1. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    A few questions from a wannabe self publisher.

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Fatmatt, Jun 26, 2014.

    Hi guys,

    I'm in the process of writing my first novel with the intention of self publishing it as an e book on Amazon and Smashwords etc, but I know next to nothing about the legal and technical side of things. I have done a little homework on the subject of formatting and marketing, which I think I can just about handle, but I'm rather unsure of things regarding copyright and ISBNs.

    Firstly, I do intend to cough up for an ISBN despite Smashwords offering a free one, apparently. The question is: how many do I need? I would like the book to be available internationally, so I'm basically asking if one ISBN per book is all that's needed? I'm sure that is probably a really stupid question.

    Secondly, I have no idea about copyright whatsoever. I know I can go through official (and very expensive) channels, but is this a must? I obviously want to protect my work, but I have no idea how most self published authors go about this besides what is written on the copyright page of their book... which brings me neatly on to my final question.

    Thirdly, I intend to use a pen name (well, I would like to). The pen name is essentially my first name and middle name. I don't have a double-barrelled surname or anything like that; I just have a middle name that can also be a surname. On the copyright page of my book where I state that the book is "published by" can I use the pen name or must I give my real name for this purpose?

    I think that's enough questions for now and I really hope someone can clear these issues up for me. I've tried some of the official websites to get this information, but it's all jargon and not the kind of plain English that I need for this sort of thing to sink in to my thick old head.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    For e-books, none. Amazon don't need one, and any that do need one, you can get to through Smashwords with their free ISBN. I'm 99% sure that no major e-book distributor requires an ISBN any more.

    In pretty much all countries, the book is copyrighted when you write it. I'm not sure about the UK, but in America you have to register the copyright before you can sue for copyright violation, and, if you register for copyright when you publish the book instead of waiting, you can sue for statutory damages rather than having to prove damages. But, unless you have the money to sue, it's probably not worthwhile.

    You may be expected to send copies of the books to the national library, just because they're expected to receive a copy of every book published; we're supposed to in Canada, and I upload a copy of the Smashwords ebooks there.

    Use whatever you want. Both Amazon and Smashwords let you specify any name you like for the author, but I have a vague feeling there are problems with that at Apple if you decide to go there direct?

    One big issue you left out was taxes. US sites will keep 30% of your royalties as tax unless you go through the rigmarole of getting a tax ID from the IRS that proves you're not American. I still have to do it myself before Amazon can send me my money.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's your definition of "very expensive"? Filing with the US copyright office appears to cost thirty-five dollars. That doesn't sound so expensive.
     
  4. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    A belated thank you for the replies, folks.

    Very helpful and thanks for the heads up regarding taxes. I hadn't given that much thought.
     
  5. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    I'm also inexperienced at the business of publishing, but am researching the process now as I will be self-publishing my first novel in the next few months. I did not realize that about getting a tax ID. I just assumed that I would claim any writing income when I filed my taxes in February and that it would be calculated then. I better look into this before publishing. Thanks!
     
  6. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Amazon will send you the necessary forms to fill in for the IRS (if you are outside the USA) as they need this information for their own paper trail as you will be one of Amazon's "suppliers".

    If you are in the UK, you will also need to get in touch with the HMRC office to see about filing a self assessment form every year as your royalties are classed as an extra income. However, anything you do earn can be offset by any purchases you make that you wouldn't have done unless you had published the book so, USB sticks for back-ups, new laptop, payments made to Facebook for advertising (or payments to anywhere for advertising) even the invoice you paid to createspace for the paperback version (if you go that far) can be included as a cost.

    If you publish on ebook through Amazon, they will give you an ASIN number free, if you them use their createspace site for paperbacks, you will get an ISBN free as part of the setup.

    The main thing is to take the time to read all the T&C's on the KDP setup, paying particular attention to KOLL and KDP Select as you will find that once you upload to KDP first, you cannot upload to anywhere else for the first 90 days. These are the things you really need to make a note of.

    Copyright, yes, put it on the copyright page. You don't need to mention your real name. Lets say your real name is Janice Peters and you write under the name J P Pope. Your copyright page should say something like:

    Copyright c J P Pope 2013
    This Edition Published 2013

    The right of J P Pope to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her
    in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988.

    All rights reserved.

    All characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to
    real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    Mentioned music by A Composer c 2013 appears by kind permission of A Composer


    J P Pope is a pseudonym


    Obviously if no music is mentioned, you don't need that bit in and the J P Pope is a pseudonym can be a really small font. It's up to you.
     
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  7. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Actually, Amazon have changed their tax registration thingy now. Instead of having to send paper forms and get a US tax ID, you just enter the details on the KDP web site. I haven't updated my Amazon details yet, but it seems you can now just use your foreign tax ID (SIN in Canada, UTR in the UK, etc) if you're from a country that has a tax treaty with America.

    I suspect the IRS got fed up with all these foreign writers calling them for tax IDs and changed the rules.
     
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  8. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yep - I got the info in an email from them (Amazon) but, I'm very wary of online fraudsters where tax and accounting is concerned so I asked them to send me the relevant stuff in the post. Which they did.
     
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  9. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    Thanks so much for this really helpful information. I'm finding this whole process a real nightmare to be honest.

    I have a couple more questions if that is OK.

    I'm a little confused by the ASIN/ISBN thing and the KDP 90 day terms. So, if I publish my book on Amazon (and get a free ASIN), I can't publish the ebook on Smashwords for another 90 days? Am I right about that?

    If I then publish on Createspace or Smashwords, I will get a free ISBN? If that is the case, do I need to assign a different ISBN to the paperback and Smashwords version respectively?

    I'm also a little unsure about my Amazon account and the use of a pen name. My account/bank details will be in my real name obviously. When I publish my book, will my real name automatically be listed as the author?

    I really appreciate all the advice here. Thanks again.
     
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  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    OK:
    The ASIN will be provided by Amazon for the Ebook version. The ISBN will be provided by Createspace (part of Amazon) for the paperback version, they will be different numbers but that's ok, they are different formats (one electronic, one paperback)

    KDP 90days. Yes. Once you upload to Amazon, the ebook HAS to be exclusive to them for the first 90 days (It's in their terms and conditions) After that, you are free to keep the book on Amazon and publish anywhere else too, like smashwords, google play etc.

    I'm not 100% sure about another ISBN or ASIN number when you put the book on smashwords/google play (I have only done Amazon and Google play and I can't remember how I did it on google play)

    Your amazon account and your pen name are totally separate in so far as the only name that will be visible to the public on the book's listing, is the name you type into the Author Name box when setting up your upload. So, put the pen name in there and that's the name that will appear. Your actual account with your banking details is set up on another screen and is private information that is not shared on the book sales page.

    Set aside a good chunk of time to work your way through setting up the uploads and the KDP account and remember, you don't have to do it all at ones. You could set up the account one day and then log back in another day to upload the book. Just take your time and ready everything thoroughly. You'll be fine x


    Glad I could help!
     
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  11. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    That's only true if you choose to enroll in KDP Select, which lets people borrow your book and lets you do discounts and free days. You can upload to Amazon, Google and Smashwords on the same day if you don't.

    Smashwords will give you an ISBN if you need one. I'm not sure whether any retailers actually do need them any more, though most give you the option of supplying one (e.g. Amazon does, even though you don't need it).
     
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  12. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    For the first three months, you have to be exclusive to Amazon - that's what I read in the T&C's and that's the rules I followed. The KDP Select (KOLL) which is the lending library part, is on a rolling 90 day agreement. If you enrol in that then you have to opt out after 90 days, and if you miss that date, you have to wait another 90 days. I know this because I had to do this in order to put my book on Google Play. I would not advise anyone about anything like this unless I had personal experience. Which I have because I've done it. Twice.

    KDP Select FAQ https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A6KILDRNSCOBA

    I can't actually find the other bit about exclusivity for the first 3 months to Kindle but as I did it over a year ago, there is a possibility that this may have changed.
     
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  13. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    You can publish on Kindle and not do the 90 day thing. Of course, that means no free days and no Kindle unlimited. But you can sign up for the exclusive 90 days at any time, so here's what I suggest.

    • Don't have it on Kindle Select at first.
    • Get the PDF copies into the hands of some reviewers. (if you signed up for Kindle select right away, these PDFs would be against TOS)
    • Once there's some buzz about your book, join select (exclusivity) and devise a marketing plan to take advantage of your free days. This gets you downloads and reviews.
    • Put some of the better reviews in the front of the book
    • Make sure you don't get locked into another 90 days
    As for the ISBN, they are expensive, but consider this. This is what identifies your book. Both Amazon and Smashwords have free ones. But if you leave these sites, the ISBN cannot come with you. Bowker, (the company that assigns them,) says you need a different one for each version of your book. I'm not convinced of that. I see the logic, but it also sounds like a way for them to sell more.

    Copyrights are cheap, and the form is one of the easier government forms.

    Amazon treats you like a publisher, not a writer. This means you can have dozens of pen names if you want them, but all the money goes to a single account.

    And don't forget CreateSpace. Even if you do join Kindle select, you can still publish physical copies of the book.
     
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  14. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    Thank you for all the advice guys.

    After giving it some thought, I have decided to buy my own ISBNs. I wanted to avoid doing so due to the cost (you have to buy in batches of 10 which costs over £100), but it probably makes sense to buy them in the long run.

    I'm really pleased for the advice relating to Amazon and exclusivity. I had no idea about this. I was intending to list the book on Amazon and Smashwords at the same time, but I won't be doing that now, for obvious reasons.

    I will be using Createspace to publish as well. What with copyright, having the book professionally formatted and buying ISBNs, this is going to prove to be quite expensive. Thank God, I'm able to do my own cover art, or I'd be needing to sell a kidney to cover all this!
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    You can do it all, it just takes a little time and patience!

    Good Luck! x
     
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  16. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it.

    If anyone can recommend someone who does formatting at a reasonable price that would be even better.
     
  17. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    formatting the actual text of your story or the cover?

    Formatting the inside is dead easy.
     
  18. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    Formatting the text inside the book is what I'm after.

    I could have a go at it myself, but I don't trust myself to get it right. This is something I want a pro to do. I believe that with Smashwords you need to get it spot on or you don't make it into their premium catalogue.
     
  19. Fatmatt
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    Fatmatt Member

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    That sounds like very good advice to me. I did want to publish on Amazon and Smashwords at the same time, but Smashwords will have to wait.

    I'm definitely going to publish using Createspace as well.
     
  20. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    If you have the ability to pay someone to do it then that will always be the best option. If you want to have a go at it yourself, then save a copy of your file and work on the copy just in case you mess it up. Start by selecting all the text and making it the same size/font. Make all the pages the same size/margin and line spacing sizes, (if, like me, you write different sections at different times and then pull them all together, you will be surprised how little changes in the margins, font sizes and line spacings will affect the overall text).

    You can also mass indent each new line with the margin controls.

    Then, it's just a case of changing the font and sizes of your chapter headings, putting in the page breaks at the ends of chapters, lowering the starting point of new chapters (if you want chapters starts lower) and then having a final read through to make any small text changes, such as any italics, bold words or changes in fonts, just as an example, there are a couple of hand written notes in my story which I change to a handwritten font and a couple of text messages that I have in a plain font and bold etc etc.

    Save changes as you go and if you mess up the copied file, you can trash it and start again with a new copy of the original.

    Basically, have a go because it's better to say "I tried," rather than "I shied." (as in shied away from trying something new).
     
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