August 20th, 2013 | Add a Comment
To Copyright or Not? Legal Nightmares of Authordom
reblogged from M. Pax
Have you officially copyrighted your work? I ask because it’s an issue I’m still debating for the work I publish myself.
Recently I read this horror story http://blog.triciadrammeh.com/2013/08/09/this-latest-disaster/ So definitely if I ever go through a publisher, I will copyright my work independently and officially through the US Copyright Office.
I’ve heard other horror stories from writers we know in bloggyland — one whose publisher folded and is having trouble getting the rights back, another who didn’t get paid correctly. Shudder.
It’s not just small presses either. An experienced writer friend recently fell victim to a rather predatory contract by a large publisher she’d worked with before. She assumed it to be the standard contract. It wasn’t.
Know what you’re signing. If you don’t understand the legaleze find someone who does or hire a literary attorney. I know something about contracts and rights [from my work in television — I handled contracts with producers], and I would hire a literary attorney before I signed a contract with any publisher.
Key things to look out for:
When rights MUST revert back to you — dates and conditions. You don’t want to be stuck with a publisher going under. You don’t want to be stuck in limbo forever either. You do want your rights back at some point even if it sells well. You don’t want to sign them away forever.
Options for future work. You don’t want to have to submit all work you do in a genre, especially if it’s the genre you mainly write in. You may not want to commit the series either. This one book might be enough, especially if you never worked with the publisher before. You might not like them or how they do business, and you won’t know until you start working together.
Don’t let them copyright your work for you. Do it yourself. It only costs $35.
Don’t sign away rights beyond print or digital.
Contracts are always negotiable. I know this from experience. If it’s not negotiable, if you don’t like the terms, walk away.
Talk to as many authors in the publisher’s lineup as you can and don’t talk in a public forum. People are more candid in private correspondence. Do “deep” internet searches. Check Preditors and Editors. You can contact them, too.
Even after all these cautionary tales, I would consider going through a publisher for some of my work. With the state of publishing, I think diversifying is smart. Anyway, this is what’s been on my Indie Life mind lately.
Be generous, share!
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