Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hanging indentations and hanging punctuation


Country crooner Roger Miller sang, "Dang me, dang me, they oughta take a rope and hang me."

I don't think Roger should be hanged. Sadly, he died of lung and throat cancer in 1992 at the age of 56.

In addition to people, pictures and wallpaper, type can also be hanged, or hung.



(above) Hanging indentation is a typographic style in which the first line of a paragraph is flush-left and the following lines are indented. This style is frequently used in lists.

Left-click to enlarge.

(above) Hanging punctuation is a typographic style where punctuation on the far-right of full-justified lines of text is allowed to extend beyond the right margin. This is a subtle design tweak that adds beauty, takes a lot of work, and may be noticed and appreciated by very few people. I was taught about this by Eddie, an art director I worked with when I was an advertising copywriter in the 1970s. Eddie taught me a lot, but I don't remember his last name. Thanks, Eddie.

The sample text I used above is known as Greeking

This blog post is based on material in my upcoming Typography for Independent Publishers.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Which Greenwich? Where's Newark?





Yesterday I warned about having heteronyms in the titles of books, blog posts and websites.

Some place names are heteronyms and require clarification to avoid ambiguity.

If you write that someone is from Newark, what state is she from?

By the way, Newark, NJ is pronounced "noo-urk" (or even "nurk") but Newark, DE is "new ark."


Houston in Texas is pronounced "hyoo-stin" but Houston Street in Manhattan is pronounced "house-tin." Houston Street is a major-east-west road and passes through such important places as the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village.

That Village, and Greenwich in both CT and England, are pronounced "grenn-itch."

The Greenwich Savings Bank was based in New York City and operated from 1833 to 1981. It paid for singing commercials with lyrics something like "Call us green-witch, call us grenn-itch, call us anything at all."

Wikipedia has a list of lots of Greenwiches, with multiple pronunciations. There's a Greenwich Pizza chain in the Philippines. The company pronounces its "Green-itch," which does not sound Italian to me.


Lima (lime-uh) beans may not be grown in Lima (leem-uh), Peru.

-----
Thanks to all the photographers whose work is above. I slept late today and didn't have time to provide all of the photo credits. I may fix this later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Heteronyms are dangerous. Keep them out of book titles, blog posts and website names.


Does the team drink polish?

In an online group for authors, Jessica Bell announced that she is writing a book called Polish Your Fiction: A Quick & Easy Self-Editing Guide.

I started reading her post twice and each time -- for an instant -- I thought that "Polish" was referring to someone from Poland. 


Polish and polish are heteronyms -- words written identically (or identically except for uppercasing the first letter) but having different pronunciations and meanings

The meaning of a heteronym usually becomes apparent because of its context, but if you can avoid ambiguity and delay -- do so.
  • Try to keep heteronyms out of the titles of your books, blog posts and websites. If you cause a reader to hesitate, you may lose her.
  • Heteronyms can cause problems even within text. Does "I read a lot of books" take place in the present tense or in the past? A 'helper' like "did" or "do" or "last year" can remove the ambiguity, as can rewriting the sentence.
  • Even the position of a word in a line of text can cause a stumble. If the last two words in a line of text are "A sewer," "The bass" or "I read," the pronunciation and meaning might not be apparent until the reader reads the words on the next line.
  • Uppercasing and lowercasing can clarify the difference between Polish and polish, but not between Bass and bass.
Wikipedia provides many examples of heteronyms, including:
  1.    A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  2.    Do you know what a buck does to does?
  3.    They were too close to the door to close it.
  4.    The buck does funny things when does are present.
  5.    Don't desert me here in the desert!
  6.    When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  7.    The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  8.    How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
  9.    With every number I read, my mind gets number and number.
  10.    He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  11.    After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  12.    I did not object to the object.
  13.    We must polish the Polish furniture.
  14.    He thought it was time to present the present.
  15.    The farm was used to produce produce.
  16.    The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  17.    There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  18.    A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  19.    To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  20.    I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  21.    Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  22.    The weather was beginning to affect his affect
  23.    The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  24.    The bandage was wound around the wound.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Two meaningless words to keep off your websites and book covers





I recently encountered the website of author, artist, athlete and entrepreneur Angela Lam Turpin. The title of the site, strangely, is "The official website of Angela Lam Turpin." If this is the official site, I have to wonder if there are unofficial Angela Lam Turpin websites.

Angela is a wonderful, accomplished person worthy of admiration; but is Angela important enough to inspire fakers to produce websites not certified by Angela?

I think not.

Bing shows
one-hundred-and-sixty-five-million links for the term "official website." Google lags, with under forty-million links for the term.

This is ridiculous and pathetic.

  • Some O-sites, appropriately, are government-sanctioned websites -- but this trend has grown ridiculously. Does the Missouri Lottery really need an "official" website? Does the Vatican? Bureaucrats (some called "officials") love the word "official." 
  • Many O-sites belong to movies like Spider-Man 2, teams like the Atlanta Falcons and performers such as KISS, Madonna and Cher -- who apparently don't want fans to think that websites published by other fans are actually sanctioned. 
  • But, does The Association, now nearly 50 years old, still merit an official site? Are there pretenders?
  • Is Angela Lam Turpin as big a star as Madonna? I think not.
  •  
  • Many O-sites belong to egomaniacal businesses. Does AT&T really need an "official" website? Does Louis Vuitton? Do Orkin Pest Control and its rival Terminix? Does Greenwich Pizza, in the Philippines, really need an O-site?
  • In some cases where the actual website doesn't scream "OFFICIAL," the paid online ads for the sites do use the O-word.
  • Of course, even an unofficial site can claim to be official.

Most things that claim to be 'official something' are not official anything. Use of the label is evidence of unchecked ego, or maybe just ignorance.
  • Amazon.com shows nearly 145,000 links to books with "official" in the title or subtitle.That total is about 5,000 more than 18 months ago. The virus is spreading.

Some O-books, such as a book for diabetics produced by the American Diabetes Association, can logically claim to be "official." Others, like a book of instructions for speaking Spanish like a Costa Rican, is official nothing.

Unless your book, blog or website is officially blessed by some important person or institution, restrain your ego and don't claim that your work is official.

If you are important enough to attract copycats, then you can claim your work to be officially yours -- but copycats can claim that you approved their work too. Fame is not all fun.

"SECRET" is another extremely popular word. It's an exciting and meaningless word. Keep it o
ff your book covers.

Apparently, lots of authors and publishers think that lots of readers want to know secrets, especially "dirty little secrets."

Amazon.com (which pays for an ad for its "official" site) lists more than 217,000 books with "secret" in the title (up from a mere 150,000 or so about three years ago). Some are fiction, and many are nonfiction. "Secrets of success" is a very popular book title cliche. Thousands of books use the phrase in their titles.

Here's a dirty little secret: none of the books promising secrets actually reveal secrets because no secrets are secret after even one person reads the secret.

The author of Secrets of Self Publishing 2 is so proud of his secrecy that he put the title TWICE on the cover of the horrible book. The slim volume is badly written, badly formatted and apparently unedited. I found exactly one alleged secret in the book: "The secrets of self-publishing are the same as the secrets of success. One must be willing to research all outlets, and find a method which fits your program."
 

That's not much of a secret.

Find some way to attract readers to your book without putting "SECRETS" in the title. Avoid "OFFICIAL," too.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bad news may be good news for your book business

You've probably heard that "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good." It's an ancient proverb that has come to mean that a wind that is bad for many people, can be good for others.
  • The same windstorm that drives a boat off its course and onto the rocks might also help a becalmed sailing ship to reach home swiftly and safely -- and can power the windmills on the land.
  • A wind that is no good for someone is unusual and ill indeed. 
  • Probably nothing is bad for everyone.
When I was in college in the 60s, I operated a slightly profitable business distributing anti-war pins. One said, "War is Good Business. Invest Your Son." Apparently 58,212 Americans were killed and 153,452 were wounded in the War in Vietnam -- plus about 2 million Vietnamese. Nevertheless, the war was good for arms makers, and for college kids who sold anti-war pins and bumper stickers.
 
When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011, The Associated Press said, "As macabre as it might seem, Jobs' death Wednesday will only add to the Apple mystique - and profit." The iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac likely got short-term sales boosts as consumers paid the ultimate tribute to Jobs. It's a commercial phenomenon that also occurred when Michael Jackson's album and song sales rocketed after he died in 2009.
Simon & Schuster moved up the publication date of its biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson from November 21 to October 24. Even before publication, the book was ranked #1 on Amazon's overall bestseller list and #1 on three other Amazon bestseller lists, because of pre-orders (including my order).


In my Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide, I wrote, "Remember that the mere publication of your book is not usually sufficiently newsworthy to impress editors and writers. Only the most desperate small-town weekly would publish an article with the headline: 'Local Woman Writes Book.' Your news release needs a news hook. The hook is the main point of your release. It can be a theme, state­ment, trend or event on which you “hang” your news release.  If an important person just got married, promoted, fired, elected or killed, a book about that person should be newsworthy . . . ."

I certainly don't recommend that you murder someone you wrote about. But, if that person should die without your intervention, be prepared to take advantage of the promotional possibilities, like Simon & Schuster. Biographer Walter Isaacson was interviewed a great many times, and Simon & Schuster sold a great many books.

(top photo from "Gilligan's Island" TV show.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A minister/book designer committed sins that hurt her book. Don't hurt yours.




Jamie L. Saloff is a minister, metaphysician, counselor, soul healer, publishing adviser and more.

She has written and published a mostly good book that can guide would-be publishers through the sometimes-arduous process of using Lightning Source for printing and distribution.

There is a lot of good in her book. Sadly there is also much wrong with it.


In Christian theology there are seven "deadly sins" -- wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
  • Pride (hubris in Greek) is often considered to be the worst sin. Jamie preaches about the danger of not having a book professionally edited, but abundant errors made me assume that this book had no editor. I couldn't find an editor mentioned in the book or in its online data. Jamie needs an editor, and her avoiding an editor is the sin of hubris.
  • Acedia is an ancient sin that somehow dropped off the list of the Big Seven. It's apathy -- neglecting to take care of something that needs to be taken care of. Acedia is rampant in this book.
The book is burdened with an absolutely horrid title, Seven Easy Steps to Professionally Self-Publish Your Own Book Using Lightning Source & Print-On-Demand Printing: a quick reference guide for entrepreneurs who want to create 'profitable print products'(tm) to increase their income and visibility while working from home. (The split infinitive is the least of the problems.)

Strangely, the title says "your own book" on Jamie's website and on booksellers' sites, but "own" is not printed on the cover or title page. Also, the printed title begins with "7" but websites use "Seven." In movie and TV production, these inconsistencies are known as a "continuity" errors.
 One big danger of self-editing is that the writer will have words in her head that she thinks are on the page. The converse is also a problem: not seeing what is on the page.




(above) The cover design is as jumbled as the title. The illustration certainly does not imply "easy." A book cover is an advertisement, and any ad must have a focal point. Some part of the cover must have a dominant element that draws the eyes of the viewer.


With Jamie's cover, eyes wander through the wilderness, distracted by multiple, meaningless arrows, seeking something important. The pastel tones are dull, wishy-washy and simply blah. Covers need contrast. The only element on the cover with contrast is the empty-headed guy's black collar.

The visual cues are confusing. 

  • Arrows point up, down and off the page. Why?
  • "Profit" is centered and on a bolder-colored circle than "Visibility" or "Print On Demand" -- but they have bigger circles and are not in the center of the cover.
  • "Dynamic" has a big circle, but the word has so many meanings it is nearly meaningless.
  • High-contrast implies importance. Jamie put the contrasty black collar at the bottom -- the least important position on the cover.
A book's title is usually very important, but Jamie's long title requires small type which makes it hard to read. The subtitle is an important selling opportunity, but Jamie's subtitle is nearly illegible because of the over-fancy typeface and poor contrast.

(In addition to her other roles and activities, Jamie is a book designer who charges at least $450 for a cover design. $450 is a lot of money for a cover. I've seen better covers produced for $5 by artists on
Fiverr.com.)




(above) In reduced size, even on Jamie's website, the cover contents are barely discernible. Jamie's own name is hard to read on the cover in any size -- a major sin for a book designer and author who wants to build her brand. (Compare the readability of the three authors' names on the covers down below with Jamie's name on her cover.)

Jamie says, "What will your cover look like when it is two inches tall? . . . Is the main concept still understandable? Or does the whole thing become a blur?" Her cover becomes multiple blurs.


To balance my bitching about the cover, I will offer a compliment for Jamie's interior design. The oversize pages with larger-than-normal spacing between lines are attractive and easy to read. 


There are multiple minor sins inside the book. Some should have been caught by a copyeditor; some would have required correction by a person with knowledge of the book business. Problems that I found in the review copy Jamie sent me were not corrected in the final version of the book I bought on Amazon. (Yes, I do buy books.)
  • "Forward" should be "foreword." That's a common error for newbies, but an unforgivable sin for a "self-publishing expert."
  • The table of contents lists page numbers for the starts of chapters, but the pages that start chapters are un-numbered "blind folios." That's an ISPITA (Industrial Strength Pain In The Ass).
  • Pages 59 through 65 have no numbers. Traditionally some pages don't get numbers but six consecutive un-numbered pages are very unusual and make it hard for the reader to know where she is.  
  • Page 54 is missing a page number for no good reason.
  • Jamie says that "POD books are published on a high quality, superfast photocopier . . . ." That sentence has two problems: (1) She should have said "printed," not "published." (2) The device that prints POD books is a printer, not a copier. It does not have a built-in scanner as copiers do.
  • She says that many self-publishing companies "hold the rights to your book for a lengthy period of time, preventing you from taking it elsewhere." That may have been common in the ancient days of "vanity presses," but most current self-publishing companies offer non-exclusive contracts. The policy of iUniverse is typical today: "you have the right at any time to grant other entities a similar 'license to publish.' Examples of other entities might include a traditional publisher, another print-on-demand publishing company or an audio book publisher."
  • Jamie warns that Microsoft Word downgrades photographs. I've used MS Word for many books and never had that trouble.
  • "ISBN number" is redundant. The "N" stands for "number."
  • The prepublishing section of the Cost Estimating worksheet includes a line for the cost of "Cataloging in Production Data" (CIP). Self-publishers almost never use CIP.
  • The postpublishing section includes copyright filing (with an incorrect price for manual filing). Books can be copyrighted before publication.
  • That section also includes the LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number). There are two problems: (1) LCCNs are issued prepublication and later Jamie tells us that "you must file for your LCCN before the book is published." (2) An LCCN is free -- so it doesn't need a line on a cost worksheet.  
  •  
  • In her section on preparing text using MS Word, Jamie wisely tells readers to minimize underlined words. I disagree with her statement that "underlining causes text to shrink in height in order to make room for the line beneath." (above) In tests of multiple typefaces and several versions of Word, I never encountered this problem.
  • "PDF" stands for Portable Document Format -- not Portable Document File.
  • "KISS" stands for Keep it Simple, Stupid -- not Keep it Simple and Straightforward.
  • "Error free" should be hyphenated.
  • OTOH, "non-fiction" should be one, non-hyphenated word. Ditto for "e-mail" and "e-book." Those words are now so common that they don't need hyphens.
  • The book has bits of bad sentence structure such as lack of parallelism. Some punctuation marks and spaces are missing. There is at least one unneeded ampersand and there are various grammatical errors. Jamie tells us that "I tend to notice things that others don't." She did not notice enough. That's hubris and acedia, again.
  • Jamie criticizes the free USPS mailing envelopes and recommends purchasing mailing boxes from Uline. Uline's boxes are fine -- but so are the free boxes available from the USPS.
  • Despite having just over 100 pages, the book is padded. For example, it includes warnings about enlarging photos and overpaying attorneys. Those are important warnings, but are not part of the process of having a book printed. Neither is the section about forming a company. Neither is book pricing. Neither is website design. Neither are blogging tips. Neither are marketing tips. Neither is the worksheet for analyzing book-signing costs. Neither is the section on using copyrighted material.
  • There are two or three nearly empty pages before each of the seven steps.
  • The padding makes it hard to find and focus on the "7 easy steps."
  • The book needs a glossary. Newbies may not understand "sidebar." I'm not a newbie but have never heard of "time breaks" in a book.
  •  
  • (above) The text in many places is "full justified" but in the many lists, it's "flush-left/ragged right." The varying justification is disconcerting.
  • The second paragraph above shows that in some cases Jamie places a comma before the final three digits in a number, but not in other cases. A copyeditor should have fixed this.
  •   
  • (above) The script typeface chosen for quotations is hard to read and the swashes are distracting. Fancy type may be OK for a title or other short text block, but is inappropriate for paragraphs. "Cover" does not need to be uppercased. 
  • Jamie chose to use sans serif type for her body text. She is not the only self-pubber to do that, but, in general, serif faces are used in most books' body text and are considered easier to read. I had no trouble reading Jamie's body text.
  • Jamie published quotations from people ranging from Thomas Edison and Steve Martin to "Pro Blogger" Darren Rowse. What the heck is a pro blogger?
  • Jamie says authors will make more money by offering booksellers a 25% discount than a 20% discount. That makes no sense to me. Plenty of author-publishers offer 20%.
  • On the other hand, I do agree with Jamie's warning to avoid paying Lightning Source $60 to have your book in its Advance magazine for booksellers, not to allow returns of unsold books and not to order large quantities of books unless their sale is certain.
Jamie's title has 41 words and more than 260 characters and spaces. There are a couple of intrusive quote marks and a trademark symbol, too. I feel worn out just from typing the title.


(above) The title is so long that it gets chopped off before the last syllable of "entrepreneurs" on Amazon.com and other booksellers' websites! 

It's possible to devise excellent short titles -- and even excellent long titles. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a great short title. So is I, Claudius by Robert Graves and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Zac Bissonnette’s How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents and Erma Bombeck’s The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank  are great long titles.

However, Jamie's 41 words are excessive and those 41 words are not memorable.

  
If someone is interested enough to ask the title of your book, you should not have to inhale oxygen before reciting it or offer to email the title.

Rev. Saloff has written other books such as The Wisdom of Emotional Healing: Renowned Psychics Andrew Jackson Davis and Phineas P. Quimby Reveal Mind Body Healing Secrets for Clairvoyants, Spiritualists, and Energy Healers.


That's certainly a long one, too, but the main title (before the subtitle) has a comfortable five words. It's important for a title to make sense without a subtitle -- and be easy to pronounce, remember and recite without stopping to take a breath.


Even without the subtitle, Seven Easy Steps to Professionally Self-Publish Your Own Book Using Lightning Source & Print-On-Demand Printing is ridiculously long.

Sure, it's good to get important keywords into the title and subtitle of a nonfiction book, but there is such a thing as TOO DAMNED MUCH. The redundant "print-on-demand printing" is simply silly.


Readers and reviewers (like me) resent "keyword stuffing." 


You may have heard of "preaching to the choir." I preach to the minster. (And I confess to occasional hubris.)


Rev. Jamie Saloff provides a lot of information in this book but much of it is not directly related to the title of the book and the abundant small errors are distracting and reduce her authority as an "expert." 

The book sells for just $8.08 on Amazon, and that's certainly a fair price. With appropriate pruning, however, the book could lose half of its 108 pages, and maybe sell for $3.99 -- but there is no profit in $3.99 POD books. (Jamie tells us that "With most Profitable Print Products, you should be able to earn between five to eight dollars per book.")


-   -   -   -   -
Jamie set out to write about working with Lightning Source but ended up writing a general book about self-publishing -- and there are a great many other general books about self-publishing, and other good books that deal with Lightning Source.

Before you write a book it's important to analyze the market. Who are your potential readers and what other books are competing for their attention? (The huge number of competing books caused me to stop writing general books about self-publishing.)


 -   -   -   -   -
The following is aimed at Jamie and other authors:

If a life experience is not related to the subject of your book, leave it out.

  • One author of a book for authors tells prospective readers how many kids he has, what his wife's maiden name was and how well he did as a basketball coach.
  • Jamie tells us that she is a graduate of the Fellowships of the Spirit. That's not the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Yale University School of Art or the Rhode Island School of Design.
  • Also, if you have an abbreviated credential that needs explaining, such as Jamie's "CM" (Certified Metaphysician, or maybe Certified Manager or Condition Monitor), explain it or delete it.
(above) I became a minister online for free. If I was willing to pay $32.95 I could be a Dr. of Metaphysics.

Jamie's "Author Prophet" website says she "offers guidance and soul healing to authors, . . . astrologers, tarot readers . . . ." If you're writing a serious book about acne treatment or the War of 1812, would you want to be grouped with carnival entertainers?  

A promotion for one of Jamie's seminars says: "Are you a healer, medium, or spiritual entrepreneur? Is your spiritual/metaphysical business struggling against a tight economy, preventing you from making the money you want to meet your expenses, comfortably take care of your family, and do the things you love most? Are you constantly exhausted from working long hours, frustrated with dated sales methods that don’t work, and stuck with tactics that offer meager results? Imagine instead attracting lucrative clients who want to pay you what you are worth, giving you the opportunity to earn more in less time. Delight in having clients seek you out and recommending [sic] you to all of their friends. Regain the passion of sharing your gifts by gaining clarity around how to effectively promote your business with ease and grace."


Maybe the metaphysical/carnival side of Rev. Saloff should have been separated from the author-instructing side. Maybe a pen name would be appropriate.


                                                       -   -   -   -   -

Jamie knows a lot about publishing and provides good information in this book -- but the errors and extraneous padding are sinful. The book could be, and should be, much better. The errors I found could have been found by someone else and fixed before publication.

- - - - -

Oxygen mask photo from www.iastate.edu.

Tarot cards from www.onlinepsychicfinder.com.  Thanks. 




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Poor Man's Copyright is useless, no matter what 'experts' tell you


The practice of mailing a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.”

Ignorant authors assume that the postal service’s cancellation date on the stamped envelope proves that the document inside was created prior to the cancellation date, and that authors can use that date in a suit for copyright violation.

Its cost is merely the price of a stamp (currently 49 cents in the USA) and an envelope (currently as little as 40 for a buck at Dollar Tree).

While 52 cents is much less than the cost of a real copyright from the U.S. Library of Congress, the 52 cents is a complete waste of money, time and emotion. It accomplishes nothing!
  • The scheme has a fundamental flaw because anyone can mail an empty, unsealed envelope, receive it, store it and years later insert a document and seal the stamped-and-canceled envelope. Judges and defense attorneys know this.
There is no provision in the American copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and the “poor man’s copyright” is not a substitute for proper registration with the Library of Congress.

Sadly, the poor man's myth survives and is perpetuated by ignorant publishing 'experts.'
  • Helen Gallagher’s fault-filled book, Release Your Writing, mentions the poor man’s copyright as a supplement to a real copyright to prove when a document was created. It’s a waste of postage.
  • The following dangerous and naive misinformation was posted on the Facebook page of Peppertree Press, and on the blog of Peppertree boss Julie Ann Howell: "My favorite way to copyright might sound old fashioned; however... it works. Print out your manuscript and then mail it to yourself and do not open it. Tuck it away in a drawer. It will stand up in a court of law." BULLSHIT!
  • Nathan, a foolish "writer and film director" provides visual instructions for achieving non-protection on the YouTube ExpertVillage channel. He is not an expert on copyrights.

The poor man's copyright process is not the only copyright myth.

Some people believe that a creative work must be registered with the government to be protected by copyright. That’s not true. Your precious work is legally protected from copycats from the moment of creation without your having to fill out any forms or having to pay even one penny to the Feds. Your work is copyrighted even if you don’t put the © copyright symbol on it.

However, there are still advantages to going through a formal copyright registration, particularly if you end up suing for copyright infringement.

Copyright registration is voluntary. Many people choose to register their works because they want to have the facts of their copyright as a public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. If registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. Registration within 90 days gives you the most protection.

The fee for filing a copyright application online, using the new electronic Copyright Office (eCO), is just $35. The fee is $65 if you register with a paper application.
  • Self-publishing companies often charge much more to get a copyright. CrossBooks charges $204. Xlibris charges $249 or more. Schiel & Denver (apparently defunct) charged $250.
  • Online legal services supplier LegalZoom charges $149.
  • It takes less than 15 minutes to register a copyright online with the Library of Congress. 
By custom (not by law), if you publish a book during the last three or four months of the year, you can use a copyright date of the next year. This makes the book seem to be a year fresher as it ages. However, DON’T register it until the year shown in the book.

Copyright Office websitewww.copyright.gov 
Electronic Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov/eco/notice.html 
Physical Address:
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Phone: 202-707-3000

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mailbox photo from dbking. Thanks.