Write and publish your book in a year – Step 8: Administration

Visit this blog's 'Write a book' category page for previous posts in this series.

Okay. Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty of book publishing. Regardless of how far you've got into the writing and polishing process, and assuming you're intending to self-publish, when you have a moment you can start thinking about the various administrative tasks you'll need to complete.

Admin can be annoying, but it is important: a) because it will help people find your book after it is published, and b) because it will help give your book a professional 'look and feel'.

And the administration required is not particularly onerous, despite the impression some of the so-called publishers out there – and some of the companies that assist with self-publishing – would like to leave you with. No, this isn't a form of dark arts. It's a piece of cake.

The administrative side of self-publishing preparation boils down to three main steps:

Apply for an ISBN

All books need an ISBN - a unique number for the book. This is a sort of book 'serial number' which will be used to identify your book globally. (Look at the back of any book and you'll see the ISBN printed above and/or below the barcode on the book.)

In Australia, ISBNs are managed and issued by Thorpe-Bowker. By having an ISBN, your book will automatically be listed in the 'Books in Print' catalogues, which in practice means that anyone can walk into a bookstore, ask for your book, and the bookstore will be able to track it down and order it in for them.

As a self-publisher, you can easily obtain your own ISBNs by visiting Thorpe-Bowker's 'My Identifiers' website and clicking the 'Buy your ISBN today' button. Generally it's a good idea to buy a block of ten numbers – it costs the same price as two individual numbers and you'll need two anyway: one for your printed book and one for the ebook. And then you'll have some left over ISBNs for your next book!

Get a barcode

Once you have an ISBN for your printed book, you'll need a barcode version of that number which will go on the back cover of your book. You'll need to send this barcode (in digital form) to your designer. (You don't need a barcode for an ebook.)

Thorpe-Bowker can produce a barcode for you at a cost of $45 but there are a number of online barcode generation tools that are free. Being free, they don't offer any guarantees, but so far I haven't struck any problems with Terry Burton's online barcode generator.

Apply for the cataloguing (CiP) data

After you have your ISBN, you can visit the National Library website and apply for CiP (Cataloguing in Publication) data to be generated for your book. The library will create a bibliographic record for your book which you will include on the Copyright page. This will later help other libraries, and bookstores, place your book in the correct subject area.

You can make this application easily yourself by visiting the CiP page and filling in the online form. There may be some information you don't have yet, but as long as you have the title and ISBN you should get through enough to make your application. It can take a couple of weeks to get a response, so give yourself time for this step.

There are a few other administrative steps that need to be completed once your book has been published. We'll come back to those but for now these will get you well on your way.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me directly, via our Facebook page or in the comments below.

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