Are You Outdated?

Have you heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?

Dressing for the job you want over the one you have is about impression. It is giving the appearance that you are capable of handling that job. Your clothing makes a statement about who you are and where you want to go.

Authors don’t necessarily need to dress for the job they want. Instead, they need to stay up-to-date on industry standards to give the impression that their writing is exemplary. Just as clothes are important in making an impression at a job, conforming to industry standards is necessary for authors’ success.

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Staying up-to-date on industry standards is essential for independently published authors to be successful. For example:

  • If you are an aspiring author and you send a complete manuscript via snail mail to a publishing house that only accepts book proposals and chapter excerpts via email, you will not make a favorable impression with the editors. As a result, you will not secure a publishing contract.
  • If you are a published author and you send a press release that does not conform to industry standards, you will not make a favorable impression with the media. As a result, you will lose out on media coverage.
  • If you are an independently published author and you don’t provide the appropriate metadata for your online book listings, you will not make a favorable impression with readers. As a result, you will lose out on sales.

I am surprised at the number of authors nominating a book for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award who provide a 10-digit ISBN number instead of a 13-digit ISBN number with their nomination. The 13-digit ISBN number has been industry standard since January 1, 2007. All books published on or after January 1, 2007, must carry the 13-digit ISBN number on the book.

Yes, Amazon.com lists both the 10-digit ISBN and the 13-digit ISBN number. Amazon does this because they list books published prior to January 1, 2007, that carry the old 10-digit ISBN number. However, when someone asks for the ISBN number of a book published since January 1, 2007, the author should give the 13-digit ISBN number. This is industry standard.

Staying abreast of industry standards can be time-consuming, especially when an author wants to focus on writing, publishing, and promoting books. The good news is that you don’t have to take on that task alone—this is what author and publisher associations help with.

One of the benefits of belonging to a publishing association like Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is that the association provides you the information you need to stay abreast of industry standards so that you can be more successful.

If you want help on making sure that you are up-to-date in publishing and marketing your books, you can join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) for the 2017 calendar year today! Simply fill out the application on our website at www.christianpublishers.net.

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Copyright Not Needed!

If you think that the copyright on your book gives you sole rights to your book, you are mistaken.

The law provides for copyright exceptions. Exceptions allow for the use of a work without requesting permission from the copyright holder. There are a number of these copyright exceptions. These exceptions are frequently used by educators in teaching situations and by nonprofit organizations for people with print disabilities.

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Educators

There are three major exceptions to the copyright law that are commonly used by educators: fair use, face-to-face instruction, and virtual instruction.

  • Fair Use allows people to quote a book in order to review it or to publicly display a reproduction of a work to critique it.
  • The Classroom Use Exemption gives instructors the right to use copyrighted material in a non-profit educational institution in face-to-face teaching activities.
  • The TEACH Act creates rights for using copyrighted material in on online instruction environment, similar to using materials in a face-to-face classroom setting.

In a nutshell, these copyright exceptions mean that educators in nonprofit institutions can use portions of your book for teaching purposes without your permission.

Nonprofit Organizations

In 1996, Congress passed the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act. This provision states “it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or distribute copies of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for the use by blind or other persons with disabilities.

One company that is using the Chafee Amendment to make books available to people with visual disabilities is Bookshare. This organization makes books available for free to any person struggling with a visual impairment, physical disability, or a severe learning disability.

Bookshare offers the world’s largest collection of accessible titles for the disabled—and this nonprofit organization does not need your permission to make your book available to qualifying individuals. However, the Chafee Amendment is only for residents of the United States. In order to make books available to people with disabilities residing outside the U.S., Bookshare must obtain permission from the copyright holder.

While Bookshare does not need your permission to utilize your book, the company partners with publishers and authors to expand their collection. If you want to donate a digital copy of your book to Bookshare, you can learn how to do that on their website at https://www.bookshare.org/cms/partners.

Knowing and understanding the strengths and limitations of copyright are important. If you have not copyrighted your book, make sure you do so through the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Are You Afraid of Failure?

I recently heard that the President of Pixar has said, “Failure is the inevitable result of trying something new.”

Wow, that statement is so true.

failure

Most of us fear failure. We don’t want to fail. Often, we don’t take risks. Instead, we stay in our cozy comfort zone to avoid failure.

Here is my question: How do you define failure?

  • Is failure falling short of your own goals for your project or book?
  • Is failure losing money on a project or book?
  • Is failure only doing part of a project (or one or two books in a longer series) before being forced to quit due to lack of consumer interest or finances?
  • Is failure poor reviews of your book?

Often, we are afraid of failure, but we don’t take the time to define what failing would look like. We have an idea of what success would look like, and so anything that falls short of our idea of success we end up calling failure.

But, is not reaching your own or society’s idea of success truly a failure? After all, isn’t simply writing a book or publishing a book a success of its own? If we learn something from our project or book, even if it doesn’t perform as well as we expect or desire, isn’t that also a form of success?

The book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford seems to imply that all success starts with failure. I don’t believe that this premise is true. However, I do believe that failure can lead to future successes if we let it.

Failure is not just “lack of success”. Failure is also a great teacher. When we don’t reach the success we want (what we call failing), we can take the lessons we learn and use them to change our course.

This, of course. is the point in Tim Harford’s book. We must adapt. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure puts forth three essential steps for successful adapting:

  1. Try new things with the knowledge that some will fail.
  2. Make failure survivable since some of the attempts will surely fail.
  3. Make sure you know when you have failed.

Again, defining failure as well as success is important when you embark on a new project.
The old adage “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained” still holds true. If we sit in our comfort zones, we won’t fail, but we also won’t experience success.

If fear of failure is holding you back, maybe it’s time to define what failure would be. After all, following what we feel God is calling us to do is, in and of itself, a success.

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The Influential Power of Books

Books have power. Books have the power to influence people. They have the power to change lives.

Indeed, the influence of a book is magnified when the book influences someone who influences others.

Grammy Award winner and hip-hop artist, Lecrae, talks about the influence of books in his own life in his autobiographical song “Non-Fiction”. In this song, Lecrae says:

Shortly after I got a hold of Tim Keller’s books
Man I promise you it’s like my whole life changed
Andy Crouch wrote a book about culture-makin’
And after that I had to make a slight change.

Timothy J. Keller is an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist who has authored a number of books. Andy Crouch is the Executive Editor of Christianity Today and the author of a number of books.

If you are an author, then you are an influencer. The words you pen have the power to influence others’ lives. When the influence is Gospel influence, God is magnified.

While you might not be an influencer on the level of Tony Evans or Kay Arthur, when you author a book, you still become an influencer. You influence those individuals who read your book—whether that is 50 people or 50,000 people. When the people who read your book are themselves influencers, your influence trickles down to their audiences. The effect is that your influential reach is multiplied.

I encourage you to take this responsibility seriously. Use your words to build others up and point them in directions that lead to Eternal peace. Then the blessing of God will be upon your books.

Take heart. Your message has an impact on those who read your books. Such is the power of the written word.

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Independent Publishing Continues to Grow

Bowker, the agency that is responsible for distributing ISBN numbers, recently released their report “Self-Publishing in the United States 2010-2015”. The report looks at the amount of ISBN numbers that Bowker assigned and distributed to self-publishing entities, including small publishers.

According to the report, Bowker shows that 727,125 ISBN numbers were assigned to self-published titles in 2015. That is three-quarter of a million self-published titles! Bowker reports that ISBN registrations made by self-publishers have grown more than 375 percent since 2010, climbing from 152,978 then to the 2015 figure of 727,125.

bowker-graph

However, a recent article by Publishing Perspectives cautions that this 727,125 ISBNs assigned in 2015 number should not be taken at face value. The reason for this is that many books tout two ISBN numbers—one for the print version and one for the ebook version. Therefore, the actual number of self-published titles may be a smaller figure.
I agree, that actual number of self-published books may be lower than the stated 727,125. However, I don’t think it is much lower because Bowker states that 573,965 ISBNs were assigned to self-published print books.

According to the report, Createspace alone assigned 423,718 ISBN numbers to print books. That is astounding! Createspace alone published almost half a million books in 2015. Createspace is growing by leaps and bounds. In 2014, Createspace assigned 292,167 ISBN numbers to print books—that is a 45% increase in books published via Createspace in one year.

I began to wonder whether all of Createspace’s business was growth for self-publishing—or, were more authors choosing to use Createspace over the traditional self-publishing houses like Xulon, Westbow, Lulu, and Xlibris. So, I checked the numbers just for print books.

Bowker assigned 573,965 ISBNs for print books to self-publishing entities in 2015. This was an increase of 146,755 over the number they assigned in 2014 for print books, which was 427,210. Hence, Createspace’s increase of 131,551 additional print books produced from 2014 to 2015 was indeed part of self-publishing’s growth.

Clearly, Createspace is far and away the number one producer of self-published titles. This clearly speaks to the power of free entry. After all, to produce a book via Createspace requires no upfront fees, making it feasible for just about anyone to publish a book via Createspace.

If you have independently published via Createspace or another route, the continued increase in self-published books is good news and bad news.

The good news is that self-publishing has become an acceptable way to produce a book. As self-publishing grows, the quality of books produced in this manner grows. It is becoming more difficult to distinguish self-published books from those published by traditional publishing houses. The number of independent authors now showing up on prominent bestseller lists indicates that readers are embracing author-published titles.

The bad news is that the competition gets tougher as more books are published and fight for readers’ attention. Stiffer competition makes it harder for your book to stand out from the pack. As an independently published author, you must take marketing seriously if you want to sell books.

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