Sunday, 19 February 2012

Self-Publishing Nitty-Gritty / Copyright / Excerpt

The Mesopotamian stone tablets of 3000 B.C. were man's first "books."  This was improved upon with "papyrus," and ""parchment," and finally the Gutenberg pressing press in 1455.  Before that, all books had to be copied by hand.  Gutenberg's Bibles ushered in the age of print.  Now, printing has gone one giant step farther:  Electronic Printing.       
        - Cork Millner, Write From the Start

A person who self-publishes for the first time has no idea how many different decisions there are to be made. The list seems endless!

It was not until I sat down to tackle the job of Self-Publishing my own work, that I realized I had not recorded the necessary steps from my research in some orderly fashion to move forward.  My original "Cheat Sheet into Publishing" from September 2011 - related to traditional publishing.  It was useless!  

This eye-opener led me to write today's post, where I begin to list what I need to do -  "as I do it" - and share a few gems I uncover along the way. 

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. ”              ― Erma Bombeck 

Last week, Kay Thompson Lee, my free-lance editor, emailed me the final chapters of my memoir.  I was elated!  Then it struck me like a speeding car!  No more excuses!  I MUST decide on the publishing company to handle my book!  I'm one who has a hard time choosing a selection from a menu, let alone a publisher.

Kay has been my guiding star throughout the edit.  Her subtle suggestions and gentle manner kept me focused and encouraged.  The process involved - emailing Kay sections of my manuscript, five chapters at a time.  This way I didn't bury her alive with my 109 chapters, plus it allowed me one last proof-read before I hit SEND.  There was no hurry - after all, I was still in the process of studying "HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH."

Towards the end of January, I emailed the last section, Chapters 104 through 109 - the END of my book.  Within a week, Kay returned my Chapters 104 through 108, but she had changed Chapter 109 to an epilogue.  I never thought to use an epilogue in my memoir.  Kay thought differently . . . and she was right.

An epilogue is a mini story that explains what becomes of the characters in the future.

“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge.”      Ana Monnar

Copywriting Your Book

Technically, any original creation, including a book, is automatically copyrighted by virtue of its creation.  However, if you choose, a formal copyright will offer an extra measure of protection.  Easy and inexpensive ($30), visit  The instructions include a request to send two copies of your work.  It's recommended you wait until you have your galleys, if not the final published version, before filing the form and sending the books.

Your Copyright Date

This I found interesting - If your Bound Book Date falls after July, meaning your Book Release Date is three to four months later, it's acceptable and recommended to put next year as your copyright date.  That way, your book stays "new" longer in the eyes of the book world.   - Peter Bowerman

Once you've seriously undertaken the self-publishing process, these will be among the first and foremost items on your to-do-list.  This list includes . . .
  • ISBN
  • Bar Code
  • LCCN
  • Copyright
Remember, your publishing entity may include these in "their package."  If this is the case, most likely these items will be in your publisher's name - not yours.  Be aware.  This needs to be discussed before you sign on the dotted line.  Think twice about signing away your foreign rights sales - it's more difficult to get them back later, if you need them.
  • Copyright Page - is where all the above data comes together. Check books you own for a sample.
Song Lyrics

Are you considering using song lyrics in your book?  I AM! 

Music is one of  the most protected copyrightable works, infringement of copyright can carry heavy fines for which the author is responsible.

If your book includes lyrics from a song, you will need to request permission from the copyright holder.  This  includes cases where you are only using a stanza or two, and sometimes if your are using anything more than a single line.

Only song lyrics created and first published prior to 1923 are in the Public Domain in the United States.  If the song was created after that, you will need permission to use it in your work.

There are two great resources on the internet for finding the rights holders for most music and song lyrics, from the two leading music entities, ASCAP and BMI, respectively:
Actually, I have three song titles, and one other song, where thirteen lines are embedded in my work.  It appears I will need to request permission from four different copyright holders.  This should be interesting!

My memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is compelling with thousands returning from war, unaware of the ruthless demons waiting in the shadows.  I know . . . I've seen them.

Chapter 34 Excerpt

          A huge Texas moon hung high over our solitary car, but darkness surrounded the deserted country road in the middle of nowhere. 
           “Are you going to be mad at me the rest of the night?”
           Lorne slammed on the brakes, thrusting our bodies hard against the seat belts.  He shoved the gearshift into park, and got out, leaving the car and me in the middle of the road with the door wide open.  He walked to the front of the car with his hands in his pockets, crossed in front of the headlights and took off up the shoulder of the road.  
           I sat stunned.  Unbuckling my seat belt, I hiked up my skirt and crawled over the console into the driver’s seat.  I pulled his door shut, putting the car into drive and followed him up the road. 
           “Lorne, I’m sorry,” I called out the open window.  “Please get back in the car.”
            “Get out of here and leave me alone,” he yelled over his shoulder, squinting into the headlights.
            “Please, Lorne,” I begged.  “It’s late and its pitch black out here.”  By now my head was throbbing.  “I won’t say another word, I promise. Just please get back in the car and let me take you home.”

Lesson learned . . . my two cents

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.        - Virginia Woolf


  1. Nancy thank you for the insight into self publishing. Also, you are so right that we should be more aware of what each and every person who serves our country goes through. We may not understand, but there needs to be a more conscious effort to pay better attention and try not to respond as we would in a normal situation.

    I'm in the middle of writing a series of an amateur sleuth, her brother suffers from PTSD, I'm not sure where his storyline will take me, but I am hopeful.

    I'll check out the websites that you mentioned in your past post. Thank you again for sharing. Augie Hicks

  2. Augie, I'm happy you stopped by and maybe have a new insight in the potential crisis waiting to strike some families. In Girl Scouts, our motto was "Be Prepared." That's how I feel about the importance of PTSD awareness. There is help for those who seek.

    Good Luck with your amateur sleuth series. Sounds like fun not knowing what your characters have up their sleeve. I have many websites addressing PTSD for your research.

    Tried to find your blog and ended up at, then saw a comment on SheWrites. Where are you? :D

  3. I always learn something when I read your posts. I was wondering the use of lyrics. I half knew this was the case but was pretending... Each of my chapters stars with song lyrics, the good thing - most of them I wrote. But there are about 4... I might change this.. Thanks kindly for sharing. Another post for me too book mark. Don't stop. Loved that Erma quote. It sums it up, doesn't?