I noted your article addressing the situation should a publisher discontinue or sell the business claiming “ownership of the author’s production files” and possibly other interests that the author believed he or she holds to his or her benefit.
For example, the publisher may, in addition to production files, claim ownership of the copyright and a number of other benefits, including rights to transfer such “ownership[s]” to a third party.
You may wish to suggest that the author:
1. Read their contract with the publisher to determine exacting what rights, titles and interests he or she “conveyed” or “granted” the publisher and what rights, titles and interests he or she has retained.
2. Check with the Copyright Office to determine the entity that actually holds copyright “ownership.”
3. See what rights the publisher is able to convey to a successor and what effect that such a transfer of rights has on the author.
4. Make certain that there is a writing signed by the publisher setting out all the recovery of copyrights and all other interests reverting to the author, including, but not limited to payments due and owing and such payments that may become payable in the future and whether there is any litigation expected or pending, or if there are any liens on the publisher that may affect the author and the author’s work[s].
5. Remember that, in the words of that old-time film producer, Cecil B. DeMille, an oral agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
The bottom line: It’s better to speak with an attorney familiar with copyright/publishing contract law before signing off on anything with a publisher discontinuing or transferring operations to a third party rather than try to “correct” a problem after the “casting of the dye.”
All the best to all.
public personnel law consultant to attorneys, and author of:
Well said. I’m embarrassed by the one book I did with a publishing contract! The publisher (Mansion Grove House) never paid the third installment of my advance, never paid any royalties, and had books printed overseas cheaply with discolored and smeared covers!
With self-publishing, I have control and know I will receive money for my books.
A very ‘to the point’ and truthful article. I like to see article like this. They debunk the myth of the grand and glorious Big Five (soon to continue shrink to the Big Two).
Now, that being said, there are some great contracts issued and some grand opportunities in that ever shrinking arena. The chances of any one person getting there is as good as winning the lottery (just pick one to win — they are all the same). It does happen — but your chances are VERY slim.
So yes — if you feel it is your calling — go for the top of the heap in the publishing game. It never hurts to shoot for the stars. But don’t forget that sometimes, if you take time to build a good rocket first, you may get a later chance to shoot for that star — after you have ‘test fired’ it once.
Highlander Imagine: Beyond Infinity
Duncan MacLeod must fight a South American Immortal at Teotihuacan.
It is quite normal for anyone with any degree of ego to be embarrassed to self-publish. However, with so much dreadful writing and sloppy editing around today one could justifiably become equally embarrassed to be known as a writer or editor. I got over that hump by registering a publishing company as a division of my entertainment corporation. Once I did that, I started thinking like a publisher. I now have six e-books of my own out plus my first genuinely published book by a wonderful writer who started writing late in life and unfortunately died just after we agreed on the publishing arrangement. I tracked down her daughter half way around the world and the contract is now with her. Primarily I’m a film producer but now I’ve decided to link each film project with a book – in some cases it will be a book adaptation of the screenplay, in others it will be a matter of developing books that will make good films. In one case, it may lead to mining an endless number of real stories one of which will be somewhat fictionalized for a film that will lead to launching the series.
Excellent article! I agree, business cards are a must. I recommend spending an extra $5.00-$10.00 a having them made on good quality, sturdy stock. A flimsy business card is not the first impression you want to make.
Bridge of Sighs and Dreams
Two women clash in World War 2 Nazi-occupied Rome.
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