Publishing Information

Registering Copyrights For Your Book

Of all the complicated and tedious stages of the book compliance process, copyright registration may be the most confusing. Between deciphering weird terminology like “claimant” and “limitations of claim,” establishing reasonable timelines, and dealing with legal intricacies, registering copyright claims can be mentally exhausting.

Fortunately, the Greenleaf staff is very familiar with the copyright process and can break down the basics. Below is a quick but fairly thorough look at the process.

Book Compliance Decoded

Compliance is an essential part of the book publishing process, yet it is often very difficult to navigate the details of each step along the way. When done correctly, the proper registration of a book maximizes search ability, but all the weird lingo and tedious applications can be daunting. While the compliance process is unnecessary to memorize in its entirety, here is a general overview of how it works.

First and foremost, an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) must be purchased for and assigned to the title. This number is the book equivalent of a Social Security number, and it can be purchased through MyIdentifiers in a block of ten, which is recommended—each binding will require its own ISBN. Once these have been purchased, they are ready to be assigned to an individual title via BowkerLink. This step officially links a specific ISBN to a single title. While performing this step, attention to detail is a must! You don’t want a slip of the finger to delay the setup process. Although the assignment is still technically pending at this point, it is usually safe to begin associating this ISBN with your title.

A Compliance Primer: How To Get An ISBN, LCCN, AND Copyright Registration

One of the most confusing (and least fun) aspects of publishing a book is making sure your title is in compliance with all the appropriate organizations in order to maximize its searchability. There are so many different factors involved in this process that it’s easy to get bogged down with the amount of information that gets thrown at you. Even though there is no need to learn all the ins and outs of the Library of Congress, the sheer multitude of acronyms alone is enough make you cross-eyed.

For those of you who don’t enjoy hours of web research on a topic that is less than stimulating, here’s a quick breakdown of the basic steps you’ll need to take. (Keep in mind that doing things in this order is important.)

ISBN Decoded: Compliance??

There are several (confusing, complicated, and time-consuming) compliance requirements for a printed, saleable book to be, well...saleable. The most important requirement is obtaining an International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. (Not “ISBN number” or “izbin." Just ISBN, please.) This number gives your book a universal numerical identifier—sort of a Social Security number for your work. It lasts for the life of the book and allows bookstores, media, publishers, and consumers to order, identify, and refer to your book. In fact, almost all major ordering systems use the ISBN exclusively

ISBNs formerly consisted of ten digits, but the International ISBN Agency changed the system to use a thirteen-digit number because they were running out of ten-digit numbers. Every thirteen-digit ISBN contains five sets of numbers, each separated by dashes.

Understanding Foreign Rights

What do Harry Potter and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have in common other than movie deals? Well, not a lot, but their publishers and authors do both know how to take advantage of foreign book sales, a growing sector of the publishing industry where the right book and the right deal can provide a nice padding of revenue for authors and publishers.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series managed to get translated into around 70 languages, doing particularly well in the United States, where publishers obtained rights to the series and watched it top bestseller lists for months. Because of its international status, the final book in the series,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, broke records when it sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours after its release.

Industry Links

Independent Book Publishers Association A not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.

Digital Book World Daily A website offering educational and networking resources for consumer publishing professionals and their partners including agents, booksellers and technology vendors.

Publishing Perspectives An International look at the publishing industry offering opinion, trends, news, and events.

Galley Cat Blog with daily features on what’s happening in publishing, guest posts from authors, tips on writing, and features on breakthrough authors.

Writers Digest The international news source of book publishing and book selling; PW reviews of books are displayed on Amazon, so can be important

Shelf Awareness A daily newsletter about the book trade from the booksellers’ perspective.

Book Industry Study Group The creator of the official genres that most organizations in the publishing industry use.

Bowker The organization that manages, sells, and oversees ISBNs in the United States; also publishes reports on book consumer demographics and buying behaviors.

Writer’s League of Texas A non-profit association of Texas writers offering networking, education, resources, conferences, and information on writing and publishing

Publisher’s Weekly The international news source of book publishing and book selling.

      Do I Need a Literary Agent?

      One of the most frequently asked questions in publishing is “Do I need a literary agent?” Well, that depends on your goals, genre, resources, and which publishing option you choose.

      If you are pursuing a traditional publishing deal, an agent is essential. Most traditional publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, meaning that they only accept manuscripts they’ve commissioned or that are represented by a reputable agent. Not only does the agent act as the middle man—and the first line of defense for the hundreds of slush submissions that publishers would otherwise have to sift through—the agent also acts on your behalf in the negotiation process when a publisher is ready to purchase the rights to your book.

      How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

      Unlike fiction, where an author must have a completed manuscript ready before they approach apublisher or agent, a nonfiction author only needs to develop a proposal to submit to publishers and/or agents. The proposal should answer the following questions:

      1. Content: What is the book about?
      2. Market: Who would be interested in this idea?
      3. Competitive Titles: What other books already exist on this topic and how does this one differ?
      4. Platform: Who is the author, why is the author the best person to produce this book, and what are they doing to engage with potential readers?