ISBN (International Standard Book Number) This is a 10-digit number that must appear on both the inside and outside of your book if it is to be sold by chains, wholesalers and distributors or purchased by a library. It is the most common and convenient way that booksellers can locate your book. You'll want to order your number before your book is printed. The ISBN is available for a fee (currently $244 for 10 ISBN numbers that you can use for up to 10 different books) from the R.R. Bowker company. For more information and an application form go to http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp or http://www.bowker.com or call 800-521-8110.
Many companies on the internet claim that they will supply you with an ISBN as part of their service to you. In order to own the full rights to your book you must own your ISBN. What these companies are doing is applying one of their own ISBN numbers to your book. The only way you can truly own your ISBN (and the full rights to your book) is through R.R. Bowker. Simply put: you cannot be a self publisher if somebody else owns your ISBN.
Books In Print. Once you have your ISBN number you can contact R.R. Bowker again and ask for an Advanced Books in Print form. This will get you into the Books In Print database, which includes all of the bibliographic information about your book. This is a free service.
Barcode. Most book buyers require that books have a barcode that can be scanned. ECPrinting can provide you with a barcode for the back cover of your book for a fee of $20.00. You may also purchase barcodes from R.R. Bowker when you order your ISBNs, but they charge you $25.00 per barcode.
Copyright. You'll want to include the date of publication and name of the copyright owner inside your book, but copyright registration is no longer required. By law you are automatically protected as soon as your work is published. If there is ever a copyright question, however, having registered your copyright will make it easier for you to defend yourself. Copyright registration is done after your book is published and costs about $30. Check with the Library of Congress to request copyright forms.
Register of Copyrights
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20559
Distribution. If you're serious about getting your books into bookstores and major retail outlets, you'll want to establish a relationship with a national distributor. Distribution can be a difficult part of self publishing and we recommend reading Dan Poynter's: The Self Publishing Manual to build a better understanding of how the industry works. Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com have their own programs for self publishers to sell books directly through them. Here is a partial list of distributors:
Amazon's Advantage Program
Barnes and Noble Program