher, and today, all ten numbers have been assigned to books I have written and books I plan to write.  Let’s face it. Dietitians need to write more books. Don’t let the technical and business aspects of book writing hold you back. Take some time and explore the websites mentioned. Ask questions on the NEDPG Author’s listserv or on the NEDPG facebook page.....and start writing!

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Julie Beyer
Julie Beyer

Julie Beyer, MA, RD Author and Speaker
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