LETTERS and COMMENTS For 01/28/2016

LETTERS and COMMENTS For 01/28/2016

I Landed a $500 Gig Through WritersWeekly!

I’m writing to thank you for the market listings. I’ve gotten a few stories published from querying some of those listings. But yesterday I hit it big. I queried a land use and zoning publication, which was in the last list. It was appropriate because I am a land use attorney. Within three hours, the editor emailed me back, loved my idea, and now I have a $500 contract. I once did get $1000 for a legal article, but that was a long time ago. But to have a current publication will really help get others. And of course I’ll continue writing my short stories!

– L

“WritersWeekly’s the most valuable asset I have seen for writers”

Angela, just a bit of praise. I think WritersWeekly.com is the most valuable asset I have seen for writers, and I just wanted to say thank you for producing it!!

– Charles

COMMENTS ABOUT: Can I Quote Someone Who Died 50 Years Ago?

If you are talking about U.S. law, it can get a bit complicated depending on the first publication date and country. Also, it’s now 70 years not 50, so that will do you no good. Copyright terms are being extended, never shortened. Cornell has a breakdown here:


Older complexities are due to a former U.S. requirement to post a copyright notice, register and renew. Later complexities are because we signed onto the Berne Convention, altering our law to fit with it including dropping that requirement for a notice. We also gave foreign holders some special benefits.

In addition, 100 quotes is quite a bit, so if the quoted material is still under copyright, fair use requirements will have to be met. That can get messy. Either read online references or consult an IP lawyer for the specifics.

Since the book is completely focused on that now-dead person, you’d be much safer seeking the permission of his estate. Literary estates vary enormously.

* Some would be delighted that you’re giving their dear grandfather attention. They’ll happily give you permission and may even supply additional unpublished material, or write an introduction for it.

* Others simply want money at whatever the market rate is. If you can afford the cost, just pay it. It’ll be a lot cheaper than paying a lawyer $300-400 an hour to defend you if they decide to put teeth to their demands.

* Finally, there are the estates from Hell. Some want to silence all commentary, perhaps fearing family secrets with come out. Others simply want to control what’s said for weird reasons that are hard to explain. If they have the money, they can make your life miserable by taking you to court. Courts move slowly, so even if they don’t have a legal case, they can still tie up publication for a year or more and cost you tens of thousands of dollars. If this author’s estate is in the latter category and you don’t have a major publisher backing your project, I’d advise you to give up on the idea. Some things aren’t worth the trouble.

At any rate, I wouldn’t move any further on this project without investigating how his estate is likely to respond to your project. That’s hard to know, but if anyone has done a biography of him, they should know what you’re likely to face. Contact that fellow for advice. Google for news stories too. Estates that sue have usually been in the news for that.

– Michael W. Perry


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