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The easiest way to learn how to work with the ISFDB is to pick a book from your shelf and enter it into the ISFDB. If you'd like to try it, go ahead and pick out an sf book and let's get started. (You do need to be logged into an ISFDB user account to enter data, so if you don't have one, go ahead and create one. One caveat is that your login name should start with an upper case letter. All lower case works fine on the wiki but when you log into the ISFDB database at www.isfdb.org it'll only work if the first character is upper case.)
First, I suggest you pick a novel. Novels are simpler to enter than collections or anthologies, because they usually only contain the novel, and you don't have to worry about entering each story in the book. I'm going to use George Alec Effinger's What Entropy Means to Me as my example; you can follow along with whatever book you've picked.
The first thing to do is bring the ISFDB website (http://www.isfdb.org) up in another browser window/tab. There's a search field on the left: enter part of the book title in that field. There's a pulldown menu just below the search box; make sure that it says "Fiction Titles", and then click "Go".
This will display a list of all the titles in the ISFDB that have that string of letters. If you can spot your book in that list, go ahead and click on the title (not the name, which would take you to the author page). You'll see a list of publications for that title -- in my case I can see that two editions of What Entropy Means to Me have been entered: a 1972 Doubleday edition and a 1989 Bart edition. What I've got is a 1973 Signet edition, so this is a publication the ISFDB doesn't know about, and I can go ahead and enter it.
If you don't see the title at all when you do the search, it means that the book is unknown to the ISFDB, and you can enter it.
Many times, however, the edition of the book that you have will already exist in the ISFDB. In that case you can do something equally useful: you can verify the book.
For the next steps:
- if your book is not already in the ISFDB; and the ISFDB has no other editions of that title, see Help:Getting Started:Enter a Novel.
- If your book is not already in the ISFDB; and the ISFDB does have other editions of that title, see Help:Getting Started:Add Publication to Title.
- If your book is a translation of a book that is already in the ISFDB, see Help:How to enter foreign language editions
- If your book is already in the ISFDB, see Help:Getting Started:Verify a Novel.