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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.
Steven Wright, Comedian
I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography."
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
I know you're excited. You've been working on your book, seems like forever, and
you want to keep the project moving.
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
You never have a second chance to make a good first
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
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
"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.
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
- 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.
"There is only one good reason not to write a book. . .
Larry James, Author
you have nothing of value to say."
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.
Here are some important things to know about copyright law, presented in
"Writer's Market 2000:"
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
- More Copyright Info: The
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 ~
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
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
1125 East St. Charles Road, Suite 100
Lombard, IL 60148
- 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.
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
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
Lansdowne, PA 19050-8206
"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,
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Relationship books by Larry James:
How to Really Love the One You're With:
Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship
LoveNotes for Lovers:
Words That Make Music for Two
Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers (Career Assurance
Author Larry James is a professional speaker. He presents "Relationship
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