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.)
1. Get an ISBN. International Standard Book Numbers are required for every book that is going to be sold in the book trade. These can be obtained through Bowker, also known as Books in Print.
2. Register your book with Books in Print. Once you receive the ISBN you’ll need to make sure that your title data is registered in their system. This is important because a lot of sources (Amazon, Ingram, etc.) receive data feeds from this system—not to mention the fact that this is a resource for bookstores, libraries, and publishers around the world.
3. Create a barcode with the ISBN and price embedded. Most trade stores require this to be on the back of your book before they will place an order.
4. Obtain a LCCN (also know as a PCN). The Library of Congress Control Number (or Pre-Assigned Control Number) is a unique number that differentiates your book in the Library of Congress database. Librarians use this number to access the associated bibliographic record for a given title.
5. Obtain CIP data. Cataloging in Publication data creates a bibliographic record for forthcoming books that are likely to be acquired by librarians (and hopefully, librarians will want your book!). This is to be printed on the copyright page, and this data is only available for works that are not yet published.
1. Send one final copy to the Cataloging in Publication Division of the Library of Congress.
2. Send two final copies to the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress along with Form CO and the registration fee. Alternatively, you are now able to fill out this form and submit payment online with eCO (electronic Copyright Office).
3. Wait to receive your Copyright Confirmation (current wait time is 12–16 months).
While this outline may not seem too arduous, there are many potential roadblocks in this process—so brace yourself, hope for the best, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
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Your website offers the unique ability to sell directly to consumers. However, not everyone is comfortable providing their credit card information on an unfamiliar website. People may also wish to use a rewards membership with their favorite bookseller to buy your book. Therefore, it is wise to supply multiple purchasing options in addition to your own personal online store.
Bookstores may also check your website to see if you are supporting them by including them as a purchase option, so if you want to give your distributor its best shot at getting a corporate buy for your book, be sure to include purchase links to the corporate bookstore chains. If you want to get support from the independent bookstore community, then you'd better also link to IndieBound. Of course, there is the bookselling beast that is Amazon.com, but be careful not to irritate bookstores by linking only to Amazon. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the aforementioned retailers for easy linking options and to get yourself an extra little piece of the pie.
Here are links to the most common bookseller affiliate programs:
If you want to build strong support in your local market, you might also consider linking to specific bookstore websites in your area. The more purchase options, the more likely your website visitors are to buy!
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If you're a fan of Top Chef, you may recall season 5's Fabio Viviani, who didn't win the competition, but made it to the final three and came out as the fan favorite of that season. What you may not have known about this Italian chef is that reality TV was only just the beginning: he's publishing his own book this month.
The Café Firenze Cookbook: Food and Drink from the Tuscan Sons was pitched to several traditional publishing houses prior to Fabio's appearance on Top Chef, but when his publicist couldn't find a taker, they decided to self-publish through BRIO, and later chose to distribute through Greenleaf Book Group.
Here are a few more links:
Fabio's MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/fabioviviani
The Cafe Firenze website: https://www.cafefirenze.net/
The Cafe Firenze Cookbook Amazon.com page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0981929095?ie=UTF8&tag=eatmedail-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0981929095
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We're teaming up with independent bookselling superstars BookPeople this August for the first-ever Austin Publishing University, a seminar series for authors and aspiring authors on how to get your book published efficiently and profitably.
If you're in the central Texas area, we'd love to have you join us on the first four Sundays in August at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar, Austin, Texas). Sessions cost $15 each or $45 for all four. Attendance is limited to 60 people per session. To reserve a seat call (512) 472-5050 or visit BookPeople.
It's going to be a fun, educational event—one we hope will untangle some of the complexities of getting a book produced, distributed, and marketed, as well as answer any questions on the publishing industry attendees have, whether basic or advanced. Be sure to visit our Facebook page, and if you're the Twittering type, you can tweet about Austin Publishing University with the hashtag #apu09.
Descriptions of the four sessions of APU after the jump.
SESSION 1 – Ins & Outs: The Industry Overview
Sunday, August 2, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
The publishing industry presents many business models for authors, each with its own set of pros and cons. This class will walk you through the industry and give you the tools you need to choose the best path for your project. Plus, you will gain a basic understanding of what it takes to successfully create and market content in the retail marketplace. Learn the ins and outs of traditional publishing, self-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, and hybrid models—and how to avoid publishing pitfalls along the way.
SESSION 2 – Hot Topic: Content is King
Sunday, August 9, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
So you know you want to write a book, but the blank page is glaring at you and you just don’t know how to begin. Come learn some useful techniques for structuring the writing process, getting past the terrifying first blank page, and presenting your ideas in a compelling and engaging manner.
SESSION 3 – Killer Covers: Boosting Sales by Design
Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Book jackets serve a number of purposes that are essential to the success of your book. This class will teach you how to make informed decisions about your covers by examining a variety of topics including genre appropriateness, the role of research, concept and tone, using photography and/or illustration, branding a series, endorsements, author photos, printing technology, retail durability, Amazon thumbnails, and design trends. We will closely analyze examples of various cover designs including award winning work.
SESSION 4 – Storming the Market: Online, On the Air, and On the Shelves
Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
As the old saying goes, it’s easy to write a book: Selling it is hard. This class will discuss how effective marketing strategies, combined with traditional publicity and new media, come together to create a successful book launch. We will review the basic timeline that you should follow, describing what to do before, during, and after your publishing date. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get the perspective of veteran publishers and retailers from both us at Greenleaf Book Group and BookPeople.
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Tip #4: Be Polite—9 Out of 10 Agents and Publishers Prefer It!
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your book. You think to yourself, “I need to get this published now! Quick! This book is groundbreaking! There’s no time for protocol or politesse!”
Or is there?
Take a deep breath and think about who you’re dealing with. Whether it’s an agent, a publisher, or a distributor you’re inquiring to them for help and you need them on your side. Being demanding, inflexible, or just flat out rude probably won’t get you very far. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about how to interact with an agent, publisher, or distributor.
1. There are authors who insist that their book will be the big bestseller or the next great American novel. Now that’s not to say yours isn’t, but realize that agents, editors, and submission departments hear the same thing all day long, and insisting on the genius of your book probably won’t win you much notice or favor.
2. Follow-up is important, and persistence is an admirable quality, but pestering probably won’t yield the desired outcome for your book. Remember that many companies and agents have a process in place to review incoming submissions and that they will often notify you of their decision. In the case that there is no notification system in place, be as kind and understanding as possible and try and have a reasonable expectation for wait time.
3. Be polite. Maybe this seems obvious, but I can tell you that a lack of consideration and manners in general is something I experience in our submissions department from time to time. Sometimes it takes that little extra push to get that “accepted” status, and having people on the inside rooting for you can go a long way. Honey catches more flies than vinegar, right?
Think about it from their (our) perspective: would you want to enter into a long-term business relationship with someone who makes your life difficult? I bet not. I would like to acknowledge though, it is a two-way street—agents, publishers, and distributors owe the same respect to authors, and often don’t keep the lines of communication open, as they should.
If you don’t care what your publisher thinks about you, consider your readers—wouldn’t we all rather read books written by nice people?