Monday, 25 July 2011

Step 5: Registering your Book

The consequences of what you may not know Registering your book is an essential part of publishing a book if you want your book to be legal or saleable. If your book is purely a dream book and you have no intention of putting it on the market in any shape or form, then registration is not necessary. If, however, you want to receive any credibility or profit from selling your book then registration is essential.

Standard book registration has 3 components:

  1. registering the book title, 
  2. registering an ISBN number 
  3. and registering a barcode. 

It is important when registering a book that you think about and finalise everything first, as once a book is registered, no details of that book can be changed. Details that cannot be changed include things such as Title, Subtitle,. Authors' names, Contributors' names, number of pages, RRP, book size, whether your book is part of a series or not etc.

For a complete checklist all the details required for book registration please refer to the checklist below.

1. Title
2. Sub Title
3. Author's Name
4. Author's Date of Birth
5. Contributors'names eg. photographer, illustrator, designer, publisher etc.
6. Number of pages
7. RRP
8. Book Size
9. Book Genre
10. Whether your book is part of a series or not

If your book is part of a series it is often advisable to register the whole series at once, as book registration is always cheaper when purchased in bulk. Saying that, however, you should always be careful when registering a series in advance of when it is written, as if you change any of the before mentioned details the registration is no longer valid.

It is important that you not only register your book but that your registration is correct. If your book is not registered, it is not legal. If your book is not legal that means someone else could bring a book out after yours with the same title and not only capitalise on your potential market, but stop you registering your book even if it was completed first. In contrast, by registering your book you are locking out your competition as they can't use the same title that you have secured.The ISBN number allocated to your book once it is registered ensures your book is tracked internationally to ensure no one registers the same title as you.

Registering your book's barcode is what makes your book saleable. Your book needs to have a barcode to be saleable in any bookstore (or online bookstore) worldwide. You can sell your book independently without a barcode e.g. from your own website, market store or while talking on stage, however your book will never look professional without a barcode or ISBN number on the back cover. If you are publishing a book to achieve any kind of credibility, registration is still essential whether you plan to sell your book or not, not only to protect your Intellectual Property but also to ensure your target market takes you seriously as an author. Anyone can print a book these days, but registering a book shows your are serious about what you have done and that your book has been approved for distribution.

A common thing that people miss in the registration process is the legal requirements behind it. Did you know that when a book is published in Australia it is automatically entitled to be archived in Australian history in both your state and national library? While this may be an honour to have your project go down in Australian history, what you may not know is that if you don't pass a copy on to your local state and national libraries, you are actually breaking the law as it means the state and national archives are inaccurate as they are incomplete. While this is not a heavily policed law it is not hard to track an ISBN. Australia keeps a thorough list of all books registered so if any library picks up that you did not submit a copy to them, there may be legal ramifications. All good publishing houses will automatically do this for you on your behalf, but if you are unsure as to whether this has been done or not it may be a good idea to check, as it is not the publisher but the author that will be held responsible if their book is not submitted.

There is more than one form of registration. 

  1. Book registration, 
  2. ISBN registration 
  3. and barcode registration 

all form part of what I refer to as standard registration.

There is another form of registration called print on demand registration (see Step 7  for more details). This registration is ideal when distributing books. Like standard registration, Print on Demand includes several types of registration including: print on demand registration (the ability to print books after they have already been sold) and bookstore distribution to various markets.

When registering your book, it is very important to ensure all details are finalised and nothing is going to change before you begin registration. One of the most important things to consider at this stage, though, is the RRP of your book.

Once your RRP is picked it is set in concrete and while you can choose to mark it down whenever you want, you can never charge more than the price you picked. These means as years pass and the price of producing books goes up with inflation eg. paper, ink costs etc. your RRP stays the same and your profit margin just reduces. As such it is important to pick the correct RRP from the start.

A good rule of thumb for determining a book's RRP is $5 per 20 pages of the book and another $5 for the book itself and then take 5c off for good measure. In other words, a 40 page book could RRP for $14.95 whereas an 80 page book could RRP for $24.95. Once you reach the 100 page mark it is best to increase the price of your book by $5 every 50 pages eg. a 150 page book may RRP for $34.95 and a 200 page book for $39.95. Of course you can always charge less, but this is a good rule of thumb for a maximum. Remember when picking the RRP of your book, though, that you keep in mind the cost of production, distribution and the very low wholesale rate of bookstores if you are looking at bookstore distribution to ensure your book is running at a profit you are happy with. There is no use becoming a best seller in Australia to gain credibility if you are losing $2 on every book you sell.

  • 40 page  RRP for $14.95
  • 80 page  RRP for $24.95
  • 150 page  RRP for $34.95
  • 200 page book for $39.95

For audio books a similar structure can be worked out. Generally $5 for the product again and $5 per 20 mins of audio is a good rule of thumb. Once you get to 1 hour, $5 per 30 mins is a better indication.
With ebooks or eaudio the pricing structure is completely different. People are usually happy to pay in the e world around $10 (I still recommend taking off the 5c for good measure) per subject matter.

In other words, if your book (ebook or eaudio) covers 3 topics, it would be saleable for around $29.95, whereas if it only covers 1 topic, $9.95 would be more appropriate. If it happens to cover 10 topics and cover them well, you could get up to $99.95 for it.

When ebooks reach this level, though, I generally recommend taking a little more than the 5c off. For example: A $50 book sells well at around $49 whereas a hundred dollar book sells best at $97.

Your RRP can really be whatever you want it to be. Just research your market to check they are willing to pay the price you propose first and research your costs to ensure you will make and continue to make enough profit from the RRP you have decided on.

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