The Business of Writing

JK Rowling sues former employee for £24,000

10 November 2018

From the BBC:

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has launched a £24,000 legal claim against a former employee for allegedly using her money to go on shopping sprees.

Ms Rowling, 53, claims Amanda Donaldson broke strict working rules by using her funds to buy cosmetics and gifts.

Ms Donaldson worked as a personal assistant for the writer between February 2014 and April 2017, before being sacked for gross misconduct.

. . . .

Legal papers lodged at Airdrie Sheriff Court allege Ms Donaldson wrongly benefited to a value of £23,696.32 by spending on a business credit card and taking Harry Potter merchandise.

. . . .

It is claimed Ms Donaldson had responsibility for funds and was provided with a credit card for buying items in connection with business and personal affairs only.

She had to submit statements and receipts once a month to the accountants and also had access to a safe containing foreign money.

But discrepancies were picked up in February last year on statements revealing a high volume of personal spending by Ms Donaldson.

She had a meeting with an accountant to discuss use of the card and was suspended.

Ms Rowling has alleged Ms Donaldson made a series of unauthorised payments, including:

  • £823 at Bibi Bakery
  • £1,482 at luxury candle company Jo Malone
  • £3,629 in cosmetic firm Molton Brown
  • £2,139 in card shop Paper Tiger
  • £1,636 in Starbucks.

Ms Rowling also claims Ms Donaldson, who controlled memorabilia requests from fans, used her position to steal a Harry Potter motorised Hogwarts Express worth £467.56, a Harry Potter Wizard Collection worth £2231.76 and a Harry Potter Tales of Beedle The Bard Set worth £395.

. . . .

It is alleged Ms Donaldson bought two cats worth £1,200.

Link to the rest at the BBC

Getting To The Stories You Love

9 November 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

One of the comments I heard the most at this year’s Business Master Class was a bit wistful. And the comment usually came in a discussion about something else.

  • I sure would like to get to the place where I can do what you folks do: where I can write what I love.
  • As soon as this [insert detail] is over, I might be able to write what I love.
  • Writers who write what they love are really lucky. Sure wish I could get there.

Over and over and over again. Those phrases have been going round and round in my head, partly because I have a lot of compassion for the speakers, and partly in conjunction with other things that have happened this past year.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post on burnout.  It, and the subsequent posts, got reprinted in the magazine for the Romance Writers of America, the Romance Writers Report or the RWR. I got a lot of email from the original blog posts and from the RWR reprint. I had hit a nerve.

I was aware of the nerve, but not thinking about it too much, except to realize that so many writers were on the hamster wheel of doom—trying very hard to write more and more and more to make the same amount of money they had made a few years ago. We’re in a mature market now, and the highs aren’t as high (and the lows aren’t as low). Things do change, sometimes daily, in this new world of publishing, but the business models remain the same.

Dean and I have also been planning a new series of online courses which we call the Futures courses. We learned long ago that most writers don’t look very far ahead in their careers. Writers have no idea how to sustain a career past the first few years. That kind of long-term career takes not only planning, but a certain mindset, which some writers never learn.

. . . .

It’s also not fun to do something because you have to do it or lose everything. It’s better to do something because you want to, or you have hit that point in your career (or in life) that makes a change possible.

As Dean and I planned  these futures workshops, we had discussion after discussion about what’s going on in indie publishing right now. In addition to the burnout, lots of writers who were the early adapters of self-publishing have disappeared. They quit, pulled their books down (!), pulled down their websites, and moved onto other things.

Even the early gurus of self-publishing have either given up or gone back to traditional publishing in whole or in part. Considering how outspoken some of them were about the evils of traditional publishing, you (I) have to wonder what caused the shift. And the silence. None of them are blogging any more.

I suspect I know. Because Dean and I have been around forever, we’ve seen a lot of writers come and go. In traditional publishing, the average length of a writer’s active career is about ten years. That clock usually starts with the first major professional sale, and ends when the writer either can’t handle the crazy of traditional publishing any more and/or when the writer can no longer sell a book to any traditional publisher due to a variety of factors (including but not limited to declining sales numbers, burnout, difficulty of working with the author, burnout, difficulty of working with the publisher, burnout).

. . . .

The thing Dean and I have come to realize is that indie careers have a shelf life as well. Most indie writers seem to be disappearing after five to six years of really hard work.

Much of that is burnout. Some of it, though, is that hamster wheel of doom and the mature market. When a market is new, it’s in a boom cycle and everyone gets rich. When a market is mature, it’s in a sustainable place where some get rich, while others make a healthy living, but nothing more.

The tricks of the boom cycle don’t work in the mature market, and making the shift to a different way of doing things is hard.

I’ve examined those things in the past, but the one thing I didn’t examine is a whole different side to the hamster wheel.

Writers who make a good living writing something they don’t want to be writing. Writers who aren’t writing what they love.

I think every long-term writer has gone through this phase, and the writers who end up with decades’ long careers have figured out a way through it.

. . . .

I’m seeing indies hit the same problems. Sure, they might have liked writing billionaire erotica a la Fifty Shades of Gray, but after a book every two months for the past five years, writing that subgenre has gotten old. And the indies find themselves in the place that Dean (and I) found ourselves in years ago: they’re making such a good living at what they’re doing that walking away is hard.

Or walking away will be detrimental to their families. I was single when I quit writing nonfiction. The only person who might have gotten hurt when I cut my expenses and took a day job was me. At that point, I rented an unfurnished apartment and couldn’t afford to buy a couch. I lived with one living room chair and a futon on the floor for a year—not something someone with a spouse and two kids can do.

That trapped feeling—the feeling that you have to keep writing this particular thing, whatever it is, no matter what—makes everything worse. You got into writing for the love, and now it’s no fun at all, but you need the income.

You are trapped by your success and that’s harder to get away from than being trapped by failure.

. . . .

The one option that is not sustainable, however, is to continue writing books you no longer enjoy writing with no way to get to writing what you love. At some point, you’ll have to add in writing books of the heart. If you don’t, you’ll burn out and vanish like so many indies before you.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

As PG previously mentioned, he spent an enjoyable week in October attending and presenting at the Business Master Class conference mentioned in the OP, organized by Kris and her husband, author Dean Wesley Smith. In addition to their writing, Kris and Dean regularly hold workshops on various topics for authors. See WMG Workshops for more information.

PG has a couple of responses to the OP.

Where is the Revolution Today?

The Passive Voice sprang from PG’s fevered brain in 2011. Since its beginning, PG has uploaded almost 18,000 posts, proof that a little OCD can go a long way.

The first post on TPV was titled, Imagine There are No Bookstores , based on a now-disappeared post by a small publisher which discussed Amazon ebooks and their potential impact on traditional publishing and bookselling.

This post appeared in February, 2011, the same month that the Borders bookstore chain filed for bankruptcy. This bankruptcy would remove 650 large bookstores from the market within a very short span of time. Publishers large and small took large writeoffs for books Borders had sold but would never pay for.

In the previous year, 2010, Amazon reported $14.9 billion in book sales.

In 2010, Barnes & Noble had 720 trade bookstores plus 637 college bookstores (acquired in 2009). Barnes & Noble launched its ebookstore in 2009 as well.

Barnes & Noble reported 2010 sales from its trade bookstores of $4.3 billion, down 4.5% from the prior year.

In 2018, Barnes & Noble, still the largest bookstore chain in the US, continues its long decline.

In 2018, Barnes & Noble had 630 trade bookstores. Barnes & Noble spun out its college bookstores into a separate independent business in 2015.

Barnes & Noble reported fiscal 2018 (April 2017-April 2018) retail sales of  $3.5 billion, down 5.4% from the prior year.

Amazon no longer publishes its book sales numbers in its annual reports to securities regulators or elsewhere that PG was able to locate, likely because, compared to the rest of Amazon’s sales, book sales are not large enough to be material from a financial point of view.

The Bookseller reported that Amazon’s 2017 revenues from book sales were up 46% in the UK.

In sum, the retail book business today is increasingly centered on Amazon.

Physical retail bookstores are in a continuing long decline. Publishers Weekly reports that, in 1991, there were 11 US bookstore chains that had 13 or more outlets, with total outlets topping 3,000. In 2017, the five chains on Publisher Weekly’s book chain list had 1,076 outlets. Just since 2011 the store count has fallen by 32%.

PG is going to cut off his expatiations at this point and continue them in another post.

Suffice to say, PG doesn’t believe that the revolution is over for authors and publishers. Electronic and communications technologies will continue to grow apace over at least the next several years and the population at large will continue to want stories, so the future is still bright for storytellers.





How Do We Measure Commercial Success in Publishing?

31 October 2018

From Publishing Perspectives:

Given all the problems, how is it that publishers rarely go broke? Even if they’re losing money, invariably someone steps in to buy them. Of course the purchaser may be mad, but the big publishing acquirers are themselves still in business and by all accounts performing well.

So what is the trick and how do we measure commercial success? There seem to me to be five measures, all important but all with shortcomings.

When you ask a literary agent or an author how well a book is doing the answer is usually measured in number of copies sold—either large to show excellence or small, the publisher’s lack of marketing effort. Of course numbers of copies is now a fairly meaningless measure, except to emblazon on the covers of bestselling novelists, as it’s perfectly easy to sell tens of thousands of copies as an ebook at one cent each.

Even when the books are sold at a reasonable price, the numbers may well camouflage an outrageously high advance or huge imminent returns from retailers, either of which would lay the publisher low. I remember a distinguished publisher telling me with pride that one of her books had sold 70,000 hardbacks. I discovered later that 65,000 copies were returned and the advance was £400,000 (US$513,000). The resulting loss was greater than the profit made on many a successful commercial novel.

A better measure, of course, is net sales value and it’s certainly true that increasing sales revenue is a good thing in most cases—but not when the increased sales are made by absurdly high discounts to retailers or by dumping stock and destroying a market.

And so we move on to profit, the measure most focused on by publishing managers at all levels and in all departments.

Not everyone understands profit. Highly intelligent journalists and politicians confuse profit and sales when discussing how little tax some corporations pay. The problem with profit as a measure is that it can be subjective. How publishers account for stock, authors’ advances, capital expenditure on computers and warehouses, plus central overhead allocation—all can distort profitability in one direction or another.

Of course, the single biggest beneficiary of overstating profitability in the UK is Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs agency, and the reason profitability is so important is that governments use it to calculate taxation.

No truly independent business would use profit as the key measure of success.

. . . .

Arguably the only thing that matters is cash generation and publishers are pretty good at generating cash as, by and large, there’s little need for significant capital expenditure. We don’t need to build factories or have huge non-revenue-generating R&D departments (unless we view editorial as that). And so any surpluses generated by sales of books should turn into cash as long as the surplus isn’t eaten up by over-printing and unrecoverable advances.

But building up cash reserves is not in itself an indication of success.

What really matters, in my opinion, is the building up of publishing assets—the author contracts in filing cabinets (or preferably on a secure hard disc), the licenses, the distribution arrangements, the brand value of imprints.

Of course, these assets are hard to value. With a public company, the share price is some indication, but we all know that financial markets are imperfect and are affected by short-term external factors and sentiment. With private companies, there’s not even that objective approximation.

It’s precisely because asset value is so hard to measure that it rarely gets the attention it deserves but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Truly understanding asset value is what distinguishes a good publisher.

A favorite example is Penguin’s acquisition of Frederick Warne in 1983. I don’t have access to its accounts back then but I’ll wager that sales were static, profits were minimal, cash generation was zero. Frederick Warne did however have an asset: Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series and a few others), which Peter Mayer recognized as a publishing jewel ready for commercialization.

The asset value of Frederick Warne was hugely greater than any of the traditional measures of success would have indicated. Both Peter Mayer and Peter Rabbit emerged triumphant.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

As regular visitors will have noted, this business relationship between the author and publisher generates far more money for the publisher than the author.

Copyright Savvy

27 October 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Gloria and Emilio Estefan have an estimated net worth of 700 million dollars. Jimmy Buffett has an estimated net worth of 550 million dollars.

What do those artists have in common? They kept control of the copyrights to their songs. They maintained control of those copyrights starting in the 1970s, when other musicians signed away those rights because they were told that to keep those rights was a deal breaker.

Both Buffett and the Estefans walked from deals that wouldn’t allow them control. They understood the value of hanging onto the work they created—and they eventually learned how to leverage those works into a variety of other businesses.

. . . .

For example, Buffett maintained the rights to “Margaritaville,” which was such a major hit in 1977 that it seemed to be on the radio 24/7. Songs that sold better in 1977 aren’t even played much anymore, including “Undercover Angel” (yeah, that song), and “Best of My Love.” Yet “Margaritaville” has spawned restaurants, hotels, and casinos, as well as a tequila brand, beach wear, and shoes, among other things.

And Buffett didn’t just expand his empire with that one song. For example, he now has a bunch of bars named for a hit song he had with Alan Jackson called “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

The licensing and business opportunities don’t keep Buffett from pursuing his art. He still writes songs, and tours, playing music and managing his empire (which has more than 5,000 employees).

All because he was both savvy enough and desperate enough to hang onto his copyrights.

Fiction writers who are traditionally published rarely hang onto their copyrights these days. It’s almost impossible to do so and sell a book into traditional publishing. The contracts have changed so much from the 20th century that writers are essentially signing their rights away just to get $5000 and the chance to see their books “in print.”

. . . .

But with the disappearance of major bookstore chains, and the decreased distribution of paper books, as well as the downward sales trend of overpriced ebooks, you’d think that traditional publishers would go the way of the Dodo, but they’re not.

And why not?

Because their business model is changing.

The major traditional publishers, the ones we call the Big Five or Big Four or Big whatevers, are part of international conglomerates. And those conglomerates have become rapacious—not for works they can publish effectively—but for intellectual property.

Since the rise of Silicon Valley and the growth of venture capital in the past decade or so, intellectual property has become a valuable commodity. Technically, it was always a valuable commodity, but convincing courts and financiers of that used to be difficult as hell.

Not any longer.

In fact, the growth in IP (intellectual property) valuation—figuring out (guessing) how much a particular intellectual property will increase in value over the 70 years after the author dies—has become a business in and of itself.

. . . .

What the large traditional publishers are doing, though, isn’t copyright theft at all. They’re taking advantage of writers’ ignorance. They’re legitimately buying all of the licensing rights in a copyright, and hanging onto those rights for the term of the copyright. They are transferring value from the writer into their own traditional publishing company.

Publishers aren’t the only ones doing this. Major literary agencies are doing the same thing. Their contracts with writers call for a shared piece of the copyright of anything they represent, usually 15% of that copyright.

Fifteen percent of Jimmy Buffett’s net worth is 82.5 million dollars. And that’s in 2016 numbers. Who knows what 15% of his empire is worth in 2018 dollars.

. . . .

Those traditional publishing companies are gambling on the ignorance of the writers. The companies, remember, are small cogs in the gigantic wheel of a conglomerate. And those conglomerates aren’t just random compilations of unrelated businesses. Most of them are multimedia companies. They own gaming companies, TV networks, movie studios, and all kinds of other media companies that will allow them to easily activate parts of the copyright to a book that writers would normally sell separately.

These conglomerates want properties they can then turn into franchises. Right now, the book publishing arms are terrible at knowing what kind of IP they actually have. For example, if there is suddenly a poodle craze across the U.S., most publishers have no idea if they have novels featuring poodles.

But give the companies a decade or so. I’ve already heard of employees coming into the companies to go through the IP and list the keywords about each property. At some point in the not-so-distant future, someone at a traditional publisher might hear about a poodle craze, and have an employee compile a list of all of the poodle IP in stock. Those books might be reissued or licensed for film or become graphic novels or t-shirts or stuffed animal poodles—and the authors might not see a dime from any of it, because of the contracts they’ve signed.

. . . .

So…while writers and editors are lamenting the possible demise of Barnes & Noble, and are actively wondering what will happen next to these “endangered” traditional publishers, the conglomerates that own those publishers are increasing in value with each book contract signed.

Traditional publishing as we knew it in the 20th century is long dead. The possible demise of Barnes & Noble is just a last gasp of the old order disappearing.

Traditional publishing in the 21st century shouldn’t even have the word “publishing” attached to its name. The publishing part is skimped over, so that the asset gets activated. Then it becomes part of the company’s portfolio.

Personally, I’d rather keep my own copyrights and control of my own work.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

$400M Fiction Giant Wattpad Wants To Be Your Literary Agent

1 October 2018

From Forbes:

It took a less than an hour in 2013 for Anna Todd to change her life. The Army wife and part-time babysitter had spent a lot of time reading fan fiction, stories by amateur writers about existing fictional universes and real-life celebrities. So her erotic tale about Tessa and Hardin—a wholesome college freshman and a tattooed bad boy who is a thinly veiled stand-in for singer Harry Styles—came together quickly when she sat down to type the first chapter of After on her phone. Todd posted it to Wattpad, one of the world’s largest destinations for online reading and writing.

After has since been read more than 1.5 billion times on Wattpad. It’s now a bestselling book series, with 11 million copies sold after Wattpad brokered a mid-six-figure deal for Todd with Simon & Schuster. She fully credits Wattpad with getting her in the door. “If I had sent After to any publisher, there’s no way they would have even read it,” says Todd, 29. Wattpad got paid for its work, taking an estimated 15% of Todd’s book earnings–about what a typical literary agent would charge—and it’s also a producer of the After movie that began production in June. The lucrative evolution from Wattpad post to mainstream book to Hollywood movie is precisely what Wattpad wants to see more of.

“We had built the audience for the writers, the platform for them to share their stories,” says Wattpad cofounder Allen Lau, 50. “But we did have the idea, ‘Hey, we have millions of stories already. Perhaps we can expand that.’”

Wattpad’s 65 million active users (most of them women under 30) spend 383 million hours a month on its site and its mobile apps, reading pieces like “Brave,”a yarn about the Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom, and “Taking Selfies and Overthrowing the Patriarchy With Kim Kardashian.” Wattpad has more than 4 million writers, who post an average of 300,000 pieces a day. The company brings in an estimated $19 million in revenue, mostly from ads on its site and from stories sponsored by companies like Unilever who want to advertise alongside a specific writer or genre. Nearly all its writers are unpaid; several hundred make money from ad-sharing revenue and 200 of those also earn from writing sponsored content and inking publishing deals with Wattpad. That lean business model means Wattpad is profitable. It has few costs beyond bandwidth, its 130 employees and the Toronto offices. The model “is a great way to seek talent without having to pay huge amounts for it,” says Lorraine Shanley, a publishing industry consultant.

. . . .

Since Wattpad doesn’t own the rights to the stories on its site, it’s morphing into a talent agency for its authors, cutting out the famously fragmented and high-touch world of literary agents. By bypassing the middle man, Wattpad can funnel the most popular pieces directly to book publishers and TV and movie studios while taking a cut of the authors’ deals.

. . . .

Lau and Yuen weren’t the only ones plunging into digital fiction., where EL James wrote the stories that became Fifty Shades, had launched in 1998. But rarely updated its site as the Web evolved, and it still looks pretty much like a Web 2.0 message board. Traditional publishers have tried their hand, too. In 2008, HarperCollins launched Authonomy, where users could upload manuscripts and editors would read the five highest-rated stories each month. By the time the site shut down in 2015, the publisher had picked up 47 books for publication. Macmillan’s five-year-old Swoon Reads plans to release 22 titles in 2018, but with more than 70,000 users and 700 manuscript uploads, its reach is far smaller than Wattpad’s.

Wattpad has not only the bigger size but also the burning desire to avoid another of’s errors: letting a craze like Fifty Shades happen without getting a piece. To that end, Wattpad has put together more than 100 book deals for its authors over the past four years (not including foreign rights deals), likely collecting the typical 15% commission of a literary agent.

Link to the rest at Forbes



4 Ways Busy People Sabotage Themselves

25 September 2018

From The Harvard Business Review:

You’ve left an important task undone for weeks. It’s hanging over you, causing daily anxiety. And yet instead of actually doing it, you do a hundred other tasks instead.

Or you’ve been feeling guilty about not replying to an email, even though replying would only take 10 minutes.

Or maybe the last time you needed stamps, you went to the post office to buy a single stamp because you couldn’t find the 100-pack you purchased a few months ago. You know it’s around… somewhere. But you just don’t have the time to clean your desk to find it.

. . . .

1. You keep ploughing away without stepping back and prioritizing.

When we’re busy and stressed, we often default to working on whatever has the most imminent deadline, even if it’s not particularly important. Stress causes our focus to narrow to the point where we’re just keeping going, like a hamster on a wheel. We respond to emails and go through the motions of getting things done, without actually stepping back and considering what’s most important to work on. You might find yourself spending several hours on a task that wasn’t that important to begin with, even though you have a mountain of other things to be doing.

The solution is to step back and work on tasks that are important but not urgent. Use the “pay yourself first” principle to do items that are on your priority list first, before you jump to responding to other people’s needs. You might not be able to follow this principle every day, but aim to follow it for several days of the week.

. . . .

4. You use avoid or escape methods for coping with anxiety.

People who are overloaded will have a strong impulse to avoid or escape anxiety. Avoidance could be putting off a discussion with your boss or avoiding telling a friend you can’t make it to her wedding. Escape could be rushing into an important decision, because you want to escape needing to think about it further. This can lead to a pattern of excessively delaying some decisions and making others impulsively. Avoidance and escape can also take other forms — an extra glass of wine (or three) after work, binge-watching TV, or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It might even be ticking less-important things off your to-do list to avoid the urgent task that’s making you anxious.

If you want to deal constructively with situations that trigger anxiety for you, you’ll need to engineer some flexibility and space into your life so that you can work through your emotions and thoughts when your anxiety is set off. With practice, you’ll start to notice when you’re just doing something to avoid doing something else.

Link to the rest at The Harvard Business Review

Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Against CBS Over Pre-1972 Recordings

5 September 2018

From The Hollywood Reporter:

CBS Radio must again contend with a lawsuit brought by ABS Entertainment, owner of recordings by Al Green and others. On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wiped out an eye-opening 2016 summary judgment ruling by a trial court in CBS’ favor that raised the prospect that music owners could enjoy perpetual copyright because remastered versions were independently copyrightable. In the decision, the appeals court concludes that the judge shouldn’t have ruled so quickly for CBS and casts doubt on whether remastered sound recordings exhibit enough originality to be copyrightable.

For decades, radio broadcasters didn’t have to compensate sound recordings owners for performance.

But then, owners of older recordings — those authored before Congress conferred federal copyright protection for sound recordings — asserted claims of misappropriation under state laws. Like SiriusXM and Pandora, CBS Radio has faced a wrath of litigation for broadcasting iconic songs from the dawn of the rock era.

In response to the lawsuit, CBS made a bold and novel argument. The broadcaster made the point that older recordings were mainly distributed through vinyl, and what the broadcaster now performs is really remastered versions, eligible for its own copyright protection. As such, any state misappropriation claim is preempted by federal law, and owners of pre-1972 recordings don’t have any claim for compensation.

. . . .

“We conclude that the district court erred in finding a lack of a genuine issue of material fact about the copyright eligibility of remastered sound recordings distributed by CBS and improperly concluded that ABS’s state copyright interest in pre-1972 sound recordings embodied in the remastered sound recordings was preempted,” he writes.

Judge Linn acknowledges that derivative works do enjoy independent copyrightability, but focuses the question on originality and whether the author of a derivative work has contributed something that is creative and easily recognizable as distinct from the original. He points to guidance from the U.S. Copyright Office that mere changes in format, declicking and noise reduction don’t warrant separate copyright protection.

. . . .

“If an allegedly derivative sound recording does not add or remove any sounds from the underlying sound recording, does not change the sequence of the sounds, and does not remix or otherwise alter the sounds in sequence or character, the recording is likely to be nothing more than a copy of the underlying sound recording and is presumptively devoid of the original sound recording authorship required for copyright protection,” states the opinion . . . . “Such a work lacks originality.”

. . . .

The trial judge is faulted for placing too much reliance on CBS’ musicologist expert who attempted to explain how listeners of remastered versions would perceive changes to timbre, spatial imagery, sound balance and loudness. The 9th Circuit derides these bits as “technical improvements,” and while devoting some space to credit the contributions of recording engineers and producers, the panel of judges are leery of extending copyright too far.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

In addition to the obvious copyright law implications, the OP reminded PG of the sometimes substantial difference between the copyright attitudes of West Coast creative individuals and the organizations they work with and those of comparable (at least with respect to copyright) East Coast individuals and organizations.

West Coast creatives (and their lawyers) tend to be much more persnickety and obsessive about the nature of copyrights and the scope of rights granted by a copyright holder. This is why West Coast copyright disputes – often related to music and movies – tend to be litigated with some frequency (by intellectual property standards).

OTOH, East Coast creators – often authors of books or other writings – and their advisors tend to be more blasé about grants of rights based upon their copyrights.

For example, the typical Big Publishing publishing contract grants extremely broad rights to the publisher for the full term of the copyright with an extraordinarily low bar for the publisher’s reciprocal obligations to the creator. If the publisher pays the agreed-upon advance and publishes a copy of the author’s book, the publisher has essentially locked up a wide range of rights to the book and derivative works arising therefrom for the rest of the author’s life plus 70 years in the US.

PG has used geography to distinguish between two different habits of copyright-based businesses, not to disparage anyone for where they live or work, but rather to contrast what have become the common practices with respect to creators in the movie and music industry (West Coast) and those in the traditional publishing industry – books and periodicals (East Coast).

While differences in West Coast media and East Coast media are substantial and the comparison is not completely fair, PG notes that typical working creatives involved in West Coast copyright-based industries are likely to earn more money from their creations than typical working creatives in East Coast industries relying on copyrighted creations.

While starving screenwriters are not hard to find in Los Angeles, starving authors are also common in New York.

But PG could be completely wrong. Commenters are, as usual, free to dissent or identify factors PG has foolishly overlooked in his maunderings.

9 Pieces of Bad Publishing Advice New Writers Should Ignore

3 September 2018

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

Social Media is both a boon and a curse to new writers. Online writing groups and forums are an excellent source of insider information on the publishing industry—stuff we once could only find at expensive classes and writers’ conferences.

But social media is also a major source of misinformation and dangerously bad advice.

. . . .

1) If You Can’t Handle Rejection, Just Self-Publish.

This is one of the most common themes I see. Somebody asks a question about querying agents, like how long you should wait before you take silence as rejection (about 6 weeks), or is it okay to phone an agency to ask about the status of your query (no.)

Inevitably, somebody pipes up with a variation of: “I could never go through all that. Agent rejections are so painful. I’m just planning to self-publish when I finish my novel.”

I usually don’t say anything to these people. Bubble-bursting makes me feel like a meanie, and I can hope they’ll learn more about the process before they finish that book.

But if the poor dears do self-publish, they’d better pray they never get any reviews.

If you think agent rejections are hurtful, your first Goodreads review will send you into screaming agony.

Rejection is part of a writer’s job description. You’ll get it from reviewers, readers, editors, bookstore owners, advertising newsletters, and your brother-in-law. Get used to it.

In fact, learning to take rejection and criticism well should be listed as one of the top 10 skills every writer needs.

. . . .

3) Follow this/that Guru and Learn to Game Amazon.

This might be the saddest delusion of all. There have been some major “bestselling  gurus” who have FB groups or other more secret forums, where they teach new writers the “ropes” of gaming Amazon with book-stuffing, trading reviews, or joining pricey boxed sets that promise to make you a “USA Today Bestseller.”

These “gurus” often end up in court, but not before their followers have lost thousands of dollars and may have been kicked off Amazon for life.

Amazon is run by algorithms and bots, and the temptation to fool robots is high. But even if somebody is making major bux running circles around Amazon’s algorithms right now, you can be sure that Amazon will catch on eventually. Then you can be booted off the site—for life. No shopping. No using that gift card, or even your Prime video subscription.

Don’t tempt them. Amazon is not a videogame. Do not mess with the Mighty Zon.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

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