Mistake # 4 Don’t Bother with an ISBN or LCCN!
First of all, what is an ISBN and an LCCN?
ISBN is short for “International Standard Book Number.” Without getting too technical, it’s a thirteen digit number assigned to your book; it’s how book buyers and booksellers identify your book as unique among the millions of books on the market.
LCCN is short for “Library of Congress Control Number.” Without sounding too antiquated, in the United States, we have a Federal Institution responsible for tracking and cataloging the books published in this country. The LCCN is the unique Library of Congress (and your local library’s – yes those still exist) catalog number for your book.
Remember that expensive professional business conference I mentioned in chapter one? Remember the self-publishing ‘expert’ who claimed that spelling and punctuation errors were ‘petty’ mistakes? He also told his audience not to worry about putting an ISBN on their books; my guess would be that he would find LCCN’s even less useful.
So Why Bother?
You can publish your book without an ISBN or LCCN. You can fish without a fishing license … but it does severely limit where you fish. If you’re planning to sell your printed (as opposed to e-book) book anywhere other than out of the trunk of your car, you’ll need an ISBN. No distributor or retailer (including Amazon) will offer your book for sale without an ISBN. Amazon will offer your e-book for sale if it doesn’t have an ISBN, but they’ll assign their own ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) to your e-book. Good luck trying to get Apple’s iTunes store or any other e-retailer to accept Amazon’s ID number for your e-book.
LCCN’s are used by libraries for cataloging and ordering. Without an LCCN, there’s little chance of libraries finding and buying it.
If you’re serious enough about your book to write it and publish it, be serious enough to register it properly. It allows the rest of the world to find (and buy) your book.
Another reason …
If you think your book’s title and your name as its author makes your book one in one-hundred million, think again. Books of the same title as yours have probably already been published; if not, they’re likely to (how many great book titles can there be?). Publishing a book that has the same title as an existing book (unless you’re specifically trying to target the existing book) isn’t illegal at all; it happens all the time. And if you think your name, as an author is unique in the universe, do a Google search for your name; you may be surprised.
Bottom line – if you’re serious about selling your book, get an ISBN and an LCCN.
What do you think about this self-publishing mistake? Any ideas? We’d love to hear from you, please comment.
I’m a self-published author. My first self-published book, Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunt for Israel’s Oil sold about 20,000 copies … okay, I guess. Since then, between the self-publishing companies I started and bought, we’ve sold close to one million books.
Let me tell you, in the beginning, I didn’t know much about writing a book, and knew nothing about publishing, printing, marketing and selling books! If I had known anything, I might have walked away, overwhelmed with the whole process. Successfully self-publishing can, at times, seem hopeless. But I stuck to it, learned a lot about publishing, even more about marketing and selling, and, through lots of practice, sharpened my writing skills.
Even so, there are countless, land mines, booby-traps, dead-ends and just plain mistakes a self-published author can make. This is the fourth of ten weekly blog posts. They come from my e-book: The Ten Biggest Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make. This little book captures ten of the most common, most detrimental mistakes you can make as a self-published author and, hopefully, how to avoid them. I wanted to put these mistakes out on a blog format so you can comment, ask questions and we can discuss ways to make your book as successful as it can possibly be. Please, feel free to comment and ask questions.