Library of Congress Programs

career indie author

career indie author introduction

Before I begin with today’s excerpt about the Library of Congress’ programs, I want to mention that mega-best-selling author Michael Anderle has a great Facebook group where more than 2,400 authors are helping each other become more successful money-making writers.


This is a great group. It’s members are supportive and helpful, giving each other advice and critiques about book covers, descriptions, best practices for using Amazon’s marketing service, Bookbub (and BookGorilla and other services), and other aspects of book marketing.

The 20BooksTo50K group has two rules: Be Kind and NO SELF-PROMOTION.

Let me say that again. I mean no “buy my book please,” even if it’s a self-help book for writers. No, “I just need one more like on my Facebook page, can you help?” No, “I just put my new book on sale for 99 cents.”

As for the “Be Kind” rule, that means no personal attacks and no nasty criticism. It does mean “that cover design doesn’t work for me. How about if you try this …” or “here’s how I think you can improve that blurb.”

It is a closed group, so visit the 20Booksto50K group and apply. Writers of any level and experience are welcome.

BTW, as for the title, that was Anderle’s goal. He figured that if he could write 20 books, he could earn $50K a year. He’s published as of today about 16 books and he’s earning $50K per month.

To learn more about Anderle and how he did it, here are two videos to introduce him to you. First, his interview on Stephen Campbell’s Author Biz podcast.

Then there’s his talk that goes into detail about the thinking behind his success.

Now, on to our next section in the Career Indie Author.

Library of Congress Programs

U.S.-based publishers deal with the Library of Congress in three possible areas:

1. Copyright. After a book is published, a copyright can be filed.

Thanks to enlightened copyright law, everything you write and public has an inherent copyright attached to it. If you publish a book and include the phrase “copyright [year] by [name],” the work is protected according to the law that applies to whatever country the work is first published in. In the United States, that is 70 years after the author dies.

Since that is the case, should you file a copyright application with The Library of Congress? After all, it takes time and costs money (at least $35 for most works, and $55 for anthologies).

There are two reasons for filing an application:

1. It creates a record for the book in the LOC’s database. It acknowledges that the work exists to anyone who visits the LOC. If a library buys your book for its shelves, it can use the LOC entry as a guide to how to shelve it.

2. Receiving an official copyright notice comes into play if you successfully sue someone for stealing and profiting off your work. Without the notice, the most you can financially recover is the actual damages you suffer, such as the profits someone else made from your work. With the notice, you can also sue for and possibly receive punitive damages (in essence, the person also is fined for their theft, must as a person is jailed for stealing).

If these benefits mean something to you, then you should file. If they don’t, you don’t have to.

Personally, I file. Not that I expect to be robbed, but because I’m very much aware of the need in me to leave something behind. All things pass, as Ecclesiastics tells us, so I’m very likely fooling myself, but, still, I like seeing my books appear on the LOC’s website and in the worldwide library database.

2. Preassigned Control Number Program.

If you think your print books could end up in libraries, the LOC offers two programs that will help librarians shelve them correctly. One of them — The Cataloging in Publication Program — is primarily for books the LOC believes it will acquire and is reserved for large publishers or university presses.

(Obviously, if you’re only doing ebooks, you don’t have to read this section at all. The LOC does have a CIP E-books program, but it is complicated and should be used only if you’re really, really interested.)

A subset of the CIP program, the Preassigned Control Number Program is for the rest of us. It is a free service. You fill out a form at the library’s web site, and receive a PCN number that you put on the copyright page. That’s it. Give the library at least two weeks to process your application and email you the number.

When your book is published, you’ll need to send a copy to the Library of Congress; US & Publisher Liaison Division; Cataloging in Publication Program; 101 Independence Ave., S.E.; Washington, D.C. 20540-4283

When a library acquires your book, they’ll use that number to get the information it needs to shelve your book correctly.

I do this because my nonfiction books have appeared in libraries, so this program makes it easier for them to find and categorize my books. The program is free and costs you a copy of the printed book.