Booktube for Indie Authors

Photo by: Rego Korosi via Flickr
Photo by: Rego Korosi via Flickr

Youtube isn’t the first site that comes to mind when authors go looking for reviews but maybe it should be. When I published my book in 2012, there weren’t that many people on Youtube who reviewed books and those that did, didn’t review indie books. In fact, some of them didn’t even know what an indie book was. Ouch! Fast forward to 2015 and Youtubers are a force to be reckoned with, they endorse everything from cosmetics, clothes, and yes, even books. Several Youtubers have even become millionaires and in response Forbes created a list of the wealthiest Youtubers.  Several of these channels have a subscriber base of millions which means they often reach more viewers than some popular television shows!  In fact, corporate America is taking notice and getting their products and services in front of this untapped market.  Sure ads are okay, but to get an influencer to endorse your business is gold and gives your product credibility.

Same thing goes with a book, if you can get a Booktuber (a person who reviews books on Youtube) to give the thumbs up on your book, that can be a powerful endorsement.  But before I go on, I should give a few facts…

The Rundown On Youtube

Youtube claims over 1 billion users reaching more young people (18-49 year olds) than cable television. Also, the hours spent on the site has gone up 60% in the past 2 years.  Youtube is so powerful that many book marketers have recommended authors create their own channels or the very least, create a book trailer for promotional purposes.

An author who took the plunge and created his own channel was bestselling author John Green, who along with his brother Hank, created Vlog Brothers, a channel where they discuss all things nerdy.  Since its launch in 2007, Vlog Brothers has amassed 2.6 million subscribers.  Not bad for an author, and his brother, huh?

¿BookTube en Español?

For those who doubt that Youtube could provide any opportunity for the indie book movement, doubt no more. The Booktuber phenomenon has gotten so strong that it’s gone global for instance, while I was researching for this post, I stumbled across several Booktube channels in Spanish. Amazingly, I got to watch John Green being interviewed in Spanglish. (Spanish & English) I loved it!

In case you have a book in Spanish and you’d like to get it reviewed, here are a few channels to check out:

Booktubers Who Review Indie Books

Before I go on, I need to give the disclaimer and remind you that many of these vloggers are busy, and have normal lives so they can’t review ever single book that is pitched to them. Also keep in mind, you are competing with other authors so if they say no, don’t take it personally.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t state the obvious, but be sure to read the guidelines in a Booktuber’s “about” tab before pitching. Trust me there’s nothing worse than getting an unsolicited email from someone who never bothered to learn your name or the genre you review.

How To Find More BookTubers

If you want to find someone on Youtube who reviews books in your genre, it’s best to use the search engine. Try to use key phrases like; reviews, book recommendations, book hauls, book swag and of course, your genre. Use them in combination for maximum results:

  • YA Book Reviews
  • Book Hauls
  • Book Swag
  • Romance Novel Recommendation
  • Booktube

Helpful Tip: Many of the top Booktubers are inundated with requests so try to target a Booktuber with a smaller audience.

Well there you have it, another avenue to consider when promoting your book. As time progresses, I believe the Booktuber phenomenon will evolve giving indie authors a greater chance at exposure. Who knows, maybe you will be the one who builds the Youtube channel solely for indie books? As far as I can tell there isn’t anyone doing that right now and that’s a shame but that’s another post for another day.

Are Authors Going Broke? A Reality Check

Charity Box: By Steven Depolo via Flickr
Charity Box: By Steven Depolo via Flickr

A few weeks ago, the Author’s Guild released the results of a survey revealing the salary of the average American author has gone down by 24%. It of course made its rounds on the internet as well as another article published last year about the salaries of U.K. authors. Same script different cast. Apparently it sucks to be an author on both sides of the pond. Many people including myself, find the Author’s Guild survey suspect because the survey only took a sampling of 1,674 people. This is not enough data plain and simple.

As if that weren’t enough, Reedsy, an online site connecting authors with freelancers, launched their own survey in partnership with ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors) and The Bookseller at the beginning of September. I can only imagine what that will reveal. I’m sure it will be all kittens and lollipops, but back to the story…

Are Authors Really Losing Money? The Truth

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics the average writer/author in the U.S. makes around $64,870. This is actually up from their previous report in 2012 of $55,940. These stats are much more reliable than the AG’s survey because career stats are what the BLS does exclusively. And let’s not forget, the word statistic is actually in their title. However, the one thing the BLS does not tell us is how much the average indie author makes versus a traditionally published author. That’s the interesting data that no one seems to have, even Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings only tells us about what’s selling on Amazon.

Enjoy Poverty: By Marc Wathieu
Enjoy Poverty: By Marc Wathieu

The only people who seem to be losing money in the publishing industry are the traditionally published authors despite the fact that business is booming. Sadly, these authors aren’t sharing in the wealth and many of them blame self-publishing or the Amazon monopoly for the decline in their income. However, if they would only listen to the fiscal reports that many of the major publishers give to their investors every quarter, they are likely to hear their publishers brag about all of the millions they’re making. That’s odd because when it comes to negotiating with authors, publishers always claim poverty. They often tell authors and their representatives that they can’t give a better advance, or offer a better royalty split because they’re just too darn poor.

Possible Reasons Some Authors Are Losing Money:
• Bad contracts.
• Hiring poor representation: Some agents/lawyers are actually encouraging their clients to sign unfair contracts.
• Not considering all the options like self-publishing or hybrid publishing.
• Insisting on behaving like an employee rather than an independent contractor.
• Holding on to the delusion that publishing a book is an art and not a business.

On The Self-Publishing Front

I know several self-published authors who are making a living from publishing books, and though they’re not millionaires, they certainly aren’t making poverty wages like the AG authors. Yes, there are tons of articles that say indie authors earn next to nothing, but that’s not what I’m seeing. For those authors who are writing and publishing regularly, they are seeing an uptick in their earnings little by little with each publication. And those authors who treat their writing like a business are making the most money people like H.M. Ward, Barbara Freethy and J.A. Konrath.

In Conclusion…

I wrote this article because I wanted to cut through the hype, the Author’s Guild actually started a fair contract campaign initiative last May which explains this survey. They need to present a strong case to the public and to those within the industry that authors are worth more than what they being offered. Sadly, that usually isn’t enough in a situation like this. Generally, writers have to go on strike to get their pimps, oops, I mean publishers to even come to the negotiation table. This happened several years back with the 2007 writers strike in Hollywood. Of course the quickest way to resolve this problem is to stop signing bad contracts! But apparently the Guild hasn’t gotten that extreme.

No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s important that authors of all stripes decide what’s best for their careers and pursue that path with tenacity. Who cares if a couple of authors signed a bad contract? Let that be a warning to never compromise the value of what you do for a living—ever!

*Stepping off soapbox*

Now I’m handing you the mic, what did you think of the Author’s Guild survey? Do you think it’s accurate? Sound off in the comments.

Pinterest for Authors: Cool People & Boards to Follow

Not long ago, I wrote an article about Pinterest but never really got into the nitty gritty because I was new to the platform and had no clue what to do on there. Recently, I’ve been finding it easier and more fun to use than Facebook or Twitter. There aren’t that many annoying restraints or constant algorithm changes—yet! Also, I can save time on all my social media accounts by sharing interesting pins to Facebook, Google or Instagram, sites that all favor images.

So let’s start today by using the search engine to find cool people and boards.

Search Terms That Could be Useful

In a Pinterest search you will find several search options which can confuse some people. There’s a small almost unnoticable tab that you can click on where a list of  all of the most popular subjects on Pinterest pop up. Pinterest 2For the sake of this post, we’re just going to go to Film, Music & Books where you’ll find this: Pinterest Basic Search As you can see there are a whole lot of irrelevant non-book related things that were pulled up from this search.  However, you can narrow that search by typing something more specific like: Book Lovers. 

When you do that you will be presented with the All Pins tab as well as the, Your Pins, Pinners and finally, Boards. If you’re looking for something or someone specific, Pinners or Boards are what you want to choose.  Also, if you look toward the top of the page you’ll see several other tabs relating to the words (topic) you have searched. Pinterest Search Techniques If you’re not careful, you can spend hours on Pinterest as I sometimes find myself doing.  So here are a few search terms that will speed up your search.

Tip: You can sign up for Pinterest’s own blog which gives tips and tricks on how to navigate the site.

Boards with Writing Tips

If you’re constantly looking to improve your craft or even looking to challenge yourself as a writer, then Pinterest has you covered. Here are a few boards with everything from character development tips to jokes about writing.

  • ~Writer~  is a board by Sian Rickett’s who pins good tips and half a million other pinners agree!
  •  To Write Characters by Rowena Murillo, has several interesting boards for authors filled with solid tips on the psychology of characters.
  • Writing Tips from Hazell Longuet, has everything from grammar to productivity.
  • Character Personality Traits is a board by yours truly, where I post about personality traits and psychological disorders.
  • Write ✏️✏️✏️ D.i.a.n.a. G.u.n.d.e.l.a.c.h. has tips and jokes.

Boards with Publishing Tips

What indie author doesn’t need marketing advice these days? Here are a few boards for those of you looking for some resources.

  • Author Resources is another board by yours truly and it’s filled with everything from free books on self-publishing, to lists of book reviewers and advertisers.
  • Self-Publishing 101 is a board by Self Pub Nation and is for newbies, naturally.
  •  Book Promotion and Publicity by Your Writer Platform also has awesome pins about promotion and publishing.
  • How to Sell More Books a board from Penny Sansevieri, from the Author Marketing Experts Inc. has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about DIY Publishing.

Quotes & Funny Stuff

Want to post something inspiring or funny to your readers but have nothing to say? Then try seeking out quotes and jokes, they’re everywhere on Pinterest and some of them are unique.

Some Familiar Brands

Yes, companies feel just as pressured as we are to keep up appearances on social media.

Being True to Thyself

Like your books and website, your social media presence should be used as a business card, letting people know who you are, while your posts (pins) should show them what you can do.  This is 20% of social media, the other 80% is sharing, commenting and connecting.  Social media is not about collecting followers or faking engagement.  No one benefits from that.  When the marketing experts talk about building an author platform, they mean building a reputation.  Social media is a great place where you can be you and show the world what you’re all about.  This quote from the late Dr. Seuss says it all:

How to Increase Your Book’s Odds at BookBub

HomepageScreenMany indie authors call Bookbub the golden standard of online book advertising and I can’t say I disagree. Over the years their competitors like Pixel of Ink have either stopped accepting submissions or have gone under. Meanwhile Bookbub has only continued to grow with no signs of slowing down.  In fact just two weeks ago, Bookbub announced they’ve secured seven million dollars in funding to take their company global. This is great news for indie authors who want to reach more readers and make more money from advertising.

Facts You Need to Know

  • BookBub has a subscriber base of over 5 million members
  • BookBub subscribers are spenders.
  • BookBub has strict standards accepting only 10-20% of submissions
  • They are not the most expensive place to advertise
  • Most indie authors who use their services get an ROI (Return on investment)
  • Even indie authors who don’t get an ROI, report a small boost in sales

Reviews Are Critical

Author Brian Cohen, from the Sell More Books Show wanted to get his YA book, Ted Saves the World a Boobkbub ad however, that proved to be more difficult than expected. After several rejections, he wanted to know what the problem was.  Determined to get answers, he studied BookBub and particularly, their YA list then noticed that many of the books in his genre had over 130 reviews at the time, his book only had 115.  Meanwhile, the bestsellers had anywhere between 200-300 reviews.  He’s not the only author to notice this, many indie authors have also had to secure more reviews before Bookbub gave them the nod.

Tip: In February, BookBub held a discussion on the Kboards and answered many questions for indie authors.  It’s very informative for those considering buying an ad.


Next to editing, writing a blurb is the most hated of tasks according to most authors. In fact, there are books and online courses devoted solely to helping authors nail this craft. However your blurb is not only important for your book’s Amazon sales page but also to BookBub.  If your book sounds boring, why would they want to promote it? This would hurt their reputation with their subscribers. You have to remember this site is oriented toward readers, not authors. They don’t just take anything that comes in the door.

Your Cover

Many authors believe that they need to like their book cover but that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. This year at IndieRecon, bestselling author H.M. Ward, talked about how she didn’t necessary like all her book covers. In the beginning of her career, when her romance novels weren’t selling, she did some careful investigation and realized none of her book covers matched those on the market. Hers were more artsy and whimsical, while the books that were selling had pictures of attractive people in sexy poses.

It was a harsh lesson in marketing but she learned, romance readers expect a certain type of product.  BookBub is no different, they expect your book to look a certain way whether it’s a sci-fi novel, or an erotic book.  If the cover looks bland or weird, they may just pass it up.  Remember presentation matters in this industry.


Pic By Ged Carroll via Flickr
Pic By Ged Carroll via Flickr

Price is a big deal on BookBub, if you read the page written exclusively for their subscribers, you’ll see they promise free and deeply discounted books.  This means you have to compete and either go low, or even free.  For those of you who are concerned about going too low, BookBub claims that 65% of their readers have reported recommending books they got for free on the site. Who knew?

Be Flexible

Some authors have been willing to forgo advertising on major holidays and weekends in order to get their book in BookBub. There is a comment section of the application that allows you to alert them to the fact that you are not particular about dates. P.S. This didn’t work with our friend Brian Cohen. :(

Study BookBub’s Patterns

In every genre there is a pattern or theme that BookBub is favoring at any given time. Now ask yourself, does your book even come near that? For example, if you’re looking to advertise your romance novel, are they favoring historical romances or contemporary ones? It would be wise to sign up for their newsletter (for readers) and see if you can find patterns.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for their blog as well.


If you’ve done all that you can and BookBub is still not accepting your submission, then try going to their competitor like Ereader News Today, another site that indie authors rave about.  You can also check out a post I wrote last year: Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors for more alternatives.

Well I hope that helps, if you’ve had a BookBub ad, let us know how it went in the comments section.

Selling Your Licensing Rights: What Authors Should Know

Photo by ThinkPanama via Flickr

In the past few months, the story of Harper Lee and the controversy surrounding her sequel to “To Kill a Mocking Bird” had authors talking again about how it seems everyone is on a mission to rip authors off.   In fact, things have gotten so bad that the Author’s Guild has started a new campaign for what they’re calling a fair  contract initiative which they hope will help authors achieve a fair and balanced return for their work.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the Authors Guild, I do believe this is a worthy cause.  So in today’s post, I’m going to lay out several examples of authors signing unfair contracts as well as authors getting their rights stolen from them.  I also discuss how one New York publisher tried to take digital ebook rights from authors before they were even invented!

You Learn Something New Every Day

Two weeks ago, on the Red River Writer’s podcast, I was asked, what kind of advice I’d give to new authors and I answered, “Authors need to know what’s normal in a publishing contract. These days publishers are taking almost all an author’s licensing rights including movie rights. Publishers don’t even sell books anymore, are we expected to believe they’re shopping our movie rights to Hollywood?” Our guest, Bennet Pomerantz, an author, book reviewer and radio host extraordinaire, responded that it might be because Amazon has their own movie studio. The host and I were shocked, I hadn’t even heard of the Amazon movie studio!

So I did my research and learned yes, Amazon did open a movie studio in 2010.  Bennet also mentioned that Netflix has a studio of its own and they’re experimenting with producing their own movies.  It all made sense now, and publishers being publishers, figured, why not take these rights before someone else (the author) makes money from it?  This is why it’s so important for authors to know what exactly they are selling in a publishing contract.

Before I go further, let me explain the types of licensing rights authors usually exploit:
1. Print
2. Digital (ebooks, apps, video games, etc.)
3. Audio
4. Translation
5. Movie
6. Television
7. Merchandise
8. Franchise: (allowing other writers to use characters from your books as long as they give a percentage of the royalties)

The list does go on, but these are the more common rights that authors sell.  In the case of a traditional publisher, they are generally given the right to publish a book in print, ebook or audio form however, they do not own the copyright to your book.  You are just giving them permission (license) to publish and distribute your book.

Super What?

Most experienced publishing professionals will tell you that you should never EVER sign over all your book’s licensing rights. This is what the creators of Superman did in 1938, when they sold the rights to their company (which created the comic character) for only $150.  They also had  some sort of a work for hire deal with DC Comics that got complicated later on.  As we all know, the comic book character went on to become a global multi-million dollar phenomenon but the creators only got a tiny fraction of what DC Comics got.  Over the years, the creators had to sue on multiple occasions just to get access to royalties due them.  The latest lawsuit occurred in 2008, when Jerry Siegel’s estate sued over the Superboy character.

Back to the Harper Lee Story…

I hear he drives a mean bargain! :) Photo by Snaxor via Flickr
I hear he drives a mean bargain! :) Photo by Snaxor via Flickr

Let’s not forget the case of Harper Lee, (author of To Kill a Mocking Bird) who was duped into signing over copyrights to a former agent. For those who don’t know, Ms. Lee is living in a nursing home and has been nearly blind and deaf for years. However, that didn’t stop her agent who went over to the nursing home and got her to sign a contract giving him the rights to her book! P.S. a judge later declared the contract was null and void then ordered the agent to give back the money he took.

It explains the recent outcry when it was announced that there would be a sequel to her bestseller.  Many believe she is being taken advantage of yet again, while Harper Lee herself has publicly denied being duped into anything.  Later an investigation was launched by authorities who found no signs of fraud.

I guess the moral of this story is not even bestseller status protects you from the problems in the publishing world.

All Things Not Yet Seen

In 2009, Random House sent a letter to several authors when they noticed them selling the digital rights of their books to other companies. They were told in a memo they were in violation of their contract.  Now keep in mind, some of these contracts were 20+ years old, and ebooks as we know them, didn’t exist back then. Later on, a tiny clause was found in some contracts that specified RH could publish manuscripts in book form. Agents and authors cried foul but RH stood by its reasoning and proceeded to take several companies to court.

So how do you keep yourself out this kind of legal nightmare?  That’s easy, you educated yourself. There are several websites and books that can help authors decipher contracts, here are a few resources to look at:



P.S. I’m not affiliate with any of the products or services mentioned.

As you can see, there was never a golden era in publishing, where authors were pampered and protected.  Things have always been tough in this business however today, it’s different.  The industry as we know it is fading away and many people are getting desperate especially, those within the ivory towers.  The only way to protect ourselves and fight back is to educate ourselves.  It’s hard to con an author who knows their legal rights and an educated author is what the industry fears.

*Stepping off soapbox*

Audio Books: What Indie Authors Should Know

Over the past few months indie authors have been discussing audio books and many of us have questions such as; how do you make one, should even you make one, and where do you promote them? So I went on a quest to learn the ABCs of audio books but before I begin let me be clear.  When I refer to audio books I am talking about both MP3 files as well as CDs.  Yes, there are people still listening to CDs!

90’s humor! Pic by Nick D. Clements via Flickr

Major Misconceptions About Audio Books

Despite what you’ve heard, audio books aren’t for the blind or small children who are struggling to read. Lots of people listen to audio books at the gym, in their cars, and even at work. The numbers reflect this, because every major publisher has reported increasing audio sales since 2012.  This explains why it’s become standard for publishers to demand audio rights these days.

Another big misconception is that the bestselling audio books are all nonfiction. But not according to the APA (Audio Publishers Association) 2014 Sales Survey which says adult fiction takes 77% of the audio book market.  Don’t believe me? Just go over to Audible, the biggest audio book retailer, and look at their bestseller list.

The Pros and Cons

Pro: Right now Audible (which is owned by Amazon), has only about 180,000+ audio books for sale as of this date. However, that is predicted to explode as Google and Apple aim to make their software standard in new cars. This has the interest of many indie authors and it was the talk of many book conferences this year. There’s no doubt that the market has potential but it’s still small.

Con: The sad thing is, the most popular entry into the market is through ACX (also owned by Amazon), which makes producing audio books easy for authors but it all comes at a price. ACX has both exclusive and nonexclusive deals and none of them favor authors. For example, if you decide to go exclusive, you’ll get a royalty of 40% but you’ll have to remain exclusive with them for seven years. No, that wasn’t a typo, I said seven years, as in almost a decade! In that time, they will distribute your work to Apple iTunes and Audible however, there is no mention of Barnes & Noble, or Overdrive nor any of the other retailers in their FAQs. They also set the price of the book, not the author.

Pic by Jeff Golden via Flickr
Pic by Jeff Golden via Flickr

It only gets worse, indie authors who decide to go nonexclusive, will only get 25% royalties but they can sell their audio book(s) anywhere, even their own websites. Now before you despair, ACX isn’t the only deal in town, not long ago on Jane Friedman’s blog, one author talked about going to CD Baby to circumvent ACX’s undesirable terms. This may not be such a bad idea for the author who actually wants to make money from their audio books!
Keep in mind, there will be expenses associated with this as CD Baby does not provide narrators like ACX.  The average narrator can charge per hour or according to the length of the book.  Even if you decide to narrate the book yourself, you’ll need the proper equipment like a quality microphone and recording software. Another thing to note is CD Baby also has its own service fees ranging from free (minus 15% of your royalty) to $89.

Promoting Audio Books Can Be A Challenge

Recently, Goodreads (Another Amazon subsidiary) opened its doors to audio books so things are changing albeit slowly.  It’s also been rumored that Kobo and Google may be looking to get in the audio game so things are evolving. If this continues the supply will meet demand and we will begin to see marketing services catering towards audio books but right now, there aren’t that many options to promote an audio book.  Don’t get me wrong, there are several small advertising outlets for audio books however, there is no BookBub for audio books. (For those who don’t know, BookBub is the go to for online book advertising.)

On the flip side, getting a review for your audio book isn’t as challenging. I discovered several groups on Facebook, and Goodreads for audio books and reviewers. Below is just a small list of reviewers and online magazines catering to audio books.

Reviewers for your audio book
Audio File Magazine
Audio Book Jukebox
Books for Ears
Audio Book Reviewer (Giveaways & Reviews)
Audio Book Jungle
Library Journal

As you can see, there are many things to consider before committing to publishing an audio book. If you do manage to produce one, you have to make sure the quality is just as good as your print or ebooks.  If listeners don’t like the quality of your book, it won’t sell. Another thing to consider is that this is a burgeoning market so it’s unrealistic to expect your ROI to be as high as your ebooks or print editions.  Indie authors have to see this as a long term investment and treat it as such.

So how about you, have you produced an audio book or are you on the fence?

What To Do When Someone Pirates Your Ebook: Part 2

By lamont_cranston via Flickr
By lamont_cranston via Flickr

I had no intention of making a part 2 to my last post but when the Becca Mills story hit the internet, I felt I needed to go further with the series.  For those who don’t know, Becca Mills is an indie author, whose book was removed from Amazon by a false DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) compliant.  As the drama unfolded, many indie authors, including myself, learned several surprising things about the role retailers play in copyright disputes. Because what seemed to be an easy open and shut case turned into weeks of back and forth between the author, Amazon and a con-artist pretending to be the author.  Now here’s the kicker, even though the author had a registered copyright, Amazon would not get involved in a third party dispute.

Long story short, Ms. Mills was finally able to get her book out of KDP purgatory by filing her own counter DMCA and by shooting off an email to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. Though the odds of this happening again are astronomical, I still think we indie authors need to know our legal rights in the event someone tries to hijack our work.

*Disclaimer* I am in no way a lawyer, and cannot give you legal advice.  I can only educate you about the resources and institutions that are available to you.

Lesson 1: Don’t Go Looking For Prince Charming To Rescue You

According to Amazon’s own policy once a DMCA compliant has been filed, they must legally take the book down from their site.  I recently emailed KDP and asked about the Becca Mills case and here’s their response:

KDP Response to Becca Mills Story
Click to enlarge

As you can see, it is up to the real copyright owner to fight the con-artist.  In Becca Mills’ case things were resolved but what if one day, an imposter decides to press their luck and comes after your copyright? Would you know how to fight back?

Why File a Counter DMCA?

On most retail sites, once a DMCA complaint is filed, the identity of the person stealing the work along with their contact info is revealed in good faith. This way all the cards are on the table, and once you have this person’s identity, you can give it to the authorities which leads me to my next point…

Filing Criminal Charges

What if a thief ignores you and continues to make your life hell? In Becca Mills’ story, the person went to both Amazon and Smashwords to get her work taken down.  If this continues to happen, you’ll have no option but to file criminal charges against them. In most parts of the world, law enforcement institutions have a fraud and cyber crimes department so it would be wise to start there.

  • In the U.S. you can go to the FBI
  • In Canada the RCMP
  • In the U.K.

But what if you want restitution? In that case, you’ll need to take it to the next level and file a civil suit in court.

You Have A Copyright, Don’t You?

By Tristan Schmurr via Flickr

As I stated in part one of this series, you’ll NEED a government copyright. There is no way around this, because according to the U.S. Copyright office: “Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origins.” You can read the entire PDF file here.

Another reason why it’s smart to get a copyright is because in the U.S., if you file your copyright before publishing, you can get more in damages and even recoup your legal fees. Yes, you can get a copyright after your book has been officially published in the U.S., but you won’t be able to claim the full legal benefits of a copyright owner who registered before they published.

Lesson 2: Authors & Journalists Get Sued All The Time

It’s not uncommon for a mega bestselling author to get sued by someone claiming to be the genuine author of a given work. For example, J.K. Rowling has been sued multiple times over her Harry Potter books.  However, none of the plaintiffs have been successful in proving J.K. Rowling ripped them off.  Nevertheless, there are thousands of copyright infringement cases filed in the U.S. every year.

Most major publishing companies have liability insurance which protects them against libel as well as copyright infringement lawsuits.  Unfortunately, most indie authors cannot afford it because the premiums are often very high.  Luckily though, there are guilds and organization that offer protection or legal advice with membership.

Organizations that offer liability insurance or legal information:

In Closing

The purpose of this article is to inform authors that they don’t have to go it alone when defending their copyright.  Help is out there, all we need to do is reach out and ask.  And hopefully, the Becca Mills story will inspire us to take charge of our publishing businesses whether that means getting liability insurance or registering our copyright with a government office.  We indies need to know what’s available to us and how to proceed in the event of a lawsuit or copyright hijacking, because as you can see, the waters are treacherous in the publishing world.

*Stepping off soapbox*

Update: According to Becca Mills, once an author sends a counter DMCA their policy is not inclined to restore a book.  And she’s right, I reread Amazon’s KDP Terms Of Service and it doesn’t mention counter DMCAs or who to contact in the event a false complaint.  I’m left to assume that they take this on a case by case basis but nonetheless, author beware!