Three Things to Know about Literary Copyrights

When it comes to literary copyright is there are several things that you want to know. Lots of people worry when they start sharing their work as a writer that it is going to get co-opted by someone else and published under their name. That’s why they are often unwilling to share their work in writing workshops or online for fear that someone that they’ve asked for a critique from will try to pass off their work as their own. But that is unlikely to happen and the reasons for that have to do with understanding literary copyright.

Do You Actually Have to Register a Copyright?

The truth is you do not actually have to register a copyright for your book or short story in order to for it to be yours. As soon as your short story or novel is published to some medium, whether that be through a traditional publisher or through any of the independent publishing platforms that are out there, your work is automatically copyrighted. You do not even have to put the word copyrighted on the page anywhere. In fact, when you send your work to an editor or agent, they will often see this as the work of an amateur since they know that your work is protected. You can even email your short story or novel to yourself or uploaded to Google drive or some other medium and that will allow you to prove that it is your work as well.

What Are the Benefits of Registering a Copyright Anyway?

If you choose to pursue going after an official copyright anyway there are a few benefits that can be derived from it. Essentially, you will be getting what is called a super copyright. When your work is published by traditional book publisher, you’re going to get a copyright anyway because that is how publishers do business and how lawyers recommend that they go about it. Formally registering a copyright definitely would give you leverage in court if someone were ever to try to claim that your work is there. If you have an official copyright and you see someone for plagiarism, then the damages and compensation that you received could be greater because of the fact that you have an official copyright. You shouldn’t have to worry about any legitimate editors or agents trying to plagiarize material. Sometimes other writers do this, but almost never has an editor or agent that is legitimate been accused of this.

What about a “Poor Man’s Copyright”?

You may have heard of the poor man’s copyright when you mail something to yourself in order to prove that it is yours. This used to be done through the snail mail process. However, today you can just as easily get the same sort of copyright by uploading your work to something like Google drive or by simply emailing it to yourself. This proves that it is your work at a particular date stamp.

Pros & Cons of Adding Pictures to a Children’s Book

One of the decisions that you are going to have to make is whether or not to add pictures to your children’s book. This will depend upon several factors such as whether you have access to the artwork in the first place and what age group you are targeting. Some age groups are almost required to have pictures if you want them to sell while others can do without them. Let’s take a look at some of those factors now.

Traditional versus Self-Publishing

One of the things that may make a difference is whether you are publishing through traditional means or self-publishing. If you are asking how to publish a children’s book through traditional means, then you’re going to have very little control over whether or not your books have pictures. If they are in those age groups where pictures are required, then your publisher will hire out for an artist to create the pictures. For chapter books and easy readers, your publisher may still contract out for some sketches to add your book. If you are self-publishing, then you have to make those decisions yourself. Of course, you also have to do all of the acquisition work to get those pictures.

Are You the Artist?

If you are an artist, then you definitely have an advantage over authors that have written a book but have no artistic talent. If you can paint or draw pictures yourself that will go with your book, then you won’t have to worry about hiring someone to create them, paying them money to commission the work or what rights you get for doing so. Many children’s book authors are also artists and they create their own artwork to go with their books. If you are publishing traditionally, then it will still be up to the publisher whether or not your own drawings will be included with the book or whether they want to contract out to someone else.

What Age Group is Your Book Targeted Towards?

You also need to consider which age group your book is targeted towards. For example, board books and picture books are required to have pictures. That is, after all, the definition of that type of book. Even easy readers and chapter books should have some pictures in them because children are transitioning from those picture books to books with a lot more words and having books with no pictures can be rather intimidating. For older children, pictures are not strictly necessary.

Print Book or eBook Format

You also need to consider whether you are publishing your book in print or e-book format. If you are publishing in print, you are going to have a lot easier time formatting your book, but it is also going to cost you more with a traditional service like print on demand. Color pictures can add several dollars your cost whenever someone orders one of your books. This is not the case with e-books, but it can be tricky to do the formatting to your pictures display properly.

Where to Find 2019 Writing Contests

There are a lot of places the public a few one point 2019 writing contest. Some of them are going to be listed online, but others are to be more difficult to find. The most prominent ones are the ones that are talked about the most, but there may be smaller ones were the competition is a lot thinner and where the prices are still worth it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can find writing contest.

Professional Writer’s Association Forums

One of the best places that you can look is on the forum of your genre specific professional writers association. For example, the Horror Writers of America have their own form and you can check it out in see if there’s a thread where people list contest that they’ve heard about.

Writer’s Magazines

Writer’s Magazines are one of the top resource when it comes to finding out whether or not there are any contest worth entering happening this year. These periodicals make it their business to know which writing contests are coming up and especially which ones are best for the aspiring writers that they target.

Social Media Feeds

Social Media is another great places you can find writing contest. If you search social media feeds for writing contests, there’s a good chance that you will see ones coming up as the organization behind them announces them. Not every organization will promote the contest on Facebook and Twitter, but the majority of them do, so you can check their regularly for updates.

Online Search

Looking online is also an option when you’re trying to find writing contest. The problem is that many of the websites that this writing contest did always differentiate between ones that were held for the last few years, ones that were held once last year and the current better contests. You’ll have to look at each deadline manually and see if they are holding any this year and if you are still eligible to enter the contest.

Schools & Libraries

Ask your local librarian or someone at your high school or college if they know of any upcoming contests. A lot of times, librarians will get advance notice on these contests in the form of posters or flyers that they can post up around the library. The same goes for schools when it comes to contests that high school and college students are eligible for. There are usually quite a few contests available for high school students and they can include things like poetry, playwright, fiction, nonfiction and even song lyrics in some cases.

Within Your Local Community

Check within the local Chamber of Commerce or other source of information within your city or town. There may be writing contests that specifically apply to people that live in your city, county or state. There may be contest that are open to those that are willing to write about the state that you live in as well.

How to Use the Hero’s Journey as a Writing Exercise

How to Use the Hero’s Journey as a Writing ExerciseImage result for Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell introduced us to “The Hero’s Journey” a writing outline that describes many of the popular works of fiction currently on the shelves or in the movie bin. Some of the best known pieces of writing or motion picture magic have most, if not all, elements of the Hero’s Journey including Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. But you can actually use the Hero’s Journey as an exercise if you want. Make some delicious dessert using a modern ice cream maker, and let’s talk about some ways to do just that.

Ordinary World: Write a page about the ordinary world that a character might live in. If you don’t have a character, just make up a name and then describe their world.

Call to Adventure: Take your character to the moment when they are faced with a choice, and write the internal dialogue that they experience when trying to make that choice.

Refusal of the Call: Heroes often refuse the call-to-action at least once. Remember when Obi-Wan told Luke he must become a Jedi and Luke refused? Write your character’s refusal.

Meeting with the Mentor: Sometimes, these steps appear out of order. For example, Luke Skywalker met with his mentor before he refused the call. You can write it however you like.

Crossing the First Threshold: This is where you can write the hero embarking on his or her adventure.

Tests, Allies, Enemies: Choose a confrontation with an enemy, a first meeting with an ally or a test that your hero must face and write about it as an exercise.

Approach: Write about how your character approaches the main quest. Think about what they might have learned and how prepared they are for it.

Ordeal: Now, write a scene where your character is in the thick of the action. They are accomplishing the goal of the quest. They are overcoming the obstacles that stand in their way.

Reward: When your character finally defeats the enemy and gets the reward, how will they react? What will they do next? Most importantly, how has the experience changed them? Write a scene where your character has won the day and think about what sort of things they might be saying to themselves and how they might be feeling.

The Road Back: This is the very beginning of the last stage of your climax. Your hero is on a journey and has accomplished the goal of that journey. But there is still some loose ends that need to be tied up. They have to be written a clear and accessible exit from the world of the quest to the real world.

Resurrection Hero: The final scene in your climax should show the character changing drastically so that they are finally able to accomplish the tasks that are required to complete the final encounter – even if it is with themselves.

Return with Elixir: Finally, write about your character’s reception, all of the people who didn’t believe they could do it, and the celebration that ensues from them saving the world.


For more writing exercises, check out Reedsy

EBook Formatting Choices: MOBI

EBook Formatting Choices: MOBI

If you are familiar at all with Amazon’s proprietary eBook device: the Kindle, then you are likely familiar with the MOBI format as well. The .mobi format is the most common format out there for Kindle books. There are a few third-party applications that can read the .mobi format, but for the most part, if you have a .mobi file, you have to have a Kindle to read it. The ironic part is however, that if you get a .mobi file that wasn’t downloaded from Amazon, it can be rather difficult to get it to load up into your Kindle. Still, if you want to have the format that is recognized by Amazon Kindle, such as being placed in the Kindle Select Program where people can borrow your books and where you can do free book promotions, then you want to have the .mobi format. If you need more help with the .mobi format, check out Onsite in 60.

Where the MOBI Format can be used

So, where exactly can the MOBI format be used? Unfortunately, it can only be used with Amazon devices like Kindles. The Kindle device is one of the most advanced electronic readers out there, and publishing your book in this format is going to give you a ready-made audience and system is already set up for you to promote your book; that does not always mean that it is the best option out there. There are a lot of things to consider before you decide to place your book in the Kindle Select program, including whether or not you want to give your book exclusivity and conform to Amazon’s pricing models.

The Kindle Select Program

There are definitely some advantages that come with the Kindle Select Program. You are able to price your book at least $2.99 and be able to earn a 70 percent royalty on those books. But that also means the need to keep your book exclusive to Amazon. When the company set up those rules, they knew what they were doing. If you make your book exclusive on Amazon, and it becomes extremely popular, they are going to be the only ones that carry it for a certain period of time. That means all of the sales will come to them. If you go to other retailers, then you’re not going to get the benefits that joining the Kindle Select program offers.

One of those advantages is the ability to price your book to zero for five days out of every 90 days. What that means is that for those days that the book is on promotion it will be promoted for free on Amazon. If you have a series, people will buy the first book in your series for nothing; and there is a decent chance that they will buy the second book as well – as well as any other additional books – because they read the first one and became intrigued. You also are able to take advantage of certain programs like the Kindle Singles program. You can also enlist your book in the borrowing service that Kindle offers – Kindle Unlimited. This service pays you for each page that someone reads.