Business Musings: Copyright Savvy

Gloria and Emilio Estefan have an estimated net worth of 700 million dollars. Jimmy Buffett has an estimated net worth of 550 million dollars. What do those artists have in common? They kept control of the copyrights to their songs. They maintained control of those copyrights starting in the 1970s, when other musicians signed away those rights because they were told that to keep those […]

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Business Musings: More Negotiation Advice From The Hardass

One of the major reasons I write a lot about contracts and negotiation is because in the entertainment field, which is where we writers work, contracts are a nightmare. They’re often written by people who are not lawyers (agent contracts with writers) or negotiated by people who are not lawyers (publishing contracts negotiated by an agent for a writer) or are based on “accepted practices” […]

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Business Musings: Licensing Opportunities

I think the moment writers dream of being published, they have the same wish. They want to write the books of their heart. They want those books to reach a vast audience, and they want someone else to worry about doing all the things that turn a book from a rectangular object on a shelf into a vast global empire a la Harry Potter. Most […]

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Business Musings: Stealing Intellectual Property (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

I just had the most illuminating conversation. I had been consulting with someone about one of the TV deals I’m currently negotiating. I had run into a situation I had never encountered before, and I needed help evaluating it. No one I knew personally could help me. Either my good friends had not done a TV deal in years or they had let their agent […]

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Business Musings: I Spent Decades Developing My IP (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

I was trained in traditional publishing, where writers go begging for opportunity. Writers are taught to beg, from professors (let me into your class!) to critique groups (is my writing good enough?) to agents (will you take me on?) to publishers (will you buy my book?).

We’re not trained to value what we’ve built.

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Business Musings: Writers, Scam Artists, Agents, And More (Sigh)

Just when I thought it was safe to get back into the water… I’m editing a lot these days. I only edit short fiction projects. Anthologies, anthology series (Fiction River), the occasional nonfiction book, and some magazines. I’m also consulting with the fine folks at WMG Publishing, because they’ll be handling the contracts for the revival of Pulphouse next year. Dean’s vision for Pulphouse includes […]

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Business Musings: Things I Learned From My Readers

The title of this blog is things I learned from my readers. The pieces below link to comments or websites.

The main thing I learned from you folks over the course of writing the contract series is this: Not only do you pay attention, but you use this information. Almost daily now, I get letters from a writer who used some piece of the contracts blog to negotiate a better deal or to get their rights reverted or to handle a foreign rights contract.

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Business Musings: Long-Term Thinking: Rights Reversions (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

Slowly, traditional publishers have realized that backlist titles are worth a lot of money. As I wrote recently, traditional publishers are slowly figuring out that they are no longer in the manufacturing business, they’re in the rights business.

So they’re buying—and holding—rights. Years ago, when I got angry at a publisher for their misbehavior, I offered to buy back the rights to one of my books. It caught that publisher flat-footed. No writer had ever done that, and the publisher had no idea how to estimate the books’ value to the company.

Now, I’m hearing from more and more writers that their publishers insist on the writers paying to get rights reverted.

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Business Musings: Prince, Estates, and The Future (Contracts/Dealbreakers/Estates)

Last week, the death of Prince hit me hard. I was in the middle of teaching the Romance Workshop, here on the Oregon Coast, and working my tail off. A satellite radio station that I always listen to had breaking news—something they never do (which is why I listen to them)—that I could barely hear. I heard “prince” and “died” and “young” so I’m wondering […]

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Business Musings: Know Your Rights (Contracts/Dealbreakers)

I recently got an email that sent a chill through me. It was a newsletter from a traditional publishing organization. This organization is geared toward publishers and editors, not toward writers. The newsletter was essentially an ad for an upcoming seminar that will teach publishers to understand intellectual property and expand their rights business. Why did this send a chill through me? Because the one […]

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