Check Out the Legal Handbook for Authors

Self-Published Author and Business Attorney Writes Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook

Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick Helen Sedwick, a self-published author and business attorney, shares vital legal information for all writers whether self-published, traditionally published, or not-yet-published. Billed as “the step-by-step guide to protecting your copyright, avoiding scams and lawsuits, [and] maximizing tax deductions” Legal Handbook answers questions that most authors struggle with and corrects common misinformation.

Though the Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook is most helpful to authors who want to self-publish, it is a primer for writers in the earlier stages of their careers and offers practical advice to traditionally published authors as well. Each of the book’s eleven chapters shares critical counsel, moving a writer through the process of publishing a book. But don’t wait until you have a book ready to publish before you read this one. If you do you will miss essential recommendations that are relevant as you write and even as you prepare to write. Skipping these steps, or delaying them, will only put your work in jeopardy and slow down your progress.

Among the many indispensable insights included in the Legal Handbook are how to properly deal with images in your blog and book, what copyright means and how to protect your rights, book contract gotchas, avoiding defamation claims, handling taxes, avoiding publishing scams, social media pitfalls, and setting up your business. Yes, if we take our writing seriously or plan to self-publish our book, we need to treat writing as a business. This isn’t to constrain us but to free us from legal worries, tax issues, and lopsided publishing contracts.

Reading the Self Publisher’s Legal Handbook is an investment in your future, your future as a writer. Don’t put it off.

What legal concerns do you have about writing and publishing? What worries do you have about self-publishing? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Do You Want People to Buy Your Book or Read Your Book?

We all want people to buy our books and then read our books. That’s the ideal. But what if we can realize only one of these two outcomes? Would we rather have people buy our book or read it?

Do You Want People to Buy Your Book or Read Your Book?In the first scenario a lot of people would buy our book but they never actually read it. It sits around unread and later moves to a book shelf and later still ends up in the trash. No one ever reviews the book or lets us know how much they enjoy it.

In the second scenario readers download our book for free, read someone else’s copy (that wasn’t paid for either), receives an advanced copy, or finds a pirated version. We receive a boatload of positive reviews and everywhere we go it seems someone says how great our book is. A lot of people read our book and love it, but we never make one penny from it.

Both these situations are extreme, but if we had to select one, which one would it be?

If we pick the first, then our primary goal in writing a book is to make money. If we pick the second, then our primary motivation to write is for the love of the art. Neither one is wrong, but by themselves, for the long-term, neither one will fully satisfy.

We need people to buy our books, and we need people to read them. The first need is practical and the second need is emotional. We must have both to sustain ourselves as writers. Without the money we starve physically; without the feedback we starve creatively. Don’t be caviler about either; we need both and shouldn’t dismiss one as unnecessary.

We must write books that will make money and that people will want to read. The money doesn’t have to be a lot, but we need to make something. Our readers don’t need to be many, but we need to have at a least a few.

Of course we’d prefer to sell lots of books and have lots of readers. Isn’t that what we all dream for – even if we don’t say so or are afraid to admit it?

If you had to choose which would it be? Which of these two outcomes should you take more seriously? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below

Becoming a Hybrid Author: A Case Study of Author Robin Mellom

Fellow writer and cyber-friend Robin Mellom just self-published her new book, Perfect Timing. I first heard about Robin through Writer’s Digest when they highlighted her as a debut novelist for her book, Ditched, a YA (young adult) romantic comedy. Although intrigued, I figured I was too old to read YA, but soon the compelling storyline wooed me back. Eventually I bought Ditched and read it; then I read it again; then I looked for more of Robin’s work.

Alas, she had no more YA titles. Though she did have a middle-grade series, Classroom, I said I wouldn’t read them. Junior High wasn’t a good time for me, and I didn’t want to go back. So I waited for her next YA book – and I waited. Finally, desperate for more of her witty humor, I relented and dove into the first three books in her Classroom series. I’m glad I did!

Her next YA book was written, but her publisher wasn’t interested (shortsighted on their part) and her agent couldn’t find anyone else who would bite (a bad move on their part). She considered self-publishing, and I encouraged her to go for it. It must be many other people did, too, because the next thing I knew, she self-published Perfect Timing as a Kindle e-book. I devoured it in two days. In case it’s not clear, I’m a fan of Robin’s and am even on her mailing list.

She also apparently got the rights back for Ditched, because she just self-published an updated version, retitled as Perfect Kiss,  complete with a new cover. I bought and am reading that, too. I’m interested in seeing how it differs from the original version.

However, with these two self-published works, Robin has not made the switch to pure indie author. Instead she is doing what many authors are now doing. She has become a hybrid author, self-publishing some books, while going the traditional publishing route on others. From a traditional publisher, her fourth middle-grade book, The Classroom: When Nature Calls, Hang Up! is due out in June, and I hear a children’s picture book is in the works. So she’s breaking from another long-held publishing tradition, too, proving an author can successfully write for multiple audiences.

As authors in the ever-changing book publishing world, we need to not fixate on one way to publish our work. We must consider all our options and do what makes the most sense for our careers and our audience – just like Robin.

Check out Robin Mellom’s books:

The Classroom (The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid)
The Classroom: Student Council Smackdown!
The Classroom Trick Out My School!
The Classroom: When Nature Calls, Hang Up!
Perfect Timing (originally known as Busted)
Perfect Kiss (formerly Ditched)

Be Alert to What Others Say About Us Online

One day on my writing blog, Byline, I wrote about a book I really enjoyed. To my complete shock, the author commented on my post. She thanked me profusely for my kind words, added to the discussion, and then mentioned her upcoming book. I was smitten.

More recently, on my main blog, Spiritually Speaking, I posted a review of a book that highly influenced me. This time the author emailed me to thank me for my kind words. I was shocked he took the time to do so. Then he asked if I’d post a review on Amazon. Even though there were already hundreds, I was happy to do so. As a bonus, I reviewed the book on Goodreads, too!

Neither author knew I existed before I posted about their book. So how did they find my comments? Though I don’t know for sure, I suspect they used Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a free service that emails users whenever a particular phrase appears online. I recommend all authors setup a Google Alert for their name and book titles. Google will then send an email alert whenever someone uses one of those phrases online.

Then, when it’s appropriate, we can respond to comments about us or our books. The important thing is to be respectful. Thank them; be kind. The goal is to form a positive impression with them and others reading our response.

Of course not everything written about us or our books is positive. Resist the urge to respond to negativity; it will never go well. We must not attempt to defend ourselves. (Let others do that.) Although hurtful, we need to develop a thick skin and learn to ignore the barbs of others. To help deal with online criticism, remember the adage, “The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity.”

But don’t focus on the negative. The goal is to add to the online discussion about us and our books, garnering followers and fans.

It only takes a couple minutes to setup a Google Alert. Do it today.

Another Self-Publishing Book: 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing

I like to read books and I like to buy books. The problem is my purchasing proclivities exceed my reading realities. This results in piles of unread books. Though I’ll eventually read many, I’ll never touch some, wondering why I bought them. Some books fall into the category of “it seemed like a good idea.” Others had a great concept, cover, or title but the insides failed to deliver. Still others were poorly produced or sloppily written. Then there are those with a strong opening chapter but little more.

I don’t know which category it falls into, but 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing remains in my pile of unread books. I’ve even opened it a few times, flipped through pages, and scanned snippets, but I’ve not read a single sentence.

I hoped I might pick up some new ideas and insights; I planned to write a review of it for you. But alas, after six months of delays, the best I can share is my non-review.

I can’t tell you whether or not to read 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing. All I can say is that I didn’t. And after this long, I doubt I ever will.

Owning a book means nothing if we don’t read it.

If you’ve read 2014 Guide to Self-Publishing, what did you think about it?

Book Review: Platform

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

By Michael Hyatt (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Michael Hyatt dedicates his book Platform to all the creative people who were dismissed because they lacked a platform to promote their work. As his subtitle proclaims, he wants to help them Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Divided into five sections, Platform takes readers on a progressive journey, starting with creating a compelling product all the way to engaging their tribe. The book’s sixty concise chapters make for easy reading, moving writers and artists forward in successfully launching their product.

Packed with practical advice and easy to follow steps, Michael shares insider knowledge and firsthand experience to aid readers in their quest for a bigger platform in order to better promote and sell their work. Regardless of their platform size, Michael Hyatt’s tips can help readers develop a larger and more effective one.

Platform is an essential, must-read book for all creative people who long to share their work with a larger audience.

[Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt. Published by Thomas Nelson, 2012, ISBN: 978-1595555038, 288 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan

Book Review: APE

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

By Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

There are many good (and a few not so good) resources that cover self-publishing. Some are in the form of books, others as podcasts, and more as blog posts.

By far the best I’ve seen is the book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. APE is an acronym for Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur, representing the three phases in self-publishing a book.

As the distinction between traditional publishing and self-publishing fades, the evolving consideration morphs into mass-produced versus artisanal publishing, a term Guy and Shawn advance as a new way of comprehending self-publishing. The vanity publishing of yesteryear can be smartly rejuvenated with a fresh perspective of artistry, hence the concept of artisanal publishing.

After all, who are writers, if not artists? So why not extend artistry to the production and dissemination of their work? The idea of artisanal publishing provides new opportunities for innovative writers seeking to share their writing with others.

APE is an essential guide for the beginner and intermediate level of self-publishers. Even the experienced practitioner is sure to pick up some new ideas. Though I wouldn’t advise anyone skip the author section, for those with a publication-ready book, the publisher section may be the place to start.

[APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Published by Nononina Press, 2013, ISBN: 978-0988523104, 410 pages.]