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What You Need to Know about Vanity, Hybrid and Trad Publishers & Scammers!

There are lots of ways to get your books published and into readers’ hands. Besides traditional publishing, there are vanity presses and hybrid publishers. Then there are companies that provide editorial or publishing services. If you are a small publisher, you can also hire printers, distributors, and warehousing services. Finally there are a number of companies like Ingram or Amazon, which distribute your book. Amazon also sells your book on its website. And in the ebook world, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, are also distributors/sellers. New self-publishers often aren’t sure which services to use, which route to take on the way to being published.

The problem is that someone new to the field might call all of these situations “publishing” or “self-publishing”. That can lead to confusion. It’s important to know what you are getting and what you are paying. Furthermore, some companies take advantage of the confusion, by not being fully transparent about what they do. This deception can run the gamut from questionable sales tactics to actual scams that cost people money!

I hate seeing people post questions on forums and social media such as “My publisher is charging me $2000. Is that what publishers usually charge?” These kinds of questions means someone is trying to take advantage of those new to self-publishing. So in this post, I’ll lay out the different kinds of publishers and publishing services and what to expect from them. That way you can recognize what you are getting into.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishers do not charge the author to publish their book. Instead, they take a percentage of the sales of the book (Put differently publishers pay a royalty—usually 10% of the retail price—to the author but also pay all the costs of production)*. That means that the publisher’s income is dependent on the book doing well. If the book doesn’t sell, the publisher doesn’t make money. So the publisher is invested in helping the book sell.

This is why publishers are selective about the books they choose to publish. Large publishers have teams of acquisitions editors whose job it is to read book proposals and pick ones they think will sell. The vast majority of large publishers take book proposals only from agented writers. This adds another layer to the process of finding quality books. For this reason, “published author” has a certain level of prestige attached to it. It suggests that you have been selected out of hundred or even thousands of proposals!

Details of acquisitions vary widely by publisher and by genre. Smaller publishers are more likely to take unsolicited and unagented proposals. In the education field, textbooks are usually publisher-led projects meaning that they don’t take proposals at all, but they might accept an idea for a teacher resource book for example. Publisher websites or a reference such as Writers Digest are great places to find publishers and learn their requirements.

One important thing to realize is that even traditionally published authors are expected to do a lot of marketing on their own. Book signings, media interviews, and giveaways on social media are usually done by the author, though your publisher or agent will often help out, making sure you have books in stock to sell and so on. So don’t expect that being traditionally published means you’ll be whisked away to media interviews and see posters of your face all over town. Unless your books become best-sellers, of course!

Vanity Press

A vanity press is a publishing service where you pay for the full costs of production of your book. A traditional vanity press is basically a printer. You provide them a manuscript and they turn it into a book. Nowadays vanity presses offer editing and cover design services. Some will even offer to create marketing materials or an author website for you.

Vanity presses are great if you do not expect to make a profit off of your book. The costs of each book are typically too high to sell at a reasonable price for profit. You may want to create an heirloom for your family, or a gift for your friends. You may be an academic who needs to show proof of publishing. Maybe you work for an organization that needs to publish some materials. Vanity presses are a great solution for that. But they are not the same as traditional publishing, where you hope you will make a profit off of your sales! They’re for people publishing for their own enjoyment, their own vanity, if you will.

Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid publishing was born out of the reality that the publishing business is not always profitable and that the author does take on a lot of responsibility to market and promote their own book. Hybrid publishers basically straddle the line between a vanity press and a traditional publisher. If traditional publishing means the publisher takes most of the costs and therefore most of the profit, hybrid publishing means the publisher and author split the costs and also the profits.

Hybrid publishers may present themselves as  a partnership between publisher and author. They may even organize themselves as a kind of collective. Or they may present themselves as publishers that sell publishing services to the author. This latter model is certainly a legitimate way of looking at hybrid publishing (you could see traditional publishing in that light too), but it is easy for an author to be confused or even scammed, so look out for any red flags (see below)  and don’t be afraid to ask for a clear list of all costs and their royalty policy. You can even ask if they are a hybrid publisher or not. You can also check out these guidelines from the IBPA on what makes a reputable hybrid publisher. They’re written for the publisher, but they give you an idea of what to look for as an author, too.

Publishing Services

To produce a book, you may need a number of services: an editor or multiple editors, a book designer, a cover designer, an ebook formatter, a distributor, a marketer, a publicist, or more! If you go with a traditional publisher, they provide these services. A hybrid or vanity press might provide some or all these services, as a package or à la carte. If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to do it yourself or hire people or barter with friends or something.

I think it’s important to discuss publishing services for that reason and because people sometimes mistake these service providers for publishers or don’t realize that distributing isn’t the same as selling or marketing, for example. And because service providers can scam you by pretending to be publishers, nickel-and-diming you, or by promising things you never get. So, it’s important to be clear that if you hire a company to produce your book for you, that’s not traditional publishing. It’s actually closer to vanity publishing than anything else. And that’s fine, as long as that’s actually what you want!

You can hire professionals individually, as you need them. Sites like Reedsy or Fiverr are great places to find freelancers. You might find a professional who can do multiple jobs. Many editors will do a broad range of editing, and a book designer may also be able to do your cover. Or you can hire a one-stop shopping company like Bookbaby which provides a variety of packages of services. They’ll even help you get your book up on KDP. But they are not a publisher, meaning they don’t represent you in anyway, and they don’t take any of your profits.

So what’s a scam?

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I don’t actually think  vanity presses or publishing services are scams, as long as they are upfront about who they are and what they do. Some people are perfectly happy to pay for a nice-looking book and they don’t expect or want to make a profit. My cousin published a beautiful history of her town including our family’s role in the founding, to gift to members of the family and various local libraries and museums. She used a vanity press and she was quite pleased with the result.

Red flags that indicate you might be dealing with a scammer

  • Pretends to be traditional publishers, but ask you to pay them a fee. Remember that you NEVER pay a traditional publisher upfront.
  • Promises to get you into bookstores. No one but a bookstore can guarantee that.
  • Charges high prices to do things you can do yourself while giving the impression these services require special expertise or contacts, for example uploading your book to IngramSpark or putting in on KDP. They may also make it sound like setting you up with a KDP account is something special as opposed to a standard step in self-publishing.
  • Claims to be affiliated with Amazon or Ingram or Apple. Amazon used to offer editorial services but no longer do. None of the big companies have editorial or publishing partners. That being said, some publishers do offer vanity publishing or hybrid publishing services. However, using those services is not the same as being actually published by them!
  • Suggests that they worked with big name celebrities or well-known best-selling books. It’s easy to research whether Dan Brown or JK Rowling  published with EasyBook Publishers for a low fee of only $10,000! (Spoiler alert: They did not).
  • Makes hollow or deceptive promises like making you number one on Amazon, and then scamming the system to make your book temporarily a best-seller in an obscure category. Social media mentions are another area of abuse here. Getting mentioned on social media X number of times is not guarantee of sales!
  • Some vanity publishers have an online store where people can purchase books they worked on. That’s not necessarily a scam, but if they pretend that online store will somehow make you big sales, it’s highly unlikely. It’s just there for you to sell to friends and family.
  • Guarantees book awards or reviews or social media mentions. There are a lot of book awards out there and there’s debate whether awards do much for sales or not. However, some scam publishers actually run the book award and give an award to every book they work on. That is going to impress no one.

So I hope this clears up some confusion and helps you decide the best way to get your book published. Most importantly, I hope it prevents you from getting scammed, or even simply avoiding disappointment!

And let me know if you have any questions in the comments-or share your stories about the highs or lows of sorting through publishing offers!


* In fact, publishers often pay an advance to the author based on what they think the book will earn. An author will only earn royalties when, and if, book sales have covered the advance. Authors usually don’t have to pay the advance back even if book sales never cover it.

Get Your Books on Amazon Through KDP

The process of uploading books to the KDP website so they can be distributed through Amazon is not difficult. However, it can be confusing to a new author. KDP has done a lot to make the process user-friendly but there are still some publishing and design terms the layperson is not familiar with.  You may also not be sure what best practices are for some of the fields: What make good keywords? Where does the book description show up? What’s the difference between royalty plans? Should I use a free Amazon ISBN or my own?

So I’ve created two videos. One walks you step-by-step through the process of uploading a book to KDP. Once you have your manuscript and cover, you can follow along and get you book up in about 10-15 minutes!

The second video shows you how to upload an ebook to KDP. That process is simpler because there aren’t as many formatting issues involved! So the video is much quicker, less explaining and more following along watching me upload an actual ebook!

Let me know what you think! Most importantly, leave me questions or comments here or on YouTube so I can fill in any gaps!

Thanks!

What to Do When You Have Cover Image Copyright Issues

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately about in self-publishing forums and groups about copyright issues. There’s a lot of talk about Amazon / KDP cancelling accounts or removing books allegedly for no reason. Of course, we very often have one side of the story. Amazon are notoriously opaque about why they remove a title or an entire account, even when they may be quite right to do so.

Today, I read about a woman whose book cover was flagged by Amazon for potential copyright violation over the cover image. You can read the full story here including how she resolved the problem, but basically her cover designer had used a free image from Unsplash.com. So even though she had a written contract from the designer saying she could use the cover, she needed permission from the photographer, the creator of the image.  One of the dangers of using free images is that it can sometimes be hard to prove they are not copyrighted by someone.

The issue is that Amazon (like any company) has no obligation to work with you. Copyright law, in the US at any rate, is decided on a case-by-case basis. What constitutes a copyright violation may depend on context, intent, length, reach, and potential impact. That is a good thing in general, but it does mean whether or not a book gets flagged for copyright violation can feel arbitrary or even personal. And so companies have to do risk-assessment and set ground rules to protect themselves.

Not every company will make the same decision.  I have a set of Minecraft ebooks out and even though Mojang has pretty clear guidelines about use of Minecraft, several book distributors refused to distribute those books. They said they’ve had problems before and it’s just not worth it to them (Funnily enough, Amazon did publish my Minecraft ebooks). Interestingly, the other companies were quick to give me their feedback and tell me the exact problem. The print distributor also agreed that they would keep the print book up for me to order and sell personally, which was a nice compromise.

The Takeaway

So what’s the upshot?

  1. Don’t be mad if a distributor or publisher flags you for an issue. Yes, Amazon could be more transparent. They could give warnings before removing a book. Maybe that will change. However, Amazon isn’t wrong to flag books that could violate copyright. I can tell you in the education business that people selling pirated textbooks is a huge problem, so I’m happy to see a major company take intellectual property issues seriously. Assume good intentions and stay calm.
  2. Answer the emails with as much information as you can and keep at it. Think about every person down the line who might have to give permission. Don’t give up. Stay calm and persistent.
  3. If you discover that you really did make a mistake or violated an Amazon policy, try to resolve it. Can you remove the flagged material without too much effort, cost, or impact on your book? Maybe that’s all it takes.
  4. When creating a work, make sure you have permission from every person whose words, images, or likenesses are involved including your students, fellow teachers, and other published authors. That doesn’t mean you can’t use their work. Just try to get their permission. This is perfectly normal for publishing, even academic publishing where a book might cite 20-50 other works!

I hope this post has provided some useful information. Common sense can get you through a lot of issues, but I always recommend contacting a lawyer if you’re unsure about a particular issue. There are a lot of great copyright / IP lawyers out there that are happy to help you out!

So what copyright issues have you had and how did you resolve them?

Should I Give Bad Reviews to My Competition?

We’re all trying to market our books as best we can and attract buyers to our books. And we all know that getting good reviews on Amazon is an important way to convince readers to buy our books. But what about leaving bad reviews for our competitors? Or even a book making some reasonable critiques and then adding something like, “MY BOOK TITLE is another excellent guide to this subject.”? This was a question I saw on a self-publishing forum recently. I thought I would address it because it raises a few issues regarding some key topics: marketing self-published books and Amazon reviews.

Word of Mouth

So first of all, let’s talk about why this strategy seems like a good idea. Reviews that recommend other products can be quite helpful to the consumer.  I want to know if someone thinks one product is better or worse than another is. We’ve all heard nothing sells better than word of mouth, right?

I was recently looking for a rice cooker and I noticed a reviews on one product listing saying that their rice cooker had broken quickly and they’d bought another brand, which was more reliable. Those reviews were definitely one factor in my decision. However, the key factors in convincing me to buy the other brand were:

  1.  The reviews written by actual users, not people working for one brand or the other (as far as I know, at any rate).
  2.  There were multiple reviews saying the first rice cooker was unreliable or broke easily.
  3.  Not all those reviews were negative in tone and none felt like they were ads for the other brand. They felt like they were written by real sincere human beings.
  4.  There were multiple reviews on the other rice cooker’s listing saying how good it was!

Let Your Readers Promote Your Book

Knowing all that, here’s a better way to do this. Get your readers to post reviews recommending your book. However, you need to make sure they follow three rules:

  1. They should actually have read the other book. (Don’t just tell your street team to start giving negative reviews to every book on Amazon)
  2. Their comparison should be sincere and honest. (“I really enjoyed this book but it focused a lot on X. BOOK TITLE is another book on the same topic that talks more about Y”)
  3. They shouldn’t say exclusively negative things about the other book. Make sure the comment is constructive. (Think about how you’d feel if someone trashed your book solely to recommend another book. It’s also doubtful that the other book is so bad that there’s nothing good to say about it.)

Even better, don’t do this in book reviews on Amazon. Get your readers to discuss your book and where it fits in the competition on their own sites. Ask them to write a blog post (Yes, blogs are still a thing) or something short on social media post. That’s a much more appropriate place for this kind of word-of-mouth selling.


Note that Amazon actually has pretty strict rules about reviews. These rules are clearly designed to ensure that all reviewers are being sincere. They almost certainly exclude the strategy discussed here.


Establishing a Unique Selling Point

Another reason the strategy of badmouthing competition in reviews seems like a good idea is: It is very important to differentiate yourself from your competition. Whatever kind of book you are writing, there are going to be other books on the same subject. Knowing and articulating why readers buy your book and not another one is an important marketing skill. This is sometimes called identifying the Unique Selling Point  (USP). Knowing what your book has, or more importantly, what your book gives your reader is key to honing your marketing message.

The problem is that a review of another person’s book is not the place to market your book. When people go to read reviews, they are looking for sincere, unbiased reactions from real customers. The author of a competing book is neither sincere nor unbiased. Your book may indeed be better than other books out there. But you are probably not the best judge of that. Of course, you like your book better. That’s why you wrote it.

Finally, it can sound like you are being manipulative and insincere. that can really turn customers off. They might think that you are resorting to a negative strategy because your book isn’t good enough to get good reviews . Or they might just find it off-putting the way many people find negative political campaigning off-putting.

Get inspired to write some marketing copy

So, what should you do instead to use your USP in marketing? Take what you were going to write in your bad review, erase the overly mean parts, and use it as inspiration for your marketing materials. Thinking about how you’re better than the competition is a GREAT way to write a book description, promotional blurb, ad, sales pitch, presentation, even a book proposal to an agent or publisher. These are all places where people expect you to self-promote and you’re allowed to exaggerate, brag, and use some hyperbole!

Let’s say I had a book about how to promote self-published books out there and there’s another book that is very popular, but flawed (in my opinion). My imaginary bashing review might say

This book is full of misunderstandings of marketing principles and it’s outdated particularly when it talks about social media marketing! Even when the marketing advice is sound, the book doesn’t do a good job applying marketing principles to books. The book, How to Market Self-Published Books is much better. It’s the only book out there on marketing books that is grounded in actual marketing principles and apples those principles fully to books. And it focuses on strategies for today’s world of social media, video content, and interactive media. It’s the only book you need if you’re serious about being successful.

Instead of posting that, I’m going to delete the sentences about the other book and rewrite those last sentences:

How to Market Self-Published Books is the only book out there on marketing books that is grounded in actual marketing principles and apples those principles fully to books. Fully up-to-date, it focuses on strategies that work in today’s world, including how to use social media, video content, and interactive media to market your book. If you’re serious about being successful, this is the only book you need!

I can move a lot more books with that, than I can with a nasty review that might backfire on me! Now if I’m at a presentation or book talk and someone asks me directly what I think of a competitor’s book, I’m going to answer truthfully. So if I don’t like it, I’ll happily say why and why my book is better. But I’ll do so constructively and sincerely, directing attention to my book.

Alienating Potential Partners

Don’t forget that the book market is not a win-lose market. Devoted readers buy lots of books. Certainly, fiction readers can be voracious and spend a lot of time buying and selling books. So your competitors aren’t actually your competitors. Even in an area of non-fiction, I might buy several books from several different angles. You wouldn’t believe how many books I have on book formatting, writing ad copy, and self-publishing. So hearing that Book X isn’t like Book Y will not necessarily make me buy Book Y or refrain from buying Book X. If anything, it’s more likely to make me refrain from buying Book Y or anything written by that author again.

Now imagine that you got one of these reviews on your book page. An author of a book similar to yours leaves a review talking about how bad your book is and how their book is better. How do you feel about that? Would you like to work with that person? Or will you vow to do everything in your power to destroy them? (Or is that just me that does that? I might need to work on some anger issues).

Work Together

Rather than alienating others with your promotional strategies, why not reach out to other self-published authors in your area and see if you can work together? If your book really is unique and stands out from the competition, then it won’t hurt you to market together. Ways to work with, not against, other authors include:

  • guest-posts on each other’s blogs or newsletters.
  • co-writing articles for news, book, fan or other websites (The 5 best books for Self-Publishers or What You Need to Know as a New Self-Publisher)
  • social media takeovers or post swaps.
  • going in together on an ad or promotion in a magazine, journal, or convention.
  • going in together on a booth at a convention.
  • agreeing to recommend each others books when people ask (and your own books don’t meet their needs).
  • for fiction, crossover fiction.

I hope this was a helpful article that gave you some ideas for promoting and marketing your self-published books. Have you ever worked with another author to market your books together? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Formatting a Self-Published Book

Formatting a self-published book is a broad subject with a lot of intricacies. In this post, I’ll be talking generally about what your formatting options are and what formats work best for what kinds of books. I’ll talk about where to find resources and expertise, the best programs for formatting a self-published book, and some general concerns and things to think about. However, I won’t be digging into the nitty-gritty of how to format a book for self-publishing. However, I do plan to do future posts on font size, margins, color schemes, and things like that. So if you have detailed formatting questions, please leave a comment! It really helps me figure out what people want to read about. And of course, feel free to share your own expertise in the comment section!

Paperbacks, ebooks, and PDFS! Oh My!

A book opened to the middle. The left side page is an ordinary printed page but the right side is an ebook reader!
The book of the future? Paperback, ebook hybrids?

The first question people usually ask about formatting is: what are the formatting options for a book? In general, the three most popular formats are:

  1. print books
  2. reflowable ebook
  3. PDF file

Print books

Print books, or “books” as we used to call them, are the most versatile formatting option. You’ve probably worked with print books in the classroom most of your life and have seen the variety. In particular, print books is the only format that the user can access without technology and of course the only format they can write in, so it’s particularly helpful for student books. Print books are also the format that preserves author intent, including color and layout and fonts the best (with PDF a close second). And yes, I said color. Printing color books does raise your costs, but not necessarily unsustainably, particularly when compared to books produced by major publishers. Continue reading “Formatting a Self-Published Book”

Free Sample Copyright Page for Educational Books

This post is basically my way of helping small publishers and self-publishers by sharing a free sample copyright page. After 6 years of publishing, I’ve developed a template for a book copyright page that covers the legal bases, helps deter intellectual property theft, gives readers the information they need if they want to reuse or adapt some part of your work, and also acknowledges other creators involved in your work.

You can copy my free sample copyright page and use it in its entirety, or take bits and pieces. You can also use it as a template to create a copyright page in your own words. Adapt it as you see fit. I would love it if you referred people to this post by linking or word-of-mouth. When people ask where you got the ideas for your brilliant copyright page for your textbook, feel free to send them to me! Just please do respect my intellectual property rights and copyright, and do not share or distribute the sample page on your site or pass it off as your own, please!

You can scroll down to the free sample copyright page text any time, but I do think it’s important to clear up some misconceptions. Copyright law is complicated and often open to interpretation. As with any point of law (in the US, at any rate), it’s impossible to say exactly what is a violation and what isn’t until a case goes to court. And hopefully, you’ll never have to go to court over copyright. When it comes to any question of using someone else’s intellectual property, I always recommend talking to a lawyer. When it comes to defending your own intellectual property (or that of your authors), I believe you should take as many steps as you reasonably can!

I sometimes get asked, “Is a copyright page legally required?” The simple answer is No (in the US). According to the US Copyright Office,  “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” As soon as you make something, it’s copyrighted. But, there’s a big but:

BUT …

Lawsuits generally require that you show that you tried to protect your copyright in some way. And having a copyright page is a simple and free way to do just that. Like I said, take as many steps as you reasonably can to defend your copyright!

I’d also consider registering your copyright with the copyright office. It’s not too hard, or time-consuming, and it only costs $35!

That being said, what’s the minimum requirement for a copyright page?

 © 2022 Walton Burns. All rights reserved.

That’s it. The copyright symbol (or the word Copyright), the year of creation, and the name of the holder. I’m not totally sure you need the All rights reserved statement, but why would you exclude it.

Basically, this says you have the copyright to this work, and you don’t cede any rights (publishing, adaptation, translation, storage, distribution, etc…) to any one else. Including this is a signal that you are interested in defending those rights.

I like to add the ISBN numbers here for three reasons:

  1. It specifies exactly what is being copyrights because ISBN numbers are unique to each format and edition of a book.
  2. It lets people know if the book exists in other formats.
  3. The ISBN number is used by universities, book stores, and other retailers to order your book. I want them to be able to do that, and they expect to find it on the copyright page.

So I add:

ISBN: 1234567891234 (print)
             4321987654321 (EPUB)
             1112223334440 (Kindle) 

You’ll also sometimes see an enumeration of those rights, something like this:

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods.

This boilerplate language specifies some of the rights you have as the copyright holder. In this case, it specifically says no one can copy or distribute your book or any part of it. Notice that it doesn’t mean you lose any rights not specifically enumerated here, another common misunderstanding! This kind of text is great thing to have on your copyright page if you ever want to sue someone for pirating your works. It shows that you are taking a number of steps to protect your rights as copyright holder.

The problem is that most people gloss over boilerplate text and they may not understand overly technical language any way. So I like to put it in my own words so that people can understand it. It also helps to include an appeal to well-meaning people who might think it’s ok to throw your PDF worksheets in a teacher resource folder or photocopy half your book and give it away to their colleagues.  I sympathize with those teachers, particularly if they teach in settings where the administrators don’t provide teaching tools or a budget for buying books. So sometimes you need to explain clearly that that kind of behavior can jeopardize future sales, meaning it effectively takes income away from you, the author, and the publisher who in turn pays editors, designers, and other professionals.

Here’s my version:

This is not a photocopiable book. Our authors, editors, and designers work hard to develop original, high-quality content. They deserve compensation. Please respect their efforts and their rights under copyright law.

Do not copy, photocopy, or reproduce this book or any part of this book (unless the page is marked PHOTOCOPIABLE) for use inside or outside the classroom, in commercial or non-commercial settings. It is also forbidden to copy, adapt, or reuse this book or any part of this book for use on websites, blogs, or third-party lesson-sharing websites.

Now, it’s never a bad idea to carve out some exceptions. Notice that I already did add an exception for pages marked photocopiable, which your book may or may not have, There are many good reasons why you may give permission to someone to use part of your book.

The first reason you may want people to reproduce your copyrighted book is to quote it in reviews, articles, blog posts, or social media. Now, I doubt any one is going around suing book bloggers for quoting from their book, but just in case, it’s not a bad idea to modify that rights statement:

Do not copy, photocopy, or reproduce this book or any part of this book (unless the page is marked PHOTOCOPIABLE) for use inside or outside the classroom, in commercial or non-commercial settings, except for the use of brief quotations used in reviews. It is also forbidden to copy, adapt, or reuse this book or any part of this book for use on websites, blogs, or third-party lesson-sharing websites.

The second reason is you may want to give people permission to license your content. I was contacted by a woman writing a book of activities and she wanted to use an activity from my book, verbatim. We negotiated a reasonable fee and I was happy to give her permission. And sometimes I’m happy to give permission for free. An NGO teaching refugees in a camp in Africa wanted to use some of my lessons and I had no problem agreeing to let them at no cost.

So I add something like:

For permission requests, write to the publisher at “ATTN: Permissions”, at the address below:

ADDRESS
EMAIL
WEBSITE

This serves the double purpose of getting your address and website and email into the book, in case anyone wants to bulk order 100 copies of your book or hire you for a project or something else.

Since books often are the gateway to other things, you could add a statement such as:

Discounts on class sets and bulk orders available upon inquiry.

Walton Burns is available for author visits at your school, library, conference, or other events. For more information or to schedule a visit, please write to EMAIL.

If you do consulting work, add that instead or in addition! Now if you are a fulltime consultant or do lots of appearances, presentations, and training events, you might skip this on the copyright page. Instead add a page to the end matter with more detailed information about your services and how to get in touch.

You could stop here and have a nice little copyright page for your textbook or teacher resource book. However, it’s always a good idea to acknowledge the people who worked on your book. It builds goodwill and it helps them get future work. Many editors and designers actually require you to give credit so check your contracts. You might need to add editors, the interior designer and the cover designer.

Edited by NAME
Interior Design by NAME
Cover by NAME

or

Cover and Interior Design by NAME

Now, if you’re being smart you’ve sourced images that you have the right to use (See Where to get great illustrations for self-published books for some help on getting art for your book). However, many images still require acknowledgement and even if it’s not required, it’s never a bad idea. Again, it helps build goodwill and it’s something you’d want others to do. It’s hard to convince others to respect your copyright if you are taking shortcuts with other people’s.

So consider adding who created the image, the source, and if it’s not an image you purchased or licensed, add the license type. If you get permission from the creator directly, note that.

Cover Image, ARTIST / STOCKPHOTOSITE.COM
Image page 29, ARTIST / XYZSTOCKSITE.COM
Image page 42, ARTIST / SOURCE (Public Domain)
Image page 154, PHOTOGRAPHER / SOURCE (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Image page 203, ARTIST, Used by permission

If your book has a lot of images, consider doing a separate acknowledgements page. These are often found in the end matter.

We only have two more things to add. Country of Manufacture and First Printing. If you’re printing books yourself, add the country of manufacture. This is mainly for customs purposes, so you may not need it, but it’s easy to add and if you do sell foreign rights, or partner with a distributor abroad, you’re already covered.

If you’re doing Print-on-Demand, the printer adds it on the last page, so you can write “Country of Manufacture Specified on Last Page” on your copyright page. And since your POD books are available internationally, it’s a good thing to have.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to add the year of printing, something like:

First Printing 2022.

This establishes when the first edition was printed. If you do another print run, this number will not change so people know when the first edition came out. If you are doing print runs instead of POD, you can go the traditional route. Estimate how many print runs you think you will do, then add a row of numbers underneath. Start with 2 and go to your maximum number of runs. Print it centered and evenly spaced:

2 3 4 5 6 7

Every time you print a new run of books, delete one number. That way, the reader knows which print run the book came from and how many runs there might be in the future.

3 4 5 6 7

Note that there’s no special order for these elements to go in. I order them in a way that makes sense to me, but you may do things differently. You may also add other elements like a logo, a mailing list link, even a dedication. Others put these elements on different pages!

So take a look at my free copyright page sample, but also look at books similar to yours. See what elements they have on their copyright page. Feel free to leave a comment with your questions, your adaptations or your own copyright pages. Suggestions on helping people think before pirating your work are always helpful!

Free Sample Copyright Page for Educational Books

ISBN: 1234567891234 (print)
             4321987654321 (EPUB)
             1112223334440 (Kindle) 

Copyright 2019 AUTHOR NAME. All rights reserved.

This is not a photocopiable book. Our authors, editors, and designers work hard to develop original, high-quality content. They deserve compensation. Please respect their efforts and their rights under copyright law.

Do not copy, photocopy, or reproduce this book or any part of this book (unless the page is marked PHOTOCOPIABLE) for use inside or outside the classroom, in commercial or non-commercial settings, except for the use of brief quotations used in reviews. It is also forbidden to copy, adapt, or reuse this book or any part of this book for use on websites, blogs, or third-party lesson-sharing websites.

For permission requests, write to the publisher at “ATTN: Permissions”, at the address below:

ADDRESS
EMAIL
WEBSITE

Discounts on class sets and bulk orders available upon inquiry. 

Edited by NAME
Design by NAME

Cover Image, ARTIST / STOCKPHOTOSITE.COM
Image page 29, ARTIST / XYZSTOCKSITE.COM
Image page 42, ARTIST / SOURCE (Public Domain)
Image page 154, PHOTOGRAPHER / SOURCE (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Image page 203, ARTIST, Used by permission

Country of Manufacture Specified on Last Page


This free sample copyright page was originally published on Medium as: Copyright page for textbooks.

Do Self-Publishers Really Need Editors

One of the biggest debates in the self-publishing world these days is: do self-publishers really need editors? The answer is yes, yes, and yes. You need an editor, or rather you need editing services. There are (basically) 3  kinds of editing and you need to go through all three steps. However, you may or may not need a professional editor for all three! So why do so many self-publishers think they don’t need an editor?

One of the main motivations for self-publishing is keeping creative control, as I mentioned in the first article in this series on how to self-publish teaching materials. So sometimes self-publishers avoid editors because they view the editing process as a loss of control. In this view, editors are imposing their will on the writer and may symbolize the conventional or mainstream thinking that the writer is self-publishing specifically to avoid.

I think it helps to remember that editors are there to make the work better. Editors do have a different point of view, but it never hurts to consider other ideas and perspectives. It is true that editors may well have a more conventional point of view, but then your readers and customers may also be more conventional. It’s not giving up creative control to get advice from professionals who have worked with a lot of teaching materials. Finally, one of the joys of being a self-publisher is that the editor works for you. So if you really don’t agree with their suggestions, you don’t have to take them.

Three young people looking at a book held by the middle student. All three have surprised or shocked looks on their faces, mouths open, eyes wide.
These are your readers when they see that typo that you missed because you didn’t edit!

Continue reading “Do Self-Publishers Really Need Editors”

Getting Great Illustrations for Self-Published Books

This is the third part of my series on Self-Publishing Teaching Materials. Feel free to click and browse to the article or articles that address your needs or concerns. Here I’ll be talking about getting illustrations for self-published books. Not enough authors or writers give much thought to art. Yet the process of getting art for your project needs to be taken seriously. I’m not getting into cover design just yet; that’s a whole topic itself, something I will cover in a later post. Right now, we’re talking about interior art.


It’s important to choose art that adds value and to think about the style and purpose of adding illustrations. There are also licensing and copyright issues to consider. In addition, you may wonder Should you hire an illustrator? How much will it cost? Can I use pictures from free sites? Should I? How much can I expect to pay for art for my book?

Let’s start with what kinds of illustrations you might need, and to figure that out, you need to think about the purpose of art in a book.

Some art

Why Do You Need Art?

This is a hard question to answer philosophically, but fortunately, I mean it practically. What actual art do you need for your book and why? The first step before figuring out where to get art is to think about what kinds of illustrations you need at all. Take some time to sit with your content, if you haven’t already, and note where you think illustrations would be needed, what kind, and what you think they should look like.

Continue reading “Getting Great Illustrations for Self-Published Books”

How to Find a Marketable Idea for Self-Publishing

This is the second part of my series on Self-Publishing Teaching Materials. In part one, I talked about how to come up with an idea for original content.

Here I’ll talk about finding a marketable idea for self-publishing. It’s nice to put your teaching materials out there, but how do you know what your potential customers want? What’s the difference between a teaching book that is marketable and one that isn’t, particularly in the education market? What types of self-published books sell the best?


Why are you self-publishing?

Many people self-publish because they want complete creative control over their project. They have a very specific vision for what their teaching materials should look like or how they want those materials delivered.

This is, of course, one of the most attractive benefits of self-publishing your teaching materials. You can write what you please, lay it out as you please, and distribute or market it as you please! If you aren’t concerned with making money, you may not care if your materials are marketable or not. Authors may want to self-publish for a variety of reasons where marketability of the idea doesn’t matter:

  • To use the materials in their own classroom or school
  • To give away to teachers, schools, students, or non-profits in need
  • To give away in order to get the idea out there
  • To add to their resume or gain prestige
  • Personal satisfaction and experience

If any of the reasons above are your main motivation for self-publishing your teaching idea, you may not think about marketability. You’re welcome to skip ahead to my next post about self-publishing resources you’ll need and where to find them.

However, regardless of your motivations, it’s good to take a minute to think about whether anyone will pick up your book free or not. Will it be useful? So it might be helpful to think less about finding a marketable idea for self-publishing, than finding a useful or beneficial idea for self-publishing, one teachers will actually use.

And there’s also no shame in wanting to make a profit, either. You have a right to try to make a living on your work! Continue reading “How to Find a Marketable Idea for Self-Publishing”