Monday, August 22, 2011

Nuts and Bolts

I’ve been really busy lately. My goal was to put out a print-on-demand book by the end of summer, but now that August is almost over, I am going to have to be more realistic. Perhaps I’ll have a book out by the end of the year.

Here are two pages I have been working on. This is from my book called Flight about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the man who wrote The Little Prince:

It isn’t that I don’t have any ideas for books. I have notebooks and folders and computer files full of ideas. I have scores of stories that are written, half-written or hope to be written with great first sentences.  I have sketches for some of my stories and full-blown pictures for others.  No, the problem is not ideas. The problem is realizing how much time it takes to turn any one of these ideas into a real book.

Assuming that you have the story written and edited and vetted and praised by uncles and aunts, moms and dads, kids and grandkids, teachers and librarians—and assuming that you have the illustrations done and scanned and properly sized, you still have a ton of stuff to do—stuff you never thought of, such as: 

The Publishing Company. You need to create a publishing company. Since this company is going to create revenue, you need to look into the tax laws where you live to determine what licenses you need to do business. You will also need to put up a website about your company.

The Library of Congress. There are several way of ‘legitimizing’ your book. First you may want to get a Library of Congress Control Number. This number means that your book is in their system. Should they ever catalog it, they will use this number to track your book as it goes through their system. [Here is the link for more information:] Big publishers always include the cataloguing information in the book. This makes it easy for librarians to put new books on their shelves. As a self-publisher, you may never get your book catalogued by the Library of Congress. Some self-publishers hire a librarian to catalogue their book.

ISBN. The ISBN number is not as difficult to get as it used to be. Many on-line and print-on-demand services will provide you with an ISBN. If you want your own ISBN numbers, you will need to contact Bowker at  

Copyright. If you want to protect your work with official documents, you will need to pay the fees to obtain a copyright. You can find out more at Otherwise, your work can be protected to a limited degree by simply writing: copyright © date by.

The © page.  This is the page in your book that contains all of the technical information: how do readers contact you, what are your policies, etc.  The © page is usually placed in a picture book on the back of the title page, opposite the dedication page. If this is inconvenient, because you need to start the story right away, you can put the © page on the last page of the book. Here is a sample © page. It looks simple enough, but you have to decide what it is that you want to say. For example, some publishers put stern and lengthy warnings about copyright infringement on this page. Others say almost nothing. Some publishers put production notes. Others do not. Most all publishers, if they can, include cataloguing information.

Here is the © page for my book Mango Rain, which will be published by BookPartners, a company started by my agent Jeff Dwyer:

Consider the following as a ‘style sheet’ of what to include.

Copyright © 20xx by ( full name )
[If you have partnered with an illustrator, this should read:
Text copyright © 20xx by ( full name ).
Illustrations copyright © 20xx by ( full name ).]

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, ( your company’s name and address ).

( your company’s web address )

The text of this book was set in ( name of typeface/font used ).
The illustrations in this book were done with ( name of medium used ). 

Book design by ( name of person who designed the book  ).

Library of Congress Control Number: ( number )

( Put the cataloging information here, if you have it. This information has to be typed exactly as given to you, since all spacing and punctuation are part of an elaborate code. For example a forward slash / indicates a line break on the title page. )

Printed in ( name of place )

The Back Cover.  In a POD book, there is usually no dust jacket. Because of this, the information that once appeared on the jacket has now found a home on the back cover. This information includes the ‘blurb,’ the bit of information that entices a person to buy the book. (I wrote about this in my blog posting of June 24, 2011). If you have reviews of your book or of past books, quote the best parts here. It is also a good idea to put the price of the book on the back of the book. Since this is a POD book, you can always change the price in the future.  Finally you need the all important bar code. Fortunately most POD service companies will provide this for you. 

Here is the back cover for Mango Rain:

I suppose that I have forgotten some detail—there are so many—but I think you get why I began this posting with ‘I’ve been busy lately.’