Tag Archive: about writing

Sometime after writers stopped using quills as ink pens, our copyright laws came into being. The law assigns copyright when a work is created – you don’t have to register. But it’s a good idea, especially since today’s quill is a computer and the paper is online.

Copyright on a creative work exists as soon as the work is put to paper. The author doesn’t have to formally register the work with the US Copyright office, but it’s a good idea to do it before self publishing a book, or submitting for traditional publication.

An author does have to register the copyright before claiming a case of copyright infringement, and having registered the work long before there is any question of infringement can help your case.

I see it as a professional approach to my creative work, a finishing touch.

The creative work does not have to be published before registration, and in fact, due to recent changes by the US Copyright Office, if the work is unpublished, it can be uploaded electronically for the registration process – which is a change from having to mail a hard copy. (Mailing a hard copy is part of the Library of Congress Control Number process, which happens after the work is published – including self published…)

I recently went through the copyright process with the finished draft of my grandfather’s aviation history biography, and I have some tips.

  • Prepare an electronic copy of the manuscript that is smaller than 11.3 MB, because that is the single file upload limit and a full length manuscript is almost certainly bigger than that. Make a compressed PDF or split the document into several files… the upload process does allow one project in multiple files (up to six). So getting that ready in advance will help.
  • Choose a time when you can do the whole process in one session, so that you don’t risk stopping part way. It will take about an hour, depending on the copyright office’s online response time.
  • It will cost $35, (as of 2012) payable online at the time of registration, so having a credit or debit card ready is a good idea.
  • At www.copyright.gov, you first establish a profile and choose a user name and password. You’ll use this same profile for every work you register for copyright.
  • The first step isn’t very obvious, despite the care given to try and make the process more streamlined. It’s called Register A New Claim… and from there, you go step by step.

You will have to click a confirmation button at the very end of the process, and it isn’t complete until you do, so don’t leave the process until you’ve clicked that button. It’s not a very obvious button… the Staples Easy Button is a better design, but you’ll find it.

It’s not required to register – copyright is yours once you create a work – but it’s a good idea to do it when you’ve finished your book, before you self publish, or before you submit your book for publication. Add a copy of your work to our Library of Congress!


The Free Rooster is alive and well

My blog at www.TheFreeRooster.com is alive and well, hosted on Blogger.com and headed for a blook adventure!

Back in 2009, when I realized that I was learning how to self publish a book, I followed the advice of every resource I could find, and started a blog to promote my book.

The book was “Just a Couple of Chickens” and the blog was www.TheFreeRooster.com.

I blogged about raising chickens, urban chickens, rural chickens, things that ate rural chickens, economic disaster recovery strategies, and writing a book.

I also experimented with every gadget Blogger.com had to offer, and it went pretty well.

But I grew out of Blogger… I needed to do more than it would let me do for free. I discovered wordpress and self hosting, which required a lot of learning by doing, but in the end allowed me to do what I needed to do for the least possible price.

I created a new blog to support both my first book and my current book, the soon-to-be-available-now-in-traditional-publishing-submission biography of my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett…. and to squawk on about self publishing.

So where will www.TheFreeRooster.com go now? What will happen to it?

I have big plans for it… the first of which is to turn it into a blook, to preserve all the still useful information it contains. And then I plan to do big fun things with it starting fresh. Fun fresh things that are big.

In the meantime, it remains a live site with lots of gadgets down the side and an archive of useful information… Blogger is a great platform, and I think it was initially easier to learn than WordPress, but ultimately more limiting than WordPress. When the blook is complete, I will announce it here with great fanfare. I suspect there are a lot of bloggers out there who will be interested in How To Turn A Blog Into A Blook….. !


Self Publisher Author versus Self Publisher

Full moon nights are a bad time for board meetings at www.TheWestchesterPress.com, because we are a self publisher.

I am a writer. That’s how I think of myself. I am an author.

But because I am a self publisher… and more specifically, a Do It Your Self Publisher… I have some odd conversations with myself.

I had to become a publisher in order to self publish. And when I became a publisher, I began to think like a publisher… and that’s where I came into conflict with my author. Who is also myself.

As an author, I don’t want to be bothered by things like:

  • deadlines
  • page counts
  • copyright issues on photos I really want to include
  • marketability
  • distribution channels and their sensibilities

I’m an artist, see, and words are my palette. But my publisher keeps pushing red-lined columns of numbers under my nose, which is annoying.

I’m a publisher, see, and this is a business. But my arty smarty author doesn’t want to take a stroll in reality and see that a 300,000 word manuscript is very expensive to print but can only command the same cover price as a 100,000 word book. Less is more, less is more!

Before I started self publishing, I had a dream that if, one day, I had a book deal with a traditional publisher, then I wouldn’t ever have to worry about publisher things, and could write anything I pleased. But I’ve been reading the blogs of the traditionally published authors I revere, and I’m beginning to see that they still have to write inside the lines, market their own work, and stick to marketable book subjects. Well, actually, it wasn’t ME who figured that out, it was my self publisher… she kept bringing those things to my attention.

Both of us, author and self publisher, as well as the rest of us… the department heads of sales and marketing and shipping and finance, all try to work together to produce a book that will sell and sell. And some days, particularly around the full moon, it’s better to just crack open a bottle (box) of wine and settle down with somebody else’s good book.



How do I get paid as a self publisher

I reveal the payment mysteries of self publishing in this rockin’ post.

How do I get paid for my self published book? How does the money actually arrive in my bank account?

Well, it depends on how you are selling your book. I’ll focus on the online and credit card sales, because if you are selling your book at a table or out of the trunk of your car, it’s more obvious how you get paid… the online sales are the mystery to most of us.

If you are selling through a print-on-demand service like CreateSpace, then every time a book sells through Amazon.com, you get a royalty. The amount of that royalty is determined by the size and cover price of your book. You would know in advance how much that will be as you go through the set up process. There are at least three different royalty amounts, based on how what sales channel the buyer purchased your book.

The following CreateSpace details were current as of September, 2012, and since things change rapidly… take them with a grain of salt:

  • You get the highest royalty if the buyer buys from your CreateSpace author page, which is a page nobody will find unless you email them the direct link.
  • The “normal” royalty comes through sales directly from Amazon.com, and you have to rely on Amazon.com to report how many of those sales took place. There can be a lag between the buying and the reporting.
  • The least amount of royalty comes through Amazon.com expanded distribution, which is a channel you have to pay to sign up for, but enables your book to be available on request (not on the shelf) in every bookstore in the world.

You never have to handle the book or the shipping, and you don’t get the direct information about the buyer. Your royalties add up and when you’ve met the required minimum balance ($25 most recently), then CreateSpace will direct deposit the money to the bank account you’ve listed. They can send you a check instead, but it’ll cost you.

If you are selling your book through PayPal, directly from your own website, then PayPal will hold the full amount you charged for the book, less their fee, until you tell them to deposit it to your bank account (free), or request a check (which will cost you). You will package up the book, which you’ve already had printed somehow, and ship it to the seller. This way you get the buyer information, but you also have to handle the book and have an inventory to ship from, which you have already paid for.

If you set up your website to accept credit cards by getting a merchant account or gateway account, then the money you process from the sales of your books gets deposited to your bank account, less the fees for the merchant account. Depending on how you have it set up, you may instead have a lump sum fee withdrawal come out of your account once a month.

All of these methods require you to allow these companies  access to your bank account, to make the deposits, and so it is very wise to set up a totally separate account for these business activities. And make sure your bank offers good fraud protection. I don’t find it entirely comfortable either, but it’s the reality of true self publishing… you are a publisher, you are a business, and these are the conditions for normal modern business.

I promise you that it all feels much better than this post makes it sound when the money from book sales is flowing in…




Details about my writing contract for just a couple of chickens

Buff Polish Chicks want details about my first writing contract for Just A Couple of Chickens, so I made a movie. Because chicks dig movies.

I was so excited when my first book, “Just A Couple Of Chickens” came out in 2010.

I was even more excited when it began to sell,

and when it got good reviews,

and when I heard from readers about how much they have enjoyed reading it.

I got all wrapped up in building a website to promote the book,

And establishing connections with distributors… something my husband, Andrew, is uniquely supremely gifted at doing, which led to sales of over 1,500 copies.

So I thought I would make a little movie to share some of the details of my first writing contract for this first book…. and here it is.


How to use a website as an author platform

These may be some of my far ancestors, but since nobody labeled the photos, I will never know. To me, they represent my many inner selves. Especially the dude in the uniform and the chick in the corset. Those are definitely my inner voices.

I have been listening to expert advice regarding how-to-be-a-successful-author, and all of my sources say “create and maintain a platform online.” So I recently sat down with myself to try and figure out how to present myself online and everywhere else.

“How should I present myself?” I asked myself.

“Lie like a rug!” came one answer.

“With Dignity!” came another.

“Don’t do it,” came a third.

“You always say don’t,” retorted one.

“No I don’t,” replied a third.

“You just did,” one pointed out.

“Grow up, both of you,” said another.

“This,” I said to all of them, “is why I try not to talk to myself.”

So I set up a website and I began to blog about the subject matter showcased by my two books, Just A Couple Of Chickens, and the soon-to-be-released biography about my grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett. And I discovered that I had a third subject to blog about… self publishing, and how to do it, and what I think about it, and how it’s going as I do it. And I began to recognize my voice through this work… my voice is my platform, and my platform is how I talk to my readers – established and new.

At first, I felt that all this blogging and social media-ing… all this platform developing… was taking time away from my ultimate purpose, which was to write and sell books and become mega-rich author. But then I realized that all this blogging and reaching out into the dark with my keyboard was developing a direction for my writing. It was giving me clarity and focus. It was giving me mental wealth… even when I though nobody was reading it. Which actually, they are… (arrgg! Writers Block!)

I realized that I have a definite niche focus for my self publishing… which is Do-It-Yourself, and Own Your ISBN.  I discovered that the direction for my chicken book sequel is not just poultry raising, but is also Urban Homesteading. And I was able to expand on the material that built my grandfather’s biography – going further with the subject than I was able to do in the book itself, because my publisher was anxious about the page count. (So far, it’s out for submission to a traditional agent, so that was another meeting of the selves that didn’t go well…)

So already my platform has brought me (mental) riches. It isn’t a timesuck, it’s a garden… a pathway… a meeting place.

What should I do with my author platform?

  • I think I should expand on my author themes,
  • be a resource by sharing my experiences,
  • connect with other people doing similar things,
  • pose questions to the industry,
  • and share my personality.

Plus it’s great fun to pursue additional subjects pertaining to my books, like Famous People Who Met My Grandfather, and Funky Chickens.




(this post is a re-write re-post from 2011…)

As I near the end of writing my manuscript, I realize that the time has come to polish up the grammer, usage, punctuation,
and so I pull out my mammothly heavy copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
Perhaps, you are thinking, I should have that book out all the time – before I near the end of my manuscript.
Well, I am going to ignore that kind of thinking and move forward.

I can’t pretend that I like The Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve spent too many hours trying to follow all the freakin’ rules and regulations.

Rules like how percentage has to be spelled out if it refers to human beings, but can be a symbol if it refers to anything else unless it is at the beginning of a sentence and depending how big of a number it is referring to.
This is the kind of rule that seems to love itself too much.

The T-Rex of Self Publishing, Chicago Manual of Style

This is how I feel about the Chicago Manual of Style, but I use it… and use it… and use it some more.

To be a rule simply to exist as a rule and not to help mankind in general.
Stop signs, good rule.
Percent rule,  not so much.

The manualfesto is produced by the University of Chicago Press – who is actually a publisher.
They have a section of their website with manuscript preparation guidelines that are a handy basic starting point for formatting a manuscript, even if it isn’t going to be submitted to them.

And I wondered why the University of Chicago got to determine the final word on usage of the English Language… wikilore says it is because they did it first, and they did it most, and they’ve continued to do it.

It started in 1906 with the first edition and is now in a 16th edition and is considered a guide for the proper use of everything in American English.

If I sound a little negative, it’s only because I don’t write right and I have to spend many many hours creeping through the Chicago Manual of Style to put out a decent manuscript.
Their rules of English usage are not obvious to me despite my fluency in the language.

It is also because I decided not to sign up online because if I bought the durn book, then I’d have it and not have to pay again every year. How often would they put out a new edition?  I’d be set for decades.
The very next year, they put out the new edition. All newest editions are automatically accessible in the online subscription, which is also, naturally, searchable online.

If I had the online version, I could be searching the proper usage of the word “Dammit” right now.

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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