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23

On evaluating a good publisher: Your publisher shouldn't charge you anything, period. Your publisher should explain exactly what your contract terms are, then give them to you in writing for your lawyer / best friend / psychic / mom / whomever-you-like to review before you sign. Your publisher should have a verifiable list of successful titles with a ...


19

I am not a lawyer. The observations below apply in the US, I don't know much about international copyright law outside the specific area of software copyrights. Here in the US, if you wrote something, you own the copyright on it, period. All you need in order to assert that copyright is proof that you wrote something, and when. There are many ways to do ...


8

The place to start when checking out agents is Absolute Write. In particular, I'd start with their Bewares, Recommendations & Background Check forum. Another good resource is Preditors & Editor's list of Literary Agents. If there's an agent that the folks there haven't heard of, it's likely that that person won't be able to be much help to you (or ...


8

In addition to HedgeMage's answer, which provides a nice summary of the issues: There are a number of online resources and discussion places on the topic of dodgy publishers, such as Writer Beware, Preditors and Editors and Absolute Write. You can search these for general tips or to check on specific publishers. This article by Victoira Strauss provides a ...


6

From my own experience to discover a black sheep: If you've found and agent, google him. Google harder! If you think, he is reputable, change your keywords and google again! No, not kidding. I found an agent who was very promising. Professional homepage, listed all the things you look for (you have to pay no money, best publishers, etc.) I googled him ...


5

What are the legal issues when submitting work to publishers? Your work must be your work. Don't submit anything that someone else has written, not even if you just copied a few sentences. Even if you changed them. There are companies out there that can run automated checks on your work to see if they can find something in it that even remotely looks ...


5

I don't think that gender and middle names are a very big deal these days. Some of the biggest bestsellers have been written by females (with distinctly female names), and I doubt that there's much of a bias. Same goes for middle names - most book covers don't even mention them. I suppose if you are writing a ridiculously sappy, romantic novel about angsty ...


3

It's common to have a different persona in your writing than in person. One of the advantages of writing is that you can appear wittier, quicker-witted, more eloquent and knowledgeable than in life, all through the magic of editing. I always advise people online to present their public persona, not their private one, and to make it a kinder, calmer, more ...


3

Another approach for you might be to write in sprints - say, 10-15 minutes - and do not permit yourself to edit. Get up for a short break, do something other than writing, then return to the writing for a new session. When you do, go back over the words you wrote in the previous session, and do any editing you'd like to do. Then move forward for another ...


3

In Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, she talks about "shitty first drafts." (Read about it here.) The point is that your first draft should be nothing more than a dump of creative ideas, disregarding spelling, grammar, consistency, and all other quality measures. Then clean it up to make sense when you revise. [Someone who wasn't Hemingway] said, "Write drunk, ...


3

An immensely helpful resource on this topic is Writer Beware, a volunteer organization associated with the SFWA and MWA. Their essay on warning signs of questionable agents answers your question in great depth. For completeness, I'll summarize the main points here - but do read the entire article... A reputable agent charges NOTHING but a percentage An ...


2

I am not a lawyer, my post comes from my experience working in the publishing world. It's also only what I know of the US copyright laws, not any international ones. Purchasing a copyright isn't required. You own the copyright to your work, no matter what. The "poor man's copyright" (mailing yourself a seal copy of the manuscript) is no longer a valid way ...


2

While an answer has already been selected, I wanted to add some further points. In the US, you must have registered your copyright to begin an infringement lawsuit. You can register your copyright either before or after the date of infringement. However, registering copyright before an infringement provides for additional benefits not available when ...


2

In the U.S. and other Berne Convention signatories, you own the copyright in a creative work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form (e.g., a computer file). You do not need to register to have a valid copyright. However, you do need to register before you can file suit against someone for copyright infringement. You do not need to have registered before ...


2

One method I heard of to protect yourself is to mail yourself a copy of your work before you submit it. That way you can have a sealed and postmarked copy of your work in case of plagiarism. I am not sure if this also applies to digital media but archiving a copy of any emails sent out containing your work might be a good idea.


1

I did a little research on UK copyright, and there is a small amount of information at the UK Intellectual Property Office website. It recommends sending a copy by post (special delivery) and leaving it unopened to prove the date it was in your possession. Whilst this does not prove you created it, or own it, it does prove that you had the work in your ...


1

There are basically two kinds of self-publishing. One is the heavy do-it-yourself route. You write the book, you format it for publication, you design the cover, you do any marketing, etc. What they do for you is physically print the book and make it available to on-line and brick-and-mortar bookstores. In practice, your book will be listed on the web sites ...



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