And, if you are thinking of starting a publishing house to have your revenge, keep control, or make money, you might as well start with the 12 step program

For anyone thinking to become a publisher (ie, start a legit publishing house) here is your 12-step to-do list:

  1. Pick a name (stop by a library, look at Writer’s Market, and use Goggle to make sure no other US publisher is using that name)
  2. Get a .com web address in your company’s chosen name.  (.com will make your life way easier, don’t purchase anything else or any other web addresses with the same name but a different extension, it’s a waste of money)
  3. Register the name to yourself. ($7.00)
  4. Put up a webpage (Use startlogic.com if you want a good, reliable easy to use, fully functional, loaded with extras, exceptionally priced host with great customer service — $50/year)
  5. Rent a PO box for deliveries/submission
  6. Apply for a business license. . . ($35-50)
  7. Run a DBA (Doing business as) advert ($25)
  8. Get a Board of Equalization reseller license (free)
  9. Get an EIN from the IRS  (Free, over the phone!)
  10. Establish your business account at a bank (free)
  11. Once you have your bank card . . . .
  12. Purchase a block of ISBN’s, probably 10 or 100  ($250-525), from Bowker.

Now you are set up to do business as a publisher in the eyes of your city/state/country and other publishers . . . .  But, there are additional steps to embark on — because you still don’t have a book to sell.

  1. Purchase Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat) to create your books, logo, etc.
  2. Design your logo and Vista Print some business cards. (optional)
  3. Apply to the Library of Congress to join the PCN program (free).
  4. Set up your BOE account and go to a class so you are sure you understand how it works (free)
  5. Set up with LSI, that’s Lightning Source International.  To handle your printing and distribution services worldwide, including digitally.
  6. You will need separate contracts to deal with Amazon and iBooks.( Barnes & Noble works with Ingram, LSI’s parent.)

Now you can work on the book.

  1. Format the book out with your software.
  2. Create a cover template using LSI’s cover generator (this will include barcode)
  3. Get a LoC Control number (through the PCN program) and be sure to include it in the book.
  4. Set up your title with LSI & Upload (total cost, $75, plus $12 a year for catalog)
  5. Do a short print run, say 5 copies ($40).
  6. Have people read them, and correct any errors. ($40 to re upload the entire corrected book, or cover, so worth it)
  7. Set up the book as an ebook. (separate ISBN)

Not really done yet . . . .

  1. Do a short print run, so you can mail 1 copy to LoC PCN program (required) and 2 copies to LoC Copyright office.
  2. Set up an account with the copyright office (free),
  3. Submit your copyright claim ($35) and mail them the books
  4. Update your website & BowkerLink showing your book is for sale.
  5. Decide if you are going to allow it to be on Google Books (Free)
  6. Create another version for Amazon Kindle (with another ISBN)
  7. Make sure your accounting (Quick books is good) is kept up to date because the IRS and the BOE will care.

If you’re thinking holy crap, yeah . . . that’s what it’s like. And we’re not even talking about marketing here or contracts you have with authors, editors, designers (because we’re going to presume you’re doing it all with the help of concerned family and slightly tech savvy friends.)  But we want to be honest with you  —  This is just the bare bones basics of getting a book to market.  If it sounds overwhelming, it can be.  But basically it’s just step by step, slow and steady.

If you want to put your book into an audio or pod format . . . that’s for another day.  We just want to talk books today.  And if you walk away with no other useful piece of information, remember the name Lightning Source.  There’s a lot of steps to publishing, but if you can’t make and deliver a product, you’re out of business. Basically LSI gets you into hardback, paperback, and ebooks, with a low overhead. If you have the guts and the passion, LSI lets you turn into a real publisher putting out real books on a small scale, or a very large one, all over the world.

We really recommend that if you are going to become a small publisher, you think about going with LSI for 3 main reasons:

  1.  You can start from the ground up, and learn to do it all over time.
  2. You never have to shell out for a book you won’t use.
  3. You have instant access to a host of services that make your life way easier.

We meet a lot of people who start up a company to publish a book (usually their own), only get stuck with a bunch of ISBNs they’ll never need, and worse, a bunch books they paid for but can’t shift that now take up storage space. Basically printing books you can’t sell is money you’ll never get back.  That won’t happen with LSI because you can go POD, until you hit some bigger orders. And sadly, many of these publishers don’t even recognize that if they do get themselves into this horrible situation . . .  it’s still not the end of the world.  There are book overstock and remainder resellers, who will take those unwanted books off your hands so you can then write them off as a loss.

Any here’s a brief list of what LSI does. . . .

Print to Order

  • With this service the publisher sets the retail price, wholesale discount and return policy.
  • We send the data out to our Distribution partners (including leading distributors such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and others).
  • They capture the demand from booksellers, libraries and consumers and we print to fill the order.
  • We collect the wholesale price, deduct the print cost and pay the publisher the balance.
  • The price for this service is $12.00 a year per title. Just one dollar a month.
  • B&N purchases through Ingram Book Group.
  • As you know Lightning Source titles are listed in the Print-to-Order program – an exclusive service that allows Ingram to display 100 copies on hand at all times. As part of this arrangement, and to avoid book buyers from having to backorder, we at Lightning Source guarantee books ordered by Ingram will be printed and returned to their shipping dock within 8 – 12 hours, generally in time to be included in the book buyer’s regular order.

Print to Publisher

  • With this program we fill orders placed by the publisher and ship them in any quantity to any location. That can be one book to a reviewer or 5,000 to a warehouse.
  • As part of that service we offer Offset printing on paperback quantities of over 2,000 or hardback quantities of over 750.
  • Turn around time on digital printing is days, turn around time of offset is about 7-10 days depending on the books specifics.

Offset printing

  • Offset printing isn’t a component of Print to Order.
  • We also offer traditional printing services for titles that require large print orders.

Pretty amazing. At their site, you can read over various contracts, get a grip on what happens in production, what things cost, learn about print/distribution/marketing . . . . and we recommend you do all that if this is the route you want to go.

A word on copyright, you need it, you want it, you have to have it, — but it doesn’t really do you much good

If you read yesterday’s post, you’re probably beginning to wonder about copyright. The truth is IP/copyright laws are way too confusing for artists to understand. And even if creative types understood them, they’re way, way behind the times (and a lot of countries ignore them completely). Even “IP and copyright law For Dummies” wouldn’t help at this point.  Although we wish there were such a book!

Take this for example “Luv Hurtz” by the renowned American artist Wayne White.

In the world of copyright, this should be a derivative work because he took someone else’s painting (or a print thereof usually, which is still under copyright, because the artist is still alive), and painted on it (the coloful words). This is what Wayne White does. It’s his trademark work and it’s brilliant. He added something to the work, so it’s original. But it’s also derivative and infringing and that’s the sort of thing that freaks copyright attorneys.

In the world of music, sampling is a similar situation.  Sampling pushed the question of what is original in the same way.  If you sample a few chords and stick it into your song, how is that different than adding to the painting?  Apparently the music industry has gone overboard though.  Justifiably protecting copyrighted music has turned into . . . something way different.  Just read Chris O’Neal’s Feb 24, 2011 article in the Ventura ReporterSound of Silence about  how music protection has turned into a protection racket in one small California city. It will make you sick.

Not enough? Check out a recent NPR broadcast on Patents: When Patents Attack by Alex Blumberg and Laura Sydell. It’s as much a comment on American business and venture capitalism as it is how terribly wrong law has gone, to the point it’s killing off innovation and innovators.

As for books, unfortunately, it’s the same story. Writing fan fiction, is derivative.  You are using the author’s characters to make a new work.  On the other hand, creating an encyclopedia of all the characters that turn up on Star Trek, or in Lord of The Rings, isn’t. That’s an original work. But does any of that matter if your entire book is going to be on bit.torrent for free within hours of being published and probably translated into other languages and sold without your knowledge?

Sorry, readers, and writers, creators of any kind, as long as Congress allows companies to hide behind internet neutrality, and legally sponsor the theft of IP, of any sort, copyright protection will remain a joke for the 99% of creative people that don’t understand it well to begin with and don’t have millions of dollars to spend on pursuing protracted court fights and ongoing global legal representation. Let’s face if Apple can’t quash IP / Copyright issues . . .

JK Rowling and her lawyers seem to understand all this.

We’ve always presumed Potter books were never going to be released in e-book versions till the markets were already fully book saturated. This was part of what we presume was a viable legal strategy. It’s been easy for Rowling’s legal team to sue every ebook version that turned up around the globe until now, because no legal ebook versions existed. It didn’t stop all theft, but, it preserved the protection of copyright and a chunk of the clearly foreseeable ebook profits.

And too, while no one here is a copy-leftist, the only thing worse than copyright infringement for an author/artist, is total obscurity. Marketing people, as well as creative types, know this. It’s why Rowling and her lawyers seem to be so nice to fans about their derivative works, even commercially viable derivatives, like t-shirts and such. In the end, these things are thought to do Rowling, the publisher / movie media team more good — increase legal sales of her work — than harm.

But then again, that’s how big a name you have to be to get even the smallest amount of protection. Sad, isn’t it?

Sincere regrets to any lawyers reading this blog. We are not encouraging any type of infringement, merely stating the reality.  As an author, you want your book copyright protected, but that protection, even the meaning of protection, in today’s publishing world, is a little sketchy.

Get your book published, or better yet, get it stolen and then get it published

Ok, as you all know we at FAB don’t go in for certain genres (ie, obscene language as humor), but we know you all have hear of the book we’re going to talk about: the adult “children’s” book Go the …. to Sleep.

What you may not know, and might be encouraged to learn, is that this book was made into a bestseller only because so many people stole it. That’s right, people . . . people who love people . . . were emailing a PDF version of the book around (breaking the copyright) before the book was even released. Google the book and you’ll see the first thing that comes up is a pirate version PDF, not an Amazon link. And the second thing is the Samuel L. Jackson audio reading of the book (also free).

Without copyright infringement, it’s doubtful this book ever would have found major success, and Adam Mansbach admits that in a recent (06/16/11) CNET article by  Rafe Needleman. Every author should read Adam’s comments on piracy  (ditto anyone interested copyright law or publishing).

Adam actually raises a whole host of good points every author should think about.  Such as the benefits of see it free first (in other words, just how you’d see the whole thing if there were still bookstores around), and how larger publishing houses are often the least up on social media, or trends, or even how to use new media effectively. One publisher told Mansbach he need to write a blog “three times a week,” to support his work.

Something that really struck us about the article was Adam’s comment that he wanted to be an author, not an industry.  Most major publishing houses want to turn an author into an industry. Most authors just want to write. If you’re a writer, you should stop and think about this because how you feel about what you do, will probably have a big impact on whether you want to publish with big house or a small press (which will also impact your profits).

As for publishers, or would be publishers, there’s good nuggets in the CNET article for you as well, but we’re reposting this CNN article in addition because we want you to note in the following story of how difficult it sometimes is for a small publisher to manage a huge success (something big houses do well — which is why once JK Rowling’s book caught on, her small publisher took the substantial buy-out by a larger publisher, and let JK and the big pubs take care of business in global fashion).

Go The F@K To Sleep Publisher Gets Big Boost
Book Set For Wide Release

By Dina Santorelli, contributing writer

Posted: 10:08 am CDT June 8, 2011Updated: 10:20 am CDT June 8, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Johnny Temple, publisher and founder of Brooklyn-based Akashic Books, likes to say this about independent book publishing:  ”Just keep your doors open for business, and then one day lightning will strike.”

Cue lightning.

Next week, Akashic plans to publish the most irreverent ”children’s” book in recent memory.

Written in the style of a children’s book, ”Go the F to Sleep” unabashingly drops the F-bomb in the text.

The book, written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés, originally was slated for a fall release. Then the PDF version of the book hit the Internet and went viral. As a result, Akashic is moving up its release date, for both the print book and ebook, to June 14. The film rights already have been sold to Fox 2000.

The popularity of the book has raised the profile of Akashic and is likely to raise its profits.

”Go the F to Sleep” is actually a book for adults that deals with the age-old problem of trying to get children to go to sleep.

”It was very evident to me that the book was addressing with humor what is perhaps the core psychological hurdle of parenthood in the early years,” said Temple, whose own children are ages 3 and 5. ”Lack of sleep breaks up marriages.”

Temple previously worked with Mansbach on an anthology. The author had written other books, which included bestseller ”Angry Black White Boy,” published by Three Rivers Press in 2005.

Mansbach brought the idea to Temple, believing he would be willing to take on the project, despite its controversial title.

”I’ve published some very edgy novels with some big publishers, but I think that’s the exception,” said Mansbach. “Small presses are more willing to take some risks.”

Temple indeed agreed to publish it. Akashic, which publishes 25 to 30 titles per year, was the first — and only — publisher who got a glimpse of the ”Go the F to Sleep” manuscript.

Temple did no promotion for it other than to book sellers and other retail avenues. Not long after, a version of the book appeared on the Internet after an author reading in Philadelphia in late April.

”It was probably accidentally leaked by a bookseller who we had sent a PDF to,” said Temple.

Preorders for the book on Amazon sent it flying up its bestseller’s list. Akashic is one of only a few independent publishers to get a book to hit No. 1 on the e-commerce site.

It would seem that the book going viral would be a detriment to book sales. But the extraordinary success of ”Go the F to Sleep” — whose print edition, at press time, was in its 44th day in Amazon’s Top 100 — perhaps proves that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to pay for the cow even though they could have gotten the milk for free.

Temple takes a rather ambivalent stance on the leak. ”Obviously, if I’m running a business, I want to stay in business,” he said, ”but I believe very strongly in an expansive public domain. We want to allow parents to continue enjoying the book the way they’ve been enjoying it and not really tamper with that too much.”

Originally a rock musician by trade, Temple founded Akashic in 1997 as a ”hobby” with two musician friends (who left the company early on) and an initial investment of $70,000. Since 2002, when Akashic became Temple’s main pursuit, the company has found a well-defined, and well-respected, niche as a place for urban literary fiction. Financially, though, the company has only managed to break even, with annual revenues ranging between $750,000 and $1 million.

Until now.

At press time, the first printing of ”Go the F to Sleep” had been upped to 275,000 copies — by far, Akashic’s biggest to date. The company’s average first print run is between 4,000 and 6,000 copies.

”We could easily be printing up 350,000, but I just want to manage this very carefully,” said Temple, sounding a bit like a guy who has just won the lottery, but is reluctant to quit his day job. ”Once you expand, it’s very hard to contract.”

Temple credits Akashic’s longevity to ”consistently good books, creative low-budget marketing, and careful financial management.”

That being said, he is not about to let a runaway hit derail a management style that has kept his small press’ doors open for the past 14 years.

Independent publishers can actually be hurt by such successes, because they do not have the infrastructure to support the demand, he said.

”We have a sensation and a phenomenon on our hands, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” he added. ”I’m being very cautious about what we do with our success and how we manage it.”

Just in case lightning strikes again.

Copyright CNN 2011

Acoustical Liberation of books in the public domain, and how you can help

For those of you following along, we’ve been working on podcasting some of our books.  So it’s only natural, during Audio Book Appreciation Month, that we’d plug audio books! When you start a project like this, especially if you’ve never really done it before, you either jump right in (read the books and buy a mic) or you look for the least threatening way in.

LibriVox is a great organization that can help you learn to podcast, without killing you. They have volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and publish the audio files on the internet. Their goal is to record all works in the public domain.

And everything they record is free to the public. Wow!

Their catalog so far is very extensive, but it’s growing every day.  If you have a special book you love, that’s being worked on, you can volunteer your talents, even if you don’t know anything about doing a podcast recording.  If there’s a book that’s out of copyright that’s not been recorded, or if you wish to do another version, you can post that book in the forum and get help starting that project.

Below is a little snapshot of the vigor, talent and wide ranging selection of material LibriVox deals with (including non-English works!)

Four Mothers at Chautauqua by Pansy, Alden, Isabella
Posted 6 hours ago

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The by Khayyám, Omar
Posted 6 hours ago

Parting Guest, A by Riley, James Whitcomb
Posted 27 hours ago

Wit and Humor of America, The Vol 04 by Various
Posted 29 hours ago

Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue by Hope, Laura Lee
Posted 29 hours ago

Aljaska (Alaska) en de Canada-spoorweg by Anonymous, anoniem
Posted 40 hours ago

Aljaska (Alaska) en de Canada-spoorweg by Anonymous, anoniem
Posted 41 hours ago

Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant by Grant, Ulysses S.
Posted 43 hours ago

Pursuit of God, The by Tozer, Aiden Wilson
Posted 43 hours ago

Alcatraz by Brand, Max
Posted 43 hours ago

National Devil’s Food Cake Day. Mmmm, that’s right, the Devil made us do it, just ask Mr Webster!

 For those of you that were unaware, today is National Devil’s Food Cake Day. For those of you wondering . . . Devil’s Food Cake is the counterpart to Angel Food Cake. It differs from chocolate cake because it uses cocoa (and sometimes coffee too), rather than chocolate, hellish boiling water rather than milk as it’s liquid component, less eggs and more baking soda. Devil’s food cake was introduced in the United States in the early 20th century with the recipe in print as early as 1905.

In some turn of the century cookbooks the red velvet cake and devil’s food cake are used interchangeably. This is because of the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. And as your taking this free-wheeling ride through the history of words, grab a great new book on Noah Webster to go with your slice of Devil’s Food:  Joshua Kendall’s The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture.


This new bio new of the pioneering lexicographer Noah Webster Jr. (1758-1843) is a welcome addition to any word lover’s collection. Webster gave America some of its most beloved educational tools: The Elementary Spelling Book, and the American Dictionary of the English Language (aka Webster’s Dictionary). The latter of which would go onto document and shape American thinking from the first publication, even up to today.

If you still don’t have your Devil fix, kick back and enjoy the Devil and Daniel Webster (in this case Daniel, Noah’s Cousin, and the Senator that first proposed copyright laws, written by Noah!) based on the book by  Stephen Vincent Benet.

Caution: Men at Work

Rupert Murdoch has begun charging for online newspaper content; albeit on a very small newspaper (30,000 print copies a day). It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  People who subscribe might well cut and paste to send a story around.  Or scan it and put it online. Knowing Rupert Murdoch’s savvy business sense, we’d expect he’s prepared for this battle.  And it’s a good thing.

Laws governing the internet need to be overhauled to protect the IP rights of everyone. Content and information are valuable commodities.  They should be treated as such. Tech companies have known this for a long time, and profited from it. It’s only just dawning on governments and individuals.  This is why the FCC is working on revising the current net policies.  The report is due out in March.

We’ve come to a point where the WWW is a national and international highway of commerce. Like other highways, this vital e-infrastructure everyone needs and everyone benefits from should be maintained and governed by regional and national bodies everyone voted for.   A sort of e-public works.

The filing of opinions an briefs deadline with the FCC was midnight Jan 14.  Many companies waited to file until then.  The FCC was flooded with opinions, all of which are being made public now.  As did a many many other tech companies, lobbyists, and consumer advocates interested in the FCC’s net policies. Cnet has a good round up article.

But take a look at Songwriters Guild of America’s position. They understand that tech companies are trying to enshrine piracy in to the law, in direct violation of copyright law.  If you question this have a look at the joint filing of Google and Verizon. They feel copyrights are well protected, which we all know from the lawsuits going on worldwide, are not.

The net is not neutral, it’s not free.  It is a medium of commerce, that is not well regulated, and by far creative people, authors, songwriters, and others are paying for it to the point that they are being beggared. Tech companies state they are “user” oriented.  That’s fine.  But that creates an imbalance.  So FCC web-policies need to be firmly content- or data-generator oriented to balance the picture and create true neutrality.

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 7:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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