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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I copyright my chapbook?

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 Plus “Unpublished Work.”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. 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 for chapbook authors.) 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.

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 the chapbook in major bookstores or gift shops though, you should have one. Wordrunner Chapbooks (WC) can supply an ISBN (for $30), but this means the number is registered with WC and you cannot be listed as the publisher. If you want to file for your own ISBN as a publisher, it will cost a minimum of $150 for one number or $275 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

However, 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 Chapbooks.

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 Chapbooks supplies a barcode with ISBN gratis.

Do I need a Library of Congress card number?

Probably not. If your chapbook 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. This will take 2 to 3 weeks. There is no filing fee. The application must be typed.

To obtain the form, contact:
Library of Congress
Cataloging in Publication Division
Washington, DC 20540
202-707-6372 (press 1)

Or download the form at: www.tristatelitho.com/pdf_files/lccap.pdf

You may also apply for an account with the Library of Congress online at:

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.

If I submit my chapbook 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). It is also a good idea to mail a hard copy of the file that shows line breaks and indents, which can get lost in translation.

How long will it take to publish my chapbooks?

From start to finish, on average, allow five weeks from the time WordRunner Chapbooks receives the text to the day the finished books are delivered. It can certainly take less time than that — or more. You would receive the first proof draft within a week to 10 days after mailing it; sooner, if emailed. Then there would be at least one and sometimes two more drafts before the book is approved (by you) for printing. How long this takes depends partly on the time you spend proofing (or heaven forbid, revising) and the U.S. postal service, as well as on work flow here. WC is a one-woman shop. Still, the corrected drafts are generally turned around within one or two days. Drafts may also be sent via email as pdf files, with two pages to a sheet. Finally, the printing and binding process may take two weeks or longer. All text pages are laser printed and hand-folded in relatively slow stages (to avoid overheating equipment and taxing the production person). The print shops where covers are offset printed and the books are folded, trimmed and stitched are sometimes overbooked, so to speak (i.e., just before the holiday/New Year season), and sometimes they finish lickety-split. The books are shipped UPS land unless other arrangements need to be made.

Will Wordrunner market my chapbooks?

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