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From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Self-Publishers: How to Get Your ISBN and LCCN Numbers

In my daily business I’ve made a couple of observations about my prospects and clients. When an author embarks on the self-publishing path he or she usually has never heard of ISBN or LCCN numbers. Secondly, most first-time self-publishers forget to include the copyright page in their manuscript.

This is the most important page in your book. It contains language that protects your intellectual property, has the copyright date, publishing company name, contact information, and has the ISBN and LCCN numbers imprinted on it. Here’s what those acronyms mean and instructions on how complete these essential tasks.

How to Get Your ISBN Number

The first item on your book production checklist is to order your ISBN number (International Standard Book Number). This number is part of a book identification system. (It’s similar to how the social security number identifies people). Merchants, wholesalers, distributors, libraries, and search engines use this number to locate you, (the publisher) and your book.

The ISBN number consists of 13 digits, and you may apply for a single number or set of 10 through Each edition and format (i.e. hard cover, soft cover, ebook, audio book) of your book must have a different number, so if you think you’ll be publishing your book in various formats, it is wise to buy a set of 10 for $295. When ordering your ISBN online, once you submit your payment, the number(s) are immediately available to you.

How to Get Your LCCN Number

Next up is the LCCN number (Library of Congress Control Number aka Library of Congress Card Number). This is a number assigned to the Library Of Congress bibliographic record of your book. The LCCN number differs from the ISBN number in that an ISBN is assigned to each edition or format of your book while the Library of Congress number is assigned to the work itself.

This is a two-step process and can take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete. To start the LCCN application process, go to The Pre-assigned Control Number program assigns the LCCN number. This is a free service, but you must mail a published copy of your book to the Library of Congress. Audio books and eBooks are not eligible for LCCN assignment. The LCCN does not copyright your book.

How to Copyright Your Book

Your copyright is secured automatically when your manuscript is created, and your work is “created” when it is on paper – in book format or not. In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. But, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. You may register your work with the US Copyright office online at for $45.

Use a Truncated Bar Code

The next item on your list is the bar code. This is the little black and white box with vertical lines that is printed on the back cover of your book. I recommend a “truncated” bar code which is much smaller than the standard size. If you plan to sell your book in bookstores or online, you’ll need the barcode so merchants can scan the book for pricing and other information. The ISBN number is imprinted in the graphic, and the price can be embedded or printed above it. We can order this for you for $20. Within a few hours, the bar code is emailed as an eps file that the designer can insert into the back cover layout.

How to Get your ISBN Number and Bar Code

What to Include on Your Copyright Page

I often receive manuscripts from clients and prospects missing all or portions of copyright page. Your copyright page should have a simple notation to the copyright date and your name. It can be done with the copyright symbol © or the word “copyright.” It is printed like this:

Copyright 2024, author’s name or publishing company


© 2024, author’s name or publishing company

You should also include a statement regarding copyright infringement. Here is a typical statement:

All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher.

Be sure to include your publishing company contact information and your website address. You may also add credits to the cover designer, interior page layout designer and editor.

Contact me or your editor to show you how to get your ISBN and LCCN numbers and to pull together a complete copyright page for a polished professional book.