The owner of a copyright really owns a "bundle" of rights, like a bundle of sticks. Each stick or right can be sold or assigned separately to a third party. The rights owned by the author are as follows:
The Right to Distribution: the right to distribute the work to the public by sale, rental, lease or lending.
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Please Note:
The Internet offers the writer the freedom to post articles to a web site, to news groups, or to writing groups for the purpose of critiquing a work. The question then arises as to whether or not such activities may prevent the author from subsequently negotiating a sale of first serialization rights to a hard copy magazine.
The answer to the question is a resounding "Maybe."
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Many writers use personal websites as a place to showcase their unpublished works: Stories, poems, articles. But is this such a good idea, if one's ultimate goal is to sell those works?
The answer is "maybe yes, maybe no." Of the e-zines surveyed, 71% said that they would consider publishing a piece that had already appeared on an author's website -- but 23% would regard it as "second use" (i.e., a reprint). Print publications were less generous; only 50% would even consider such material, and of those, more than half regarded it as "second use" and would offer only reprint rates rather than full price.
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Increasingly, publishers are regarding material posted on a Web site as previously published -- which means that once you post something online, you may no longer be able to sell first rights to that material (if you can sell it at all).
Last Edit: Jun 23, 2005 22:31:00 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
And the two writers of this book first published online, and then later on sold the ebooks to book publishers. I emailed several authors about: Putting One's Works On The Open Internet. And so far only M.J. Rose has replied:
I don't know for sure - I really wouldn't worry about it though. I don't know of a single writer who has had a problem, but Ivan Hoffman has an amazing legal/literary website for questions like this. Don't know the address but you can google him.
I was not aware that this was a 'hot-topic' until recently, and I've not yet made up my mind as to whether I'll put my works on an open website or not. One day I think I will, the next I think that I won't. <shrug>
I do know that I believe that a writer has the right to put their works on their own website, and that it shouldn't keep them from getting something published elsewhere later on.
Should you, or shouldn't you put your works out on the open internet? <shrug> That is your decision, and yours alone. I can't and won't make that decision for you. There are those who have put their works out in the open and didn't have problems with it, and there are those who did have problems with it.
Will you, or won't you have problems later on if you put your works out on the open internet? <shrug> I've no clue. I only know that there shouldn't be a problem, not if there will or won't be.
BTW: Except for the Ivan Hoffman site that M.J. Rose gave me and the sites I got from her book, I found the above links through googling.
Were the contracts tricky? Was it easy to cancel your iUniverse contract, and does the Random House contract call your book a reprint?
I represented myself to both iUniverse and Random House. Prior to getting the call from Random House, I wrote sixty agents and twenty publishers. The routine reply was “We get too many requests...” So, when the contract came, I hired an experienced lawyer for two hours and took really good notes. The lawyer highlighted three categories: 1) things to ask for that you probably won’t get, 2) things that might be worth negotiating for, and 3) don’t sign if you don’t get these two things changed in the contract. When I explained to the publisher's lawyer that I would be representing myself, her tone relaxed, she laughed at my jokes, we discussed my book, she said I was really smart not to have to share any of my profits with an agent, and she gave me everything I asked for from all three categories.
iUniverse has been very cooperative. They are proud of my book. It never would have made it to the publisher as a manuscript in a box. We will stop publication through iUniverse at the end of this year, and the book will be published in July of next year, giving plenty of time to stop one circulation before starting the other. Technically, the book is a re-print. But, because of changes to the cover and minor text changes, and having sold less than 500 copies, I don’t imagine that it will be called a second edition.
Last Edit: Jun 23, 2005 20:34:23 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
Once you've published a book in electronic format, what are the odds that a print publisher will pick it up?
I think the odds are slim, actually, but I look at it like this: if you are a writer and you want your work read, you should try to get it out there if at all possible. I feel bad for writers who are waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back from Random House or Avon. They may NEVER hear from these people, and if they do, the chances are very good it will be in the form of a form letter saying "thanks but no thanks, not right for us," etc. Why not take a chance and put your book in the hands of an e-publisher....WHO DOESN'T CHARGE YOU TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK!...and see what happens? If you keep holding out for a print publisher, you may wait until you lose faith in yourself. That would be a shame because there are some truly excellent novels out there begging to be read. I hate to see talent go to waste for the lack of the courage to take matters into your own hands.
Do you find that there's a lot of prejudice against e-book authors?
There surely is, but I don't let that bother me. There are some websites who refuse to review e-books because they don't consider them 'real books'. What a copout that is! Some review sites won't review because they have seen a few truly bad e-books and lump all electronically-bound books in the same category.
Eventually, most of those websites will come around, but until they do, they are an insult to the hard work so many e-authors put out in making sure they have written a great book and an even bigger insult to the e-publishers who strive to put out a superior product. The prejudice of print authors has a lot to do with jealousy, I believe. They don't think we've paid our dues and that we took the easy route to publication. They don't like the 30-50 % royalties, either. They don't like the fact that our books NEVER go out of print and that their publishing houses are now demanding e-rights in their contracts and tying up those rights so the author can't hawk her wares elsewhere. The insults that are flung at e-authors by print authors should be considered in those lights and allowed to run off the e-author's back like water.
A U.K. minister has signed a £3.5m (more than $6m) publishing deal for his next six novels with Faber & Faber in the U.K. and Putnam in the U.S. following the success of his first book.
The Rev. Graham Taylor self-published “Shadowmancer” for £3,500 ($6,275). The parable about Christianity and black magic in the 18th century became a surprise hit, staying on the British beseller list for 15 weeks, and the film rights sold for £2.25m ($4m). Mr. Taylor is due to tour the U.S. in June.
Self-published author, Vanessa Davis Griggs has signs a two-book contract with BET/New Spirit. Her first release, PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN, a reissue of her self-published book of the same title, will be released in February 2004.
Retaining rights such as translation and audio-recording rights, is not usually a problem, even for first-time authors. However, retaining other rights, such as rights to electronic publishing and electronic versions, can be difficult, if not near-impossible battles. (I can't say "impossible" battles because you always the option of retaining all rights; it's just that you might never be published in that case.)
Some magazines won't purchase articles/stories without electronic rights (which I would be very wary about selling), and some editors won't purchase stories that have been seen on the web, on the theory that they're already 'published' and have lost some of their value. It's up to you whether you want to risk it -- most editors do seem to realize that the web audience and their print readership is very different, and are perfectly willing to purchase stories that have been on a home page. In my own experience, several editors have contacted me directly as a result of seeing my work on the web, so web publishing has been very profitable and rewarding for me.
Last Edit: Jun 23, 2005 20:49:03 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
What can you do to protect your rights? One way is to register your work with the Copyright Office. Another way is to register your work with the Writers Guild of America...
...you should write a notice stating that you are the creator of [name of your work] finished on such and such a day. You should put your work on a floppy disk; then take this notice, the floppy, and a printout of the first three or so pages (or your whole work, if it's not too large) to a notary public.
Most will not even consider your book if you've muddied the water by releasing or selling any rights to it.
Sure, there are exceptions. Some have self-published, then later made a deal with a major house. And the stories make grand reading. But there are not a lot of them.
Don't sell or release any of your rights to any of your work until absolutely convinced it is not salable to a major print publisher. Then, and only then, should you consider taking it to the Web and seeing what you can make happen.
You will lose first rights as Margaret told you ...
Mesg #1754 "RE: Need a source for" Author: bonniers Date: Fri Oct-29-04 09:17 AM
This lawyer's guess was that the real issue in the publisher's eyes is that they're afraid something that's been put on the internet has either been put in the public domain, so they can no longer acquire the rights.
Last Edit: Jun 23, 2005 20:54:11 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
I really did make a publication offer, on behalf of Tor Books, to a writer named John Scalzi for a science fiction novel he had serialized on his web journal.
Neither John or I are entirely sure that this is the very first instance of a novel being snapped up by a major publisher based on its being posted to the web, but whether it is or not, I’m very happy with the deal.
Last Edit: Dec 6, 2005 21:18:56 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
If it has been published somewhere, perhaps on your website, the editor may still purchase the piece, although most will not. But that editor will now pay you for Second Rights. That means the piece has been published before…it’s a reprint. Because of that, the pay is much much less. And many editors simply will not publish something that has been published, even for a limited readership. Think about that before you post your unsold story onto your website, or include your essay in the collection published privately by your writers group. You may very well be compromising your ‘First Rights’.
Question: I keep running into online writer's forums, filled with people who have uploaded stories to the web, but never published. Does anyone ever get discovered this way? OSC Replies: I don't think so. Or if they do, there's more to the story than that -- somebody had to recommend it to somebody else. The web is big, and few people who have any clout (i.e., publishers or editors) can afford time to go browsing stories that WEREN'T submitted to them.
Furthermore, if you put your story up on the web, that constitutes first publication. You can't then sell "first rights" to anybody, and first rights are usually all that anyone is willing to buy. Just a thought.
The only reason to upload a story on the web is if you're in a writing group online, and it's part of the commentary process. But to upload it for the general public, hoping to find readers -- that's publication.
(One word of advice: save First Electronic Rights for last. Because of the universality of the Internet, if your piece appears there first, many publications will not consider purchasing other rights to the piece.)
The first time a novel/article/story is published in any format first rights have been used. By this definition that includes self-publication to your own personal website. Technically you have used "first e-rights" and can no longer sell it as an unpublished story/article. This won't necessarily stop your article/story from being reprinted but if you sell it as an unpublished work and the publisher finds out it has been previously displayed on your website you might cause hard feelings that will keep the editor from using your work in the future. Honesty is the best policy here.
Once a story is printed on the web, first e-rights have been used but first print rights are still available.