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Do Your Think of Yourself as a Writer? 

A couple of situations occurred over the past week which raised some questions in my mind about how people look at themselves, especially when it comes to identifying themselves as writers. First, I received a comment to a recent blog post that I bet many readers will resonate with. Kerry Hargraves' comment talked about how in her various past careers she wrote all the time but never considered it writing. “I love words and their proper usage and used that to great advantage but at no time did it ever occur to me to call myself a writer.”

Now that Kerry has her own business, she still writes all the time, but it is so much harder because it is now about her. “Words that flowed easily now fight me because they are so much more important.” However, interestingly enough, because she struggles to write for herself, she now recognizes that she is a writer. Sort of coming around to it from the back side, but guess what Kerry. YOU ARE A WRITER!

The second situation was when I was at an event where I had a table for Our Little Books. People would come up and chat with me about their writing and potential books. However, I had several people come up and announce, quite adamantly, that they were not writers. I asked one event attendee, Ruby Trammel (who had told me she was not a writer) whether she blogged? “Yes.” Did she write copy for her website? “Yes.” Did she write articles? “Yes.” Did she write sales pages and such? “Yes.” Hmmmmm. Guess what Ruby. YOU ARE A WRITER!

Both Kerry and Ruby really got me thinking about how people think about their own writing. Why is it, when most everyone who has a business definitely writes, people don't think of themselves as being a writer? Of course, I then thought about my own writing and I realized that I was no different. When I look back, I realize I've always been writing. Even in my 30+ years as a successful disability lawyer, I was always telling my client's stories, writing briefs for judges or the courts. Then I wrote my first non-fiction book, The Little Book of Identity Theft, which was actually the basis for starting the Our Little Books Publishing company. Since then, I've written and ghost-written other non-fiction books, blogged, wrote articles, and website copy. I also mentor and coach other beginning and advanced writers with their writing. But despite all that writing, just like Kerry and Ruby, (and this is a confession) I never thought of myself as a writer.

I knew I could write. But somehow, that didn't translate to thinking of myself as a writer. This really surprised me since I actually teach people that they are writers. It is my business! How could I not think of myself as a writer? It wasn't a negative. It wasn't a self-limiting belief that I thought of myself as a non-writer, because if you asked me if I wrote, I would have said, "of course." I just never thought of myself as a writer. What was it that made that disconnect being a writer and yet, not thinking of yourself as a writer?

I recently started my first novel and have written over 100,000 words. Somehow, that changed my mindset. I now think of myself as a writer! But people shouldn't have to write 100K words to get in their heads that they are writers. So I have made it a personal campaign to remind everyone to think of themselves as writers. Do you blog? You are a writer. Do you journal for yourself everyday? You are a writer. Do you write articles? You are a writer. Do you write information for your website? You are a writer. Do you write sales copy for your business? You are a writer. Do you write letters? You are a writer. You don't have to have written a book to be a writer. If you put pen to paper or hands to keyboard and produce written words, then consider yourself a writer. Once you change your mindset, you will be surprised at how much easier writing becomes.

Are you a writer? OF COURSE YOU ARE!!

As a Publisher and Writing Guide, Candace shows speakers, coaches and other service based professionals how to take what they uniquely do and build it into a marketing strategy that builds instant credibility by writing and publishing their own book. For those interested in getting started writing or how to use your words, the next one-day Writer's Workshop will be on 5/16/15 in Alameda, CA. For those of you who would like to work with her 1 on 1 on how to write your book, or would like to explore how you can publish with Our Little Books, please contact her for a free consultation.


How Can Copyright Protect Your Work?

We are very pleased to offer the second of a 2 part blog post from Barbara Ingrassia, Copyright Manager extraordinaire, for Our Little Books Guest Post Wednesday. The first part dealt with what you can do with other peoples' work and this second part is devoted to how you can protect your own work. Remember, knowledge is power!

In the previous post, I discussed how you can comply with copyright law as a consumer of 3rd party copyrighted works.  In this post, I’ll discuss how you as a CREATOR can protect your original creative work.

Imagine, you’ve put your time and energy into this new work. You’ve cleared the rights for 3rd party works, as appropriate, and provided attribution for quotations, ideas, etc. You CREATED a new work. Now, how do you protect your investment?

First of all, you have to understand that copyright does not protect ideas, but the expression of original, creative ideas. So, at the moment an original creative work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression (i.e., down on paper), it is protected by copyright (including print, audio, video, digital).

While it is not required that you include a copyright notice (© Year. Name. All Rights Reserved) in order to establish copyright, I highly recommend that you do. Place it on the title page, home page, at the end of a post, on the label, meaning in a conspicuous location. This is a very simple step, but very important. Why? It signals users that:

  1. the work is copyright-protected
  2. when it was copyrighted
  3. who is the copyright owner, and
  4. what rights are available to the user

Then there is no excuse for a user to claim that they didn’t know that the work was copyrighted. You might also include your contact information (typically email address) to make it easy for users to request permission to use the work.

Consider taking an additional step to increase the protection: register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Again, it’s not required, but there are advantages:

  1. Establishes a public record (searchable online)
  2. Allows the filing of an infringement suit
  3. Makes statutory damages and attorney’s fees available to the copyright owner, and
  4. Allows registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of unauthorized copies. 

It is not expensive to register and you can complete the forms online. There are very helpful tutorials and FAQs to help you complete the forms; in most cases you do not need an attorney to complete the submission process. To register a work go to: The date your file is complete will be the effective date of the copyright, if granted. Understand that the Copyright Office will not monitor use of your content; that is your responsibility. Search the Internet regularly for use of key, unique phrases from your work, as well as your name.

In the past, many authors have (sometimes unknowingly) transferred all of their rights to another party—usually a publisher. If you are working with a publisher, think about what uses you would like to make of your work, and negotiate to retain those rights. A signed license/transfer agreement trumps copyright law. In your excitement to be published, don’t simply sign the form presented to you. Today, thanks in part to the rise of self-publishing on the Internet, many authors are able to retain their copyrights. (Note from Our Little Books: we support our authors and never take their copyright. Listen to Barbara's advice...check your agreements before signing!)

One last point: when you are planning a joint project, create and sign a written agreement clarifying who will own the copyright. This is particularly important if volunteers, interns, contractors (illustrators, photographers, graphic artists, etc.), or employers may be involved. Don’t just assume that you will own the original creative work of others who contribute to the project. Yes, copyright in the digital age can seem complicated and murky, but you can learn to manage copyright so it doesn’t manage you.

Barbara Ingrassia is a Certified Copyright Manager who provides one-on-one consultations, workshops, and seminars on all issues copyright. To engage Barbara for an audit of your website for copyright issues or for more information about copyright, request the free 16 Page report 10 Biggest Copyright Mistakes Small Business Owners Make AND How to Avoid Them! by sending an email to with the subject line CREPORT. Manage copyright. Don’t let it manage You!℠

(Information provided here should not be construed as legal advice.)

The content of this post is © 2014 Barbara C. Ingrassia All Rights Reserved.


Upcoming Writer's Workshop- 9/20/14

We are very excited to present a full day Writer's Workshop, (including food!), on September, 20, 2014. Plan to come out of the day with direction, confidence, and an outline for a book that you can use as a marketing tool for your business.

Don't think you need a writer's workshop? Think about the following questions and, if you can answer yes to any of these 4 questions, then we invite you to attend this one day Writer's Workshop!

1. Have you always wanted to write a book but didn't know where to start?

2. Have you heard a million times before that it is important to write as a marketing strategy for your business, but every time you start, you feel stuck?

3. Do you understand the importance for your business of being a published author, but have been overwhelmed just thinking about it?

4. Would you like guidance on how to transform that writing overwhelm to writing confidence?

For your investment, you get a full day of education, instruction, guided and free writing, plus food to keep your writing creativity stoked with fuel. The end-of-the-day goal will be for you to have a complete outline and definite direction on how to keep going in the days ahead on your book. Please come ready and willing to put pen to paper, (or hands to keyboard) as you will be challenged to take everything you wanted to write about and put it all in order as a book.

If you know you want to get a solid foundation down for your book and want to learn how to combat the overwhelm you feel every time you sit down to write something, then sign up at:

If finances are limited, please contact us directly as we have a couple of scholarships available but please understand that space is limited as I want to give everyone the individual attention they need. We are almost full at this point, so this is something you should do NOW!


How to Use Mind Mapping to Outline A Book

When I wrote my first book I used index cards. I wrote one element or idea on each card; such as, a topic, question, quotation, or a reference. Once I had all of my cards written, I sorted them into stacks of related topics. Within each stack, the cards were sorted into a logical order. Each stack eventually was a chapter in the book. Sometimes it was helpful to tack them on a bulletin board so that I could see them easily.   

A linear outline is often used listing the main topics with relevant information under each topic. From there you can form the paragraphs. The main topics could be the chapters in your books. This is more challenging for me since I am very visual and I don’t always see an immediate relationship to my ideas. I prefer to start with the cards and then move to a linear outline.

I recently came across mind mapping.  (The Mind Mapping expression is a registered trademark of Buzan Centres.) I have used the technique for several posts and a book that I am currently working on. A mind map is a perfect tool for a visual learner like me. I was using a form of mind mapping when I organized my cards on a bulletin board. It is easier to connect ideas and see what doesn’t fit or what should be moved to a new area. The more detail you include the easier it will be when compile your final document. The more you planning and research you do before you write the faster you will complete your book.


Diagram via flickr

Studies have shown that people don’t think in a linear manner. Thoughts often pop into our head and we jump from topic to topic. Mapping your thoughts will help you pull them together in an organized manner while cultivating your creativity. You can put all of your ideas down without worrying about how they fit together. Writing your ideas down in this way will lead you to think of unrelated ideas that may fit in another area.

Mind mapping is a fast way to create material because you write key words and ideas so when you sit down to write your ideas will already be organized. If you are organizing a lot of material for your book, mind mapping will make it easier to see your ideas and how they fit together. If you are suffering from writers block, mind mapping will stimulate creativity through brainstorming. Mind mapping is an effective way to start, organize and finish your book.

Windows has a free and premium version of mind mapping software. Of course you can find a more expensive version if you find it helpful. I have created my own mind map on paper or a dry erase board. 

How do you outline and organize your material for your book? Do you start with an outline or do you have another method?


Are You An Author, Small Publisher, Or Independent Book Seller? How Can We All Work Together?

The book market is changing rapidly and it is time for the small publishers, authors and independent book sellers to unite to keep a small piece of the pie. No matter if you are an author, small publishing company or independent book seller you are generally passionate about what you do and most likely do not do it just for the money.

If you are an author you may have difficulty getting your book noticed by a large publishing house, and if you self publish you will have trouble getting noticed by the bookstore chains. Small publishing companies do not have the marketing budget to promote the authors or give large advances on royalties. Independent book sellers are often reluctant to buy from small publishing houses and self published authors because they can not offer the standard 40% discount that the books sellers require to make a profit. We all struggle in our own way and if we are all going to survive we must learn what we can do to help each other.

So what can we do to work together?

Authors must take on the responsibility of promoting their own book. They have the passion to sell and promote their books.  Since most authors do not have the money to do a big marketing campaign they can develop an online platform.  They could have a blog to promote their book or topics related to the book. They could guest blog on other sites to promote their book or on a topic related to their book.  

If you are trying to get a bookseller to have your book on the shelf you should be aware that they are also trying to make money. You will have to give them a discount of at least 40-50%. Independent bookstores are in competition with the large bookstore chains. Most of the owners love books and are in the business because it is their passion. Authors with publish on demand books can sometimes convince a bookstore to stock their book by offering it on consignment. The author provides copies of their book and gives them to the bookstore to place on their shelves. The bookstore doesn't pay the author for the book until it sells. If it doesn't sell the book is returned to the author. This can work with an author who has a strong local following.  

Independent publishers are likely not independently wealthy and they typically are not in the business just for the money. Most of the independent publishers do not have the volume of sales to be able to have a large marketing budget. Publishers can have a blog related to writing, publishing and marketing books. They could also write book reviews and author interviews with a link to a small bookseller to buy the book.  The bookstore could offer a commission on sales from the referrals.

Independent bookstores generally do not have the time to do social networking. They should have a website but probably do not have time to blog or promote their store on twitter. But they could run a promotion on the book at the same time the author and publisher are promoting it with social networking. A book signing could also be set up at the same time. During that time total book sales could increase.

Lets brainstorm other ways we can work together. What are your suggestions?