Copyright Tips and Tidbits: How and When to Register, How to Format Your Notice, and What Not to Do

Self-publishers, take note: While it’s true that you hold an inherent copyright to your work just for the fact that you wrote it, should anyone try to infringe on your copyright you will be best served by registering with the US Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov). That may sound intimidating, but it is actually a fairly straightforward process.

How to Register

Start by going to the US Copyright Office website. The Copyright Office accepts both online and paper applications, and the applications come with easy-to-understand instructions. The filing fee (as of 2015) is $35 for online registration and $85 for hard copy.

In addition to the application and the filing fee, you will be asked to provide a copy of the “deposit” — what the Copyright Office calls the work to be registered. If you file electronically you can send an electronic file or a hard copy of your work; file with paper and you  have to send a hard copy. (The Copyright Office prefers online applications, but you are not bound by that.)

When to Register

You can register your book either before or after publication. Although simple, it can be a lengthy process, as getting the certificate can take nearly three months for the electronic application and nearly six months for paper applications. During particularly busy times, those lags can be even longer.

The good news is, unless you have reason to believe you will not be granted copyright, you don’t have to wait until you receive your certificate before publishing the work. The date of registration is the date the office receives the completed application, not the date you receive your certificate. Still, copyright registration is not something you want to let slip through the cracks. I would recommend beginning earlier rather than later.

Upon publication, if you have a print book, submit a hard copy to be held in the Library of Congress.

What Not to Include

When you apply for copyright, you are making a public record. That means anyone can view the information you supply. The Copyright Office website offers this pointed advice:

Personally identifying information, such as your address, telephone number, and email address, that is submitted on the registration application becomes part of the public record. Some information will be viewable in the Copyright Office’s on‑line databases that are available on the Internet. For this reason, you should provide only the information requested. Please do NOT provide any additional personal information that is not requested, such as your social security number or your driver’s license number.

As identity theft is a real problem in this country, heeding this advice only makes sense.

How and Where Your Copyright Notice Should Appear

Your copyright notice belongs on the reverse of the title page in your book. A valid copyright notice includes the word “Copyright” or the symbol “©”; the year of registration; and the copyright holder’s name, in that order:  © 2015 Katherine Pickett

Some publishers choose to use both the word and the symbol for copyright as well as the word “by” — Copyright © 2015 by Katherine Pickett — but that is not required.

Pitfall: Preregistration vs. Registration

The Copyright Office provides the option of “preregistration” for works that have not yet been completed. (Important: This is separate from registration of unpublished works.) The fee for preregistration is a whopping $140. I suspect this fee is intended to be a deterrent, as even the Copyright Office notes that preregistration is not helpful for most people. Rather, preregistration is recommended only for those who meet these two criteria:

  1. You think it is likely someone will infringe on your copyright before the work is made public, and
  2. The work isn’t finished.

Note also that even if you preregister, you will still need to go through the registration process. Except in extreme circumstances, you will most likely want to register your work rather than preregister it.

 

Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other retailers

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Defining Success: My Interview on Today’s Leading Women

In October I was interviewed by Marie Grace Berg of Today’s Leading Women. The interview went live last week, and you can listen to it here: http://todaysleadingwomen.com/katherine-pickett/

In preparing for the interview, I was thankful I received advance notice of what we would discuss, as it gave me a chance to consider (1) what my top three tips are for those looking to start a business, (2) what new resources I would recommend, and (3) how I balance work, family, friends, and health,* among other questions.

One of the hardest questions for me to answer was, Who is your hero? I don’t follow superheros nor am I enamored with Oprah or other television personalities, so I had to turn elsewhere for a role model. I finally settled on one of the leaders in the publishing industry, someone who has helped me personally and who models the mentor spirit that I strive for. (Listen to the podcast to find out which one.)

Today's Leading Women

One of my favorite questions was, How do you define success? That one really got me thinking. I consider myself successful, but by what standards?

Success in business generally implies financial success, and that is definitely part of it. It took six months for POP to become solvent back in 2007, meaning I lived off the proceeds of my company exclusively at that time. That was a huge achievement, and I reached it faster than many new companies. It’s definitely a point of pride.

But that’s just one hurdle. The next level of success meant being able to work on projects of my choosing. I built a client base over the first several years of the company, and now I have enough job offers that I do not have to accept every project that comes along.

But again, that is not the pinnacle of success for me. As of 2015, I have consistent work that enables me to take much more control of my schedule, and that, to me, is the true sign of a success.

What does control of my schedule mean? It means more time for family, friends, and health. It means being able to even consider training for a century ride (100 miles on a bike in one day). It means being able to read more books for pleasure, promote my own book, and spend time with my husband and daughter on weekends. It means so much more than just paying bills and meeting financial goals.

Now, I suppose the day I am able to say I have complete control of my schedule will be the day I really know I have made it, but I do suspect that will only come when I retire. There will always be a deadline to meet and a client to please. But being able to choose those clients, and being able to work within standard business hours, has meant a significant increase in my happiness quotient.

* For the record, I can’t rightly claim to balance work, family, friends, and health. I work a disproportionate amount, and my health suffers because of it. But I try. Boundaries, I have learned, are the key. With a toddler under foot, that lesson becomes more obvious every day.

 

Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in  Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.

 

Beta Readers Aren’t Editors; Editors Aren’t Beta Readers

If you have spent any time in the writing community over the past five to ten years, you’ve probably heard about beta readers. These are unpaid people who read your manuscript and give you feedback. The type, quality, and extent of feedback you receive depends on the readers you have enlisted to help you. Editors, of course, are professionally trained and educated to correct a wide range of problems in a manuscript to get it ready for publication. Although beta readers can greatly enhance the revision process, they do not replace editors. Similarly, an editor should not be thought of as a paid beta reader.

Beta Readers Are Not Beta BitsEditors

The feedback you get from your beta readers can be hugely helpful for identifying and resolving problems with plot, characterization, pacing, or a weak argument. These readers give you the opportunity to share your work and find out how it strikes the average reader. They do not usually make the corrections the way an editor will, but rather offer suggestions for you to implement. When you choose your readers, I recommend finding a range of people with differing skills and backgrounds so that you get a well-rounded view of your manuscript.

There are a number of sources for finding beta readers — critique groups, colleagues, writing partners, people you connect with via Goodreads or a Facebook group, among other places. Each will have something different to offer, and you will need to assess and evaluate their critiques individually to determine what feedback to accept and what to reject. These people are not professionals; they are simply giving you their opinions as to how you can improve your writing.

Some authors think that if they get enough beta readers, they can skip editing. This is generally not true. In the case of really good readers and a talented writer, the beta-reading stage can lessen or eliminate the need for a developmental editor. As mentioned, beta readers may uncover big-picture issues such as an inconsistent timeline, poor pacing, poor organization, or unrelateable characters, and the author may be able to address and resolve these problems on their own.

However, unless one of your readers is a professional editor who has done a complete line edit on your manuscript, you will still need a copyeditor at some point. If you find a publisher, the publisher may take care of the copyediting; if you self-publish, you will need to arrange the editing yourself. (For guidance on how to do this without getting taken, see my series of posts How to Hire a Freelance Editor in 5 Easy Steps.)

Employing beta readers in your writing journey is an excellent idea that can save you time and money. It is essential, however, that you know the limits of what such readers can do for your manuscript.

red penEditors Are Not Beta Readers

One major benefit beta readers do offer is a fresh set of eyes when a  writer feels she has taken the manuscript as far as she can on her own. Perhaps this is why some authors seem to think of their editor as a paid beta reader. Again, that is incorrect and may lead to problems.

In most cases, an editor should not be the first person you share your work with. You can go that route, but you can likely save yourself some money — potentially, a lot of money — if you get the outside, free opinion of beta readers first. Find out what average readers think and get the manuscript nailed down as much as possible on your own before investing in editing. Editing is expensive, and the more refinement you do on your own, the less you will have to pay someone else to do. (Read this article for more thoughts on this topic.)

Beyond that, working with an editor is different from working with beta readers. For instance, editors need a certain level of understanding about what it is you are trying to achieve with your book so that they can help you achieve it. Whereas you may want your beta readers to approach the manuscript with no preconceived notions, editing is more efficient — and better — when there aren’t a lot of surprises. So if your book has a twist at the end and you aren’t sure it’s working, you will get to the solution faster if you tell your editor what you suspect. It means revealing the twist, but that’s OK. If you aren’t sure it’s working, your editor can keep that in mind while she reads. If she agrees, she can then let you know why it isn’t working and how to improve it.

In addition, the corrections and suggested changes you receive from your editor deserve more weight than those of a traditional beta reader.  With both editors and beta readers, you as the author have to decide whether the changes further your vision for the book. However, professional editors have years of experience and training in their field, and if they see a problem, it’s likely other readers will too. If they have changed your grammar, punctuation, and syntax, it likely was incorrect. If they have suggested ways to strengthen your argument, you likely need to address that problem.

That does not mean you need to take every suggested change from your editor, but you should make an educated decision. If you don’t know why a change was made, ask for an explanation before overriding your editor. Assuming you have vetted your editor (see step 2 of How to Hire a Freelance Editor in 5 Easy Steps), you know you have chosen someone with the credentials to help you make your book the best it can be. Avoid negating that expertise by ignoring your editor’s feedback.

Beta readers aren’t editors. They don’t have the training, the experience, or the expertise. And editors aren’t beta readers. They want to get to the solution as fast as possible, and that means revealing aspects of the manuscript you may be hesitant to reveal to a general reader. Beta readers offer opinions; editors offer a professional’s perspective. Each of these roles has something to offer writers on their journey. For best results, do not confuse the two.

 

Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.

Perfect Bound for $0.99? It Must Be Christmas!

For the next 12 days, you can get Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro for 99 cents! From now until January 2, e-books are just 99 cents through our website.

At that price you could buy a copy for everyone on your shopping list and keep another for yourself. But here’s a secret: You don’t have to do that. Perfect Bound is shareable!

page-0Although many e-books are DRM protected, we at Hop On think that’s silly. You can share a print book, so why not an e-book? That’s why we chose not to protect Perfect Bound. So share and share alike! Now isn’t that the spirit of the holidays?

Sale ends January 2 and it’s only good through our website, so don’t delay. Get your e-book for 99 cents today!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Four Kinds of Editors: In Brief

Editors go by many different titles. Here are job descriptions of the four main types of editors you will come across, along with their alternate names and how much you can expect to pay when you hire them (based on industry averages).

Book coaches

Manuscripts in progress. Focus your writing and shape the overall direction of the book. May work with you from inception. Can guide you through the publishing process or for just a few months until you have your writing on track. Also called book shepherd.

Average rates: $100 to $300 per 1.5-hour session

Developmental editors

Very big picture. Shape the content of the book. Review organization of the book as a whole as well as organization within chapters; highlight areas that need work, need rewriting, require expansion, stray from topic. May overlap with copyediting. Also called content editing.

Average rates: $10 to $15 per manuscript page, or $45 to $75 an hour

Copyeditors

Big picture. Work with completed manuscripts. Fix errors of grammar, punctuation, style, consistency, sense, as well as flow of paragraphs and word choice. Highlight further areas of development. Will do some rewriting; query places that don’t work, don’t make sense, don’t say what you think they say. Can overlap with development. Also called line editing.

Average rates: $4 to $10 per manuscript page, or $18 to $45 an hour

Proofreaders

Finer details. Catch whatever the copyeditor may have missed. Fix grammar, punctuation, style, consistency, sense. Very little rewriting. Usually pages have been typeset so making changes becomes costly and time-consuming. For best results, do NOT use the same person to copyedit and proofread your work.

Average rates: $2 to $5 per typeset page, or $15 to $30 an hour

Whenever you hire a vendor of any kind, be sure to clarify what their services include. Open communication is the best way to ensure you are getting what you expect.

Like this blog? Check out Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.

Learn How to Make Your Book Commercially Competitive — Now Save 25%!

In the past, I have offered two related workshops, one that presents information on how to make your manuscript more marketable and another that teaches you how to take your manuscript through the publishing process. I gave these workshops often when I lived in St. Louis, and now that I am settled into life in Maryland, I am resurrecting them here!

Saturday, November 8, 2014, please join me at Kensington Row Bookshop for Crafting a Marketable Manuscript. This interactive workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and includes personalized guidance on how to make your manuscript more marketable.  Registration is required. Visit http://www.popediting.net/ServicesandWorkshops.html to reserve your seat.

This workshop is ideal for:

  • Writers who are interested in selling their books, either to publishers, to agents, or directly to readers
  • Writers who are in the early stages of writing (idea stage, first draft, manuscript development)

What you will learn:

  • How to catch the eye of publishers and readers
  • Why having a marketing plan upfront makes you more competitive
  • Practical advice on how to craft a marketing hook, define your audience, and research the competition

Why take a workshop from me? Read my bio here.

And these are the notes I received after presenting this workshop to the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild:

“Thank you! Loved it!”

“Excellent presentation! Thank you!”

“Thank you, Katherine, for your input and valuable knowledge on Crafting a More Marketable Manuscript! I enjoyed the class and will certainly use the marketing tools and resources from your handouts.”

Kensington Row Bookshop is located at 3786 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD 20895, between Silver Spring and Bethesda. $70.
Now just $50.

Book-Publishing Talk and Signing This Saturday!

Marylanders, take note: If you missed my book launch event earlier this month, you have another chance! And this time, there’s a freebie involved.

This Saturday, September 27, I will be at Novel Books (23330 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871)  speaking about Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro and the state of book publishing today.

Stop by and you could win a seat at my November workshop for you or a friend. The event starts at 10 a.m. All are welcome. I hope to see you there!

Novel Books Flier

The Wrap-Up: Launching Perfect Bound

THANK YOU to everyone who made the launch of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro such a success!  Although not everything went according to plan, we had little to complain about.

The big bang we were hoping to make on September 1 was more like the sound of a pop gun, but we made up for it on the 2nd. The publication of two meaty articles (on the websites Live Write Thrive and Publishing Perspectives) garnered us some much-appreciated attention, and at 11:30 on Wednesday night, we discovered we had hit the Amazon bestseller list for Editing Reference!

Speaking at Kensington Row Bookshop Sept 5, 2014
Speaking at Kensington Row Bookshop, Sept 5, 2014

Two other articles that were expected to publish by then had not yet surfaced, and it turned out there was some miscommunication. The Writer Beware article published Friday instead of Tuesday, and the excerpt on Jane Friedman’s blog pubbed the following Monday instead of Wednesday, but publish they did, and we again saw immediate returns. For those writers who have been following along, blog tours really are worth the effort.

Another highlight came Wednesday when veteran editor Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, who has much more experience than I, contacted me about the book. After reading the sample chapter available on the Hop On website, she bought the book and wrote an impromptu blog post recommending Perfect Bound as a continuing-ed book for editors. We were thrilled!

The launch parties at Kensington Row Bookshop in Kensington, Maryland, and Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri, were great fun and also well worth the investment. On both nights we surpassed our modest sales goals and, more important, were able to celebrate with friends, colleagues, and newcomers alike. I was even able to meet my designer, Sue Hartman, for the first time. We had worked together off and on for 15 years and never met until now!

Speaking at Left Bank Books
Speaking at Left Bank Books, Sept 11, 2014

Those who attended can attest that my daughter stole the show. She was a trooper, staying up well past her bedtime to help her parents celebrate and enjoy the moment. I loved getting to share the night with her.

There is much more to come from Hop On Publishing. A webinar is scheduled for next week, another talk and signing on the 27th at Novel Books, and a trip to Rehoboth Beach for a workshop October 4. This week we are catching our breath and soaking in what we have achieved.

To everyone who attended the events, bought the book, listened to our stories, let us stay at their home, held the baby, chased the baby, or otherwise sent good vibes our way,

THANK YOU!

Why You Should Buy a Book at a Book Launch Instead of Online

I’m preparing for a book launch in St. Louis, and several friends have asked where they should buy the book so that it is most beneficial to me. On strictly a monetary basis, that’s through the Hop On website. But for those who are going to be at the event, purchasing through the hosting bookstore is better for everyone. I’d argue this is particularly true for self-publishers. Here’s why:

  1. It shows support for the author. The people who have asked me about this, although they also want the book, are mostly trying to support me as a new author. This is accomplished no matter how the book is obtained, short of borrowing it from a friend.
  2. It keeps the bookstore in business. I could list the many benefits of helping keep bookstores alive and well, but that is for another time. Suffice it to say, brick-and-mortar stores have benefits to society. Independent bookstores are the ones most likely to welcome new authors to an event, and these stores have stiff competition from national chains and the Internet. If you want to keep your bookstore in business, you have to purchase from there.
  3. It raises the image of self-publishing. If a self-published author can not only get a large audience for a book signing but also motivate people to buy their book at the bookstore, the bookstore will take self-publishers more seriously. The store will be more willing to take a chance on other self-publishers. And when self-publishers can get the same exposure as traditionally published authors, it levels the playing field and increases the odds that they will do more than just break even on their book investment.

So, if you know you want to buy a book from your author friend, consider the benefits of doing so, not through Amazon, but through a real live bookstore. And if your author has an event, know that buying at the event can have a much greater impact than would a couple more dollars for the author.

Like this blog? Check out Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.

Launch Day Is Here! — Updated

Nothing goes as planned. Find out what changed and get the live links to all the happenings from last week and this one.

We Made It!

Today is the official launch of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro and we couldn’t be more excited! To celebrate, we have a blog tour and special events scheduled all week and throughout the month of September. Here’s a roundup:

Monday (9/1): “Easy Tips to Help You Save Money on That Necessary Edit,” guest blog post hosted by Susanne Lakin at Live Write Thrive

Tuesday (9/2): “5 Steps to Increasing Your Book’s Marketability with Research,” article published by Publishing Perspectives (Tuesday’s Featured Article)

Thursday (9/4): “How to Be a Good Client,” article published by Walrus Publishing

Friday (9/5): “Author-Editor Workability: The Crucial Element for a Successful Editing Experience,” guest post on Writer Beware

Kensington Row EventFriday Night: Launch Party at Kensington Row Bookshop, 3786 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD 20895, 6 to 9 p.m. Come out for a night of food, fun, and books! All are welcome.

Monday (9/8): Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Perfect Bound, “Looking at the Big Picture: Manuscript Development,” published by Jane Friedman

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Perfect Bound, “To Sign or Not to Sign with an Agent,” published by Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Thursday (9/11): We travel to St. Louis for the Midwest book launch at Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63108, 7 to 10 p.m. Again, all are welcome.

At the end of the month, Saturday, September 27, I will be having a book signing at Novel Books in Clarksburg, MD. Attendees can enter to win 25% off my next workshop.

This has been an amazing journey. We at Hop On send a heartfelt “Thank You!” to everyone who has helped us, especially the publishing professionals and authors who were interviewed for the book, as well as our family, friends, and colleagues. The book wouldn’t be what it is without you!

Get your copy of Perfect Bound through any of these booksellers:

page-0Hop On Publishing, a division of POP Editorial Services

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Left Bank Books

Also available through iBooks, Gardners, Novel Books, and other sites around the web!