Someone once asked me what I do at Moody Publishers.
I work in the editorial department, I replied.
Oh, said the person. I didn’t know you guys write editorials.
While I’ll editorialize, opine, speechify, and spout at the drop of the ol’ hat, doing so isn’t part of my job, or that of my colleagues in the editorial department.
Then what is? Well, editing. Or, put another way, editing well (a little editorial humor, there; we’re a fun bunch). And much will be said about the art of editing in this space, but not today.
So what else do we do?
Among other things: interact with the Library of Congress both before and after publication of each book.
Prior to a book’s publication, we contact this venerable body and give them some basics about the work: title and subtitle, ISBN, author, summary. The L of C takes these and provides information that libraries understand. You’ll find this on the copyright page of a book under Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
Months later, after publication, we register the books with the copyright office. If you’re at all interested, the Library of Congress has an entertaining and informative FAQ section at www.copyright.gov. There you’ll learn some basics about copyright as well as why you can’t copyright either the star named after you or your sighting of Elvis.
We register books online, providing the title, the author, the copyright claimant—usually the author, but also could be the name of an institution—month and year of publication, nation of the author’s domicile (United States is at the top of the drop-down menu, but one time my hand slipped and I mistakenly placed an author in Algeria), and a few other details.
To complete the process, we must supply two hard copies of the completed work. Registering a work with the copyright office proves that it belongs to someone and is an original, protected creation.
I think of the great Library of Congress as a huge, impenetrable fortress housing countless volumes, populated by larger-than-life figures who know far more than I. I quake when they phone me because it usually means I goofed in filling out one of those forms.
But in fact, it’s quite an interesting place. And without fail, these august personages are courteous and helpful, even kind. And efficient with all they have to do.
Just as we try to be.