Part 3: ISBNs, Imprints, & Copyrights

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Like I said at the end of Part 2, the fun is now over. Don’t get me wrong, the remainder of this Guide is still exciting, just not the “fun” type of exciting.

In Part 3 I’m going to cover the groundwork you’ll need to think about before you share your novel with the world. This is before making a website, before posting on social media, and WAY before uploading a haphazard eBook to Amazon or Blurb or wherever. Please take this seriously and consider your vision for the future!

Note: This is where my Self Publishing Checklist starts to come in handy. 🙂

International Standard Book Numbers

Getting your own ISBN is the first (and most official) way you as an indie author can flex on your peers. Once your Title corresponds to those Bowker-issued 13 digits, you’ve made it to the big leagues, baby!. The New York Times will be kicking in your door, begging if they can put your novel at the top of their prestigious best sellers list!

Just kidding.

In all honestly, I’m not going to spend time teaching you the ins and outs of ISBNs (you can read about them here), I’m just here to show you how to get one and tell you why you need one.

Why You Need An ISBN

Put simply, it’s so everyone on the planet can keep track of your book. The unique identifying number directly corresponds to each edition of each Title you put out. That’s right, each edition.

  • Book 1 Hardcover = 1 ISBN
  • Book 1 Paperback = 1 ISBN
  • Book 1 eBook = 1 ISBN
  • Book 2 Paperback = 1 ISBN
  • Book 1 Paperback 2nd Edition (new chapters or forward or author’s note or cover image) = 1 ISBN
  • That totals 5 ISBNS that you would need to purchase.

There are also many other benefits to purchasing your ISBN. First is the UPC barcode. That’s nice to have especially if you’re putting your book in local shops or selling at trade shows. Other benefits include the option to register with the Library of Congress, purchase copyright protection (though it’s debatable if this is necessary), and an ISBN registration dashboard with Bowker where you can manage your titles.

Where To Get Your ISBN

Look, there are many companies out there slingin’ “deals” on ISBN’s, but they all come from the same source: Bowker. Remember, it’s an International Standard Book Number, and Bowker is the official agency distributing ISBNs in the U.S. Save yourself those wasted hours of questioning third party legitimacy and just buy from the source.

Here’s what you can expect (As of March 2021):

  • 1 ISBN = $125
  • 1 ISBN + 1 Barcode = $150
  • 10 ISBNS = $295
  • 10 ISBNS + 1 Barcode =  $320
  • Add-on Barcodes = $25/ea

You do the math, but if you plan on writing more than one book, buy the 10 ISBN + 1 barcode package, then add barcodes as you need them.

Note: eBooks do NOT need barcodes since they aren’t physical items.

Do I Also Need An Imprint?


All an imprint does is tell a consumer who published a book. Since you’re self publishing, your name or pseudonym will do the trick just fine.


Whether it’s superficial or not, imprints can go a LONG way to help the perception of your self publication. Glance at all the books on your shelf. I guarantee they each have cool little logos on the spine, right? Those are the imprints of publishing companies and they carry a certain amount of “clout” with them. A literary flex, if you will.

I personally chose to use the imprint SoDak Publishing for my book for a few reasons:

  1. Because I sell my books in person, on this website, and on various self publishing platforms, I wanted all the cash to be managed under one business account. (More on this in Part 4)
  2. I plan to self publish many books in my life and would like them all to have some uniformity on the spine.
  3. In the future I would like to become a small publishing house for aspiring indie authors.
  4. The cardinal that I modeled the Sodak Publishing logo after visits my back yard every day and he would have been pissed if I chose not to include him.

Copywritten So Don’t Copy Me

From the moment you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, you’re work is protected. You are the owner of your novel no matter what. However, if you find yourself in a court of law because someone blatantly ripped off your book, or says you ripped off theirs, Uncle Sam will leave you high and dry if he hasn’t received his cut. Here’s what you should know:

Copyrighting: Optional, Yet Highly Encouraged

At any time during this whole process, head over to and register your book. If you’re really making an honest go at writing as a career, just pony up the $85 to futureproof yourself. Now your work has an undisputable public record should there ever be a lawsuit. You also have my permission to complain about this ridiculous fee for 1 full minute before moving on.

The Copyright Page

Some articles will say you don’t need this, but c’mon! What’s more self-reassuring than a badass copyright page?

Instead of explaining the ins & outs of what you may or may not want to include, I will just share Man, Kind’s copyright page below. Another great tip is just to look at the copyright pages of your favorite books and straight up mimic those. There are just a couple of notes that are also in the Self Publishing Checklist that I want to include:

  • Explain that your novel is a work of fiction. Even if you use real places/events/people, it’s all by coincidence, right? *Winks*
  • Include the “All Rights Reserved” using your name or imprint (if you have one).
  • Put the ISBNs of ALL editions in each edition.
  • Buyers love nothing more than getting their claws on a first edition book. With any launch, put “First Edition” at the bottom. Who knows, it could be worth thousands someday; even more if there’s a typo!

Time To Roll Up Your Sleeves

Now that you understand what ISBNs, imprints, and copyrights are used for, you’re probably worried about the next terrible thing looming over your shoulder: TAXES. Oh, you’re not scared? Because you should be!

Just kidding. In Part 4 of my Definitive Guide To Self Publishing I’ll explain the pros and cons to setting up your own business, how to do it semi-easily, and share with you some of my own experiences. See you there!