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Friday, September 9, 2016

THE LEGAL SIDE OF WRITING FOR ANTHOLOGIES






Anthologies offer writers an excellent platform for shorter works and create opportunities for reader cross-pollination. 

As always, authors should look before they leap.


1.) CONTRACTS ARE FLUFFY KITTENS IN THE AWE OF BEING INVITED

But even kittens have claws and sharp teeth ... and make sure that contract is not a TIGER kitten! 

Every anthology should use a professional, written publishing contract (or release) 

containing industry-standard terms for anthology publication. 

If the publisher is taking only non-exclusive rights, and not limiting the author’s right to reprint and re-use the work in any way, 

a simple release will often suffice, but even this should be in WRITING.  

My latest anthology contracts reads in part: 

This contract may be terminated by either The Author or The Publisher within a thirty day written notice, 

and all rights granted to The Publisher will revert to The Author at that time.



2.) NEVER SIGN AWAY COPYRIGHT TO WORK 

Anthology publishers do NOT need, and should not ask for, ownership of copyright in the individual works that make up the anthology.

 Anthology publishers need only a limited license to publish the contributed works as part of the anthology

 and the contract should expressly limit the publisher’s use of the work to its inclusion in the relevant anthology or collective work.


3.) DYNAMITE AT THE END OF YOUR FINGERTIPS!

What if your anthology seems log-jammed, never to be published?  You can pull your story out, right?

Did you have an attorney read the contract before you signed it?  I hope you did.  

As mine told me: 

"You have dynamite at the end of your fingers, Roland.  Make sure your contract is not a lit fuse." 

If contracts have been signed, authors' rights could be tied up for an indefinite period of time while the publisher tries to figure out what to do. 

Not to mention, whatever payment structure may initially have been promised may now not be possible.


4.) CONSIDER THE SOURCE

 Before submitting your work or signing a contract for anthology publication, consider the experience level and reputation of the publisher (or anthology sponsor), 

the editor (if one is named), the terms of the publishing contract, 

and all other relevant aspects of the deal. Select anthologies that match your plans for your work and also offer appropriate contract terms.


5.) FINAL WORD FROM THE GHOST OF MARK TWAIN

"Trust everybody, children, but cut the cards yourself.

Read that darn contract!  And then have a lawyer you trust read it for to explain those long, legal-like puzzles of words!" 

HOPE THIS HELPS A FEW OF YOU OUT THERE.

For myself:

I never loan money
nor
submit a story to an anthology
that I cannot afford to lose.   

16 comments:

  1. Exactly! Never sign away your copyright and always have a lawyer look over the contract.

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    1. It gives me chills thinking of signing away my copyright without meaning to! Brrrr!

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  2. I'm definitely going to consider the publisher's track record next time.

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    1. Yes, me, too. Although it is said Randi is scheduled for surgery. Surgery cares nothing for contractual obligations.

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  3. Your last comment, about being able to lose it, is very good advice. I've participated in a number of anthologies and I'm never sure if they are worth the time or not.

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    1. I have been in 3 anthologies before this last one, and I've enjoyed the experience of meeting fellow writers though I saw little money from them.

      This last one has hit a snag with the ill-health of the driving force of the thing. There is one person involved in the anthology that has become so strident and harsh on FB that it makes me uncomfortable to be associated with her.

      How we deal with frustration and disappointment says more of us than the one disappointing us I believe. Thanks for commenting, Roland

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  4. Interesting post, Roland. I've had quite a few short pieces published in various anthologies. I've never given away my rights, but I've also only ever been given a physical contract to sign on one occasion! Nonetheless, I'm happy with most of the anthologies I'm in and I do think they're worth the time, simply because I'm not a novelist so they seem like a good way to get some of my fiction out into the wider world. :)

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. I have been very happy with the prior 3 I have associated with. This current one ... not so much. But I have learned the folks who I do want to be associated with in the future. A positive thing, right? :-)

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  5. Replies
    1. I tried to help my friends. Thanks for liking this post. :-)

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  6. Interesting information, Roland. Both pertinent and timely. Thanks!

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    1. I try to help my friends -- sometimes I get into trouble doing it for some that cannot defend themselves! Ouch! :-)

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  7. Replies
    1. Wisdom learned the hard way! Double Ouch!! :-)

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