If you are not thinking yet that you need a good digital record of all your work then you seriously need to. I can’t emphasize enough how important and useful it is to have a record of all your work. You’ve probably heard me say already, I am very lucky that my husband (now working with me as my PA and manages my website) has set my asset register up and manages it for me. It has been invaluable and quite an eye opener for me.
For me the start was triggered by when my now husband and I first bought our house together and moved all our stuff from two places into one. I’d been illustrating picture books and doing some illustrations for magazines for several years by this point and had accumulated several boxes of books and magazines as every time one of my books, or any work in a magazine, was published I would get at least one copy. When I say every time I mean if one of my books came out as a hardback I’d get a copy, then another one when the paperback came out, then the board book, and then anytime the book was translated into another language, a copy in that language in each format too. We had a small hill (no mountains in Surrey!) of books and magazines in boxes all over the place. The point is it doesn’t matter when you start to log your work as long as you start at some point!
He started by researching how to best make a book register, which was quite dull to begin with. During the process he came across an article about how to use an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to claim Public Lending Rights (PLR), for which I have created separate pages with more detail on, however, I would like to point out here that to qualify for PLR you should be named on the book’s title page or be entitled to a royalty payment from the publisher, but you do not have to own the copyright …. so no getting out of having a log of all your published work / asset register. The same applies to script writers, you should have a register of all your work too so you can claim for royalties for the re-transmission of your work, educational recording and private copying. For more details please see my page on How to Claim Secondary Use Royalties.
I should add here that if your work has been published in magazines then you should be aware of ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) too. They are similar to an ISBN but are used to identify a magazine or a journal. Magazines usually have the same ISSN for every edition / issue. Treat these the same as a book’s ISBN when making a log of all your published work.
In a nutshell every book published has a unique ISBN, every periodical an ISSN, and these are the most important single items that you should record from either. A book and publication log can be as simple as a list of your books and their ISBNs and the ISSNs of periodicals your work has appeared in, no more than that. However, over time I feel you will find you need more than that. I would recommend as a minimum a table of information including:-
- Title of either the book, magazine, journal or script (title or series for a script see item 30)
- ISBN – I log both the ISBN 13 and 10.
- ISSN for each magazine or journal your work has been published in.
- Your contribution as either the illustrator, author, photographer, translator, narrator, script writer or other.
- Date of publication (for that particular ISBN or ISSN)
- Country of publication
- A column for each of the other contributors as applicable (the illustrator, author, photographer, translator, narrator or other)
- Book or publication type as in Hardback, Paperback, Board Book, Kindle Edition, Box Set, CD, etc.)
I went a few steps further than the minimum and also included:-
- Box number (assuming you are boxing the books, magazines etc. you have)
- Number of copies in a box
- Columns for each of the original book title and the actual book title (sometimes different editions have different titles, mostly when books are translated, naturally).
- Percentage royalty you are entitled to ranging from 0% to 100%
- The Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) number, where available. (These can be particularly useful as identifiers for books and other bibliographic materials that do not have ISBN numbers).
- Number of pages
- Number of images (for illustrators, photographers, and other visual artists only. Count each image as one, so if you have the same image in a book five times that’s five images)
- Image sizes (such as spot art, vignette, ¼ page, ½ page, full page, double page, poster pull-out etc, which naturally I have only done for the ones we have physical copies of)
- Book dedication (if you have dedicated the book to anyone)
- Any other column you feel you would like or might need now or in the future.
My log later expanded to include additional columns for things like:-
- Submitted to UK PLR Yes/No column
- PLR submission date
- A column each for any other collecting society / registration body and when the submission or registration was completed (such as DACS, ALCS etc.)
- A record of books linked to your Amazon Author Central profile(s) (for more details see my page on Amazon Author Central Accounts)
- Still in print, Yes / No.
- Page number(s) of the magazine your work is published in.
- Websites Uniform Resource Locator (URL), which we all know as the website address, for any websites your work is featured or used on.
- A record of any TV work (e.g. if your book was read on CBeebies bedtime stories including date and narrator)
If you are a script writer then you will need to capture information including:-
- Title or Series (as per item 1)
- Episode title or number
- Channel it was first aired on.
- Type of work, such as radio, TV programme or film.
- Length of programme in minutes
- Original transmission date
- Your contribution such as script writer, original author or adaptor.
- Year of production
- Production company(s)
- Countries of production.
To me it does not matter how you start your log and in what format as long as you realise that at some point you will have to expand it for it to be as useful as possible. With that in mind I would recommend starting it in a digital format that you can print, or accept that it will have to become digital at some point. The format my husband chose for me was a spreadsheet, Why? He’s a Chartered Engineer and Project Manager so what else would you expect? That’s what they love doing!
We now have a basic format to adopt, all we need is information to start plugging in. If you thought the journey up to here was painful you need a stiff drink, my choice would be a good Scottish whisky, neat with very loud bagpipe music …. After a couple of minutes of that you will have both the Dutch courage to continue and realisation that there are worse things in life than this …. such as listening to bagpipe music!
If you have a pile of physical books / publications then you might be thinking that there is as good a place as any to start!? NO, NO, NO. All those books, and their details, will be available online. He started by scouring the internet for details of My Books, collecting as much data as possible.
The very best place to start, in both my and his opinion, is the WorldCat website. Simply do a search on your published name(s) and start gathering all that wonderful data into your tabulated list. I can’t stress enough to gather as much information as practical as you never know what you are going to need over and above what you can be bothered to gather.
I, well he did, then Google searched for any library, Amazon domain and any other sites that list book ISBNs. He found trade book selling sites to be some of the best places for information after WorldCat and your own publisher’s website(s) too.
If you do have a box or two of your books and/or magazines then check them off the list you have created and add any still missing from the list. As I mentioned earlier, every time a book of mine is published either for the first time or in a different format, language, edition etc. I either get a hard copy or correspondence to let me know. OK some publishers are better than others at this, however, it is a nice headache to have and you could always ask your publishers for a list of your books and/or magazines your work has been published in too to check you haven’t missed any in your searches.
The list has proved to be very useful when completing Public Lending Right (PLR) applications for various countries, applying for the Designers and Artists Collecting Society (DACS) Payback scheme and the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) claim forms to name a few and registering my books on their websites etc.
I ….. OK maybe I should say we …. or he! …. keeps my asset register in the form of a spreadsheet at the moment and if you would like any more pointers on that then please get in touch. One thing I can tell you now is that it can take hours of dull boring work to put together, however, it will pay off for years to come. Don’t try to do this all in one go. Break it up into bite size pieces and preserve your sanity. Do what you can when you can and before you know it you will have compiled an amazing list that will help you no end now and in the future. You will also feel amazing for doing it …. I certainly did, even if I didn’t do all the hard work myself!
To keep the book and magazine log (apparently I should actually call it an Asset Register but whatever!) up to date every time we receive a copy of a new edition or translation etc. I (who are we still kidding?) add it straight away. I also sometimes check WorldCat, Google search etc. to make sure I haven’t missed anything new. I have been very fortunate to have had a couple of my books read on the BBC’s CBeebies Bedtime Stories, so the details of when the show was broadcast etc. have also been captured in my register. It’s now a lot more than just a log of all the books and magazines my illustrations have been published in so I am coming around to the idea of calling it my asset register, even though the idea of having a register of my assets still feels alien to me!
My claims for PLR, DACS Payback, secondary use royalties etc. would never have been as good as they are if it were not for the effort put in ….. thank you my PA ….. now where’s my tea? …. what seems to be the delay!?
I have finally managed to convince my husband to offer this service to other authors, illustrators etc. If you are interested then you can email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he’ll be happy to talk to you about finding the right setup that would work for you both to get a register started and maintained to allow you to squeeze that lemon as much as possible to maximise your income. Naturally he would also be more than happy to share his thoughts and experience with anyone to help in any way, so if you do have more questions or are having an issue with something then please do drop him a line and he would gladly help you as much as he can.
Tina Macnaughton freelance illustrator – March 2020.