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March 2017 - Self-Publish Your Book Without Breaking the Law

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Author Apocalypse

March 2017 – Self-Publish Your Book Without Breaking the Law

Copyright 2017 © Dream Master Publishing

All Rights Reserved

Published on Shakespir by Dream Master Publishing

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

Warning-Disclaimer

The purpose of this book is to educate and entertain. The author or publisher does not guarantee that anyone following the techniques, suggestions, tips, ideas, or strategies will become successful. The author and publisher shall have neither liability or responsibility to anyone with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.

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Contents

Introduction

#1: Write a Disclaimer

#2: Develop a Sales Plan

#3: Set Up Your Copyright Page

#4: Have Separate Bank Accounts

#5: Do you Own the Cover Art?

#6: Register the Copyright BEFORE you publish

#7: Correct Use of Brand Names and Trademarks

#8: Using Quotes Correctly

Conclusion

Introduction

As an author, I’m sure that you’re more focused on writing your book than you are about the many legal issues that come with publishing. These issues used to not be a big deal. Authors could write a book, find a publisher and then eagerly await that magical acceptance letter. Of course, several rejection letters usually proceed that one acceptance, but that’s another topic for another time.

Once authors found a publisher, all of those legal nuances were taken care of behind the scenes. But then traditional book publishing had a love child with every day authors – that child was named self-publishing and it changed everything! The biggest challenge that we face today is that, as self-published authors, we’re responsible for all aspects of publishing our books. That includes all of those pesky legal issues. This month’s topic will cover some of those legalities that many never even consider.

Not that authors are sued on a daily basis, but there are certain legalities that can actually lead you down a path of gaining a bad reputation. Poorly formatted references might be the best example. We’re authors, not legal experts. Sure, we understand the basics of copyrighting and that we own books that we write. However, there are other legal concerns that can plague us later on down the road. Even if you choose a traditional publisher, it’s still a good idea to have a basic understanding of these potential issues. Do these things before you self-publish.

#1: Write a Disclaimer

This is one that I see missed so often. A disclaimer takes less than five minutes to add to the front of a book and can save you a huge headache down the road.

For fiction, the popular disclaimer is, “The story, and all characters and incidents portrayed in it, are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or incidents is unintended and purely incidental.”

This keeps that rival cousin of yours from picking up your book, deciding that you wrote the villain based on him, and then suing you for it. Of course, he might hate you a little more than normal, but who cares so long as he can’t sue you!

For non-fiction books, the disclaimer would following something like, “The purpose of this book is to educate and entertain. The author and publisher shall have neither liability or responsibility to anyone with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.”

That protects you from Bilbo Sues A Lot, who tries a strategy you mentioned in a book but failed, from being able to sue you. I mean, the truth is that people fail because of their own actions. It’s nothing that your book would cause. We are responsible for our own success and our own failure. Some people simply don’t see it like that.

My point here is that disclaimers can’t hurt a book so why not include one? Now I do feel compelled to point out that a disclaimer won’t protect you if you blatantly place similarities that can be proven to not be entirely coincidental. A disclaimer does give you a leg to stand on in court.

#2: Develop a Sales Plan

Developing a sales plan should be high on your list. While that is true, you do not need a complicated sales plan. It can be something very simple. In fact, pull out a sheet of paper and answer these three questions.

Question 1: Are you planning to make a profit from your book or are you just looking to publish it for distribution to friends and family?

There are several motivations behind publishing a book. Profit is not always the top goal of authors. Define your purpose now.

Question 2: What formats do you plan to use for publication of your book?

The most common options are print, Kindle, ePub, and PDF.

Question 3: What platforms do you plan to publish on?

Are you planning to publish your book on Amazon only or do you plan to make it available to all possible retailers? There are advantages and disadvantages to making your book available only through Amazon. For instance, you would be eligible for the Kindle Select Program.

#3: Set Up Your Copyright Page

This is an often overlooked, yet extremely important page in your book. With that said, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Your copyright page should include all of the following:


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p<>{color:#000;}. Copyright Notice

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p<>{color:#000;}. Author’s Name

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Publisher’s Name

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Edition Information

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p<>{color:#000;}. Publication Date

*
p<>{color:#000;}. ISBN

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Country (print only)

Make sure that you don’t skip any of those items. They are all considered a requirement.

#4: Have Separate Bank Accounts

Book publishing is a business. Even if you’re doing it as a hobby, you’ll want to treat it just like you would any other business. That means setting up a separate bank account.

Many people will tell you that you only need to separate bank accounts if you’re making big money selling books but that’s not true. To be perfectly blunt, those people have no idea what they’re talking about.

Having a separate bank account helps you budget expenses that come with self-publishing. It also makes it easier on you during tax time. For example, you can have your royalties directly deposited into the account and use that money to reinvest in your book. That will essentially draw in more royalties without having to use any money from your personal bank account.

Once your book starts earning enough money, then you can pay yourself.

Opening a second bank account might seem difficult but it’s really not. A savings account would be good enough. Anything that keeps your book money separate from your personal finances.

If you only use your writing account for expenses, it’s much easier to track them. If you need to spend money from your personal account to promote your book, then treat yourself like an investor. Pay that money back accordingly.

#5: Do you Own the Cover Art?

Again, this is often overlooked by those new to the publishing world. It’s a question that you must ask yourself. Do you actually own full rights to your cover art? You might not! Here’s how to find out.

Did you create all of the cover on your own? That includes any graphics and fonts used?

If you answered yes to this question, then you own 100% of your cover art since you created it from scratch.

Did you use fonts, stock photos, or anything else found on the internet?

If so, then double-check the licensing for everything used. Make sure that all images are free for commercial use. This includes stock photos that you paid for. Some stock photos do not allow commercial use. A book cover would be considered a commercial product.

If you’re using creative commons imagines with an attribution license, did you follow all of the guidelines under that license? That usually includes giving credit to the original author.

Did you pay someone to create the cover?

You have to make sure that the artist who created the cover gave you the rights to use the cover. This agreement must be in writing. Reread the contract now to ensure that you have done everything on your end. For example, some artists might require you to give them credit even if you paid them.

#6: Register the Copyright BEFORE you publish 

First of all, I want to point out that U.S. law states that you own all copyrights for work the moment you write or create it. That’s an interesting theory, but does it really hold up?

The fact is that it’s next to impossible to prove that you were the first person to create something unless you have documents to back up those claims.

It costs $35 to file for a copyright. That’s it! Go ahead and invest that small amount of money into protecting your work! Seriously, what are you waiting for?

I feel compelled to shut down one of the myths that I read about. It’s said that you can package your book, mail it to yourself, and never open the letter. Doing so gives you proof that you created the book before the date of the postmark. It also proves that you’re gullible. That’s horrible advice. I’m no legal expert, but I don’t see that holding up in court. For just $35, you can guarantee that your work is protected.

Visit www.copyright.gov for more information.

#7: Correct Use of Brand Names and Trademarks

When writing fiction, your characters might live in the same world as we do. So they might use the same brands and trademarks as us. What do brands think of authors who use their trademarks in books? There are actually quite a few legal theories out there:


*
p<>{color:#000;}. Trademark Infringement

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p<>{color:#000;}. Trademark Dilution

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p<>{color:#000;}. Trademark Tarnishment

The ones that you should focus on are “dilution” and “tarnishment.”

Dilution

Xerox has been fighting the use of the word “Xeroxing” for years. They don’t like the fact that all photocopying is being referred to as “Xeroxing.”

The same is true with the Kleenex brand. They are not fond of the idea of all facial tissues being referred to as “Kleenex.”

The point here is that brands don’t like it when their brand is generically associated with an action.

It’s okay to use brand names to describe that specific product or service directly.

Bad Example: Tom decided to Google this new woman he just met.

Good Example: Tom decided to use Google to search for information on the woman he just met.

Tarnishment

Tarnishment is the act of using a brand in a negative light. Authors sometimes walk a very fine line in this area. Brand tarnishment is actually a type of defamation. It’s usually easier to spot since many people simply don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong.

If you find that it’s necessary to use a brand in a negative manner, then it’s best to create one. Never tarnish an established brand in a book.

#8: Using Quotes Correctly

The use of quotes seems to be another area of conversation. Some will tell you that there is a limit to the number of words that you can quote, depending on the size of your book. Let me clear that up right now.

There are no absolutes when it comes to quotes nor is there some arbitrary number of words that is “allowed.” The rules of fair use are defined by whether or not the quote drives the narrative, whether you are commenting on the quote, or using it to support an argument. If any of those are true, then it’s most likely going to fall under “fair use.”

With that in mind, some traditional publishers have certain standards for how many quotes they will allow. This is not a legal issue, but a rule created by specific publishers. Those rules have no place in the self-publishing world.

There are a few grey areas. For example, Stephen King often quotes song lyrics at the beginning of a chapter. Music publishers tend to be on the position that you must have permission to do that since the quote is not driving the narrative. However, the fair use guidelines are incredibly imprecise. If you find yourself in a grey area, then I recommend you ask the original author for permission or just remove the quote. If it doesn’t drive the narrative, then it usually doesn’t belong in the book anyway!

Another example would be a scene where a song is playing on the jukebox. Under fair use, you can use the lyrics of a song without permission because it drives the narrative.

Conclusion

Part of the learning process involves making mistakes. Unfortunately, many self-publishing mistakes are so harsh that you want to avoid them at all costs. Everything that I’ve mentioned in this book could prove to be a huge setback. The good news is that these issues are easy to get right. The problem is that most self-published authors don’t realize they’re messing up until it’s too late!

These problems were not always apparent because traditional publishers have teams dedicated to correcting them before publication. Since you don’t have teams looking for this stuff, make sure that you take the proper steps to clear them up.


March 2017 - Self-Publish Your Book Without Breaking the Law

As an author, it’s easy to get so caught up in writing your book that you forget the many legal issues that come with publishing. All of these legal nuances were taken care of behind the scenes when traditional publishing was the only path to take. But in today’s world of self-publishing, those issues are often overlooked. This month’s book is going to walk you through 8 important legalities that many new authors never even consider.

  • Author: Dream Master Publishing
  • Published: 2017-03-01 04:50:11
  • Words: 2442
March 2017 - Self-Publish Your Book Without Breaking the Law March 2017 - Self-Publish Your Book Without Breaking the Law