Marcy’s Blog

Why and How to Copyright Your Self-Published Book

Please welcome back special guest poster Kathryn Goldman. If you haven’t already grabbed a copy of her free Digital Artists Rip-Off Protection Report, make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to get this extremely helpful resource!

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Why and How to Copyright Your Self-Published Book

By Kathryn Goldman

The mantra chanted by people like me (copyright lawyers) in favor of registering the copyright in your work with the United States Copyright Office is that if you have registered your work in a timely manner and somebody infringes it, you can sue them and possibly recover your attorneys’ fees and statutory damages (up to $150,000 per infringement).

Attorneys fees and statutory damages can be a powerful big stick to use against evil deed doers, or infringers. The threat of a substantial monetary award can be useful to quickly resolve disputes.

It may be that the notion of initiating and financing a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement is alien to you. The question becomes—if you’re not going to litigate—just how useful is a copyright registration on your work?

The answer is that it’s hard to know right now what action you might want to take in the future if your work is infringed. But for $35, it makes sense to create basic protections for your work after you’ve spent countless hours writing and editing and real money on editors, cover art and book design. Throw down the extra $35 and file for that registration. One day, you just might need it.

Electronic Copyright Application Process

Today we’re going to go step-by-step through the online application process for registration of a Literary Work by a single US author. (My apologies to Marcy’s non-US readers for lack of relevance.) To illustrate the process, I’m going to show you actual screenshots of the application for registration of my “Literary Work” Digital Artists Rip-Off Protection Report which I wrote in October 2014 and revised in November 2014.

Log in to eCO

In order to file an application online with the Copyright Office, you need to create an account which means a username and password. I know, it’s just another ID/password combination to forget . . . I mean remember.

It is possible to register your work old-school style by mailing in a paper application. That costs $85. The savings for electronic filing is significant.

How to Register Using a Single Form (Single Author and Single Work)

After you’ve created your account and signed in, select “Register a New Claim” using the menu on the left under the section Copyright Registration.

image1

Preliminary Questions

The first screen has three preliminary questions that focus on the author or creator. For our example, we’re completing an application for just the text of a work (my report) for which I am the author and owner with material created only by me.

These questions should all be answered “Yes.” Then “Continue.”

prelimQuestions

Type of Work

The next screen determines the type of work that is being registered. Literary Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, textbooks, reference works, directories, catalogs, advertising copy and other written works.

Sometimes a work has two or more types of authorship, like a book that is mostly text but has some photographs. In that case, choose “Literary Work” because the work is made up of mostly literary material.

Remember, this is not an example of filing an application for a work that is created by two different authors. This is a single author application.

For our example, select literary work in the drop-down box and click “Continue.”

LiteraryWork

Title of the Work

Enter the title of the work and whether it has appeared in a collection, like a volume of short stories, for example. Then click “Continue.”

Title1

Publication

A published work is one that is offered for sale or distribution to the public. Online content is considered to be published if the copyright owner authorizes the end user to retain copies of the content or further distribute the content.

Once you’ve uploaded your ebook to Amazon, or anywhere for that matter, for sale or free download, it is considered published by the Copyright Office.

An application for registration is considered timely if it is completed within three months of publication or before infringement.

If you have an ISBN, this is where that information belongs:

PublicationDetails1

Author

This is the section in which you identify yourself as the author of the work.

authorImage1

Progress Checklist

As you move through the form, there is a checklist that updates as you go showing you how much of the application you’ve completed and how much there is left to go.

checklist

Excluded Material

This is the section of the application referred to as “Limitation of Claim” in the progress checklist in which the material not created by the author is excluded.

In this case, I have excluded the photograph and the cover art because I did not take the picture or create the cover. My portrait was taken by Chris Stadler.

If you select excluded material, you must also select the included material. In this case, I am only seeking copyright on the text that I wrote.

ExcludedIncludedMaterial1

Rights & Permissions Contact Information

If I complete this form for one of my clients, this is where I identify myself as the contact person. You can identify yourself in this section.

RightsInfo

NOTE: This information is publicly available and you want to be careful about what you include. I use my office address, email and phone number.

Correspondent

The correspondent is the person whom the Copyright Office will contact if there is a question about the application. This is a service I handle on behalf of my clients but you can identify yourself in this section.

correspondent1

Special Handling

Because a registration is needed in order to bring a lawsuit for infringement in the United States, you may have to request special handling to expedite the filing. Special handling is significantly more expensive than a regular filing by hundreds of dollars.

If you did not file within three months of publication or before infringement, you will not be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys fees but you will be entitled to injunctive relief. Injunctive relief means that you can ask a court to issue an order that the infringer stop the infringing action.

In an ideal world no special handling is needed because you have added copyright registration to your work flow and when you need it, it has been done.

I recommend that you make applying for copyright registration a regular habit when you finish each book. That way, if you decide you must file a lawsuit, you’ll be ready and you won’t be scrambling.

Certification

Is the section of the application in which you swear that it is your work or that you are the authorized agent of the creator.

certification

Review the Application

If the application is correct, add it to your cart and check-out for $35. If there are any mistakes, now is the chance to fix them.

Deposit Copy

After the U.S Treasury processes payment, the Copyright Office will ask for the deposit copy of the work which you should have ready on your hard drive. A deposit copy is a copy of the work for which your are seeking registration to be kept by the Library of Congress.

Before clicking upload deposit, make sure your pop-up blocker has been disabled.

Browse for and select your file. In this case mine is a PDF, type in a short title and submit.

depositUpload

Application Confirmation eMail

When your deposit copy is received, you’ll receive an email from the Copyright Office confirming a completed application. From that point, it will take about eight months to receive the Registration. But the effective date of the Registration is retroactive to the date of the application. The timeliness of the application is what is important.

The application can become more complex if there is cover art, an introduction or other supplementary materials in the work that you did not create and you want protection for those elements of the work.

The Copyright Office has tried to design the online application so it can be completed by individuals without the help of an attorney.

But if you have questions, let me know in the comments.

Kathryn Goldman lawyerKathryn Goldman is a lawyer who protects writers, artists, and businesses from having their work and art ripped off. Since she’s a lawyer, she has to mention that she’s not *your* lawyer (so this article isn’t technically legal advice), but you’re still invited to download her Digital Artists Rip-Off Protection Report.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter @KathrynGoldman

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Sometimes Truth Is Stranger than Fantasy

You’ve likely heard the saying before that truth is stranger than fiction. Today my special guest poster, mystery author Kassandra Lamb, is putting her own spin on that saying to tell you why she thinks truth can be stranger than fantasy. She’s going to let us into the minds and motivations of serial killers. First allow me to introduce you to Kassandra:

Kassandra Lamb

Kassandra Lamb

Psychology and writing, or writing and psychology, have always vied for number one on Kassandra Lamb’s list of greatest passions. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, she can focus on creating an alternate universe in which her protagonist, Kate Huntington, is always the kind, generous and insightful person that Kass wishes she were herself. When she is not at her computer, transported in mind and spirit into the world of her characters, Kass lives in Florida and Maryland with her husband and her Alaskan Husky, Amelia.

I hope when you finish reading the post that you’ll take a look at Kassandra’s latest release Fatal Forty-Eight. It’s part of her Kate Huntington series, but it stands alone as well. You don’t have to read the first books before reading this one. If you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, I recommend you grab a copy (and I’m not just saying that because I’m Kassandra’s editor–this book is really good). Take it away, Kassandra!

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Sometimes Truth Is Stranger than Fantasy

By Kassandra Lamb

When Marcy graciously invited me to guest post on her blog (thanks so much, Marcy!), I wondered what the heck I would write about since I write traditional mysteries and thrillers, not fantasy or sci-fi like she does.

Then I asked myself, why is it that I don’t write fantasy? (BTW, I talk to myself a lot.) The answer came back that it’s because I’ve seen so much weird, surreal stuff on this planet during my years as a psychotherapist. In my newly released thriller, I explore one of the most surreal phenomena on the Earth plane–the serial killer.

A few weeks ago I posted about psychopaths. They are totally self-centered thrill seekers who feel little or no empathy, remorse or fear. Pretty scary folks! (Read more HERE.)

Unfortunately psychopaths (i.e. those who have antisocial personality disorder–the official diagnosis) make up 3% of males and 1% of females in the U.S. and at least 1.7% of the Canadian population. Fortunately, only a very small percentage of psychopaths become serial killers.

An FBI Symposium in 2008* attempted to come up with a simple definition of serial murder:

The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events at different times.

According to this definition, the guy who kills his wife, and then kills his neighbor when he finds out said neighbor witnessed the first murder, is a serial killer. Now you might be tempted to say that this guy isn’t really a serial killer, because he doesn’t match the picture of one painted by TV shows and movies.

But he fits the definition, and furthermore he is probably a psychopath. One can think of circumstances where a husband might kill his wife, either premeditated or in a fit of rage. But to go on and kill one’s neighbor in cold blood–that requires a self-centeredness and a lack of empathy and remorse that lands the killer on the psychopath continuum.

The motivation of serial killers is varied and complicated. The FBI* has identified several themes:

  • Financial/Criminal Gain: The person kills for money (hit men, black widows/widowers) or to gain status in a criminal group (gang members).
  • Anger: The person vents their rage toward someone (perhaps symbolically) and/or toward society in general.
  • Sexual: Violence has become eroticized somewhere in the person’s background so that they get sexual satisfaction through killing (may or may not be signs of sexual activity at the crime scene).
  • Ideology: The person kills as a way–in their mind–of advancing a strongly held ideological belief (for example, by killing prostitutes to rid society of their immoral behavior).
  • Power/Thrill: Having the ultimate power of life and death over someone provides a rush.
  • Psychosis: Truly being out of touch with reality and being driven by hallucinations and/or delusions.

Often two or more of these motivations apply in any given case. Most often the serial killer starts out killing for financial or practical gain–robbing people and then killing them to eliminate witnesses, for example. Then they discover that killing gives them a thrill, and they start to kill more for that reason. These are the hardest killers to identify and capture because their victims often have little or nothing in common, which is the case with the killer in Fatal Forty-Eight.

But my killer also falls into the ideology category of motivation, or at least he convinces himself that he is killing for a good cause, and there is also a bit of the sexual motive as well. (I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the story.)

Let me dispel several myths about serial murder and serial killers.

(1) Not all are sexually motivated by any stretch, and only a small number of serial killers are psychotic.

(2) There is a huge difference between a psychopath and a psychotic even though the two words sound so similar. A psychotic is someone who has completely lost touch with reality. Often their brains have just stopped functioning in any kind of rational way, or they may be living in a world created by their own hallucinations and delusions. Sometimes those delusions or hallucinations may drive them to commit crimes, but this is rare. Mostly they are a danger only to themselves.

Psychopaths, however, are legally sane. They know what is real and unreal in at least a concrete sense. In other words, they aren’t seeing things that aren’t there or hearing voices in their heads. But their ability to distort reality to suit their own self-centered perspectives is incredible sometimes. And they know right from wrong; they just don’t care.

Ted Bundy, 1979, leaving Leon County, Fla. Courthouse (Photo from The Florida Memory Project–CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Ted Bundy, 1979, leaving Leon County, Fla. Courthouse (Photo from The Florida Memory Project–CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(3) Most psychopaths are not obvious. They are experts at fitting in. Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers in the U.S., was handsome and charismatic. He seduced his victims into trusting him.

The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, confessed to killing 48 women over a twenty-year time period in the Seattle, Washington area. He was married at the time of his arrest and had been employed as a truck painter for thirty-two years. He attended church regularly, read the Bible at home and at work, and talked about religion with co-workers.

A letter to the police from Jack the Ripper (U.S. National Archives–public domain)

A letter to the police from Jack the Ripper (U.S. National Archives–public domain)

(4) Serial killers are not hoping someone will stop them; they are not trying to get caught. But since they feel little or no fear, they aren’t all that worried about getting caught either. They will sometimes contact the police or newspapers with taunts or even hints as to where they might strike next, or they may intentionally leave clues behind at crime scenes.

They do this to enhance the thrill! Killing is starting to lose its buzz so they have to up the ante.

(5) Serial killers are not all white males. Racially, they run the gamut of the population, and some are female.

Aileen Wuornos killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990 (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Aileen Wuornos killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990 (public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

And here’s another interesting tidbit I read about recently. The one group of serial murderers that perhaps we would be tempted to say are not psychopaths are the medical personnel who commit so-called mercy killings of terminally-ill and suffering patients.

Guess again. A recent, small study** in England found that the majority of these killers crave attention and are inordinately obsessed with death. The researchers only looked at 16 cases so this is not a definitive study, but nonetheless…

Okay, now that I’ve given you enough material to populate your nightmares for weeks to come, let me remind you again that serial killers are rare. It is likely that each of us has known a psychopath or two in our lifetimes, but very few of us will ever cross paths in real life with a serial killer.

My fictional heroine, however, has a real penchant for getting herself mixed up with murders. Please check out my new release below, and also I have a CONTEST going to celebrate its release. So pop over to my publisher’s site (misteriopress.com) to enter.

I promised Marcy I’d hang around for a while if you have any questions. Also I will be talking more about the origins of psychopaths in a post on the misterio press site next week.

Oh, and this book is dedicated to Marcy, who is my editor and from whom I have learned so much!!

References:

Carey, Elea and George Krucik, MD. Psychosis, Healthline.

*FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators, July, 2008.

**Townsend, Mark. Study identifies key traits and methods of serial killer nurses, The Guardian, November 22, 2014.

Fatal48 Ebook FINALFATAL FORTY-EIGHT, A Kate Huntington Mystery

Celebration turns to nightmare when psychotherapist Kate Huntington’s guest of honor disappears en route to her own retirement party. Kate’s former boss, Sally Ford, has been kidnapped by a serial killer who holds his victims exactly forty-eight hours before killing them.

With time ticking away, the police allow Kate and her P.I. husband to help with the investigation. The FBI agents involved in the case have mixed reactions to the “civilian consultants.” The senior agent welcomes Kate’s assistance as he fine-tunes his psychological profile. His voluptuous, young partner is more by the book. She locks horns out in the field with Kate’s husband, while back at headquarters, misunderstandings abound.

But they can ill afford these distractions. Sally’s time is about to expire.

(This book is part of a series but is designed to be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.)

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

BARNES & NOBLE

APPLE

KOBO

SCRIBD

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Interstellar: How Much Would You Sacrifice to Save Humanity?

Interstellar movieBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Every time I hear a story of someone who died to spare the life of another—a first responder, a parent in place of a child, a soldier who took a bullet for a comrade—I wonder whether I would have done the same.

I like to think I’d be altruistic if it came down to saving someone else, that if push came to shove, I’d be brave. I love my life and I hope to live a long, healthy, happy existence on this Earth, but I’m not afraid of being dead either.

But whenever I think about that situation, I think about saving an individual, a current life.

That’s the motivation of former NASA pilot Cooper, Matthew McConaughey’s character in the recently released movie Interstellar. The earth is dying, and what remains of NASA has established what they call the Lazarus missions. Pilots have taken a one-way trip into a wormhole to see if the planets they find on the other side are habitable. Transmissions from three of the pilots indicate they may have found hospitable worlds.

Unfortunately, time and resources have run out. NASA asks Cooper to go on the final mission. Either they’ll be able to transmit back the data needed on the potential planets to evacuate what remains of Earth’s population (including Cooper’s children) or they’re supposed to use pre-fertilized eggs in an incubator to reseed humanity on another planet, sacrificing those left on Earth but saving the human race.

And Cooper agrees, even though it might mean never seeing his children again, because he believes that at least he can save their lives. The scientist in charge promises him that his children will be among those evacuated from Earth.

What Cooper finds out is that the NASA scientist in charge never intended to save the people left on Earth. The real plan all along was to save humanity as a species and sacrifice everyone remaining on Earth, including Cooper’s family.

He lied to everyone involved in the final mission because he believed that, while we’ll sacrifice everything to save those we love, we’re much less likely to sacrifice everything to save the human race as a generic whole—especially if doing so meant our loved ones would die.

And while I don’t condone his methods, I think I agree with his conclusion.

I’m not sure I’d sacrifice everyone I love to save “the human race.” I’m not sure I place a higher value on “the human race” as a species than I do on the already living people who belong to humanity. I don’t think I’d take comfort knowing that “the human race” would survive if it meant sacrificing everyone currently alive to ensure that survival.

It begs the question: Is the value in humanity as a species or is the value in each individual life?

If you like suspense, I hope you’ll take a look at my ebook Frozen (it’s only 99 cents). Twisted sleepwalking. A frozen goldfish in a plastic bag. And a woman afraid she’s losing her grip on reality.

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The 12 Best Hashtags for Writers

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Hashtags are one of the best things about Twitter. (In case you’re brand new to Twitter, a hashtag is the # sign followed by a term.)

Normally, your tweets are seen only by people who’re following you, but if you add a hashtag, everyone who’s watching that hashtag sees what you’ve tweeted. If we’re using Twitter to build our author platforms, making connections with new people is one of the key things we want to do.

But hashtags on Twitter do more than just build our author platform. When we know which hashtags to follow, they can be amazing learning tools, provide us with inspiration and motivation, and help us keep up-to-date on the industry.

So today I’m going to share the twelve best hashtags for writers at Writers in the Storm!

Upcoming Attractions: I have one more guest post about Twitter at Kristen Lamb’s blog that I’ll be sharing with you. From that point on, I’ll be returning to writing craft posts for the foreseeable future. Also, keep an eye out closer to the end of the year. I’ll be asking you what your biggest writing struggles are so that in 2015 I can focus on the topics that you need help with the most!

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Grammar for Fiction Writers, is now available from Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. (You might also be interested in checking out Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction.)

Both books are available in print and ebook forms.

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How Authors Can Work Together to Achieve Success

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

The perception of self-publishing is that you’re working alone. And you are, but it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. In fact, I believe the future of successful self-publishing is in working together as allies with other authors rather than viewing them as your competition.

Before I dive into some of the ways I see authors successfully teaming up, though, it’s important to cover the harmful and/or dishonest ways that authors sometimes work together. I want to be very clear that these aren’t things we should be doing.

For the rest of this post, please join me at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. I’ll cover both the ways we shouldn’t work together as authors and the ways we should.

Upcoming Attractions: Tomorrow I’ll also be visiting Writer’s in the Storm to talk about the best hashtags for authors. This is the second to last post on Twitter I’ll be doing. (I have one more guest post at Kristen Lamb’s blog that I’ll be sharing with you.) From that point on, I’ll be returning to writing craft posts for the foreseeable future. Also, keep an eye out closer to the end of the year. I’ll be asking you what your biggest writing struggles are so that in 2015 I can focus on the topics that you need help with the most!

Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Grammar for Fiction Writers, is now available from Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords. (You might also be interested in checking out Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction.)

Both books are available in print and ebook forms.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Deep POV – Using Your Pain to Become a Better Writer

I have another special guest post for you today. This time my good friend and writing partner Lisa Hall-Wilson is here to talk to you about deep POV and how you can channel your pain into becoming a better writer.

Lisa Hall-WilsonIn case you don’t know Lisa, let me introduce you a little bit. Lisa is a freelance journalist who works for the faith-based market. Here’s how she describes herself and why she writes:

Growing up, I was a small, shadow-of-a-girl who lived with the characters in my books and hid from the world. Life taught me that sometimes bad things happen, sometimes the bully wins, and no one hears you no matter how loud you scream. But through my stories I had a voice – and people listened. As an adult, the faith I discovered in my teens gave me the courage to face my fears, stomp on the pretenses, and use my writing to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,’ to find the authentic, the real, the heart-of-the-matter.

Take it away, Lisa!

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Deep POV – Using Your Pain to Become a Better Writer

By Lisa Hall-Wilson

Deep POV is one of my favorite writing techniques. Also known as a limited or close point of view, your reader experiences the story right alongside the character telling the story.

Deep POV is emotive, creates a sense of immediacy, and can be written in either past or present tense. The reader is only privy to what the point of view character (POVC) knows, sees, senses, understands, and is aware of. The reader experiences the story through that character, including their worldview, opinions, prejudices, past experiences, education, social class, economic class, family status, hopes, and failures.

Actors have a lot to teach us about writing in this style. Method acting is a technique used by actors to recreate in themselves the thoughts and feelings of the characters they are portraying.

Some method actors take it further than others. Heath Ledger locked himself in an apartment for a month to play The Joker. Jack Nicholson reportedly underwent electroshock therapy for his role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Viggo Mortensen was known to have lived in his Aragorn costume off set, carried around the sword, and personally cared for his character’s horse. Daniel Day-Lewis lived in the woods for six months hunting and shooting and trapping to prepare for his role in The Last of the Mohicans.

Do writers need to be this in-depth? I don’t know – but we can certainly learn a thing or two from the idea of method acting. I want my characters to leap off the page; be so real, you could imagine meeting this person in real life. One way to do that is make each character you.

Our characters are capable of the same kinds of emotional depth we are, so I search for some way to relate to each of my POV characters. What experience do I have in common with them? How did that make me feel?

Focus on that common experience or emotion you have with a character. Dig deep – go there – and let that pain, heartache, loss, resonate inside your character too. Whether or not you’ve personally experienced whatever extreme your character is living through, the base emotions you’re drawing from are the same across the human experience.

A teen being forced to choose between parents in a divorce. My parents are still married so I’ve never lived this, but I know what it’s like to desperately want to avoid hurting or disappointing someone I love. I know what it’s like to feel like I lose no matter what choice I make.

A firefighter who’s discovered his wife is in an adulterous relationship. Obviously, I’m not a man, nor have I faced this kind of situation. However, I understand being blindsided by betrayal. I understand the singular focus of just putting one foot in front of the other because I don’t know what else to do.

A battered mother finally makes a choice to leave an abusive husband. I understand what it’s like to talk yourself into and out of a decision a thousand times. I understand doing something for the sake of someone you love, because you don’t think enough of yourself to do it for your own sake. I understand what giving up on something really important feels like, something you love.

Write what you know. Don’t waste your pain!

Will writing in deep POV, method-writing, change you? It will absolutely make your writing better, and you’ll always learn something new about yourself. Whatever you learn about yourself in the process, you’ll carry with you into your next novel.

How To Write In Deep POV – a webinar with Lisa Hall-Wilson
This is a 1.5hr webinar that will be recorded if you’re not available to attend live. I don’t do fluff webinars – you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your writing and immediately see an improvement. Handouts and a link to the recorded will arrive by email.

Click here to register and receive a 30% discount.

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6 Key Terms in Amazon’s KDP Contract — A Digest for Busy Writers

Amazon KDP ContractI’m pleased to bring you all a special guest post today. I recently connected with Kathryn Goldman, a lawyer and writer, and after seeing some of the other articles she’d written, I knew I wanted to invite her here to “speak” to all of you about some very important issues. She’ll be back next month for an encore, but this month she’s going to walk us through what our rights and responsibilities are when we sell our books on Amazon. Take it away, Kathryn!

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6 Key Terms in Amazon’s KDP Contract — A Digest for Busy Writers

By Kathryn Goldman

You’ve finished writing your novel. You did it with stolen hours — early mornings, late nights, and while the laundry was on spin cycle. You’ve stolen more hours for rewriting, revising, and polishing until it shines.

You’ve invested in professional cover art and professional editing. It’s been a long and not inexpensive journey because you’ve taken the time to do it right.

From the beginning you’ve focused on your craft, incorporating the advice of the leaders in your field.

You are ready to upload your manuscript and click publish.

Now is no time to skimp on doing things the right way. That means understanding the rules.

Whatever platform you use for self-publishing — Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords — that service becomes your business partner and you need to know what you can expect from them and what they expect from you.

But reading a 20+ page contract of legalese may not fit into your busy schedule and my guess is that you’re going to skip it.

I get it, I do. The legal stuff is just not that important to you. Asking a lawyer to explain the Amazon KDP contract to you is so far down your list, it’s not even on your list.

But it’s important to me that you understand the key points of the deal you’re about to enter. I want you to understand the business you’re in. That way you’re less likely to need a lawyer in the future.

So, to help cut down the chances that you will ignore Amazon’s KDP contract completely, I have summarized six of the key terms for you here.

This is not a substitute for reading the whole contract. *wags finger*

Your Rights in the KDP Program

You have three basic rights when using KDP:

  1. the right to use the program;
  2. the right to get paid; and
  3. the right to protect your copyrights.

Use

The most interesting thing about the right to use the program is that the program is undefined and Amazon is constantly changing it.

Algorithms determine rankings. The user interface helps a reader find and buy your book. The genre categories impact your meta data and therefore your sales. These all work together and a slight change in one may have a ripple effect on your results.

Your right to use KDP is limited to the right to use it in the form Amazon presents it at any given time.

Getting Paid

Payment is based on the royalty option you select, either the 35% option or the 70% option. Taxes and delivery costs are deducted from the 70% option.

You have the right to change the royalty option you selected.

You have the right to receive a royalty report every 60 days.

Amazon has agreed to collect and pay all sales taxes on your behalf for the sales of your work.

Protected Copyrights

Control over copyright is what makes Amazon different from traditional publishers.

Amazon is not a publisher. You are the publisher. Amazon is offering you the platform on which to publish your work – it is a digital content distribution program.

Generally, publishers require an author to give a written assignment of the copyright in her work which then allows the publisher to control how, when, where and in what form the work will be presented.

Amazon does not ask you to give up any control of your copyright.

Your Promises to Amazon

Your Account

You promise that you are over 18 years old, that the information in your account is accurate and up to date, that you are not using a false identity, that you are responsible for everything that happens in your account even if you did not authorize it and if Amazon terminates your account, you may not open a new one.

Safe Uploads   

You promise that there will be no viruses in any of the digital files that you upload.

Metadata   

The metadata describing your book must be accurate. Metadata means things like the title of the book, the title of the series if the book is in a series, search keywords, genre selection, the publisher and publication date.

Amazon does not allow you to use another author’s name in your metadata, or words like “best-seller” or “free.”

Ownership   

You swear up, down and sideways that you own all the rights to the content that you have uploaded to the program. (This is where Amazon helps protect against the work of authors from being ripped-off.)

If clearances or licenses are needed for any of your work, you promise that you have obtained them at your expense.

You promise that you are not defaming anyone in your story and that if you owe anyone any money in connection with the work, you will pay it.

A Broken Promise   

If Amazon gets sued because you have broken any of these promises, you agree to indemnify their losses. That means you have to reimburse Amazon for any money it has to pay because you broke your promises. That includes attorney’s fees.

Do You Really Control Pricing?

Amazon lets you set the list price of your book within the maximums and minimums for the different royalty options

Despite letting you set the list price, Amazon clearly states that it has complete discretion in setting the retail price of your book. So, you do not control the price of your book. Amazon does. And Amazon is not answerable to you for when, whether or why they might change the price your book is sold for.

What If There is a Dispute?

If you think Amazon hasn’t paid you properly (and you can’t work it out with customer service), you have only 6 months to bring a claim against them.

You can bring your claim in your home state, if the amount is small enough for your local small claims court. If the amount owed is larger than the jurisdictional limit on the small claims court in your home state, then you may not bring a lawsuit.

Instead, you must start an arbitration proceeding in the State of Washington.

Amazon Can Change the Deal

Amazon can change the deal and the program whenever they want – going forward. They tell you that right up front.

But they cannot change what they owe you in royalties for sales made in the past.

Do You Have Any Liability?

Your liability is unlimited. If you do something that causes a loss for Amazon, you may be required to pay them back for it.

Amazon’s liability to you is limited to the amount they owed you in royalties in the past 12 months. If something happens like your book is not available for purchase during your largest marketing campaign ever and you’ve lost thousands of sales because your book can’t be found on Amazon, there is nothing you can do about it.

Amazon is not responsible for lost sales. They want the program to work as well as it possibly can, but if for some reason it’s not working, they are not liable to you.

Those are the key points in Amazon KDP contract in a nutshell. The full contract is over 20 pages (single-spaced) plus attachments, so I can understand why you may not have read through it before clicking PUBLISH.

But really, don’t you feel better knowing some of what is is there?

If you have any questions about any other provision in the KDP contract, ask in the comments and I’ll see if I can find the answer.

Kathryn Goldman lawyerKathryn Goldman is a lawyer who protects writers, artists, and businesses from having their work and art ripped off. Since she’s a lawyer, she has to mention that she’s not *your* lawyer (so this article isn’t technically legal advice), but you’re still invited to download her Digital Artists Rip-Off Protection Report.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter @KathrynGoldman

Marcy here again: I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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March to a Bestseller 2: A One-Day Sale on Books for Authors

March to a Bestseller 2

For today only, I’m dropping the price of Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction to 99 cents. And I’m not the only one. Fifteen other authors are also dropping the price of their books to 99 cents. This is a treasure chest full of writerly goodness, so buy your copies before the sale ends.

And make sure you join the Facebook group where the participating authors will be hanging out during the day to answer any writing questions you might have!

Here’s a list of the participating books and authors:

Indie Author Power Pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indie Author Power Pack by Joanna Penn, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Gaughran

How to Write and Sell Non-Fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Write & Sell Non-Fiction Books for Kindle by Nancy Hendrickson

APE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

Write From the Middle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction by Marcy Kennedy

Kindle Publishing Package

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle Publishing Package by Steve Scott

Writing the Heart of Your Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing the Heart of Your Story by C. S. Lakin

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson

Book Cover Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover Design Secrets You Can Use to Sell More Books by Derek Murphy

Goodreads for Authors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads For Authors by Michelle Campbell-Scott

Writing a Killer Thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing a Killer Thriller by Jodie Renner

Weite a Book Already

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write A Book Already! by Jim Kukral

1000 Creative Writing Prommpts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,000 Creative Writing Prompts by Bryan Cohen

Work Smarter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Smarter by Nick Loper

Online Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moonlighter’s Guide To Online Writing For Immediate Income by Connie Brentford

Honest Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Get Honest Reviews by Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart

Write

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write! Stop Waiting, Start Writing by Cathy Presland

Formatting Your Ebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formatting Your eBook by J. Thorn

Writing Active Setting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Active Setting Book 1 by Mary Buckham

How to Sell Books by the Truckload

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.com by Penny Sansevieri

Make sure to grab your copies before the sale ends! And please help me spread the word so that other writers can find out about the reduced price on these 20 books in time.

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7 Essential Things to Know About Staying Safe on Twitter

Twitter for AuthorsBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

For all the wonderful things that technology provides us, it also comes with new risks. We need to be smart about our social media use because Twitter won’t be fun and our platform building won’t be sustainable if we don’t know how to stay safe.

So today I wanted to share seven tips for how to protect yourself and your information on Twitter so that you can make new friends, reach new readers, and grow as a writer.

Join me today at Jami Gold’s blog for the rest of my post on 7 Essential Things to Know About Staying Safe on Twitter.

You can buy Twitter for Authors at Amazon.com, at Kobo, or at Smashwords.

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7 Reasons Twitter Isn’t Building Your Author Platform

Twitter for AuthorsBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Almost as soon as authors were told they should be on social media to build their platform, a counter-contingent of people started talking about how social media was a waste of time. They’d tell their stories of how they were on Twitter or Facebook or whatever the flavor of the month was and how they didn’t see any increase in sales or growth in their readership.

Usually there’s a simple reason for why social media didn’t work for them—they were doing it wrong.

So today I want to save you some time and heartache by explaining seven of the biggest mistakes I see authors making on Twitter. When we use Twitter correctly, it’s still one of the best possible tools for expanding our reach.

Please join me at Jane Friedman’s blog for the rest of this post!

You can buy Twitter for Authors at Amazon.com, at Kobo, or at Smashwords.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

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