I started the Do-It-Yourself Journal way back when and never really did anything with it. Seems like a worthy thing to resurrect on this blog. I wear two hats–fiction writer and publisher. The DIY Journal is all about indie publishing: things I do in my business, things I need to do, what I’m working on to make my business run smoother.

The monstrous project I have on-going, and been struggling with for more than a year, is tracking my intellectual property. I don’t mean registering with the copyright office, a separate issue. What I mean by IP tracking is keeping a record of each story, book, and collection I have published; for my personal and business reference. This is a huge topic, and one that gets complicated fast without even trying, so I’ll probably come back to this often with new ideas.

I highly recommend starting early. If you only have three books and a few short stories making the magazine rounds, maintaining a record of your inventory is relatively easy. I have over 60 publications, and I didn’t inventory them correctly the first time, if at all. Now I have a mountain of work that I can’t get ahead of.

I created a template to record all of the metadata for each project in my inventory. Currently, my template lists the following data:

  1. Title
  2. Pen-name
  3. Year first published
  4. Sales copy or blurb
  5. Categories (i.e. genre)
  6. Tags
  7. Cover image credit
  8. Prices of each format (paper, e-book, audio)
  9. Distributors
  10. Collected IN (e.g. which collections or magazines the story appears in)
  11. Collected WITH (e.g. if any other story or chapter sample is bundled as back-matter)
  12. Bundles (e.g. BundleRabbit, etc.)
  13. Universal link (provided by Books2Read)
  14. Other links

That covers just about everything I need to know about each project. Some other items I might include: file names for the various formats, file names for the cover art and cover image.

The ideal process is to fill out the template as a preparation for publication. Then, when I’m ready to publish, I can copy-paste things like the sales copy and tags directly from the document.

My problem is, I didn’t standardize my records system early on. So I have to go back and fill out this template for each thing I’ve published. And that’s a lot of work. At one time, I tried making each Sunday an “IP Day,” where I’d do twenty to thirty minutes of IP work. That didn’t stick for long, but I need to get back on track before publishing too much else.

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