Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 4: You Are Afraid Someone Will Steal Your Idea

One of the first signs that someone is new to publishing is their obsession with copyright.

Everyone at some point thinks about ways to protect what they have built, but obsessing over the possibility of someone stealing your work is one sure way of waving your hands in a crowded room and shouting, “Hey, everyone! Newbie here!”

“People who are paranoid about the theft of an unpublished manuscript or who obsess about somebody “stealing their ideas” red-flag themselves as amateurs.”

Anne R. Allen
Pixabay

Despite how brilliant I am sure you are, your book idea is not unique in the sense that no one has heard of it in some form before, and you cannot copyright an idea. According to Section 102(b) of US Copyright Law:

“In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied in such work.”

Us Copyright Law
Yes, it’s true!|Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Since January 1, 1978, American Copyright laws have stated that anything you produce is automatically under copyright. That’s right, at creation. Whether you typed it up in Word on your computer or published it in a book, it is automatically under copyright and lasts for life plus 70 years:

“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.”

US Copyright, https://www.copyright.gov/

“In general, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, the term of copyright is the life of the author plus seventy years after the author’s death. If the work is a joint work with multiple authors, the term lasts for seventy years after the last surviving author’s death.”

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

Now, I can see how this would not be enough to convince someone that their work is safe. Authors can register their work with the US copyright office here as an added layer of security. They have also added a new option to register short online literary works, such as blog entries, social media posts, and short online articles.

But remember, this is optional. You do not need to do this for your work to be considered under copyright, though it can be helpful in the event of a lawsuit:

“In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a US work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

US Copyright Office

“Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed in a tangible medium, but a copyright owner can take steps to enhance the protections of copyright, the most important of which is registering the work. Although registering a work is not mandatory, for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation.”

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

You also don’t need to send a copy of your manuscript to yourself. Also known as “Poor Man’s Copyright,” this would not stand up in court if a lawsuit is in play and does not replace registration.

“The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.”

Us Copyright

Warning: Registering your unpublished work with the Copyright Office can set you up to be scammed because scammers sometimes scroll the copyright database for unpublished work to snag. Click here to learn more. I recommend reading the whole thing but scroll to the bottom for this particular part. Publish the book first, and then register the copyright. 

You Don’t Need an LLC to Self-Publish a Book

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels | I don’t get the obsession with LLCs these days , but you don’t need one to Self-Publish a book.

Suppose you find you are making a significant amount of money from your self-published books, and it becomes necessary to separate your business and personal accounts. In that case, creating an LLC is ideal. However, it is unnecessary to pay money to form an LLC to self-publish a book when you are just starting. Consider the fees associated with applying for and keeping an LLC.

Remember that the LLC serves the purpose of operating as a separate legal entity and that you, personally, won’t be responsible for any debts the LLC incurs. But that’s not usually necessary with self-publishing because it is low risk. By low-risk, I mean you do not start out making tons of money, or at least not the kind of money that would warrant you to separate your accounts.

I operate under an LLC because I do other things outside of publishing, such as coaching, book reviews, interviews, and other services I provide. However, I have only had an LLC for about a year now. Until then, I operated under my legal government name just fine.

Buy Your ISBN for Your Own Imprint

Be Your Own Boss | Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

As I cannot reiterate enough, there are tons of scams out there, so it’s important to remember that you do not need to pay someone thousands of dollars to “maintain your copyright.” As we have already established, copyright belongs to you when you create the work, and you can register it through the copyright website for thirty bucks.

However, if you wish to maintain your publishing rights and have your own imprint, buy your own ISBN. This will ensure you publish books under your name or company name. This means the book will point to you as the publisher, not Amazon. In this way, you use Amazon as a printer or the platform you use to print physical copies of your book and house your book online, but the rights to the book belong to you.

Can you Self-Publish a book without buying an ISBN? Yes, you can. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, and many others will allow you to choose to use one of their free ISBNs. ISBNs in the US are not cheap (they are free in Canada), so this is ideal for many beginning publishers. However, I highly recommend buying your own.

  • You have complete control over what is entered in your book’s metadata—that is, the descriptions and categories that help libraries, bookstores, and readers worldwide discover your book and decide whether they want to purchase it. In today’s digital world, your book’s metadata can hugely impact its chances of being found and purchased by your target audience. This would mean a lot to self-published authors, who do not have a traditional publisher’s marketing and distribution capabilities to fall back on.
  • As you will be the publisher of record, your ISBN will remain unchanged even if you change your publishing service company or publish with multiple companies.
  • Any individual or organization with specific orders or inquiries regarding your book will approach the publisher of record; you would rather this be you instead of your publishing service company.
  • If you plan on writing several books, it makes sense to take on the mantle of a publisher and have your own constant publishing imprint on your books.

https://www.editage.com/info/book-editing-services/articles/10-faqs-on-isbn-every-self-publishing-author-must-know.html

“Your ISBN is the identification number that is tied to you and your book. If you use an identification number tied to a business that could go under (because remember, a free ISBN belongs to them), you risk your book not being available for purchase. This is an even bigger concern if you are using a Vanity Publisher. They could easily disappear, and you will have to start over on the publishing front.”

https://www.shawnpbrobinson.com/reasons-to-get-your-own-isbn/

If you are going to be constantly paranoid and obsessed with copyright and worrying that people will steal your book or idea of a book, you are not ready to Self-Publish. You might feel better going the traditional route. However, if you are ready to publish Independently, you have to relax on the copyright stuff. It is going to be okay. Go ahead and register it with the copyright office and publish the book. You will be fine. 


Need more guidance? I can help! Click Here to learn how.


Looking Back to Look Forward

Harper High School Pen Pal Program, circa 2005-ish, Locale: Downtown Chicago

Although I tried out once, I was not a cheerleader in high school. I had danced before as part of a community program at Hamilton Park on Chicago’s south side with my twin sister and our cousin. We were taught handstands, traditional African dances (I am not sure of the tribe), and tap dancing. We traveled to put on shows and everything.

But dancing was not for me.

Over the years, as my twin and cousin got deeper into it (joining Pom-Pom teams and creating dances from the latest hits), I grew out of it.

Instead, I read books, wrote in my diary, and joined all the “boring” programs at school.

It didn’t take long to realize I was not like everyone else. The things my peers found exciting did not move me.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how these seemingly boring activities were stepping stones to sharpening my writing skills and preparing me for a career as a writer.

Writing School Plays: During my Sophomore and Junior years, the school employed a group of other students and me to participate in a program where we had to write and perform plays for the school. I do not remember the program’s name, but this was my first official writing job.

Pen Pal Program: The photo above is from a pen pal program between our High School on the south side and a school on the north side. We wrote letters to our pals and introduced ourselves. Next, they filmed us introducing ourselves on camera and swapped it with the other school. And then, finally, we all met up in person in downtown Chicago. This was the first day we all met, and the event concluded with a camping trip in Wisconsin.

The Yearbook Team: I was actually the only member of the yearbook team that year, lol. Everyone thought it would be boring, but I thought it would be fun, and it was. Not only did I get out of class to film assemblies, but I got to follow Arnie Duncan (then the CEO of Chicago Public Schools) and Jessie Jackson around with the camera, snapping pictures that would be featured in the book. 

UMOJA Spoken Word Poetry Group: I was part of a poetry group called UMOJA Spoken Word my Sophomore year. (UMOJA is the Swahili word for unity.) I was already writing poetry, but this group taught me how to go deeper by introducing the mechanics of the craft. 

When I found this photo, I realized that everything I did led to this moment and that everything I do today is also leading somewhere greater.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that our past has shaped us for today and our today is shaping us for our tomorrow is fascinating to me. It is one of the reasons I love history.

The next time you feel inadequate or frustrated with your journey, whatever journey that may be, I hope this inspires you to look back at those special moments in your life. Remember that you are only stepping stones away from where you are destined be.

Check out my latest interview with Mack Tight Radio. Be Sure to Like and Share!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose by Tiffany James

Title: Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose
Author: Tiffany James
Publisher: Encourage Touch Enterprise
ASIN: ‎ B07SB68C1F
Publication date: ‎May 22, 2019
Print length: ‎ 158 pages

Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose is a hopeful read about the importance of embracing your authentic self and operating in that truth. According to the author, losing our identity also means relinquishing the authority given to us to fulfill our purpose. (p. 67)

I enjoyed the author’s testimony, examples, and analogies to expand on her point further. We are invited into her world and we learn the many things she overcame and how we too can live in that land of I am, that is our truest self. We learn there is beauty in acknowledging and accepting one’s set-apartness.

My favorite example is the one of Simba from Disney’s 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King. The story of how he was born into royalty and stood proud and strong in that purpose until the death of his father Mufasa made him lose his voice was very nicely recounted.

Simba with Pumbaa and Timon
Published: Jan 28, 2021
By AnimeAngelArtist1990

When Simba meets Pumbaa and Timon and starts basking in what looks like a carefree life, the author reminds us that while he seems happy, he forgets that he was born to be a King. Now a grown lion, Simba has been reduced to a confused, scared, angry, and hurt little cub (p.37). When he returns to fulfill his purpose, he becomes the strong and mighty lion he was born to be. I thought this laid a strong foundation for the rest of the book.

The author’s voice is poetic, and she leaves inspiration pieces between chapters she calls inspirational moments. If you remember, Mrs. James is this year’s first-place winner in the 4th Annual Poetry Contest. I noted many sayings I found powerful such as “Love is not the absence of truth.” (Tiffany James)

I was not a big fan of the author’s Christian views because I’m not a Christian. Still, overall, I found the book to be a great reminder of the importance of standing in our truth and being authentically and unapologetically ourselves.

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 4/5

Thought-Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 3/5

Final: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Living in the Land of I am on Amazon

My National Novel Writing Month Experience

This year, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. With Black History Month around the corner for many (it’s always black history for me), I am pushing to finish the first draft by February. Because it requires a lot of research, this is one of those books with a source page that will probably be thick enough for its own mini book. The discipline required to get this done made #NaNoWriMo more attractive this year to hold myself accountable.

My goal was to write every day and have 50K words down by the end of the month. Let’s see how I did.

Word Count as of 11/30/2021: 30,168.
Chapters: 23
Pages: 113
Sources Page: 3,747 words, 15 pages

While I did not cross the 50K threshold, I am proud of making it this far because I wanted to get 25K down if I could not do the fifty.

I did not write every day. I spent days traveling, and even on returning, I did not get right back to writing immediately. The interesting thing is that I rested a lot, which helped me do more when I was writing. Taking days off actually helped, not hinder me. To quote the Nap Ministry on Twitter: “This idea that you gotta grind yourself into exhaustion and make work the center of your entire existence is not liberating.”

I found the word count ticker and badges (I won 7) on the website motivating. I would look at it and compete to see if I could beat the previous day’s count.

The most significant thing, though, has been ghosting social media for much of November. I am not a good multitasker. If I am to focus on completing something, I have to give it my full attention, and right now, that’s this black history book. I was not posting as much or blogging. I will probably continue being missing in action, except the remaining book review posts and NWW, until the draft is complete.

I’m not gonna lie; I looked at National Novel Writing Month sideways a couple of times. I didn’t think it was for me. I am not for the whole “write a book in ten or thirty days” kind of thing. And while it’s not something I would do every year, having participated, I can say that I enjoyed the push it has given me.

If there is one thing I would do differently, it would be to set my own word count goal and try to stick to writing a little every day instead of sitting at the computer for hours. That ain’t healthy.

This bitmoji is way more excited than I am about this, lol.

Who else participated in NaNoWriMo? How was your experience?

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Family Medicine: A Psychological Suspense Thriller by Natasha Jeneen Thomas

Title: Family Medicine: A Psychological Suspense Thriller
Author: Natasha Jeneen Thomas
Publisher: Newham Wilcott (October 8, 2021)
ASIN: ‎ B0992VHVWH
Publication date: ‎ October 8, 2021
Print length: ‎ 340 pages

Family Medicine is a psychological thriller with many twists, turns, and a healthy dose of suspense. With vivid description and detail, we meet Therese Hughes-Baldwin, an aspiring dancer who works at a cafe. She is offered an escape to a beach house mansion by her favorite customer and psychiatrist Dr. Dara Clemens. When she and her best friend Phoebe make it to the house, things start to get weird. First, there are no pictures in the place, and Phoebe is acting strange. The story alternates between Therese and Phoebe’s experiences at the ocean-view getaway (including Therese’s romance with a man named Tomas) and an unbalanced oral surgeon named Victor.

As the story progressed, I wondered how the two threads were connected, as I knew they had to be, and I kept turning the page to see how it would all play out. I was especially drawn to Victor’s thread in an attempt to understand his behavior. What is with this man fantasizing about killing someone and dressing up in women’s clothes as a disguise? Victor even self-abuses himself as punishment for not thinking through a stakeout that ultimately got him questioned in one scene.

The truth of how everything is connected will blow your mind. While I can’t give away much more detail, I will only say that everything you think you know, including the little I’ve told you, you don’t know.

I also felt so bad for character Summer being arrested as she was menstruating. It made me think of how people don’t understand what women have to endure in these situations. I felt humiliated for her and I am sure all of my women readers will understand.

I did think there was a tad bit too much description of minor details throughout the book, but I assume that’s because nothing is as it appears to be! I did find myself going back to the beginning, and as I reread some scenes, I could see the ending.

This is the novel for you if you are looking to read a book full of mystery, suspense, and a psychological thrill that will keep you guessing until the very end. Speaking of the end, I suspect the author is working on another part of this. You’ll understand what I mean when you read the book.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Family Medicine on Amazon

Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 3: You Don’t Read.

I don’t know which new Indie Author needs to hear this, but it shows in your writing if you don’t read.

It is said that writers write, which is true, but writers also read. It is through reading that we learn the basics of how to write. This means that reading and writing are a partnership, and one cannot exist without the other.

This is not to say that someone who was never into reading can’t write a book. They absolutely can, but only if they are willing to start reading. There is no way around this. Aspiring writers need to consume books like aspiring doctors need to go to medical school.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Stephen King

There is no such thing as loving to write but hating to read.

This is one of the biggest issues I see in the Self-Publishing community. It is not the act of Self-Publishing that gives it a bad reputation. It is the audacity of people who never enjoyed reading and writing in the first place who suddenly want to write a book.

“It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but didn’t have time to read, I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Stephen King

The first red flag that someone doesn’t read is when I am sent a manuscript so badly formatted that it does not resemble a novel or book or anything. It is just letters on a page with weird spacing and no chapter headings.

This is because the writer isn’t familiar with the story structure, which comes from reading books. They are hoping I can take their scrambled notes and turn them into something legible. They want me to write the book for them. (If you want someone to write the book for you, you’ll have to hire a ghostwriter.) The same issue arises when new authors are choosing genres. I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a cookbook or a romance novel.

How the book is published is not the problem, weak writing is.

If you want to publish a book but you’ve never been into reading, that’s an easy fix: Just start reading. The more you read, the more you will write, and the better you will be at it. 

Reading books in the genres you want to write in to familiarize yourself with them is also a good idea. Want to write a poetry book? Read poetry. Memoir? Read memoirs, and understand they are not the same as autobiography. Wanna write historical fiction? Read historical fiction, and so on.

Ready to publish your book but not sure where to start? Click Here.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here.

Yecheilyah’s Book Review Registry: Early Registration for 2022

My review registry is closed for 2021. I am only reviewing books left in the queue. However, please do consider registering early for 2022 as spots fill up fast, and there’s only one me.

What is a Book Review?

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review may be a primary source, opinion piece, summary review, or scholarly review. A book review’s length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay but can also be as short as a single sentence. Book reviews help encourage readers to purchase a book, act as social proof, helps with an author’s Amazon ranking, and increase the book’s visibility.

About Yecheilyah’s Reviews

I have been a professional book reviewer for five years now. Authors who have trusted me with their book babies vary from newly, first-time Self-Publishers to experienced Best Sellers. From Indie Authors to Traditionally Published, I’ve worked with them all. The PBS Blog has been on Reedsy’s list of Best Book Review Blogs since 2017 as one of its vetted catalog of active book blogs and thoughtful, quality book reviews. My reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

“It’s not just because she reviewed my novelette, All Good Stories, and gave it 5 stars, I’m writing about her because she gives great (and helpful) reviews. In a market so full, it’s hard to choose what to read, isn’t it? We really need reviews these days that go beyond the minimalistic “I liked it” to know what we’re investing our money in. Because money doesn’t grow on trees. Neither do books anymore, for that matter.”

– Linda G. Hill, author, All Good Stories.

How to Apply for Review

1). Email the First 3 Chapters of Your Book. 

Starting January 2022, I will now require authors to submit the first three chapters of their manuscripts for review. Whether your book is chosen depends on how well you can hook me with your first few chapters. Be sure to send the link to your book on Amazon along with your chapters to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

2). Approval

I will email you back and let you know if I would like to move forward and review your book. Please allow at least 2-3 business days before you hear back from me for your approval status.

3). Pay the Readers Fee 

If I choose to review the book, there is a reader’s fee. Pay the fee through my site. The reader’s fee does not guarantee a positive review, nor is it payment for an Amazon review, which is against Amazon’s terms of service.

4). Gift Me a Copy of Your book.

If your book is published gift it to me through amazon or the platform of your choice. Do not attach a PDF or Word Document via email.

  • PDF documents are only acceptable if the book is not yet published and you are looking for an early review.

You may ship me a paperback / hard copy but let me know this in our email correspondence. 

Pro. This option will allow me to post a picture of the book on the gram! 

Con. This option is a longer turnaround time on the review since I have to wait for the book in the mail, read it, and then review it. This is a great option for more exposure on social media, but I do not recommend it if you are in a hurry for feedback.

I rate on the scale of 3-5 only on this blog. If your review falls below a 3-star rating, I will privately email you the report and my thoughts.

Please Click Here to Read My Review Policy in Full.

Ready to move forward? Email me and let’s get to it.