for Self Published Authors

Publish-L is an active online publishing email discussion taking place now at It caters to published and self-publishing authors.

The purpose of Publish-L is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about publishing and marketing books and related materials.

The good news is, as a self-published author and reader of this blog, you have some very valuable stuff to share with the people on that list. You might even say you are a marketing expert. The other folks on that list will be drawn to you because of the advice and tactics you can share. Social Media is great, free publicity.

Just be sure to sign every email you write and discussion you post with information about your book, including a link to your webpage. After all, helping others is fun, but so is selling some books.

See you there.

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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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The Amazon Experience

Amazon is the single largest book retailer available, and the company model couldn’t be friendlier in helping self-publishing authors publishing through a POD publisher/distribution model. Whether you’re published or still in the writing or production process, prepare these Amazon options to maximize your books sales.

Amazon Search Inside the Book: This is the online equivalent to flipping through your book on the shelf. An optional feature, “Look Inside” provides icon over your book’s cover image, and allows readers to browse through portions of your interior content. Amazon claims that books utilizing this option see considerably higher sales over those that do not. Pretty intuitive.

Amazon Key Word Submission: One of the best user features Amazon provides comes in allowing readers to browse instantly by category or ‘key words.’ Imagine being transported instantly around a bookstore the size of football fields without having to use a map or ask an employee for directions. This is the experience Amazon customers find in typing in a simple keyword or phrase. (Few readers browse titles by author, and even less so for first-time authors.) They key is determining around 10 top keywords to tag your book with in order to provide the widest exposure possible.

Amazon Kindle: The Kindle is everywhere, and for good reason. It is a revolutionary digital reading device that allows individuals to purchase books anywhere, anytime, and instantly. One source noted that Kindle owners, on average, buy 3x more books than non-Kindle owners. Kindle editions must be submitted through special formatting, which some POD publishers offer, and will see listing everywhere books are sold throughout the Amazon site.

And finally, email, call, and knock on the doors of everyone you know who may contribute a credible review of your published book and have them post those on your book’s Amazon listing page.

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Barnes & Noble on the Block

Wise business decisions (or business people) focus on things that can be change and can be changed, while investing little time on those that cannot.

Barnes & Noble went on the block earlier this month, perhaps a good example of wise business, especially in a time when others in the book industry continue to push the proverbial boulder up the mountain. According to Forbes, “The New York-based company, which has struggled along with other brick-and-mortar booksellers under economic pressures and the technology shift away from paper books, said it could sell its famous chain…”

I enjoy the experience of a physical book store as much as holding a real book, and that will never change. But hardcover books are rising on shelves into luxury item status. In the wake of the Kindle, iPad, and digital wave, traditional publishers and brick-and-mortar stores will continually be challenged with creativity amidst this rapid change. Consumers are moving in the direction of digital downloads, as in the music industry where CD’s have been in large part replaced by iTunes and other less expensive digital downloads. While many among the traditional side of the publishing industry are fighting to keep e-book prices commensurate with perceived author value, this trend increasingly allows self-publishing authors access to reader markets at a more competitive price point.

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Self-publishing Advice Blog

Organization is key to getting your writing into a published book, and with that it may be helpful for authors to look at the book publishing process as occurring in 3 chronological phases:

  • Preparation or pre-production
  • Production & Proofing
  • Publication and Marketing

Understanding these phases, creating goals, and researching publishing options best suited to those goals is a valuable practice for authors, especially those heading into the often advantageous aspects of self-publishing. Throughout the second half of this year, Self-publishing Advice will be breaking each of these down, no matter where you are in the process we’ll be devoting time to exploring information and resources helpful from the start of the process all the way through to the sales and marketing push. It will look something like this…

Mondays – Phase I: pre-production
Tuesdays – Guest post
Wednesdays – A look at phase II information: Book Production
Thursdays – Current events
Fridays – Phase 3 information: Publication, Marketing & Sales

Stay tuned

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