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So You're Writing a Book, Eh?

Comments & Contacts!

"I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography."

Steven Wright, Comedian

Feeling stuck? Here are a few tips and suggestions that might help, plus some valuable contacts I have found useful.

If you are writing a book and intend to independently publish it, there are several things that you must know and do BEFORE you send it to the printer.

I know you're excited. You've been working on your book, seems like forever, and you want to keep the project moving.

Stop Sign

Got your attention, right? I certainly hope so.

Writing the book is only part of the project especially if you are going to self-publish. It is important for you to know that if you decide to publish it yourself. . .

"YOU ARE RESPONSBLE FOR EVERYTHING!"

I didn't fully comprehend this important fact when I wrote my first book! Not knowing this cost me a lot of wasted time and energy, to say nothing of a couple of extra bucks! I cannot over emphasize this important fact. In other words, you get to do it all!

Making wise choices is part of the process. Writing a book ends up as the total reproduction of your very thoughts into a tangible example of the quality and professionalism of your company. Never take this statement for granted.

You never have a second chance to make a good first impression!

Don't rush the process. It is important to choose your book printer well. Ask for referrals to others for whom they have printed books. Talk to your friends. Get more than one bid and be sure that the specs are the same for each book printer.

In the rush to get your book in the hot little hands of your relatives and friends (and your own hands), it is easy to forget all about the ISBN number, registration with the Library of Congress, copyright forms, bar codes, cataloging in publication data, correct positioning of the copyright page (printed on the back of the first title page), book cover design (spend your big bucks on the cover), a marketing plan, publicity, radio and TV appearances, book signings, distribution, endorsements (this could take up to 3 months or more) and the list goes on.

"Oh?" you say, "I didn't know I had to do all of that!"

Yep. You do. Especially if you intend to publish it yourself.

  • HOT IDEA: When you have the table of contents and three or four chapters completed, make a list of celebrity writers who write similar work and send them your incomplete manuscript with a cover letter asking them to write a three or four line endorsement for your book. Allow at least 90 days or more for responses.

    Having someone who is well known in the same genre endorse your book gets your book more attention. Go for the most well know celebrities FIRST and work down. I have found them to be the most approachable.
Establish contacts with people who are doing what you want to do and learn from their experience and their past mistakes. Learn to network for ideas! Join your local Book Publishing Association. In Arizona contact The Arizona Book Publishing Association at 602-274-6264. You can never learn TOO MUCH about publishing or marketing your book!

"There is only one good reason not to write a book. . .
you have nothing of value to say."

Larry James, Author

If you intend to make your book available in book stores, you need to know that they "require" a bar code strategically placed on the back cover. Usually the person who designs your book cover will provide the bar code.

You will need the following information and forms before you send your book to the printer! Remember to allow plenty of time to receive and send back the required forms. Ideally, you will want to plan to begin this process while you are writing the book, otherwise there could be a gigantic time lag.

  • Copyright Information ~ About $30.00 per book to register

    To get answers to specific questions about copyright, call the Copyright Public Information Office at: 202 707-9100 (Forms Hotline)

    Library of Congress
    Copyright Office
    Register of Copyrights
    101 Independence Avenue S.E.
    Washington, DC 20559-6000

    Allow 2 to 3 weeks for delivery of forms.

    The best idea would be to download the forms from http://www.copyright.gov/ -- the site also includes information on filling out the forms, general copyright information and links to other websites related to copyright issues.

    NOTE: I am suggesting that you send for the copyright forms before you need them. Actual registered copyright can only be obtained after the book has been published. Complete instructions come with the form. Information obtained from the other contacts below will need to be published in your book.
Here are some important things to know about copyright law, presented in "Writer's Market 2000:"

Copyright protects your writing, unequivocally recognizes you (its creator) as its owner, and grants you all the rights, benefits and privileges that come with ownership. The moment you finish a piece of writing -- whether it is a short story, article, novel or poem -- the law recognizes that only you can decide how it is to be used.

Copyright law gives you the right to make and distribute copies of your written works, the right to prepare derivative works (dramatizations, translations, musical arrangements, etc. -- any work based on the original) and the right to perform or publicly display your work. With very few exceptions, anything you write today will enjoy copyright protection for your lifetime plus 70 years. Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. Titles, ideas and facts can NOT be copyrighted.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that copyright is something they have to send away for, and that their writing is not properly protected until they have "received" their copyright from the government. The fact is, you don't have to register your work with the Copyright Office in order for your work to be copyrighted; any piece of writing is copyrighted the moment it is put to paper.

RECOMMENDED: Registration of your work does, however, offer some additional protection (specifically, the possibility of recovering punitive damages in an infringement suit) as well as legal proof of the date of copyright.

Registration is a matter of filling out an application form (for writers, that's generally Form TX) and sending the completed form, a nonreturnable copy of the work in question and a check for $30 to the address above.

To read the entire text of "The Business of Writing: Minding the Details" (from which this advice is excerpted), visit The Writers Digest Website.


Three Simple Steps to Writing Your Book

Step 1:   Get a pen.
Step 2:   Get some paper.
Step 3:   Begin writing.


Jim Donovan, Professional Speaker/Author

NOTE: If you choose not to register your book with the copyright office, I recommend that you send a copy of your book or manuscript to yourself by registered mail and let it remain unopened in your file. This will add to your credibility as to when the work was completed in the event you are ever involved in an infringement suit.

  • More Copyright Info: The Copyright Website

    This is an entertaining and useful site maintained by attorney P.J. Benedict O'Mahoney. He offers news and general info on copyrights. Here you will find lots of links to other copyright sites.

  • 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained

    Brad Templeton answers common myths about copyright seen on the Internet. This article also covers issues related to copyright and USENET/Internet publication.

  • Crash Course in Copyright

    Copyright law can be confusing. For quick tips, try the crash course.

  • Why You Should Copyright Your Work - More info on the advantages of copyright.

  • ChillingEffects.org - Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities. Lawyers from the law schools at Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of San Francisco and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have collaborated on establishing a clearing house for copyright law.

  • International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN Numbers) ~ You can order as few as 10 ISBN numbers for $14.95 plus a publisher registration fee, service charge, and regular processing fee which can bring the total up to over $250.00. Go to: www.Bowker.com for details or call one of the following numbers:

    888-269-5372 Ext. 6770 ~ Dial 1 for customer service.
    908 665-6770 VoiceMail ~ (Calls returned within 48 hours)
    908 665-2895 FAX

  • Library of Congress Publisher's Information page ~ http://www.loc.gov/loc/infopub/

    Library of Congress home page

  • You will also need to write the Library of Congress for a Cataloging in Publication form. Allow 3 to 4 weeks. This information goes on the copyright page in your book and must be printed in the form that the cataloging division sends you.

    Library of Congress
    Cataloging in Publication Division
    Washington, DC 20540

  • Once you have an ISBN number, be sure your books (audios, etc.) are listed in BowkerLink, the online Books In Print. When they are listed there, they appear in the ordering databases of Barnes & Noble and Borders, as well as smaller chains, independent booksellers, and libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. BowkerLink is a FREE online access system that provides you with an automated tool to add titles to Books In Print as well as update any records that are already listed. Register your audios and videos too; anything with an ISBN number. Go to http://www.bowkerlink.com/corrections/common/home.asp and click on "Register."

  • Bar Code Negatives ~ Many book cover designers include barcodes as part of the project. If they do, there is no need to contact Fotel, Inc.

    800-834-4920 or 630-932-7520 - FAX: 630-932-7610

    Fotel, Inc.
    1125 East St. Charles Road, Suite 100
    Lombard, IL 60148

    www.Fotel.com

  • LawGirl.com ~ Jodi Sax, a Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney who specializes in copyrights, trademarks, music and new media law also delves into the sometimes esoteric world of intellectual property rights on this site.

  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office ~ Search through the trademark database, download forms and get details on fees for trademarking a company logo, etc.

  • Web law Frequently Asked Questions.
Only after you have your books in book stores will it be time to do some radio and television interviews. Here is a source that works very well for me. If you do radio and TV interviews and your books are not in the book stores you are wasting your time.

It has been my experience that very few people are motivated to call an 800 number to order a book when they can go to the book store or order from one of the online book sellers and get it much quicker. The exception might be people who are interested in having you personally sign the book to them.

You may get a few calls, but remember, "Time is money." It will be important for you to evaluate the time it takes to schedule media interviews vs. how many orders you might receive if the listener is unable to buy your book from a book store.

I would much rather run several ads in Radio-TV Interview Report and know that when the media calls I know they are interested in an interview with me. If you write eye-catching ad copy, they will call.

  • Radio-TV Interview Report - A bi-monthly publication sent to more than 4,000 radio and TV producers nationally.

    Radio-TV Interview Report
    Bradley Media Publications
    135 East Plumstead Avenue
    Box 1206
    Lansdowne, PA 19050-8206

    800 989-1400
    610 259-1070

"If you have a speech. . . you have a book!"

Larry Winget, Professional Speaker/Author

Isn't it about "time" you started writing your book? Click here, then click your browser's "back" button to return to this page.

Copyright © MCMXCIX - Larry James

NOTE: This article is available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own website. Click here to obtain permission and for details.

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Author Larry James is a professional speaker. He presents "Relationship Enrichment LoveShops" nationally for singles and couples. More About Larry James

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