I am so tired. I’ll level with you, I’m not sleeping very well, and I find I’m staying up far too late, watching television through half-closed eyes. I stagger up to bed, exhausted, and immediately wake up again. Cue a good hour of trying to get to sleep while my mind races, followed by a few hours’ sleep, then another hour of racing mind and disjointed thoughts, until I bob off again around five-ish. It’s not good. So, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that, while trying to think of L words for today’s challenge, all I could come up with for ages were “Lie-in” and “Lazy”.
Anyway, I’m not writing a blog post about the joys of a lie-in, nor the perils of laziness (although that can be a real problem if you’re an indie author, because if you don’t do the work no one else is going to push you to get on with it). I have managed to come up with a few L words, and here they are.
Law and Litigation
Yikes! Grim start, eh? Thing is, there are lots of laws around writing. Copyright, for instance. Did you know that (in the UK at least, sorry, I have no information for other countries) copyright stays with the author until seventy years after said author’s death. After that, it’s up for grabs. That’s why you can actually put up a copy of Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice and sell it online for anyone to buy. Having said that, many sites, Amazon included, will only accept it if it’s different in some way from the original, so you would need to add at least ten new illustrations, or annotations, or translate it into another language or something. Plus, there are so many free public domain books up there that you’d probably have trouble shifting any books that you were charging for, unless you did something that really stood out, like a gorgeous cover, for instance. Not as easy as you think, you see, in case you were thinking about making easy money from the classics!
My point in this really is that, copyright stays with the author for seventy years after death, and you can’t just use their material whenever you feel like it. Similarly, be very, very (as in exceptionally) careful if you decide to quote song lyrics in your book. Better yet, don’t do it. Not unless you’ve contacted the songwriter or the music company, or whoever represents the writer, to get express written permission to do so. Don’t think you’ll get away with it. Chances are that you won’t, and then you’re in big trouble. You can, however, quote a song title, because titles have no copyright on them. A very basic overview of law for writers can be found here, and here, but this is a huge subject. Far too big for me to go into here, even if I knew what I was talking about, which I don’t. All I can say is, beware. And, if in doubt, maybe leave it out …
It’s a sad fact that the number of libraries in the UK is declining. When I was a child – many, many moons ago – libraries were everywhere, and I don’t remember ever going into one and finding it empty. My local library was probably my favourite place to be. You can read a post I wrote around four years ago in praise of libraries here. The problem is, with cheaper books and home access to the internet, fewer and fewer people use the library, which makes it very easy for the powers-that-be to decide they can make cutbacks and save money by closing them down. It’s sad and worrying, because not everyone can afford books, and not everyone has a computer or smart phone. We really need to cherish and protect public libraries.
It was one of my dreams to have my books available in libraries. Because they’d meant so much to me in my younger days, it really mattered to me that, one day, my books sat on a library shelf somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You can’t just write a book and expect libraries to take it. However, it might be worth popping into your local library and offering a copy of your book as a donation. That’s a good way to get your book on the shelves, and you could do that with a few libraries in your local area. Having said that, surprisingly, it’s not guaranteed they’ll accept it. They will want to be sure it’s good quality, and also they need to send it away to be catalogued, which could cost them money they don’t have spare. It’s always worth asking, though, if you can bear the rejection. 🙂 You could build a relationship with your local librarians by offering to do a talk at the library. Many librarians seem willing to support local authors.
Another way is to get people to request a copy of your book! Yes, if your Auntie Mabel goes to the desk and asks to borrow your latest tome, the library may well order it in – especially if Auntie Betty and Auntie Pam ask, too. However, that’s only your local library. Getting your books into libraries nationwide is more tricky. As ever, The Alliance of Independent Authors has produced a guide to this very subject. It’s available for members to download, but you can read an excerpt, with some very useful advice, here. What I do know, though, is that if you’re exclusive to Amazon for ebooks and audiobooks, and you publish your paperbacks entirely through KDP Print, you won’t be able to get any of them into libraries, so that’s worth bearing in mind. There’s a fabulous article on Joanna Penn’s blog about how to get your books/audio/ebooks into libraries and book shops and you can read that here.
I will say, here and now, that I do have five of my books in libraries, but I confess that it’s not because I took any of the advice in the section above. I approached a large print publisher with some of my shorter novels, and was delighted when they took them on. Ulverscroft have an imprint called Linford Romance Library, and my books fitted into that imprint perfectly. The word count limit is – I believe – around 60,000 words and mine all came in at under that. The Linford Romance Library books are published in large print format, and this is increasingly popular with libraries. Budgets are tight and buying books that are suitable for all their readers, including those that struggle to read normal-sized print, is more of a bargain.
As an indie publisher, there is nothing to stop you from printing large print paperbacks yourself. On the KDP Print page, for example, there is even a box you tick if the manuscript you’re uploading is in large print. We’re always being told to make our books available in as many different formats as possible, so large print should be a consideration, along with your standard paperback, and/or hardback, ebook and audiobook. You may find libraries are more receptive to large print (though not printed by KDP remember!) so it’s worth trying.
I will say it gives me a lovely, warm feeling, knowing my books are on library shelves. All Because of Baxter and the first four Bramblewick novels are all available in large print, and I love thinking that people are selecting them from the shelf and taking them to the desk. I just wish my final two Bramblewick novels could join them but, sadly, they both exceeded the word count limit and couldn’t be published by Ulverscroft in the Linford Romance Library.
There’s lots to think about. What it shows is that there aren’t really any limits for indie authors about where you can get your books, if you’re prepared to do some investigation and leg-work. It really does depend on how badly you want it. I know I’m going to be making some major changes to the way I run my business from next year. Things are getting serious!
Enjoy the rest of the day and stay safe! I’ll see you tomorrow with the letter M.