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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I copyright my book?

Type “copyright,” the year and your name on the manuscript! Plus “Unpublished Work.” You may use only the word “copyright,” but the © symbol is necessary for international protection. You are not required to file for copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to secure your copyright. By law, authors are protected from the moment a work is created. When the work is published, the copyright notice is printed on page 2 or the reverse of the inside title page. Authors are granted protection for the duration of the author’s life, plus an additional 50 years after death. You can copyright everything in a book except the title.

The only reason to formally register the copyright or establish a public record of your claim is if you are concerned about possible infringement suits. (Generally this is not an issue.) This registration can be made any time after publication and within the duration of the copyright (i.e., while you are still breathing plus some!).

It costs $35 to $45 to file (depending on how you file) and can take up to 16 weeks to receive the copyright certificate. The registered copyright is effective from the day it is received at the Copyright Office.

To file, contact the Copyright Office (URL and mailing address below) and request Form TX and circulars 1 and 2: Copyright Basics and Publications of the Copyright Office. Two copies of the book must be sent with the completed application. Send it registered or certified mail if you wish to confirm that the application has been received.

Register of Copyrights
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20559
202-707-3000 (information line or form request)
202-707-9100 (to request forms)
202-707-5959 (information specialist)

The forms may also be downloaded with instructions at www.loc.gov/copyright/forms. It is advisable to check this site for changes in procedures.

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What is an ISBN and Do I need one?

ISBN means International Standard Book Number System. It is an identification system for controlling inventory in book stores around the world. Any book with an ISBN is listed in Books in Print. Beginning in January 2007, ISBNs are 13 digits.

Not every book needs an ISBN. If you plan to sell your books in major bookstores or gift shops though, you should have one. Wordrunner Press (WP) can supply an ISBN (for $25), but this means the number is registered with WP and you cannot be listed as the publisher. You can still use the name of your publishing house and have an ISBN issued by Wordrunner, as long as your house is listed on the copyright page as an imprint of WordRunner.

If you want to file for your own ISBN as a publisher, it will cost a minimum of $125 for one number or $250 for ten numbers. The U.S. agency for ISBN is R.R. Bowker; the entire process can be completed on-line at www.isbn.org. NEW: Bowker has made it simpler for self-publishing authors to purchase single ISBNs and barcodes, at: www.myidentifiers.com

If your book is printed via CreateSpace (CS), you can have a free ISBN, which makes CreateSpace the imprint of record. The free ISBN entitles your book to library distribution. For information on ISBN options, see https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ISBNs.jsp.

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Is a bar code necessary?

A computerized bar code is not always necessary. If you plan to distribute your books in local book and retail stores you should ask if they require bar codes. To get a bar code made, an ISBN is required. The bar code is the ISBN! The retail price of the book may or may not be included in the coding. But when the ISBN is registered a retail price must be included in the record.

Wordrunner Press supplies a barcode with ISBN gratis. If you buy your own ISBN numbers, barcodes are not included, but Bowker will supply them for a modest fee. If you plan on publishing more than one book, barcoding software is inexpensive, reliable and easy to use.

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Do I need a Library of Congress card number?

Probably not. If your book is not intended for library distribution there is no reason to apply for an LOC number. If it has fewer than 50 pages, it is not eligible (unless it is a children’s book or a geneaology).

If you are publishing a larger book, you may apply for a preassigned LOC number by submitting an application form called Request for Preassignment of Library of Congress Catalog Card Number. However, this must be submitted before the book is published and printed. There is no filing fee. You must have established your own publishing house, but this is as simple as saying so and supplying an address and contact information. Or this can be done through WP, which already has an account.

You may apply for a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) account with the Library of Congress online at: www.loc.gov/publish/pcn. This is the recommended procedure. Once an account is established, a PCN application goes through very quickly, in a day or two.

The Library of Congress will request a non-returnable copy of the book upon publication. If the book is selected for the Library’s collection, the book is catalogued and the preassigned card number becomes part of the catalog record. Even if the title is not is not selected, the card number may still be used as a record identification number by libraries or other databases.

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If I submit my book on computer disk, does it matter which software or platform I use?

Either Windows/IBM or Macintosh platforms are fine. Word or WordPerfect or RTF files are best. You should call or email first before sending files processed in other softwares. The safest thing to do is to export or save your file as plain text. For example, Claris Works and Apple Works do not convert cleanly on an IBM (which is where the books are formatted). They must be opened on a Mac and “saved as” something else (Word for IBM or text or rtf).

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How long will it take to publish my book?

This depends in part on the time you spend proofing (or heaven forbid, revising) and how busy the printer is, as well as on work flow here. Wordrunner Press is a one-woman shop. Still, drafts are generally turned around within two or three days, unless this is a long, complicated book with many photos. Finally, the printing and binding process, including galley proofs, can take as much as six weeks, including shipping time. If the book goes to a print-on-demand outfit, the printing and binding is much faster, about a week. Also allow time for shipping. The record time for publishing a book start to finish was about two months. Another was nine months in gestation.

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Will Wordrunner market my books?

WordRunner Press does not distribute or market books. If WP is contacted by bookstores (via the ISBN), the order will be referred to the author. Please see the marketing page for promotional ideas.

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