by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
Thanks to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other platforms, self-publishing electronically is more accessible than ever. For the first time, authors can bypass traditional publishing companies and test the waters, and markets, for their writings. While this development is exciting, there are three big no-nos that new e-publishers should be aware of before uploading their first books.
1. Copyright Infringement: Copyrights are, simply put, the right a person has to publish writings. A copyright protects the author from having another person use the information or writing as his or her own. This includes re-publishing for profit, photocopying, modifying an original piece or performing without permission. You own your original writings, but conversely, you can’t use someone else’s unless it is out of copyright or you have permission. Penalties for copyright infringement are stiff—from fines up to $150,000 and even jail. Copyright law is enormously complicated, and it is a good idea to become familiar with the basics, and if in doubt, don’t publish it.
These are two good sources of copyright information:
o http://www.benedict.com/ Website Copyright has information about the rights of all media.
o http://www.copyright.gov/ The federal copyright office is the ultimate source for copyright information.
2. Technical SNAFUs: While e-publishing seems like it should be a breeze, as they say, the devil in the details. Most people who dive into the world of e-publishing have at least one horror story of technological mayhem. From a personal perspective, I learned my lesson about over formatting and relying on Word functions too heavily the hard way and had to painfully reformat and republish several of my own books. Because this is a relatively new medium, there are some glitches; although, the platforms are updated often. A number of writer/publisher groups have sprung up, and it’s a good idea to get involved early and start sharing ideas. There are also a number of very well-done books on the subject; do your research for the best chance of success.
http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/ The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing has suggestions, articles and support for new and experienced e-publishers.
3. Premature Publishing: In the near-instant gratification of the e-publishing world, it is very tempting to send your baby out into the world before it’s ready. If you are publishing yourself, remember all the things a conventional publisher would do, and apply these standards yourself.
Proofread and edit very carefully. If you don’t find the mistakes, your readers will.
Create an eye-catching cover. Even in the e-publishing world, readers are drawn to a well-done cover.
Create a marketing plan. Your e-book won’t sell if readers don’t know it’s there.
If it gets overwhelming, hire a pro to help you out with any or all of the steps, or consider publishing with an established e-publisher. It will most likely be money well spent, and some, like Word Branch Publishing, only take a percentage of the royalties so there are no up-front fees.
While this white paper is copyrighted material, the author gives her permission for reprinting as long as
the following is included:
“Three E-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid” by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh
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