Entries in Publishing (3)
Aspiring book authors often have questions about how to copyright and protect their material before it’s published. Today’s GalleyCat blog from MediaBistro.com features an interesting article on the subject, with advice from publishing attorney Lloyd J. Jassin on copyright protection for book and series titles. See the full article here: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing/ask_a_lawyer_should_i_copyright_my_title_164031.asp
Copyright law protects the way authors express their ideas, but Jassin points out that “titles (and short phrases) are not thought to possess enough original expression to warrant copyright protection. So, while you can copyright your novel, you can’t copyright the title of your novel” – or your non-fiction book, for that matter. However, as Jassin explains, trademark law may protect a title that is part of an ongoing series, and he describes how to use the “intent-to-use” application to protect your work.
GalleyCat promises more articles on legal questions authors commonly ask – I recommend you subscribe to GalleyCat’s always-informative blog so you’re sure to see the rest of the series.
Thinking of trying to land a non-fiction book contract with a publishing house? Here’s food for thought from an interview with New York literary agent Harvey Klinger (www.harveyklinger.com), featured on mediabistro.com’s GalleyCat for March 31, 2010:
“I realize that it's very tough to sell a non-fiction project unless the person already has something of a national forum or platform for his/her work. Many would-be authors talk about what they'll do once their book is published. Publishers want to know what you're doing now to create a name for yourself in advance of a book's publication.” (Read the full interview with Harvey Klinger here: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/agents/lit_agent_harvey_klinger_wants_strong_womens_fiction_155437.asp)
What does that mean for you and your non-fiction book project? Simple: Be sure you’re building your platform as you are crafting your book proposal or developing your book manuscript. What’s a platform? Your platform is about your visibility and what you’re doing to increase it. Are you already building an audience for your book through your current work with clients, media mentions, blog, published articles, speaking engagements and association leadership? Your platform includes your credibility on your book’s topic (why are you the right person to write this book?), your existing “fan base,” and your ability to become more visible to a larger audience of potential fans. These platform elements are a crucial part of any non-fiction book proposal.
For another take on the concept of “platform” as it relates to publishing, read Mark Barrett’s amusing post on Ditchwalk (http://www.ditchwalk.com/2010/01/11/your-publishing-platform-defined/), and his take on the “celebrity” = “platform” equation. He also reminds writers (especially those considering the self-publishing route) that attention to craft and excellent writing shouldn’t take a back seat to platform considerations. Amen to that – but I’ll add that on the non-fiction side especially, a book – even a beautifully crafted one -- won’t find an audience unless readers are aware the book exists.
How are you building your platform?
One purpose for this blog is to spread the word about the excellent resources available online for anyone hoping to write and publish a book. Here are two blogs I’ve come across recently that I think you’ll find extraordinarily helpful, whether you are pulling together a business book or writing the next Great American Novel.
Literary agent Nathan Bransford, with the San Francisco office of Curtis Brown Ltd., offers an entertaining, terrifically informative blog about the ins and outs of query letters, finding an agent, and negotiating the process of getting published. He also keeps his readers up to date on publishing industry news and trends, and encourages lively discussions via the comments. Check it out at:
Over at “The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing,” consulting editor Alan Rinzler offers his own information-packed take on writing and publishing books, covering topics like the changes in the publishing industry, how to build your author platform, and a whole lot more. Visit Alan Rinzler’s blog here: http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/
Please let me know what you think – and share links to your favorite online resources on publishing.