An eBook Publishing Primer - what librarians need to know to assist local authors

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Where do local authors go to find out about self-publishing an eBook? Why, they should go to the library, of course!

Jo Flick of the Montana State Library and Jodi Christophe of the Missoula Public Library's Web-On-Wheels branch library will introduce librarians to several epublishing options that they can share with local authors interested in self-publishing. The goals of this training are to support local writers, to position the library as an important resource for writers, and to promote the access and archiving of home-grown literature through the local library.

To meet these goals, Jodi and Jo will explain the issues and decisions that authors face when choosing which service they use to self publish, they will provide links to many resources available to authors from epublishing to researching copyright issues. Participants will leave this session with a working knowledge of how epublishing works.

CE category: Library Services to the Public

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  • This graphic from Forbes magazine illustrates the economic advantage of self publishing and an evolving model for revenue sharing that can benefit authors. An author’s return on the sale of a book averaged 2.25% under the old model…few authors were able to make a living on their work. The new model has the potential for authors to retain more of the income for book sales. Don’t spend that money ahead of time, though…there are still lots of hurdles between writing and striking it rich. Still the potential is for a lot of new authors to come into the marketplace and to gain a living writing…at least that was the opinion of the author of this article. The article featured our first online publisher: SmashWords.
  • Press books has a step-by-step interface that gets the author a Web book address. You can publish privately or publicly. Essentially, the system acts as a plugin for WordPress (the same interface that we use here at the MT State Library for our learning portal and soon, for all of MSL’s Web applications). Starting at $99 to publish to Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo. But, if you just want your book online, you can set your price in PressBooks’ get a url, and you can promote it yourself. No charge. Let’s take a closer look at the process that authors experience as their eBook is created…
  • PressBooks is really an online content management system – built around blogging technology. You choose a theme for your book…themes govern how the content will display…and then you select “Text”…
  • Then the interface rather organizes the content for you. You add the front matter, each chapter…any pictures you want… And you choose “eCommerce” to link to sellers. If you just want to sell the book yourself, then, on a separate page, set up a pay pal account or credit card account and link to the book here in PressBooks. Authors keep 100% of revenue, but they have to do all the marketing themselves.
  • So, in review…for PressBooks, it’s a simple 4-step process – pretty nifty.
  • When you sign up for Press Books, you get on their email list. Now, I’m not much for email lists…but this one drops an email into my box about once a week and I’ve actually found it to be helpful information.
  • While working through an online publishing service is convenient, it is not the only option for authors…authors may create their own eBook without using any online service and then post it…if they have access to a Web server. If you have an author who has material that is particularly academic, you may want to show them the Hathi Trust. It’s an online publishing tool that was created by a university consortium. Here is Montana, there are two local (at least) online repositories that may be a good spot for local author’s eBooks: the Montana Memory Project, especially if a library is a contributor and the content meets that collection’s objectives, a local library can offer to publish the book by uploading it into the MMP. This would be especially appropriate for materials that are focused on Montana history. The Montana Library2Go has a pilot project underway to publish content which is then discoverable and downloadable through our statewide discovery search tool. She would love to talk to you about your local content!!! For more information on the Montana eBook pilot project, contact Cara Orban here at the MT State Library, corban@mt.gov Are there other web locations available that you’ve discovered? Is your library offering online space to authors?
  • So, we’ve shown you some options to get authors published… but, there is another area where librarians can be an important resource for authors …namely, to help them stay on the right side of the law…copyright law. Librarians can help authors avoid legal problems by reminding them that when they published, they are subject to the full weight of the copyright law for any material they used in writing their book. You can help, but your role is limited. Copyright covers all creative works…completely original works, collaborative works, and derivative works. The creators rights are assured by the law from the moment the work exists and the creator does not have to do anything to enjoy the protection of the law. The creator needs to be able to prove that a creative work is their own. And, it is generally expected that creators will register their works with the copyright office before they pursue any legal action. So, your authors are protected as well… but if they used a photo or a passage or graphic or even a creative concept, then they need to obtain permission from the person or persons who created it! What can/should librarians do?
  • Here’s what I think describes the appropriate role of librarians regarding copyrights and working with local authors. This is what we recommend to librarians here in Montana. I don’t think it is appropriate for a librarian to tell an author it is okay to do this or that…but rather to refer them to authoritative information so they can make informed conclusions and decisions. When I am asked by someone about the use of something…I ALWAYS say: “Here are some resources on that. All creative works are protected by copyright unless they are expressly in the public domain either by the action of the creator of those works or by expiration of copyright protection. Final judgment rests with the author/creator.” On the next page, I’ll share some resources that I’ve found very useful. What do you think? How do you handle inquiries from authors about copyright concerns?
  • Here are some helpful resources to share with authors about copyright. I’ve placed a handout with these in the materials section of our class control panel. Cornell has lots of good information about copyright, but this is my go-to publication when it comes to trying to determine if and when an item’s copyright protection expires. Constantly updated. The slider is an online widget to determine if a creative work has fallen into the public domain. I highly recommend the Crash Course! Every library staff person, every teacher, every college student should take this online free course. The Federal Copyright Office has publications and this is where authors can go to register a copyright (which is not the same as acquiring an ISBN number for the publication). BTW, you can use the c in a circle on a work without having registered it with the US Copyright Office. Using the circle indicates that the author expects their copyright to be respected.
  • A few more things to keep in mind for your local authors: Sometimes, a lower royalty rate is better – since the publisher may be more motivated to sell the book and they’ll have a better margin – which means they’ll have money to pay to promote the book. 90% royalty on $100 of sales or 15% on a million$$$ - which would you rather have in your bank account? Authors should always retain control over their characters and any elements that they may want to use again. Authors need to be able to prove that they created the work – working with a lawyer that specializes in contracts is the best way. Authors can also keep notes, a journal or diary about their work, letters or emails that describe what they are doing along the way. Some authors mail a sealed envelope with their book via registered mail to themselves and then keep it sealed so that it is postmarked as proof of the date that the work was made. I don’t know if a court would accept that. Only the judge knows that. If your author is really concerned – they need a lawyer. Tell authors about the Creative Commons license – the information is on your handout. Authors can permit others to use their material, but still retain their rights.
  • An eBook Publishing Primer - what librarians need to know to assist local authors

    1. 1. An ePublishing Primer: What librarians need to know to help local authors Jodi Christophe & Jo Flick
    2. 2. Your presenters Jodi Christophe & Jo Flick
    3. 3. Today we will: • Explore some online self-publishing tools • Share questions and experiences • Be able to assist local authors who wish to self-publish an eBook • Be ready to present a ½ hr session on self epublishing for authors
    4. 4. Forbes Magazine (6/7/2012)
    5. 5. SmashWords
    6. 6. Lulu
    7. 7. Amazon – CreateSpace
    8. 8. PressBooks.com
    9. 9. PressBooks.com
    10. 10. PressBooks.com
    11. 11. PressBooks.com 4-Step Guide to Making a Book with PressBooks o Choose Book Design Theme (what your book will look like) o Add Book Information (title, author name etc). o Add/Organize Text (your chapters etc) o Export your book (in MOBI {for Kindle}, EPUB {for Nook/iBooks etc), PDF {for print-on-demand}
    12. 12. PressBooks.com
    13. 13. Go it alone with a specialty epublisher Free services for content provided to the public for free – author still retains copyright privileges: • Hatha Trust - primarily for academic content • Montana Memory Project – must be part of a collection
    14. 14. Copyright Concerns • Advise authors that copyright law exists • Copyright covers ALL creative works
    15. 15. Copyright Concerns • Refer authors to information • Recommend authors seek legal advice • Final judgment rests with the author/creator ©
    16. 16. Copyright Resources • Copyright Term and Public Domain in the US – a chart from Cornell University http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain .cfm • Copyright slider http://librarycopyright.net/resources/digitalslider/ • Copyright Crash Course from the University of Texas http://copyright.lib.utexas.edu/ • US Copyright Office http://www.copyright.gov/
    17. 17. Don’t worry…too much!
    18. 18. Questions? Discussion? • Jo Flick, Montana State Library jflick@mt.gov • Jodi Christophe WOW Bus Librarian jchris

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