Ask the Book Doctor: Self-Publishing and Editing?

Question: I plan to self publish my book. My book was written and designed and ready to go to a printer, but somebody warned me that it needed editing.  I sent it to an editor, but he said he can’t edit it when it’s already designed. Why not?

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Answer: A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format, and the reasons are simple. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy (i.e., printed-out version) of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is, twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to make the edits and suggestions. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t possess the prowess to redesign your book after they’ve edited it. (What if they end up removing an entire paragraph, or an entire page? There goes your editing).  If it is in a PDF file, most editors cannot change those files electronically. Worst of all, even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will surely interfere with the design. After the file is edited you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, anyway, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

As you can see, it’s cheaper and easier to follow convention. After you have made all the revisions to your manuscript that you can make, get it professionally edited. After it is edited, reread the manuscript for a final proof before submitting it for publication.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor archives.

Ask the Book Doctor: Are Book Titles Protected by Copyright?

Q: I’m considering a title for my novel that is already being used on another book. Can titles by copyrighted?

A: Titles are not eligible for protection under current copyright law (a search on Amazon will often reveal many different books all sharing the same title).  However, titles can be trademarked if used to cover more than one item in a series, such as a cluster of seminars based on a book of the same name. Or try self-publishing a book with “Harry Potter” in the title and get ready to hear from some lawyers.

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While you can legally use a  book title that has been used by someone else, a better idea is to change the title and make it different, so people who search for your title will find only your book, and not others.  This is your chance to come up with something memorable and unique, and you’d be a muggle if you didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor Archives.

Using an Ebook Edition to Promote Your Self-published Book

Ebooks are bigger than ever, with recent news of Borders jumping into the mix this month. Aside from actually selling your ebook, did you know that an ebook edition of your self-published book can actually work into the promotion of your hard copy book.

Its no secret that the distribution of an ebook is quicker and more affordable. With your electronic ebook file, you can literally sell the same “thing” over and over again. By giving people a choice between your ebook and your paperback, you offer them two different price points. You can even publish portions of your ebook as a ‘teaser’ to promote your hardcopy book, selling one to literally sell the other.

If you don’t have an ebook edition, there is no better time than now to get one. If you have an ebook edition of your book, perhaps you are already using it to promote your hard copy version on places like Amazon’s Kindle Store, iPad, or any number of other new distribution options.

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Copyright and Copywrite in Self-Publishing

Many authors often confuse the terms copyright and copywrite. Both are important elements in quality self-publishing and your publisher should offer both.

Let’s start with copyright – often the source of a deeper misconception. Some may be under the impression that copyright registration is a must prior to submitting their work to a publisher. That is not the case. Protecting your work is a good idea and should be on your radar, but actual registration is not necessary prior to submission.

The Basics: Copyright law provides the creator of a work (manuscript in this case) exclusive rights to control who may copy or create derivatives of that work. When do those exclusive rights take effect? The instant that creative effort is placed in tangible form – the first sentence put on paper. This specific protection was originally drafted under what is commonly known as The Berne Convention (for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works), an international agreement governing copyright law. This agreement has been signed by nearly every major nation including the United States.

So what does official registration with the US Copyright office accomplish? Protection in the event litigation concerning the creative work, or book, arises, the likeliness of which is rare.

Publishers should offer official registration with the US Copyright Office nevertheless. Make sure yours does. It’s a good idea to let them take care of that process through their professional services. Here is how it works: once your book is published your publisher will likely have you submit the required forms to complete the registration process with the Copyright Office on your behalf. Your copyright is registered on the date the Copyright Office receives all the necessary information, regardless of how long it takes them to mail your Copyright Certificate to you. Keep in mind it is taking the Copyright Office roughly 12 MONTHS to mail the certificates and this is a timeframe outside the control of any publisher.

If you have already applied for a copyright don’t wait for that to become official to begin working with your publisher. Remember, your work is already protected, and readers are ready for your book now.

There is a work-around for concerned authors called the “poor man’s copyright”. Simply mail a hardcopy version of your work in a sealed envelope to yourself and keep for your records. The sealed document will contain proof of ownership in a stamped and dated form. This is not a substitute for registration, but provides a measure of temporary protection.

Side note: Titles cannot be copyrighted.

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Media Leads for the Self Published Author

Have you ever read a newspaper article and seen a quote from the author of “such-and-such” and wondered how that could happen for you? Did the writer of that article just happen to know that author and call him up on the phone?

Sometimes, yes, but usually no. More likely, that author responded to a “quote request” that was sent out by either that article author or the newspaper. Thousands of articles are written every day on thousands of subjects, which gives you thousands of opportunities to get quoted – if only you knew how to hear about the opportunities.

There is a website that sends quote requests to you. Check it out. You may find it valuable, depending upon the type of self-published book you have written (non-fiction is more applicable to these types of services than fiction). The website address is:

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