If you don’t understand copyright and you consider yourself a professional writer, then you do not understand the business you are in. If you have published a novel, traditionally or indie, and you do not understand copyright, you are volunteering to get screwed over and over and over again. I say this often, and I’m saying it loudly again, because the trend for 2019 and beyond is that every organization you do business with will try to take a piece (if not all) of your copyright on each and every one of your projects.
Initially, I started this post as a highlight reel of things that we need to pay attention to in 2019, but which I don’t have the time to explore deeply. I started with audio, and although I don’t have the time to explore audio deeply even in this post, just explaining where we are took more words than I had planned. (Please note that I […]
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 […]
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” […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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.
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.