Publishing Your First Book: Imprint, ISBNs, LCCN, and Barcodes

When you have a copyedited manuscript it’s a good time to checklist through a series of items that will give your book professional polish. All of these items were new to me and at first were intimidating. I had so many questions as a self-publisher – do I use my name as the publisher? What’s an imprint? Do I buy ISBNs are get them from the print service? How do I get a barcode?

I started by digging into web searches until I found a terrific resource – a series of books by David Wogahn targeted at self-publishing authors. How to Create a Self-Publishing Book Imprint & ISBN Essentials (Countdown to Book Launch 1) is a terrific resource that answered all my questions. David also provides book publishing services and targeted consulting sessions.

After researching options I made a series of decisions – all that needed to be finalized before the final book design could be completed or the book offered for sale. The ISBN and LCCN numbers will go on your copyright page, and the barcode on the back cover. I referred to other published books for the formatting.

  • I decided to publish my debut book “canvas” using the imprint (aka name – doesn’t need to be an LLC) Viewless Wings Press. I had already been publishing my poetry on a website ( – now offline) and was available. I reviewed multiple publisher databases and found no evidence the name was in use. I had previously created a logo for Viewless Wings using 99designs and was able to quickly adapt the logo for the imprint.
  • It is possible to get ISBNs for free but David’s book convinced me to invest in ISBNs owned by me and therefore assignable to Viewless Wings Press. Note that you need an ISBN for each format of the book (you purchase ISBNs through Bowker in the US). You won’t have all the details to complete the details for the ISBN until later when your book design is complete, but you can reserve an ISBN for your book and generate a barcode through Bowker (for a nominal fee).
  • I also applied for a Library of Congress pre-assigned control number – this doesn’t guarantee your book will be in the Library of Congress but is a prerequisite (and is free).

If you are thinking this is a lot of steps and a lot to get through you are correct! I’m still a couple of months away from having my debut book available for sale and the anticipation of that milestone keeps me motivated.

“canvas” by James Morehead is available for pre-order here. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notification of new posts by email.

Barcode for "canvas" by James Morehead
Barcode for “canvas” by James Morehead

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