That’s good advice if you’re about to take your old landlord to small claims court for the return of your illegally withheld security deposit, and it’s good advice for a writer about to embark on there first indie book release.
By the way, did you notice the mistake in the above sentence? If it made you cringe a little when you read it, then you already understand how important it is to properly edit and proof your work before you set it loose in the world. That being the case, I won’t start flogging a dead horse. Instead, I’ll pick out a few other things that it might be helpful to think about on the route toward preparing an error-free book for the marketplace, and fulfilling your legal obligations as an author/publisher.
Especially if you’re writing a series of books, it can be hard to keep track of who did what when, and who found out what about that other person who was keeping secrets from so-and-so. Having a timeline helps to keep all of this information organized, and should help to prevent any continuity slip-ups. You can create a simple timeline in MS Word using a free template which you can download HERE. (There’s also a HOW TO guide if you want to try and create one yourself from scratch).
If you’re planning on uploading your book to KDP (Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform), there are a few little software quirks that might catch you off-guard. For instance, if your book contains any special symbols, the conversion to Kindle format may not work as smoothly as you anticipate. The first time I tried uploading a book to Kindle, I used a special currency symbol. When I scanned through the uploaded file in the Kindle Previewer, I didn’t immediately notice that my symbol (which appeared twice in the book) had been converted into a bunch of complete gibberish. In the same vein, Kindle can’t read the indents you get when you hit the ‘tab’ key. So if you’re writing your book in MS Word, you’ll need to set the paragraph indents for the whole document so that it automatically alters the left margin at the beginning of every new paragraph. You can find a complete guide to Kindle formatting HERE.
Did you know that every time a Canadian publishes a book, a copy of that book has to be sent to the national Library & Archives service? I didn’t, and I’ve lived in Canada for six years. For eight whole months after publishing my first book, I carried on my life completely oblivious to this fairly important fact, and contrary to popular belief, ignorance isn’t bliss—it’s foolish. I should’ve properly educated myself, and I didn’t. Now I know better. For those in Canada who need to fulfill their legal deposit requirements, you can download the appropriate form HERE. Think you’re off the hook ‘cause you don’t live in Canada? Think again! Other countries have their own legal deposit requirements, too. For those in the UK, the relevant information can be found HERE. For the US, see HERE.
If you live elsewhere in the world, I highly recommend researching any legal deposit requirements that might exist in your country of residence. It may also be worth noting that the US Copyright Office has requirements for foreign publishers who distribute within the US, as well as for authors/publishers who are based in the US. In the case of foreign publishers, you may be exempt from the mandatory deposit if you register your work with the Library of Congress electronically. This costs $35, and takes only a minute or two to register online. The link to the Electronic Copyright Office is HERE.
Before you fork out $100 for one single ISBN, check out your country’s rules regarding ISBN assignment. Here in Canada, for example, ISBNs are free. Yes: FREE. Whether you need one or one hundred, the price is the same—you don’t need to pay a penny. To get your free ISBNs, you need to register with the Canadian ISBN Service System. It’s all online, and it doesn’t take long. After you register, it takes up to 10 business days for them to approve your account, allocate you your first ISBN prefix, and send you your login information. After that, you can obtain individual ISBNs instantly. All the information on this can be found HERE.
I hope some of this information was useful. These are just some of the many things I wish I’d realized from the get-go!
Keira Michelle Telford is an award winning dystopian SF author from British Columbia, Canada.