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.

<Image of Harry Potter not shown below, due to copyright…>

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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 Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com. 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: www.GetMediaLeads.com


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Self Publishing Book Review of the Week: The Peruke Maker

The Peruke Maker

by Ruby Dominguez

This self-published book was recently reviewed by Able Greenspan of Midwest Book Review:

Dozens of innocents were killed for no reason during the Salem Witch Trials. Someone will pay. “The Peruke Maker: The Salem Witch Hunter Curse” is a story of a curse of the innocents that ravages Salem hundreds of years later. Sarah, a twenty first century girl, is faced with the curse, and now she must end it or be just another victim. “The Peruke Maker” is an intriguing mystery and a highly recommended read.

For more information or to order the book, visit the author’s webpage: www.outskirtspress.com/ThePerukeMaker


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Back to Writing on the Road to Self-Publishing

Ezines – they are a fast and free opportunity to self publish. Moreover, publishing in ezines can help you get motivated to write your book, and even promote your book after publication.

We’ve discussed the idea of publishing excerpts of your book as individual articles or stories. You can simply locate a website and query that site’s webmaster about publishing your article. Make sure you include your biographical byline, which mentions your book as well.

This is more of the same, but concentrating on ezine publication.

There really are countless ezines in existence now, each with a specific niche or category. And all of them are voraciously hungry for content.

Rather than seeking them out individually, you can place your articles into databases that ezine editors frequent for content. They use your article free of charge, and in exchange, include your biographical byline, which, again, includes information about you and your book.

Here are some to check out:

http://www.ezinearticles.com

http://www.ebooksnbytes.com

http://www.connectionteam.com

http://www.netterweb.com

http://www.ideamarketers.com

http://www.goarticles.com

http://www.knowledge-finder.com

http://www.articlecity.com

Don’t send an article you’ve already published last week. Instead, write another chapter of your book first (since finishing your book the main goal, after all.)

Have fun. Keep writing.



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Self Publishing Book Review of the Week: The College Survival Guide

The College Survival Guide

by Karven, Mobeir & Howe

This self-published book was recently reviewed by Susan Bethany of Midwest Book Review:

College is a time of survival, just not from one traditionally needs to survive. “The College Survival Guide: Beer Games, Hangover Remedies, and Much More!” is a guide for the future alcoholics of America just getting their start in College and the joys of drinking. Filled with fun ideas for activities involving America’s favorite beverage, “The College Survival Guide” is a read that anyone college drinker should consider.

For more information or to order the book, visit the author’s webpage: www.outskirtspress.com/collegesurvivalguide


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