Now that I’ve freaked you out, let me explain…
As a first-time indie author, I was oblivious to this legislative obligation that applies to all New Zealand authors/publishers (and not just those of books or stories). It’s called Legal Deposit, and if you’re publishing almost any kind of publication in New Zealand (see below for a link to the list), you’re required to send your work to the National Library of New Zealand for preservation as part of New Zealand’s heritage. The potentially scary bit is, if you fail to comply, it’s a punishable offence. You may be liable to a fine not exceeding $5000 under section 39 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa) Act 2003 (here’s a link to the act if you want to read it).
So how do I make my Legal Deposit and not get fined?
It’s actually easier than you might think, and beyond the cost of a couple of author copies and postage (if you’re publishing in print), it won’t cost you a bomb either. Plus, there is an upside to this Legal Deposit business: your work will be preserved FOREVER within the National Library of New Zealand, and therefore become a permanent, physical part of the heritage of our country. Now that’s cool hey?
What you can access here:
I'm covering Legal Deposit (and a little on ISBN) here. If you'd like to find out more about the other items on this list, head to the Nat Lib website.
So, let's find out how to make your Legal Deposit…
Under legislation, all publishers in New Zealand are required to deposit their publications with the National Librarian. Yep, you read that right. I had no idea about this until I looked at requesting an ISBN for the paperback copy of my debut novel, plus, I nearly made the mistake of purchasing one through Amazon. On top of that, had I continued with digital copies only, I may have unwittingly failed to comply with the legislation and therefore been liable for a fine. Through my research, I was lucky, and by reading this, you will be too!
If you’re not sure if Legal Deposit applies to you, check out the list here, and if you’re still not sure, contact them via the phone number or email address at the above link.
So, you’ve found out you’re on the list. What now?
In short, you need to submit your publication/s, and it’s pretty straight forward.
First, There’s a PDF form to fill in asking for your details, your publisher’s details (if you’re self-publishing, you can create your own publishing name, for example, I use ‘Emily Larkins Publishing,’ but you could be more creative), and details of your publication. QUICK TIP: I keep a copy of this form saved on my computer with my details filled in and only have to add my publication details each time.
Second, if you’re publishing physical copies (e.g. paperback), you’re required to submit two copies of your publication (there are some exceptions to this that you might want to check out on the form or website) within 20 days of publication (or as soon as practicable thereafter. In my case, it took an absolute age for my first copies to arrive from Amazon in the US and I did get a reminder email from the Nat Lib that my deposit was overdue. If you keep them updated via email, they’re pretty good about it).
For more on Legal Deposit, and to download the most up-to-date forms, head on over here.
Should you have questions or require assistance to at any stage of the process, the contact details for each department are clearly shown on the above website. All my communications with National Library staff have been straightforward, professional, and informative, though there can be a delay between inquiries and replies depending on when you send your emails, so keep this in mind.
And here’s a bonus note on ISBN, ISSN, and ISMNs…
It takes three working days to supply your number/s. If you have an urgent request, you need to call the library directly. Make sure you tick ALL the boxes your publication will come out in as each requires its own specific number. You can apply for your number/s up to eight weeks prior to your proposed date of publication, though you may request your number/s early if you have a specific reason. You can fill in this form on the website.
As a problem shared is a problem halved, so is sharing those vital pieces of information that can save other authors from heartbreak or calamity in the writing world. So, share away, and I’ll add your tips either to this post or to fresh one if they’re biggies, with you as the source included!
Until next post, happy writing and publishing!
Hi, I'm Emily,