CIP: Need it? What Cost?

As usual for indie or self-published children's book, the question of Cataloguing in Publication or CIP data has a different answer than for adult self-published books.

For indie kids books, your audience is going to be schools and school librarians. They have to catalog the book and place it in their library. And for them, life is much easier if you have the CIP data available for them. Adult indies don't always have the same worries - though sometimes, the CIP is helpful for them, too, especially if they have a book targeting the library market.

Cataloging in Publication

CIP is a program administered by the Library of Congress. Here's how they describe it:

"A Cataloging in Publication record (aka CIP data) is a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers."

Large publishers use the CIP, but for small and indie-publisher, there's a work-around, the PCN, or Preassigned Control Number. The LOC explains the difference in the CIP and PCN programs:

"The Cataloging in Publication (CIP) program creates bibliographic records for forthcoming books most likely to be widely acquired by U.S. libraries. The Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program assigns a Library of Congress Control Number to titles most likely to be acquired by the Library of Congress as well as some other categories of books. The two programs are mutually exclusive."

On a practical level, this means that a couple months before I publish a children's book, I request a PCN. Usually, they are fast, answering with a day or so. Just click on "Open an Account," and follow directions.

OK. So you get the PCN number. So what? The PCN number should be placed on the copyright page. But you should take it a step farther and get the CIP data block. This is the CIP block for my book, NEFERTIT, THE SPIDERNAUT, which comes out in October, 2016:

Publisher's Cataloging-in-Publication data

Names: Pattison, Darcy, author. | Tisnés, Valeria, illustrator. Title: Nefertiti , the spidernaut : the jumping spider who learned to hunt in space / By Darcy Pattison ; Illustrated by Valeria Tisnés. Description: Little Rock, Arkansas: Mim's House, 2016. Identifiers: ISBN 9781629440606 (Hardcover) | 9781629440613 (pbk.) | 9781629440620 (ebook) | LCCN 2015920985. Summary: A jumping spider is sent to the International Space Station to discover if she can hunt in microgravity. Subjects: LCSH Space biology --Juvenile literature. | Animal experimentation --Juvenile literature. | International Space Station -- Research --Juvenile literature. | Space stations--Juvenile literature. | Space flight--Physiological effect --Juvenile literature. | Jumping spiders--Juvenile literature. | BISAC JUVENILE NONFICTION / Animals / Insects, Spiders, etc. | JUVENILE NONFICTION / Technology / Aeronautics, Astronautics & Space Science. Classification: LCC QH327 .P38 2016 | DDC 629.45009 --dc23

Does this look complicated? It does to me, too. I tried for a while to learn the intricacies of this info, but found it an unreasonable time drain. It's one of the things I always find a freelancer for. You can ask a local librarian if they could do it. But I like to use Adrienne Bashista, Cataloguer-at-Large, because she's reasonably priced, keeps up-to-date on changes in the CIP requirements, and is relatively fast. I'm not an affiliate or anything, just a satisfied customer.

The final step is to be sure to send a copy of your book to the LOC when it becomes available. That completes the registration for the CIP. When I file my copyright, I send the book at the same time.

Will this help sell your book? Maybe, maybe not. I know that librarians are much more comfortable placing my book into their school library when this information is present on the copyright page. It's a small expense and well worth it to me.