Protecting and Using Your Intellectual Property
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As a writer, your creative output is valuable! Your intellectual property (or IP) can be a source for multiple streams of revenue. You need to protect and control your IP. Are you protecting yours? Discover ways you can in this episode.
0:00 This week’s episode
0:35 Welcome to the Podcast
1:29 What is Intellectual Property (IP)?
3:17 Fiction IP Examples
6:25 Nonfiction IP Examples
7:30 Utilizing Your IP
8:46 How to Protect Your IP
15:35 Your IP Asset Inventory
16:49 Free Resource
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Transcript – Episode 17
Welcome to this episode of the Indie Authors Biz Guide Podcast. As a writer, your creative output is valuable! Your intellectual property, or your IP, can be a source for multiple streams of revenue. You need to protect and control your IP because it is so valuable. Are you protecting yours? Discover ways you can in this episode. Listen to the end for a resource you can download to help you in your indie author business.
Welcome to the indie Author Biz Guide podcast. I’m Tora Moon, genre bending fantasy and sci fi author, indie business author, and entrepreneur. Here we talk about the business of self-publishing, or, as I prefer to call it, indie publishing. As an indie author, you have entered the wonderful world of entrepreneurship. On this show, I guide you through the rocky waters of the indie publishing industry.
I share business basics and principles you can apply to your author business, really, any business. You can download your free indie author business checklist, find additional resources, and the Show notes at Indie Author Biz Guide dot com. And now, here’s today’s episode.
What is Intellectual Property?
Did you know that when you write, everything that you’re creating is valuable intellectual property? The definition of intellectual property is anything you create with your mind and imagination.
And as writers, that’s what we’re doing. We’re creating worlds and characters from our imagination, if we’re writing fiction. If we’re writing nonfiction, we’re creating ways to help people or sharing our experiences or teaching them something.
That’s all valuable intellectual property, or IP for short. And this is one of the reasons why traditional publishing companies want to buy as many rights from you as they possibly can. They know the value of your intellectual property. They know the value of what you’ve created and they want to exploit that as much as possible. And in this instance, exploit is to use as much as possible, not in a negative way.
When you create your IP, it creates and gives you multiple opportunities to make money from it. You can repurpose and reuse your content and your material in many different ways. And most of them, and many of them, can be monetized that will give you more streams of income.
It’s advisable to think of your book or story more than just what’s printed on the page or what’s on the electronic page.
Fiction IP Examples
Some examples of fiction IP would be your books, obviously, and these are published or not, and in any format. For indie authors, we now have the option to do e-book, do print, and in that print format we can also do paperback, hardback, large print. Our hardback can be a special edition hardback.
We can produce an audiobook of our story, or of our nonfiction book. We can write short stories or flash fiction or bonus stories that didn’t make it into the book but would be good to share with our readers. We can put that together in an anthology of short stories, or as a reader magnet.
Which leads into the next thing to do with your intellectual property is create a reader magnet. That can be part of the story, or it can be a prequel or it can be a bonus scene, or what many romance authors are doing that is awesome is creating alternative endings that they share with their readers. Or an epilog that didn’t make it into the book, you can do that.
Your blog articles or posts are intellectual property. Those are copyrighted. Those are part of your intellectual property that others can’t just take and use. That’s copyright infringement.
Your newsletters are another place where you create intellectual property. You’re telling stories. You’re including information about your books. You might even be telling people about your books to sell them. Giving them business tips that you don’t include elsewhere, or business tips that you’ve repurposed to social media posts. Your social media posts are part of your intellectual property.
Any merchandise based on your books is part of your intellectual property. One of the things that J.K. Rowling did that was smart, when she sold her rights to the movies, she kept the merchandise rights and only licensed them. She’s made as much, maybe even more from her merchandise sales as she has her Harry Potter series. Think about all of the wands which are out there, the scarves and the neckties, and all the other things that are associated with the different houses. Perhaps your book can generate that type of merchandise as well, generate that kind of interest. Not all books do, but some do. You can use that.
Nonfiction IP Examples
Nonfiction IP includes much of the same, plus, it would include any courses that you produce that are based off of your book, or if you do a course and then write your book. It doesn’t matter which way it happens. You own that intellectual property for that book and for that course.
Instead of reader magnets, what nonfiction authors write are lead magnets. Same thing. Something to introduce yourself, your writing, to your perspective reader or customer.
It would include your coaching or consulting programs. Any supplemental materials, such as workbooks or templates, that you create. And as we talked about a little bit before, all of your content marketing, such as blog articles and podcast episodes.
Me creating this podcast episode is a piece of copyrightable intellectual property.
Utilizing Your IP
With all these examples that I’ve given, you may feel a little overwhelmed. One of the nice things about your intellectual property is you own it. It’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it, when you want to do it. So you don’t have to take advantage of each one of these immediately or simultaneously.
You can start with issuing just your e-book, then add your print book. Then as funds become more available, produce your audiobook. You can add in foreign translations later.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, you can start with your book. You can write a course that is based on your book or build a business based around your book. That happens quite frequently that somebody writes a book. They’re just sharing their knowledge, their expertise, or their experience, and find out that people really resonate with it and it becomes a business for them.
As your experience and your funds and your business grows, you can add whatever feels right for you at that time.
How to Control and Protect Your IP
Now you have this valuable intellectual property, how do you protect to maintain control of that?
Even though copyright is established when you create the finished product, it’s advisable to register your copyright with your country’s registrar office. If you’ve registered your copyright and have had somebody violate your copyright and infringe on it and steal your work, plagiarized it or pirated it–which is a big problem in the fiction world–because you have a registered copyright, you can now file a lawsuit against them. Most countries, including the U.S., don’t allow you to file a copyright infringement lawsuit unless you’ve registered your copyright.
As we talked about in Episode eight with ISBNs, you protect and maintain your control of your IP, by buying and using your own ISBN rather than using a free one. If you want to know all the reasons why that’s covered in episode eight.
Another way to protect and maintain your intellectual property and control of that, is publish wide. As we talked about in episode 16 on going wide and being in the Kindle Select program. When you’re in the Kindle Select Program or Kindle Unlimited, you have given up some of your intellectual property and control of your intellectual property because now Amazon has exclusive use of your e-book. You cannot publish your e-book any place else but Amazon. That is giving up control of your IP. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t participate in the program, and you can listen to more of that in episode 16.
Another way of maintaining control and protecting your intellectual property is to create a publishing company, so you’re not doing this just as a hobby or just as a person. You’re doing it as a company, and it can be as simple as a DBA, it does not have to be an LLC or S corp for you to have those protections of a company. See Episode two on creating a business for the different types of businesses that you can form.
I highly advocate every author establish a publishing company and that is how they do their business with the distribution platforms and the print companies. They take you more seriously if you’re a publishing company than if you’re an individual. Even if it’s a DBA, doesn’t matter, it still serves the same purpose.
Another way that you can protect your intellectual property, which is really bad in the book publishing industry for both traditional publishers and indie publishers, is pirate sites. These pirate sites steal our work. They’re trying to get money from our intellectual property. That’s outright stealing! People who buy from pirate sites, sorry, you are part of the problem and you are stealing as well. You have not paid a license to read my book by buying my book or getting it from a legitimate source, such as borrowing from the library.
Any time that you see your work on a pirate site, file your copyright infringement notices called a DMCA. That protects your copyright, and that protects your intellectual property from them stealing it. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Treat it as that, especially if you are in KU. KU* (Amazon) sometimes does not care that your work has been pirated. It’s up someplace else. That violates their exclusivity agreement. If you’re in Kindle Select, you need to watch those pirate sites extremely carefully to make sure that your work isn’t being stolen. There’s instances that I’ve seen recently of people putting them not even on the pirate sites, but putting them up on like Apple and some of these others and saying they cowrote the book with the author.
We as authors need to watch this carefully because people want the easy way. They don’t want to do the hard work of writing the book. They just want to steal your work or plagiarize it. You worked too hard for that. So watch it carefully and protect that intellectual property.
And even though we all know copyright is established, when you produce the work, when you finish your creation. And this applies not only to books, e-book or print books or audiobooks, it applies to your courses, it applies to your supplemental materials. It applies to your artwork, if you do any artwork. If you’ve written any music. Copyright applies to all of that. Anything that you create with your mind and your imagination Plays are copyrighted. Movies are copyrighted.
One way to protect your copyright and your intellectual property is to include that copyright notice. Copyrighted by Tora Moon, 2023. All rights reserved. And affixing the little copyright symbol which is the C in a circle and do that on all of your works. That puts notice that you’ve reserved all of your rights, you own all the rights to your property. Having that on there, when you file a DMCA and a copyright infringement notice, you’ve stated you have copyright, you’ve owned that copyright, that will help you in these cases.
Your IP Asset Inventory
Your creative output is valuable. Protect it! How are you protecting and maintaining your valuable intellectual property and how are you utilizing it? Are you using just a small portion of your intellectual property rights, or are you exploiting and utilizing those that are available to you that you want to do?
Look at your intellectual property, and is there something that you aren’t doing or that you could do better, that you could add? Reviewing how you’re utilizing your IP can give you ideas of what else you can do to increase your revenue streams.
One of the ways that I like doing this is taking an inventory of my intellectual property assets. I do this at least once a year when I’m doing my business plan. You can do it more often, once a quarter or whenever you’re issuing a new book, look at all of your intellectual property and see if it’s time to add something else and utilize another aspect of your intellectual property. If now’s the time for that, or maybe you still need to wait on that.
I’ve created an Excel worksheet for you to track your intellectual property inventory assets. You can obtain a copy of this on my website at Indie Author Biz Guide dot com slash IPINV.
If you need help with your business plan or with your author business, I offer coaching programs for that. You can find out about my coaching programs and all of these services that I offer to authors at Indie Author Biz Guide dot com slash author dash services. And a link to that is in the show notes.
I hope this episode has helped you understand how valuable your intellectual property is and think of ways that you can utilize it more than you are now and how you can protect it. Hope to see you on the next episode.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Indie Author Biz Guide podcast. I hope you found value in it.
You can get your free business checklist, find more information, and any downloads mentioned at Indie Author Biz Guide dot com forward slash podcast.
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If you’d like to support the show, you can donate to Buy Me a Coffee at Buy Me A Coffee dot com forward slash I A B G. These donations help support the cost of hosting, editing, and production of the podcast.
Thank you, and I hope you have an amazing day!