If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.
In this episode, I’ll tell you about copyrighting your book. We are also going to talk about Barnes & Noble’s new rewards program, and I’m sharing a pet peeve.
The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s grab a table and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.
First, an update on the fallout from Scott Adams’ racist remarks. His distributor has dropped him, his book publisher has dropped him, and his agent has dropped him. The video that initially sparked outrage and the ones he made immediately afterward, when he doubled down on his hate, have been removed from YouTube, but he keeps talking about it on Twitter.
Two weeks ago, we reviewed what a sensitivity reader is and the upsides and downsides of a sensitivity read. Last week, I mentioned that some changes were made to Roald Dahl’s work, with the intention of making his books more fitting for today’s readers and that authors and publishers alike were aghast at many of these changes. The changes were suggested by sensitivity readers from an organization called Inclusive Minds, and I think we can call the implementation of these changes an example of a sensitivity read going wrong. As I said last week, we can leave Dahl in the past, which is where he wanted to stay when he said he never wanted a single word changed.
For an example of a sensitivity read going right, we can look at Bond, James Bond. Now that the family of British writer Ian Fleming owns his books, they decided to release new editions of the Bond books. After consulting external parties for sensitivity reads, the Fleming family “decided that, rather than making changes in line with their advice, it was instead most appropriate to look for guidance from the author himself.”Yes, Ian Fleming died in:
The family says that they “decided to apply the sensibilities of the original US edition of Live and Let Die consistently, across all the texts. Some racial words likely to cause great offense now, and detract from a reader’s enjoyment, have been altered, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and period.”
The new editions will be released next month.
Barnes & Noble has revamped its membership program. First and foremost, there are now two programs. B&N Rewards and B&N Premium Membership.
B&N Rewards is a free program where customers can earn virtual stamps. These stamps can be used as currency. Much like in prison, actually. No, seriously, I like this idea a lot, and I’ve always felt Barnes & Noble should have a free rewards program, and, no, this isn’t sponsored. With B&N Rewards, you earn 1 virtual stamp for every $10 spent online or in stores, and 10 stamps earn you a $5 credit. In other words, you’ll get $5 back for every $100 you spend.
As for their paid membership program, now called B&N Premium Membership, the price has increased from $25 a year to $40 a year. There are more perks available now through this program than in the previous paid program, such as 10% off almost everything in store and online, and free size upgrades on drinks at the cafe. The previous program already offered a free birthday treat from the cafe, but now your children can also get a free treat on their birthdays.
And, yes, there’s an app to track your rewards and stamps.
According to Bookstat, self-published work accounted for more than half of all ebook unit sales last year. Congratulations, everyone.
Now, let’s head to the Overthinking Couch, where I will reveal a new pet peeve.
If you are telling me a story, do not turn it into a pop quiz. For example, if you’re showing me something you handcrafted, do not say to me, “What material do you think this is?” Just tell me. Just tell me. Oh my God, just tell me.
Now, if I ask, “What material is this?” or “How did you do that?” and you say, “Guess.” There’s a good chance I’ll guess. And there's a good chance other people won’t want to guess because that’s kind of an annoying response, but I don’t usually mind guessing the answer to a question I asked. If I ask you a question, it’s information I want to know and I’m already thinking about, so if you want to tease me with the information, okay, as long as you eventually tell me.
Whenever a teacher announced a pop quiz in school, I wanted to walk out of the classroom. No matter how well I knew the material, no matter how confident I felt about it, it was just an instinct to get away from this kind of mean and destructive behavior. So, here’s the solution I’m proposing. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a conversational pop quiz, just leave. For all the times you couldn’t leave the room before a pop quiz in school, just leave.
If that’s not feasible, respond by asking a different random question. So if you’re politely listening to someone talk about the table they built and they say, “What kind of wood do you think this is?” Respond with, “How long did this take you?” or “Where did you get your shoes?”
What I’m saying is, unless you’re in school, you do not have to take the pop quiz.
And now, let’s head to an aromatic independent bookstore.
We are at Wisdom Books and Aroma Shop in Lalitpur, Nepal. Once you pass through the turquoise iron gates, you’ll find yourself in a low-lit, windowless shop. Colorful pennant banners and paper lanterns decorate the space. Books and art supplies are neatly arranged on brown bookshelves. They also sell jewelry, tea, soap, perfume, and other souvenirs. Check the show notes for a peek inside this lovely shop.
Let’s stroll around and see what we find.
The Ancient Code is the first in a four-part SciFi Adventure series by T. S. Falk.
“After barely escaping from his last project alive, Professor Elliot Brand wanted to spend a few calm months lecturing in London. But when a billionaire presents him the perfect mystery, he can't resist and soon finds himself in a dangerous world of Nepali spies, ancient ruins, and a truth about humanity that might change the world forever, or end it.
Blending real science with fiction, this book takes you on a journey into the origins of mankind and its many mysteries.”
The Ancient Code is free with Kindle Unlimited.
Now, let’s find a quiet corner for today’s writing tip.
Last week I foolishly promised you that I would discuss copyrighting your book this week. I say foolishly for three reasons. One, my audience is international, and I can’t provide information for all of the countries my listeners represent. Two, there is so much information available online. You don’t need me to tell you this stuff. And three, I dwell in the land of developmental editing, which means I do not involve myself in the marketing of books anymore. I prefer to hang out with your words, as I’m sure you do, but we do need to talk about copyrighting at some point. No time like the present, I guess.
First off, once you’ve written your book, it’s yours. You own the copyright. You technically do not need to do anything else to make it yours. In the past, authors used what was called the poor man’s copyright where they mailed, yes, snail mail, they mailed a copy of their manuscript to themselves and left it in its sealed envelope once they received it. Because the manuscript would make it to the post office before being returned to the author, the envelope was date stamped, so if it ever came down to it, the author could prove they had written the work by presenting the sealed envelope.
Nowadays, the poor man’s copyright is email. Email a copy of the work to someone, yes, even to yourself, and you’re done.
So why do people register their work with their nation’s copyright database? I guess because it makes it even easier to prove that you wrote it. Depending on where you live, you might be able to improve distribution by registering your work. In the United States, you can also get a Library of Congress number and a Publisher's Cataloging-In-Publication number, which can help with distributing and marketing your book.
And then there’s the ISBN I told you about last week, which is internationally available. I consider an ISBN a necessity, but technically it’s not. However, there are some platforms that won’t sell a book without an ISBN, so think of it as a number you need to have. Currently, ebooks and audiobooks do not need to have an ISBN, but I do think you should have one number for your paperback, one for your hardcover, one for your audiobook, and one for your ebook.
You’ll have to check your country’s regulations for more information about copyrighting your work. US-based authors can check the show notes for a link to a video on how to get your numbers, and an article about how to copyright your work.
That’s all for this week, dear writer. Thank you for listening, and as always, you deserved this break.
If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.
Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.