Tag Archives: Copyright

Your Ebook is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright

NOW AVAILABLE through Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo, and E-Sentral for FREE! Download it today!

According to renowned American businessman and investor, Robert Kiyosaki, an “Asset can be anything as long as it has value, produces income or appreciates, and has a ready market. Assets put money IN your pocket.” Before Kiyosaki’s popular Rich Dad Poor Dad book was published, many of us viewed our homes as our own assets. But we now realize that, so long as we’re paying a mortgage on it, our home is actually the bank’s asset. It is producing a regular source of cash flow for the bank, but not for us.

This same concept applies when it comes to your book—depending on the format of book you choose to produce and which publishing model you choose to publish it through. I used to believe that all books were assets for their respective copyright owners, but I’ve since changed my tune. Digital ebooks and audiobooks have the potential to be lucrative assets, as do print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks and hardcovers. Mass-printed paperbacks and hardcovers, on the other hand, are straight-up liabilities due to the outdated economic practices still employed by the traditional players in our book supply chain. This long-established system repeatedly bleeds money from the pockets of publishers and authors alike which is why so many are now choosing to publish their titles in ebook format alone. It just makes better fiscal sense, as we’ll discuss in this mini ebook.

Ebooks, in particular, can be highly profitable digital assets for both fiction and non-fiction authors, online marketers, and business professionals in general. Think about it from a strictly business perspective for a moment; you’ll quickly see that an ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or airplane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to other relevant information sources (e.g., company webpages, blogs), providing even more value to the reader. Ebooks are updateable which is especially helpful to those who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. With a digital asset like an ebook, you don’t have to pay storage or maintenance fees of any kind. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help others promote and sell their digital assets all over the world. Pretty much every major ecommerce site has its own affiliate program now, and this is like having a massive sales team at your disposal without having to pay anyone an upfront salary.

Still not convinced that an ebook is an asset? Well, there is a form of online book sales and marketing known as “rapid release” publishing that many of today’s most successful independent authors are using to sell literally thousands of ebooks every year. Ask them and they’ll assure you an ebook is indeed an asset, and a highly fruitful asset at that.

Frequently Asked Questions About ISBNs, Copyright, and Book Publishing in General

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Many of your questions regarding PPG-specific policies and procedures will be answered by clicking on the above links and visiting the various other pages on this website. For general book publishing questions and answers, please read below.

What is an ISBN?

“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number.” An ISBN is a unique 13-digit identifier for each edition of your book. For example, the paperback version of your book will have one ISBN, the hardcover version will have another, and the ebook version will have yet another. An ISBN is required for all books being produced for commercial use with Amazon as an exception. Amazon attaches its own unique ASINs to the ebooks uploaded to its site. ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number.

What is copyright?

Merriam-Webster described copyright as a “Noun: The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”

How Do I Obtain Copyright Ownership of My Work?

As the original creator of your manuscript, you own 100 percent of all of the rights to reproduce, publish, sell, and distribute your words in whatever manner you see fit. Your manuscript belongs to you and you alone—from the moment you write it. It is only when you decide that you want to publish your manuscript into book format with the hopes that you’ll earn some money (or educate people, or entertain people, or whatever your personal reasoning is for publishing it) that the copyright ownership of that work might shift to someone else, depending on which publication method you choose.

Click here to sneak a peak inside for answers to even more FAQ!

By publishing your book through PPG, your copyright ownership will remain intact. We ensure it. It’s written into your publishing agreement and all other work-made-for-hire agreements we create for the various vendors (e.g., editors, designers, proofreaders, et cetera) who work on your project.

How Do I Protect My Copyright?

This is, perhaps, the real question writers are asking when they refer to the copyright of their books, and the answer is simple: You protect it by proving that you are the true copyright owner of the work. This can be done free of charge simply by sending yourself a copy of the manuscript via date-stamped registered mail and storing that sealed envelope in a fireproof/waterproof container.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

Each country is a little different; but, as a general rule, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 (or more) years following the end of that calendar year. 

Additional Questions and Answers

Click here to sneak a peak inside for answers to even more FAQ!

How Does Working with a Publisher in Another Country Affect My Copyrights?

Is Quoting Another Author’s Work in My Book Copyright Infringement?

You can find answers to these additional copyright questions inside How to Publish A Bestselling Book … and Sell It WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price! from an actual trademark, copyright and entertainment attorney named Ian Gibson, Esq..

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

What Could Surrendering Your Copyright Potentially Cost You?

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

The CEO Magazine recently published a piece I wrote for their 8020 Blog titled Your Book is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright, and it generated many comments from both authors and publishers alike … some more passionate than others. Many thought it was too simplified, as though a more complicated explanation of copyright is somehow more acceptable. I disagree, hence this additional blog post on the topic.

Here is my personal belief: when people are unable to explain their topic matter to others in layman’s terms with ease, then they are either hiding something or they don’t fully understand it themselves. This is why I’m cautious when it comes to publishing contracts that are filled with complicated legalese. It is also why I challenge those who try to defend such contracts by saying, “It’s not that simple. There are different types of licenses. There are several factors to consider. Authors may be relinquishing some of their control, but not necessarily their copyright; or, if they are giving up their copyright, it may be only temporarily, not permanently.” And on and on.

Semantics. Legalese is confusing by design. I could utilize immoderately byzantine phraseology and labyrinthine reasoning with the best of them if I chose to, but that rather defeats the purpose of communication, don’t you think? 

I’d rather be clear and helpful. So, let’s keep it simple. Because, at the end of the day, it’s unnecessary to complicate this.

COPYRIGHT SIMPLIFIED (UNDERSTANDING PUBLISHING CONTRACTS)

  cop·y·right
/ˈkäpēˌrīt/

  noun
noun: copyright; plural noun: copyrights
1. the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film,   or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
“he issued a writ for breach of copyright”
* a particular literary, artistic, or musical work that is covered by copyright.

  adjective
adjective: copyright
1. protected by copyright.
“permission to reproduce photographs and other copyright material”

  verb
verb: copyright; 3rd person present: copyrights; past tense: copyrighted; past participle:
copyrighted; gerund or present participle: copyrighting
1. secure copyright for (material).

As the original creator of your manuscript, you own 100 percent of all of the rights to reproduce, publish, sell, and distribute your words in whatever manner you see fit. Your manuscript belongs to you and you alone—from the moment you write it. It is only when you decide that you want to publish your manuscript into book format with the hopes that you’ll earn some money (or educate people, or entertain people, or whatever your personal reasoning is for publishing it) that some or all of the copyright ownership of that work might shift to someone else, depending on which publication method you choose. In other words, you might take a few different routes toward having your book published, and each of these book publishing methods affects your copyright ownership a little differently.

It is vitally important that you review a publishing contract in full before you ever sign it; and, if the contract before you is filled with a bunch of hard-to-understand language, then ask the questions you need to ask to ensure that you fully understand the agreement you’re about to enter into. Hold the company accountable for explaining it to you and putting you at ease. You have that right as one of their clients.

TRADITIONAL (TRADE) PUBLISHERS

Some authors will submit their manuscripts to a traditional (trade) publisher for consideration in the hopes that it will be published free of charge to them. What they might not realize is that whoever is paying for the publication of a book is the one who ends up with primary control over that book. Trade publishers don’t pick up the bill simply out of the kindness of their hearts. They are business people who are buying a product to try to turn a profit for themselves, and that “product” is the copyright ownership of your manuscript (whether permanent or temporary, whether full or partial—it varies with each contract and each publisher).

And fair enough! If I was paying for the whole thing, assuming all financial risk and responsibility for the project myself, then I would want majority control and ownership, too. That’s the only way I would be able to earn a decent return on my investment. So, this isn’t a criticism of the publishing model itself. It’s simply intended to educate authors about the true implication of publishing through this type of publisher. If someone else is paying for it, they own it. They control it. Plain and simple.

In this business model, writers usually retain only the basic publishing rights that recognize them as the author of the book and allow them to be paid a small percentage of the retail price in royalties (usually only up to 10 percent per copy sold, but it varies). The trade publisher keeps the rest of the profits because the trade publisher owns the book. Thus, as the owner of the book, that trade publisher also reserves the right to sell off additional reproductive (a.k.a. subsidiary) rights for additional profit down the road.

VANITY PUBLISHERS (UNSUPPORTED SELF-PUBLISHING FOR “INDIE” AUTHORS)

Authors who choose the vanity publishing route usually retain 100 percent ownership of their written words; however, if the vanity publisher has produced the cover artwork for them, (nine times out of ten, in my personal experience) that company usually retains the copyright of that artwork. This means that authors must always go through the vanity publisher to have their marketing materials and books printed.

A contract with a vanity publisher will usually also give that publisher non-exclusive online distribution rights throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and possibly the whole world. All this means is that the publisher reserves the right to sell and distribute copies of the book through its various channels for the duration of the contract; however, this is a non-exclusive contract; therefore, the author (and any other distributor designated by the author) is also free to sell copies of the book within those regions. If it were an exclusive contract, only the publisher would be allowed to sell the book online within those regions.

HYBRID PUBLISHERS (PROFESSIONALLY SUPPORTED SELF-PUBLISHING)

Last but not least, authors can also choose to publish through a supportive self-publishing house (a.k.a. hybrid publisher) where they will retain 100 percent copyright ownership of both their words and their artwork. Much like the contracts with vanity publishers, a contract with a supportive self-publishing house would also include non-exclusive online distribution rights worldwide for a specified term. This gives the authors much greater exposure without limiting their ability to sell wholesale author copies on their own wherever they choose to sell them.

WHAT COULD SURRENDERING YOUR COPYRIGHT POTENTIALLY COST YOU?

Eventually, once you’re selling lots of books and making a name for yourself with the general population, you’ll begin to see the true value of retaining majority (i.e., FULL!) copyright ownership—because this is when more business people will come knocking and asking to buy additional reproductive rights to your book. Maybe someone in Quebec will want to purchase the exclusive French language rights to your title so he or she can be the only one to reproduce, print, and distribute it in French to that region’s Francophone population for a profit. Maybe others will want to buy the exclusive North American film rights so that they can adapt the book for film in this region.

You can “divvy up” the rights to a book in so many different ways that it would be impossible to list them all here, but this gives you a very basic idea. It is simplified to provide an easier understanding.

What are all these rights worth? In any industry, a thing is worth what someone will pay for it. It could be worth millions to the primary owner of the book, so it’s a good idea to retain as much, if not ALL, of that ownership as you can right from the start. Then, when the movie producers and foreign publishers start calling, hire an intellectual property attorney to help you determine the best price for each sale of rights to each different buyer.

“I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” BY DOLLY PARTON … A PRICELESS COPYRIGHT

Whether you’ve written a book, a movie script, or a song, the value of retained copyright ownership is much the same. It’s all intellectual property that can generate additional income through the sale of subsidiary rights.

Most, if not all of us are familiar with Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s song titled “I Will Always Love You.” What you may not be aware of is that, as the copyright owner of that song, Dolly gets paid each time a copy of it is made. She doesn’t have to lift a finger, and she gets paid.

Millions of copies of Whitney Houston’s cover of that song were made. And Dolly got paid on every one of them.

Retained copyright ownership of your intellectual property is potentially priceless. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Related reading: Your Intellectual Property is Priceless! 

Related reading: Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. 

Related reading: Managing Intellectual Property in the Book Publishing Industry

Related reading: Copyright Ownership: Who Owns What?

Related reading: Subsidiary Rights: Acquisition & Licensing

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.