Copyrighting your book – nuts & bolts


Great news. Like just about everything else, you can now file a copyright claim via the Internet. The not so great news is that it still takes approximately 8 months to receive your certificate, but trade-offs are a part of life.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy the whole process is. But since I spent a fair amount of time actually looking for a post that easily explains the steps and was unsuccessful, I thought I should write one myself for poor unsuspecting authors who are looking for a little  help.

Steps to copyrighting your book:

Before you go to the site have your ISBN number, the text file of the manuscript and  your book cover handy. That will just make it easier for you.

  1. To to:
  2. Register an account. This is like setting up an account at most any other site, except that the Username section was a little confusing and when I clicked on the help screen it sent me to a page that was unrelated. Basically just create a user name and move on.
  3. Your password should contain both upper and lower case letters, numbers and one special symbol that is not an Ampersand.
  4. Register new claim. Once you have registered you will see a left hand sidebar, click on “register new claim”
  5. Verify rights. You click each box to confirm you have the right to register a copyright with the material.
  6. Type of work. Click on “Literary Work”
  7. Title of Work. Type in the name of your book and answer whether the book has been published or not.
  8. Publication information. Fill publication info, including your ISBN
  9. Author info. Fill in author information as appropriate
  10. Address info. Enter your address info
  11. Rights & Permission. Fill in the info of the person who has the right and permission to manage and/or grant permission use of your work. It can be a person you’ve appointed like an attorney or business manager or yourself.
  12. Correspondent. Fill in the contact info of person who the Copyright office should contact if they have questions about the application. It can be you or someone you’ve appointed.
  13. Mail certificate. Contact info for the person to whom the copyright certificate should be mailed.
  14. Special handling (optional). If you need special handling on the claim there is a considerable fee and strict parameters. Read instructions, if they don’t apply go on to next screen.
  15. Certification. On this pay you certify that you have the rights to the material – check the box and type in your name.
  16. Review. You are then sent to a review screen to ensure all the information entered is correct. If you need to correct something, click on the appropriate screen in the left hand column to return to that screen.
  17. Once you’re sure it’s all good to go, click on ADD to CART.
  18. Then click on CHECKOUT
  19. Verify. Again verify the info is correct and that payment is $35. After this you will be redirected to the government payment site.
  20. Select payment method (electronic check or credit/debit card payment), fill in  your financial info, then click on CONTINUE
  21. Next screen will ask for email so confirmation can be sent, fill in email address and click on box authorizing payment
  22. SUBMIT PAYMENT. Once payment has been made you will go back to fill in the info on the material and upload files. Click on CONTINUE
  23. Instructions are easy, just follow them. You can select multiple files at the same time (such as manuscript and book cover) and click upload. Usually takes about 1-3 minutes.
  24. Once files are uploaded, click on green button to the right to COMPLETE SUBMISSION.

And that’s it. You will receive confirmation emails on payment and your submission and then you wait until the cert comes in the mail. Note: on most screens you will have to click on the CONTINUE BUTTON in the upper righthand screen – though not always. It’s best to just take your time and ensure you’ve filled out the current screen completely before you move on. All in all though, it is a very short and pretty convenient process.

Now, go get that copyright baby!



Writing, secrets and self-publishing


Much of the creative world is built around secrets. Creatives and those who market, manage, and leverage them are very hush-hush about projects – lest someone steal it or leak it. Surprise I suppose is the proffered reason. And controlling the message. And probably most important – ensuring no one else beats you to the punch.

The publishing industry is no exception to the rule. Which may be why so many authors find it exceedingly difficult to break in to the inner circle of successful authorship. And even of those authors who do manage to break in, the majority of them:

  • Make little to no money
  • Don’t gain a strong readership
  • Lose their rights to their work for life
  • Never get to quit their day jobs

Although many mainstream best-selling authors offer advice, write books, create courses, and espouse formulas that they followed to become successful – as far as I can tell – these offerings do little to nothing to help hopeful authors actually succeed.

Independent authors exceptions to rule

Then Amazon did this wild and crazy thing – they created an eReader. And then created a platform for writers to publish and sell their own works to a practically limitless audience. And authors started to succeed on their own where the publishing industry had let them down.

Say what you will about indie authors and criticize them all you like but in my mind there is a significant difference between them and mainstream traditional authors. They talk. They don’t keep secrets. Most of them will tell you everything they did, with copious details, to succeed. Because they aren’t beholding to a publishing company or contract. They are free to create and share any and all of their experiences. Often with wild abandon. Because they want to help other authors succeed. And they want readers to have more choices. Secrets by and large don’t seem to matter to them. Go figure. More books, more choices, more readers seem to be the priorities.

Indie author up close and personal

I’m about to self publish a 3-book mystery series and as part of my prep leading into the release of the books I have a list. One of the things on that list was to pick a successful indie author and study them. So last week I picked a well-known indie author and read his entire blog. It took me about five days to read five years of blog posts. I was totally immersed in this fellow’s world and journey for nearly a week and I have to say I learned a lot:

The good

The good news is that anyone who is willing to do the work, can publish and succeed. And that success can be and should be defined by the author. You want to be a best seller? Great then go for it. You’d be happy to be a working author who can quit your day job and live on your author earnings – you can do that too. As long as you do the work.

The bad

You have to do the work. You have to make choices. Sacrifices. You won’t get there by turning out one book every two years. You won’t get there by sitting around playing video games. If you don’t approach it as a business and accept that you are also a publisher and have all the attendant duties and obligations of a publisher it won’t happen. And it can and probably will take years. It ain’t a sprint, it’s definitely a marathon.

The elating

There is no editorial censoring. You can write the stories that you want to write. The stories you feel you were meant to write. You don’t have to write formulaic drivel because that’s what sells. You can maintain your own true voice and creative integrity. And you can find a readership who wants to read your stories.

The frightening

It’s all on you. There are no editors or publishers to blame. There are no agents to bitch about. There is only you, your work, the quality of your work and your own marketing efforts. And luck too plays a part. Being at the right place at the right time. That is something over which you have no control.

The take away

I believe the one thing that all indie authors have in common is a pioneer spirit. Though they may be nervous or afraid they are still willing to explore the unknown. To blaze new trails. To go in their own direction and take a risk on themselves. To invest in themselves. And to accept each step as its own lesson, even if that step fails. They may not succeed but it won’t be for any want of trying. And if they do then that success is all the sweeter because they did it their way. They bet on themselves and won.

Is self-publishing for everyone?

I don’t know. But I don’t think that it is. There are some authors who want the security of a publishing company. They want to have someone else provide the infrastructure and follow a game plan that in large part is set by someone else. Or perhaps they need someone to keep them on the path, to issue deadlines, to insist they do the work. When you self-publish that all falls on your shoulders. There is no one watching to make sure you do what you’re supposed to do. That you keep writing, that you continue to produce, sell, market and do the work. And that’s fine. All authors should follow the path that works for them. If you want a publisher then absolutely go that way. If you’re willing to take all the risks yourself then go that way. The great thing is that you can choose and aren’t forced into choosing a path you don’t want.

So as I approach my own self-publishing adventure, I look forward to it with elation and fear. I truly have no idea what will happen. Or if anything will happen. Not one clue. It’s a crap shoot for sure. And I’ve already started the next series because that’s what I do. Write. Will I ever be on that list of best-selling indie authors? It’s anybody’s guess. But like they say, go big or stay home. Right?

How about you? What do you think about indie authors? Are you an indie author. Do you plan to self publish? Or have you already? Any tips or lessons learned you’d like to share?

The Flip Side of the Amazon Debate

the flip side of the amazon debateThere has been an enormous amount of press about the dispute between Amazon and Hachette books and its authors. By and large the media has sided with Hachette and has done (seemingly) everything in its power to guide public opinion against Amazon.

In the spirit of fairness I offer the following links to articles that go against the tide of  ‘popular opinion’ to give critical thinkers at least a fighting chance to form an opinion about the situation. Konrath and Gaughrin say.

Full disclosure: As a diehard capitalist who believes in the free market and as an indie author who thanks God every day for the likes of Amazon, I am decidedly not with ‘popular opinion.’ I simply don’t believe that a handful of ‘traditional publishers’ should have the right or the power to determine, what we read, what we pay for what we read and what authors are worthy of publication. As always, I side with readers and writers. I believe that readers should have access to as many books as can be published, regardless of publishing format and that they shouldn’t have to pay through the nose to feed their habit. Call me crazy but it seems to me the free market, which enables the consumer to decide is the best of all worlds.

But that is as eloquent as I can get on this topic. Read the articles at the links which do a much better job than I at making the argument.

Writer Chick