Create an Asset Register, a Full Log of all your Books, from Scratch.

If you are not thinking yet that you need a good digital record of all you 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 to 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 books for several years by this point and had accumulated several boxes of books as every time one of my books is 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 is translated into another language, a copy in that language in each format too.  We had a small hill (no mountains in Surrey!) of books 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 …. No getting out of having a book log / asset register.

In a nutshell every book published has a unique ISBN and that is the most important single item that you should record. A book log can be as simple as a list of your books and their ISBNs, 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:-

  1. Book Title
  2. ISBN – I log both the ISBN 13 and 10.
  3. Your contribution as either the illustrator, author, photographer, translator, narrator or Other.
  4. Publisher
  5. Date publication (for that particular ISBN)
  6. Language
  7. Country of publication
  8. A column for each of other contributors as applicable (the illustrator, author, photographer, translator, narrator or Other)
  9. 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:-

  1. Box number (assuming you are boxing the books you have)
  2. Number of copies in box
  3. Columns for each of original book title and actual book title (sometimes different editions have different titles, mostly when books are translated naturally).
  4. Percentage royalty you are entitled to ranging from 0% to 100%
  5. The Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) number, where avaialble. (These can be particularly useful as identifiers for books and other bibliographic materials that do not have ISBN numbers).
  6. Number of pages
  7. Number of images (for illustrators / photographers only and count each image as one so if you have the same image in a book five times that’s five images)
  8. 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)
  9. Book dedication (if you have dedicated the book to anyone)
  10. Notes
  11. 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:-

  1. Submitted to UK PLR Yes/No column
  2. PLR submission date
  3. A column each for any other collecting / registration body and when the submission or registration was completed (such as German PLR, Dutch PLR DACS, ALCS etc.)
  4. A record of books linked to your Amazon Author Central profile(s) (more details on this in future articles)
  5. Still in print, Yes / No.
  6. Etc.

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 my 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 then Google searched for any library, Amazon domain and any other sites that list book ISBNs.  I 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 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 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 would 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.

To keep the book log (I 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 add it straight away.  I also sometimes check WorldCat, Google search etc. to make sure I haven’t missed anything new.

My claims 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!?

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