Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday 20

Eva Longoria is writing a romance (aka raunchy) novel. Pete Doherty, whenever he's out on bail next, is publishing a rock-n-roll tell-all. Hell, even Pam got a book deal. It's all about scandal: sex, drugs, and sleeping with Kate Moss obviously make fine literary topics.

Problem is, how do you successfully make the leap from media magnet celebrity to bestselling author? Aren't there things like actual books involved? What if the only thing you've ever written was your name at the bottom of the check at The Ivy?

Never fear, PBW is here.

Ten Tips for New Celebrity Authors

1. Find out what a book is. A book is like a script or sheet music, only a whole lot longer. There's a picture on the front cover, it's single-spaced and there are some really big words in it. There are no camera directions or musical notes. Your reader will recognize some dialogue, but it's mixed up with paragraphs of things called action and exposition and setting. Books are things that smart but unattractive people read instead of going to the movies or watching television.

2. Learn how to read. You may have to read some of your book out loud at your public appearances. This is called a "reading" and they don't let someone else do it for you. I know it's a pain, but remember what happened to Milli Vanilli -- you don't want to get caught lip-synching at your first "reading" with your own book upside-down in your hands, right?

3. Go to bookstores. This is the place where they're going to be selling your book. It's a store filled with other books. No, yours can't be the only book they sell, but it will be placed in the very front on the nicest shelves where everyone who walks in can see it.

4. Practice signing your book. There are no cocktail napkins or 8 X 10 glossies at booksignings; you have to sign the actual product. Not on the front cover, either; that messes up the pretty picture on it. Open the book and go to the title page. That's the one that has "by (your name)" on it. Sign right under your name.

5. Know your new literary agent. This is the person who gets you those seven-figure book deals. Like Broadway actors, literary agents all hang out in New York. They're very nice people, but they probably won't bail you out of the drunk tank or admit you to detox; remember to call your Hollywood agent for those things.

6. Don't angst over size. In the book industry, it's who writes the best story, not how large and perky the book looks. Just because Hilary Clinton's book has more pages and more big words in it doesn't mean that it's better than yours.

7. Don't get hysterical over your cover art. Cover art is the pretty picture on the front of your book. Armani doesn't do them and you can't fly to Paris and buy something better. It's true that Jackie Collins got that nifty leopardskin on hers, but I bet they'll emboss and glitterize your title font to make yours even prettier.

8. Thank your ghost writer. This is a real writer whom some underling at your publisher pays a tiny amount of money to write your book for you. You don't have to meet, but it's nice to say thank you to this person. Or just have your literary agent take care of it for you.

9. Don't get upset if your book isn't nominated for the National Book Award. Of course Stephen King got one, and he's been in tons of movies, but that was sort of a one-time-only fluke. If it makes you feel better, the only authors who usually win the NBA are poor people who can't make a living writing books. Which is definitely NOT YOU, babe.

10. Write your next book. Sure, publishing is dreary, and your publisher is run by a lot of women with damp hands, severe cellulite problems and horrible wardrobes, but is there any easier way to make seven figures? Exactly. Get that ghost writer moving.

As for the rest of you, any questions for me this week?

49 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:41 AM

    *chuckle*

    Excoriating.

    cherylp

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  2. It was on GalleyCat that Longoria's publicist's assistant said that she's not writing a book, via Nalini Singh's blog.

    I have a question this week: Should I revise my first WIP?

    I honestly don't think any amount of revision will fix it, but at least I tried, right? Plus I guess it could count as practice. Though there's the "You only learn to write *this* book" (Elizabeth Bear) theory.

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  3. I have a question (for once ... Hehe). On the matter of sex in your works, are you taking the chicken way out if you don't include it? It's not that I don't feel I could write a scene like that, I'm just not sure it's necessary. How do you determine if its necessary? I guess part of me is hoping that I'll be able to write for adults, but that it will still be safe enough for kids who read above their age to pick up. Thoughts?

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  4. LMAO! Love the list. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy her "raunchy" book. It really irked me that they used the word raunchy.

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  5. OMG - PBW rules! This list needs to be make official :)

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  6. cherylp wrote: *chuckle* Excoriating.

    For you celebrity authors, cherylp means I just tore you a new something.

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  7. Milady wrote: It was on GalleyCat that Longoria's publicist's assistant said that she's not writing a book, via Nalini Singh's blog.

    Well, of course she won't write the book, lol. Seriously, thanks, Milady -- I didn't know she'd backed out.

    I have a question this week: Should I revise my first WIP?

    I honestly don't think any amount of revision will fix it, but at least I tried, right?


    I think it's great that you can be so objective about your work.

    If it were my book and I wasn't planning to submit it anywhere, I'd still do a final edit for two reasons: 1) it's part of the writing process, and it's good to establish a work routine with every book and 2) to pick up errors and mistakes that you'll consciously or subconsciously avoid doing when you write the next book.

    I'd also recommend you set a time limit on the edit, so you don't get trapped working on something you won't be selling, or start writing the next book while you're editing this one.

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  8. pj wrote: On the matter of sex in your works, are you taking the chicken way out if you don't include it?

    No, with certain conditions (such as, if you're writing erotica, sex scenes are a prerequisite.)

    It's not that I don't feel I could write a scene like that, I'm just not sure it's necessary. How do you determine if its necessary?

    I think it depends on where you want to pitch the book. Take a look around the published books in the applicable genre. SF and crime fiction are two genres where sex scenes are actively frowned on, so if your book is in one of those categories, you're definitely okay. If it's a romance, I'd pitch to publishers who put out conservative romance lines (sweet romances, Christian-themed romances, etc.)

    I guess part of me is hoping that I'll be able to write for adults, but that it will still be safe enough for kids who read above their age to pick up. Thoughts?

    I understand your concerns, although I don't agree with the reason for your self-censorship. I think you need to write the books that you want to write, pitch them to appropriate markets and let parents be responsible for policing what their kids read.

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  9. Shawn wrote: It really irked me that they used the word raunchy.

    I'm thinking of getting it added to my business card: PBW, writer of fine AH, Christian, SF, dark fantasy, raunchy/romance, and writer-for-hire novels.

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  10. D wrote: This list needs to be make official

    I sent a copy to Variety and Rolling Stone. Lol.

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  11. Your wonderful post yesterday or the day before, about how writers only have to write and everything else is optional, got me thinking:

    In the agent-querying process, when should a writer bring up the "I'm-not-wild-about-the-idea-of-self-promotion" subject? I'm about to start querying for my YA novel. I know that that info doesn't belong in a query letter, but assuming I get some interest, do you think I should mention it only when an agent has actually offered to represent me, or at some sooner point? (Should things actually get that far -- where I'd actually have to think about self-promo -- I know I'd be willing to do some but not tons.)

    I want to be as professional as possible, and I don't know (with this issue) what constitutes a "just-letting-you-know-what-you're-considering" bit of important info versus being annoying and presumptuous.

    Thanks a million PBW. =)

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  12. Best thing I've read all week.

    Thanks!

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  13. hsc wrote: In the agent-querying process, when should a writer bring up the "I'm-not-wild-about-the-idea-of-self-promotion" subject?

    I would not bring it up at all. If/when your agent asks, be direct and honest about what you're willing to do, but don't volunteer the information or start a debate on it. You'll avoid a lot of headaches that way.

    You also don't have to seize any self-promotional op. During my rookie year, for personal reasons I turned down the chance to appear on a much-publicized tour with a mega-selling writer. I told my agent (not my editor or the mega-selling author) why, and she understood completely and advised me on how I should word the "no, thank" so no one would become offended.

    I'm about to start querying for my YA novel. I know that that info doesn't belong in a query letter, but assuming I get some interest, do you think I should mention it only when an agent has actually offered to represent me, or at some sooner point?

    Again, I wouldn't mention it at all. When you sell, you're being paid to write books, not promote them. Your publisher may come to you and ask you to do something, and that's the appropriate time to discuss it with your agent.

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  14. That "no, thank" should have an "s" on the end, btw. Sigh.

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  15. Heather Dawn wrote: Best thing I've read all week.

    Thank you, ma'am. :)

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  16. I was wondering about the standard clause "Right of First Refusal". Assuming the author has a contract for a book with this clause in it and said author produces book 2 and submits it (and it's accepted) - what happenes next? I'd guess the author has fulfilled her obligation for the 1st contract, but what should she expect on the 2nd contract? Does the same clause pop up? So for every book she writes, she's on the hook for the next one w/ the same publisher or does this clause go away at some point on future contracts?

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  17. Sandra wrote: I was wondering about the standard clause "Right of First Refusal". Assuming the author has a contract for a book with this clause in it and said author produces book 2 and submits it (and it's accepted) - what happenes next? I'd guess the author has fulfilled her obligation for the 1st contract, but what should she expect on the 2nd contract? Does the same clause pop up? So for every book she writes, she's on the hook for the next one w/ the same publisher or does this clause go away at some point on future contracts?

    I think you're talking about the "Options on Next Work" clause, which is pretty standard for most publishing houses. Most require the author to submit either a proposal or manuscript for the next work produced (usually specified in the same genre, i.e. "next book-length work of science fiction") for the publisher's consideration. Mine are worded in such a way that my publisher gets the first look and the first opportunity for an offer before I show it to anyone else. With the exception of WFH jobs, I've never had a publishing contract offered to me that didn't have some sort of option on next work spelled out in it, so it doesn't go away.

    It is extremely important to read your entire contract, and especially the wording of this clause, because your first publisher may put something in there that prevents you from subbing to other
    publishers, even if your first publisher doesn't want the new book(s).

    Book contracts are generally negotiated for just the rights to the book(s) the publisher buys from you. When it's time to sell the next book, your agent will renegotiate terms and should try to get a better deal for you. If your first books didn't earn back your advance, that's going to be tough, because you've already lost money for the publisher. If you've sold-through nicely and made some money, the new advance they offer you should reflect that.

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  18. Thank you, PWB,from the bottom of my petty little heart.

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  19. Anonymous9:58 AM

    What's your opinion of this author's rant on all-male nominees for the ITW awards?

    http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/the_lipstick_chronicles/2006/06/for_men_only_.html

    Is it sour grapes because she wasn't nominated, or a real issue?

    Lynda

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  20. Milady wrote: Thanks PBW!

    Anytime, ma'am. :)

    Trace wrote: *snort*

    No snorting on my blog, you.

    Bernita wrote: Thank you, PWB,from the bottom of my petty little heart.

    Hey, we petty-hearted have to stick together. :)

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  21. Lynda wrote: What's your opinion of this author's rant on all-male nominees for the ITW awards?

    I boycott all genre awards, so I'm opinion-neutral.

    Is it sour grapes because she wasn't nominated, or a real issue?

    Elaine Viets writes chicklit, so sour grapes probably wouldn't be applicable. I'm sure that the issue, and the battle over it, are as important as the awards are to the egos involved.

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  22. You're my heroine for today. :-)

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  23. I did some digging in your blog, but couldn't find an answer. What do you think of the current state of copyright, particularly the current duration of copyright? I'm glad Bram Stoker's copyright has expired so even our litigious society can enjoy books like yours.

    I'm looking forward to reading Dark Need as soon as I can pry it out of my wife's hands. Thanks for another good series.

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  24. Eva's all set. The SB novel written for her is AT LEAST worth the price you'll pay to read it.

    My question:
    If a reviewer screws up the facts of a novel (as much as a novel has facts) is it possible for a writer to NOT look like an asshole making a correction?

    I suppose you'd insert a lot of sincere thank you for the review and taking the time and whatnot before making the correction is called for. . . It's not one of my books. I'm trying to convince a friend not to bother. Any arguments for or against?

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  25. Thank you for the laughs, I've definitely needed them this week. I've even gotten a couple of my coworkers addicted to your blog. Have a good weekend, Ann

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  26. Joel wrote: I did some digging in your blog, but couldn't find an answer. What do you think of the current state of copyright, particularly the current duration of copyright? I'm glad Bram Stoker's copyright has expired so even our litigious society can enjoy books like yours.

    Not to sound testy, but the only thing my books and Bram Stoker's have in common are some characters in them who are dependent on blood to live. Vampiric creatures are quite common in myths from many different cultures around the world which predated his novel. He was one of the first popular authors to explore the myth of the vampire in a very successful novel, so he's often incorrectly thought of as the "inventor of vampires."

    As for copyright law, I've touched on it a few times here, but never really in depth. It's a difficult, polarizing topic that makes people crazy and offends a lot of writers.

    My stand, in a nutshell: Copyright law is the only thing that protects writers and the small amount of royalties we earn from the publication of our books, which are generally our only source of income. Without that protection, anyone can profit from our work or do anything they like with it. For these reasons, I support preserving the integrity of copyright law.

    There are some young writers out there who believe we should "give it all away for free." I don't object to them giving away their rights, if that's what they want to do, but I don't believe that they have the right to tell me what to do with mine. I've given away plenty of my work for free -- over two million words of it, in fact -- but I deserve the right to choose to do that.

    It is in the best interests of major publishing corporations and other corporate entities to eradicate copyright law so they can do as they please and profit without having to consult or pay royalties to the individual (or heirs of the individual) who created the work. I have no doubt they will eventually succeed, and writers will have no means with which to protect their work and preserve what little income they may receive from it.

    I'm looking forward to reading Dark Need as soon as I can pry it out of my wife's hands. Thanks for another good series.

    Thank you for the generous compliments, and sorry if I sounded a bit cranky in the above response.

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  27. Thank you for your response. I understand that copyright is vital to authors. I strongly support the existence of copyright (without copyright, I wouldn't have nearly as many books to read). What I would like to know is what you, as a professional author, consider to be a good duration for copyright - 5 years, 20 years, 100 years, forever minus a day?

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  28. Miss Kate wrote: Eva's all set.

    I'm so relieved.

    If a reviewer screws up the facts of a novel (as much as a novel has facts) is it possible for a writer to NOT look like an asshole making a correction?

    I think she should tell the reviewer, "Your constructive comments are truly appreciated" and leave it at that.

    I suppose you'd insert a lot of sincere thank you for the review and taking the time and whatnot before making the correction is called for. . .

    I wouldn't have read the review in the first place. See, if you don't read reviews, you don't know about this kind of thing. The reviewers can write whatever they want without having to deal with any criticism. Everybody's happy! Lol.

    It's not one of my books. I'm trying to convince a friend not to bother. Any arguments for or against?

    Have her read my reviews. She'll feel a lot better about hers.

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  29. Joel wrote: What I would like to know is what you, as a professional author, consider to be a good duration for copyright - 5 years, 20 years, 100 years, forever minus a day?

    I was thinking about this very question when John Steinbeck's heirs won back the rights to some of his works earlier this month.

    I don't have an answer, but one of my friends suggested making copyright more like patents with no expiration date. That way the author's heirs can choose to sell the rights or hold onto them and collect royalties for as long as they wish. An allowance could be made so that the work could be reprinted at no profit for educational purposes, like textbooks, so no one could yell about depriving kids of the reading experience. That's about the most reasonable alternative I've heard so far.

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  30. you are evil!!!

    I love the list. maybe it should be made into a little pamphlet to send to all celebs turned writers.

    ;)


    I've got a question... I know you're big on plotting. I've only started ACTUALLY trying to plot out the book before I write it in the past 12-18 months and it's a heck of a lot different than writing by the seat of your pants.

    It's a lot HARDER for me. any suggestions on how to actually get more into the habit of plotting something out? I started and stopped my next contracted book like four times already before I finally hit on an idea that seemed to work. now i just hope my editor likes it...

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  31. Thank you kindly, PBW! =)

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  32. Sorry to keep pestering, but if copyright is perpetual, wouldn't there be serious cultural, scholarly, and creative repercussions?

    I'm thinking of cases such as James Joyce's heir - where he has blocked scholarly studies of Joyce and prevented public readings from Ulysses. Link to New Yorker Article

    Alternately, Spider Robinson explored creative problems with perpetual copyright in Melancholy Elephants

    For a more in depth discussion of the reason for limited duration copyrights, Macaulay gave a speech to the Parliament in 1841 that explains why copyright is limited.

    If you would like me to stop discussing this issue here, please let me know and I will. Again, thank you for your time and keep on writing!

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  33. Shiloh wrote: I know you're big on plotting.

    Huge. Think Nebraska. :)

    I've only started ACTUALLY trying to plot out the book before I write it in the past 12-18 months and it's a heck of a lot different than writing by the seat of your pants.

    That it can be.

    It's a lot HARDER for me. any suggestions on how to actually get more into the habit of plotting something out?

    Keep it as simple as possible; don't try to plot with a huge amount of detail in the outline. Think through your story and get the basic storyline worked out:

    John is a cop, Marcia has a stolen diamond, real thief tries to kill them, diamond is cursed, demons also pursue, thief uses demons against John and Marcia, John reveals he is half-demon, Marcia reverses curse, thief almost kills her, John sacrifices his human side to save Marcia...

    This is getting too damn interesting. Anyway, you get the idea.

    Once you have that, the easiest way I know how to plot bare bones is with a timeline or list of sequence of events, i.e.:

    Chapter One

    1. John sees Marcia at Halloween party, accidentally spills his drink down her costume.
    2. Marcia puts on the wrong coat with stolen cursed diamond in pocket and leaves party.
    3. Diamond thief uses spell to make Marcia's car crash.

    Chapter Two

    1. John uses his demonic strength to rescue Marcia from car crash, takes her home to his haunted house.
    2. Marcia discovers John is a cop and has a strange tatoo.
    3. John finds stolen cursed diamond in Marcia's coat pocket.

    It's like a "just the facts, ma'am" rundown.

    If that's too detailed, try a sparse single summary line for each chapter:

    Chapter One

    At the party, John and Marcia meet, Marcia leaves with diamond, thief makes her car crash.

    Chapter Two

    John rescues Marcia, reveals he's a cop, finds cursed diamond.

    ...and so forth.

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  34. Peggy Kurilla1:29 PM

    Patents are not perpetual. Per the US Patent Office:
    http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html#patent

    Other countries' laws may vary (and probably do).

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  35. Joel wrote: Sorry to keep pestering, but if copyright is perpetual, wouldn't there be serious cultural, scholarly, and creative repercussions?

    I'm sure there could be. That's why it's such a polarizing issue.

    I'm thinking of cases such as James Joyce's heir - where he has blocked scholarly studies of Joyce and prevented public readings from Ulysses.

    However unhappy that makes folks, as the rights owner, that's his prerogative.

    You link to some good support for the other side of the argument. But people can be very creative about getting around copyright law and depriving writers of their rights for other than ethical reasons. If it were all done for non-profit purposes, I'd even agree with you. But when there's money involved, and there always is, then it gets a bit more sticky.

    If you would like me to stop discussing this issue here, please let me know and I will.

    Not at all. I enjoy discussing the issue because I'm not sure there ever will be a one-size-fits-all solution that makes everyone happy.

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  36. Thanks... :-) I waste so much time starting over when something isn't working and I've decided I'm a little tired of it.

    and... This is getting too damn interesting. Anyway, you get the idea. you're right. it does sound interesting.... I'd love to read more.

    *G*

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  37. Peggy wrote: Patents are not perpetual.

    I didn't mean to imply that they were. To clarify, my friend suggested setting up copyright like a patent, except that unlike patents, it would never expire.

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  38. I strongly agree that writers should be paid. However, as Macaulay argued, extending copyright to perpetuity is not a way to remunerate authors - it remunerates right holders.

    From Macaulay's speech:
    "If, Sir, I wished to find a strong and perfect illustration of the effects which I anticipate from long copyright, I should select,—my honourable and learned friend will be surprised,—I should select the case of Milton's granddaughter. As often as this bill has been under discussion, the fate of Milton's granddaughter has been brought forward by the advocates of monopoly. My honourable and learned friend has repeatedly told the story with great eloquence and effect. He has dilated on the sufferings, on the abject poverty, of this ill-fated woman, the last of an illustrious race. He tells us that, in the extremity of her distress, Garrick gave her a benefit, that Johnson wrote a prologue, and that the public contributed some hundreds of pounds. Was it fit, he asks, that she should receive, in this eleemosynary form, a small portion of what was in truth a debt? Why, he asks, instead of obtaining a pittance from charity, did she not live in comfort and luxury on the proceeds of the sale of her ancestor's works? But, Sir, will my honourable and learned friend tell me that this event, which he has so often and so pathetically described, was caused by the shortness of the term of copyright? Why, at that time, the duration of copyright was longer than even he, at present, proposes to make it. The monopoly lasted, not sixty years, but for ever. At the time at which Milton's granddaughter asked charity, Milton's works were the exclusive property of a bookseller. Within a few months of the day on which the benefit was given at Garrick's theatre, the holder of the copyright of Paradise Lost,—I think it was Tonson,—applied to the Court of Chancery for an injunction against a bookseller who had published a cheap edition of the great epic poem, and obtained the injunction. The representation of Comus was, if I remember rightly, in 1750; the injunction in 1752. Here, then, is a perfect illustration of the effect of long copyright. Milton's works are the property of a single publisher. Everybody who wants them must buy them at Tonson's shop, and at Tonson's price. Whoever attempts to undersell Tonson is harassed with legal proceedings. Thousands who would gladly possess a copy of Paradise Lost, must forego that great enjoyment. And what, in the meantime, is the situation of the only person for whom we can suppose that the author, protected at such a cost to the public, was at all interested? She is reduced to utter destitution. Milton's works are under a monopoly. Milton's granddaughter is starving. The reader is pillaged; but the writer's family is not enriched. Society is taxed doubly. It has to give an exorbitant price for the poems; and it has at the same time to give alms to the only surviving descendant of the poet.
    ...
    One of the most instructive, interesting, and delightful books in our language is Boswell's Life of Johnson. Now it is well known that Boswell's eldest son considered this book, considered the whole relation of Boswell to Johnson, as a blot in the escutcheon of the family. He thought, not perhaps altogether without reason, that his father had exhibited himself in a ludicrous and degrading light. And thus he became so sore and irritable that at last he could not bear to hear the Life of Johnson mentioned. Suppose that the law had been what my honourable and learned friend wishes to make it. Suppose that the copyright of Boswell's Life of Johnson had belonged, as it well might, during sixty years, to Boswell's eldest son. What would have been the consequence? An unadulterated copy of the finest biographical work in the world would have been as scarce as the first edition of Camden's Britannia."

    (Sorry for such a long quote. I tried to rewrite it, but Macaulay words are much better than mine.)

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  39. Reading your blog is a better training for the stomach muscles than those boring sit-ups.

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  40. Joel wrote: I strongly agree that writers should be paid. However, as Macaulay argued, extending copyright to perpetuity is not a way to remunerate authors - it remunerates right holders.

    Which is why I was happy to see Steinbeck's heirs win their case. The copyright holder -- a publisher -- has made millions off Steinbeck's work while his offspring have not seen a dime of that money.

    It's a good reminder for all authors to give some serious thought to how they write their wills, and to whom they leave their estate. This is assuming the anticopyrightists don't strip us of our property before we're dead. Then we might as well burn everything and take up knitting.

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  41. Correction to the above comment on Steinbeck's rights: complete control over the estate was handled or owned by his heirs' stepmother, Steinbeck's third wife, who seems to have profited at the expense of his children. The articles aren't clear on exactly who owned what and when, so the publisher involved may not be the villain of the piece. :)

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  42. The whole copyright issue is, indeed, a thorny one, and worthy of further debate. Here in the UK it's been given a new twist by the plight of artists like (Sir) Cliff Richard. OK, so he's not short of a bob or two, but the law on performance rights as it stands at the moment means that in the next year or two he will no longer receive any royalties whenever 'Living Doll', 'Summer Holiday' and other memorable tunes are played - not cover versions, but original recordings featuring his voice, simply because he recorded the songs so young and has lived longer than the people drafting the laws ever considered likely.

    There are other singers and musicians who rely on the meagre income from their hits in the fifties for their pension, and who will soon be left without that major income stream. At least authors get to keep their royalties until they die, and then pass them on for many years afterwards.

    That said, the latest wonderful idea from the European Union is a levy on art sales so that every time a painting, sculpture or other work of art is resold, a percentage of the price goes to the creator. In theory this sounds like a good scheme, but in practice it just means the European art markets will move to New York and Tokyo.

    Things get so much more complicated when money's involved.

    A question? Sorry, can't think of one. But I did like the list. It reminds me of the apocryphal story about Naomi Campbell admitting that she hadn't even read her book.

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  43. Too bad you can't mail this list off to the ones in need of it. :D

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  44. I support the EVENTUAL expiration of copyright for one reason only--after a while, there are too many heirs to be practical! Perpetual copyright would become way too expensive to run unless there was a maximum number of heirs allowed. Personally, I like the life +75 years. If my work is worth anything then, I want it to help my grandkids.

    I think it's unreasonable for people to assert that I owe society my sweat and blood. If I choose to give it to society, then fine, that's my choice. But I don't OWE society jack. You might as well say that no private person should own great works of art because they belong to society, and therefore once an artist dies, every owner should give up the work to a major museum. That wouldn't fly with Picasso, and only one person at a time can own that. Why should it fly with written works, when so many can have a copy for so little already?

    James Joyce didn't have to publish anything. He could have burnt it. It was his work, his right. I don't see the choices of his heirs as any different from that.

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  45. If copyright doesn't expire, what becomes of derivative works? Stories build on one another - Shakespeare himself rewrote stories he had heard/seen/read. The Aneid is clearly derivative of the Odyssey. There are only so many storylines out there. When copyright expires it gives a clear guide saying "At this point, you may stand upon the shoulders of these giants."

    A last story link and a poem:
    The People Who Owned the Bible

    When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,
    He'd 'eard men sing by land an' sea;
    An' what he thought 'e might require,
    'E went an' took -- the same as me!

    The market-girls an' fishermen,
    The shepherds an' the sailors, too,
    They 'eard old songs turn up again,
    But kep' it quiet -- same as you!

    They knew 'e stole; 'e knew they knowed.
    They didn't tell, nor make a fuss,
    But winked at 'Omer down the road,
    An' 'e winked back -- the same as us
    -- Rudyard Kipling

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  46. SwedMark9:00 PM

    Hi. I just have to jump in at this... (been reading questions and superb answers on this blog for a hlaf-night now).It's just that everyone seems to have a problem with writing too much... mine is the opposite... for instance, a plot outline like this:

    John is a cop, Marcia has a stolen diamond, real thief tries to kill them, diamond is cursed, demons also pursue, thief uses demons against John and Marcia, John reveals he is half-demon, Marcia reverses curse, thief almost kills her, John sacrifices his human side to save Marcia...


    or chapter-timeline like this:

    Chapter One

    1. John sees Marcia at Halloween party, accidentally spills his drink down her costume.
    2. Marcia puts on the wrong coat with stolen cursed diamond in pocket and leaves party.
    3. Diamond thief uses spell to make Marcia's car crash.

    Chapter Two

    1. John uses his demonic strength to rescue Marcia from car crash, takes her home to his haunted house.
    2. Marcia discovers John is a cop and has a strange tatoo.
    3. John finds stolen cursed diamond in Marcia's coat pocket.



    For me, would end up in a 2 paged shortstory.

    Maybe I'm too much of an amateure for this blog, or I have a different problem(?)... Any thoughts? Also, if you've got the time, could you please summerise what you do before starting to write? I've gotten bitts and pieces but always seem to have missed out on stuff (like all the shortenings of etc.. like VIP (which by the way I figured out). This site is so huge, I can't seem to find for instance a description of the 3 questions about character you ask...

    Oh yes, I'm foreign by the way (swedish), which might explain why I don't get everything and also why this looks as if written by a child.

    Sorry and THANK YOU!! Amazing page! (probably the best use I've got off of internet ever.

    /Swedish Markus

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