With the surge in writers taking their writing careers into their own hands and self-publishing their books as ebooks, one of the things they find their friends and family miss is a print version of their book. With print on demand companies such as LightningSource and CreateSpace printing nice books at a decent cost, more and more indie writers are adding print to their format list. But there is a problem.
How do you make it look less like a self-published book besides cover art, a good book description, nice layout, etc.? How do you make it look legit to your local librarian who is clamoring for local content? With Library of Congress Cataloguing Data.
Oops. Did you just faint?
Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be that scary. Here’s a quick break down of the why followed by the how. As well as a secret most people don’t know about libraries and book visibility.
P.S. POD stands for Print on Demand which is what kind of book you are creating if you use a service like CreateSpace or LightningSource–they print when there is demand.
Why Your Print on Demand Book Needs Library of Congress Cataloguing Data
1. It makes your book look legit.
2. Because nobody is going to do it for you and therefore will be missing if you don’t add it!
3. it’s an easy step to make your book more library-friendly.
4. Librarians are your friend. Make their lives easier. (And it might just sway them into accepting your book–you never know!)
5. It will get your book on library shelves faster.
6. It will help ensure your book can be found in a library system with thousands of books.
What is Library of Congress Cataloguing Data and What is it Used For?
If you flip to the front of a traditionally published book you’ll (hopefully) see a page (likely also the copyright page) with Library of Congress cataloging data. Some of the more recent books don’t have Library of Congress info because apparently they think with all their cutbacks this is an okay thing to cut (but it delays books getting into libraries and makes well-mannered librarians curse). So, if the first book you look at lacks Library of Congress info, keep looking. A nonfiction book is a great example as it has a ton of specific cataloguing info in the front of the book.
Tip: I like to snoop in books that are similar to my book because I can get subject category ideas, etc.
Now, the issue with this cataloguing data is that it might not make much sense. But basically it has data like title, publisher, ISBN, author name and year of birth (and death if no longer alive), and (hopefully) even subject categories. This is information that librarians use to make a MARC record for you (the author) and your book. Basically, that is the information they put in their library program (used to be a card catalogue) to make your book findable in their library and/or library system.
Because we are printing these books ourselves and sometimes our local librarian is going to be the first librarian to see this book (not some master degree carrying book cataloguer who catalogues (enters) books all day), we need to make their job easier with the side effect of making our book more visible in their computer system. People don’t read books they can’t find.
P.S. You may think once it is in a library you are set… not quite. The next library over may not have the same computer system and might not have access to that MARC record where they can go click-click and link their copy of you book to that record making it magically appear in their own system. In other words, they are going to need to input your book into their system as well.
If you still aren’t convinced, think of it this way: librarians are busy and their libraries are notoriously underfunded. They will make best guesses as to your book’s content, etc., based on the back cover blurb (and maybe by reading a page in the middle–if they have time!). I’ve made book records in less than a minute in the past. Less than a minute to fill in all the info I’ve listed below when a book didn’t contain this info in the front matter. Any guesses to how accurate I was and how findable that book was in the system?
Still not convinced? Fast Add. This means a librarian didn’t have the info they needed to make a record for your book in their computer. This means they took your book, slapped a barcode on it, and shoved it on a shelf somewhere for patrons to happen across. In other words if library users look for your book in the computer they will not find it. Because it is not in it. You will not find new readers unless they happen across your book. Now think how many books there are in a library. Ouch. Back to Fast Add. This means when someone goes to sign out your book the librarian adds the book title and author name to their computer in a temporary way to keep track of it. When the book is returned, that record is DELETED. You are back out of the library computer system.
So do yourself a favour and add these few things into the front matter of your print books and make it easy for readers to find your books in your local library.
What You Need in Your Print on Demand Book’s Front Matter When It Comes to Library of Congress Cataloguing Data
Left align all of the following content. (Some of it can share lines–you don’t need a new line for each bit of info. Look at some books in your genre for examples).
Place this title above the content you are about to add: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Author: Format: Last name, first name year of birth – blank because you are still alive. (You are alive, right?)
eg. Shmoe, Joe 1967 –
Full book title:
eg. My Life As a Shmoe: A Fictional Memoir
Series name and volume number:
eg. The Shmoe Diaries: Volume 1
Edition: (If you make changes and reprint, etc., make sure you change the edition–you *can* have a different editions under the same ISBN, but it is recommended you change the ISBN for each edition if the book changes in any way. You can also include the edition date such as below–this is especially smart if you think you may have more than one run a year or may change the cover, etc. If it is revised, you can say: Rev. Ed. of: TITLE/Author. cYEAR.)
eg. First edition: March 2013
eg. New York, NY
eg. Joe’s Rockin’ Awesome Press
Year Published (not necessary if you have it above):
Number of Pages:
Any other edition distinctions such as illustrations, foil cover, index, irregular size, etc.
eg. Illustrated, includes index.
This is total bonus material and will help make your book more findable. For examples, go to an IPAC (Internet Public Access Catalogue) for your local library and search using their ‘subject’ search. This is the stuff you are adding right here.
Subjects… so if you have vampires, it will pop up in a search on vampires. However, this is also the area most likely to make you look like you don’t know what you are doing. There are specific subject trees that are pretty much similar to the Dewey Decimal System, but are for fiction. So tread carefully and do some research to make sure you get it right.
Note: You want to make it clear what genre your book is here as well as the intended audience. I’ve seen big publisher books, that are very much adult, catalogued as young adult. This does the book no favours. (You are not getting ‘double’ the audience this way.)
eg. 1. Fictional Memoirs – fiction 2. Social outcasts -fiction 3. Dating (Social customs) – humor (Note: just made the first 2 subjects up so don’t quote me on them!)
More bonus marks if you provide a summary of your book–1-2 sentences that a librarian can input so something comes up on the book’s page so readers will know what your book is about. (Trust me, what you write is much more accurate than what we can! This isn’t a pitch, but it is sales! It’s like a synopsis. A blurb. But short.)
eg. A fictional tale of Joe Schmoe and his dating misadventures in the small town of Mimi and how he turns his life from a sideshow to be laughed at to the best thing in town.
Country of origin which is tricky with PODs as they *can* be printed in different locations. I wouldn’t worry about that too much.
eg. Printed in the United States
If you are printing a short story anthology, you might want to list all authors and story titles on this page, although it does get a little bulky.
There you go! It feels like a lot, but once you get going you’ll find you know most of this stuff!
P.S. Your Library of Congress Cataloging Information can go on your copyright page along with your ‘this is a work of fiction’ disclaimer. Smaller fonts are okay here.
Here is a screenshot of a good example of what all that great cataloguing info should look like once the librarian has inputted it into their system. Look how findable this book is. Subject, author, title, series, pizazz!
There you have it! All about Library of Congress information, how to enter it, and what it means. Did your head explode?