Monday, December 13, 2010
Do You Need Permission?
I work with a number of first-time authors who ask me about whether they need to gather permissions for their work. While I am not a lawyer (the first thing that I remind them), in most cases they do not need to get permission. Now if it is a poem or a song, then it is likely they do need permission because of how those forms are treated in the marketplace. If they are quoting a few sentences from a full-length book and refer to the source, it is unlikely that they need to get permission from the publisher.
Recently I read Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry’s new book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It…Successfully! This book is loaded with sound advice on many areas of the publishing process–including permissions. As they write on page 212, “Don’t start getting permissions too soon, because you don’t want to waste your time or money. However, since it often takes a while to track down a pesky permission–and all permissions should be handed in with your finished manuscript–we suggest the following process:
“1. Break your permissions into three piles. Definites, Maybes, Unlikelies. Track down all sourcing and contact information for the Definites as early as possible. Get prices and any necessary forms. This will help you guesstimate total costs and figure out how much you’ll have left over for the Maybes and Unlikelies.”
“2. Don’t pay for a thing until you’re sure what’s going in your book. This way, you won’t wind up spending money on a Definite that turns out to be an Unlikely.”
Then Eckstut and Sterry include a length section about what needs permission. This discussion is tied to the over 30 pages from The Chicago Manual of Style on the topic of fair use (a legal term related to the amount of material you can use from a source without asking permission. Here’s the critical sentences on page 213, “It’s okay for us to quote 122 words from The Chicago Manual because that’s a tiny percentage of its total word count (the book could double as a doorstop). However, if you took 122 words out of a 200-word poem, you must get permission to reprint it–unless, of course, it’s in the public domain. And don’t forget, composers’ and poets’ estates are notorious for going after people who abuse copyright law.”
Also Eckstut and Sterry include a fascinating story called The Pangs of Permissions: Acquiring permissions requires the patience of Job and the persistence of a pit bull. When she began writing A Thousand years over a Hot Stove, a book with more than 100 photographs and illustrations, Laura Schenone was ill-prepared for the amount of work permissions required. Not to mention the pounding her pocketbook took in the process.”
“Laura was presented with an unexpected challenge. Many of the people she was dealing with would sell her rights only for the first printing of her book. ‘My editor told me this would be 7,500 copies,’ she says. ‘When I bought the permissions, I wanted to up this number to 10,000 to 15,000 copies to be sure I was covered. But sometimes the fees as much as doubled.'”
“Laura’s story illustrates the importance of understanding permission costs before signing a deal or developing a project. That said, Laura couldn’t be happier that she wrote her book permissions and all. A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove went on to win a James Beard Award, the Pulitzer Prize of food writing.”
Eckstut and Sterry include a sample permission form in an appendices (page 448). I’ve only shown one little area this book covers many other topics with great depth and valuable insight. I recommend this book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published–and in the process of writing this entry, hopefully I’ve shown you a little bit about the permission process.
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The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published offers authors advice on how to write, sell and market their books successfully.
I really enjoyed this book. The information is offered a in concise and entertaining manner, which not only makes it easy to read, but fun as well. This material could be pedantic and heavy, but it really comes across as interesting and light-hearted in the hands of these authors. Even though I don’t plan to write or publish a book, I found the information fascinating. I’ll never really know how hard authors work, but after going through this book, I have a better idea. They have my upmost respect.
While the book is geared towards helping authors, it contains lots of information regarding the writing and publishing process that others (for example, book lovers) may find interesting. It covers topics such as: submitting the book, self-publishing, working with contracts, touring, selling your book and much, much more. There’s also several appendices with invaluable information for the author, including a list of selected publishers and contact names.
The book was first published in 2005, but this recent edition includes a new chapter on social networking sites and all things online. There’s tons of information for authors as well as others who use those online sites.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Workman Publishing website.
Would you like a peek inside? There are a couple of chapters online: Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.
For more information about the authors and other cool stuff, please visit Eckstut and Sterry’s website.
Writer Gets a Chance at Pitchapalooza!
Posted on 12/08/2010 by Suzanne Wells
I practiced and practiced my pitch. I prepared supper for the kids, paced the kitchen floor and read and recited the pitch for my book in…ONE MINUTE! I got it down, I did – in 60 seconds. Nerve wracking for an author let me tell you!
This is the requirement to stand before a panel of judges from the publishing industry at Pitchapalooza, an American Idol concept for writers. Give your pitch in ONE MINUTE, and make it tantalizing, breathtaking and rapturous!
I’ve been writing this book for years. I’ve toiled and payed in blood, sweat and tears to get those words on the page – right. My kids have lived and breathed this thing with me. My laptop looks like its seen it – ALL. The keys have been tapped so many times, that this is a computer that’s LIVED. Lived it all.
And so has my book; since its a memior. A memior that fuses ‘Eat, Pray & Love” with “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest“; with guitar and vocals. I did make the panel of judges cry, and I my heart pings for that; BUT HAVE NO FEAR cuz’ Woody Allen directs this little play I’ve been living and writing about.
So, I marched up that podium, heart racing, hands shaking, sweat at my temples and gave it to them; my life, my book, my heart: in ONE MINUTE.
And I did it. I said it just like I practiced. I finished, caught my breath, steadied my shaking hands and looked at the panel. There was a pause, a silence so deep I thought I might jump right into that void and rest a while. I wondered if one of them was disguised as Simon Cowell and I’d be headed to the doors any minute now, half-devastated and half-dancing for joy with thoughtful guidance that will make me better writer. They seem like nice people, my sisterly self whispers in my head to cheer me.
More silence then: “You made my wife cry” from one of the judges. Oh my Gosh, I think, I’ve been crying all the way through this thing. Now she’s crying! Maybe we should OM together or something. She should read my book. It has tips on this sort of thing. Like how to breathe when your crying.
“One Wing the Book”, does make you cry. And it makes you laugh too. It may make you sing as well. It will make you look at yourself and your life and locate all kinds of beautiful things you may have needed to remember. That’s what happened to me when I lived it. That’s why I made the choice to write it.
There were so many great writers and ideas that night. So much art and talent and love for writing. It was inspiring and lovely to be among like-minded artists gathering in a group, in reverence for their art.
I’m glad I came, I thought, as sat in the audience and I listened to the other authors give their pitches. The panel offered hints and ideas for us to move along, in this morphing world of publishing.
Then, they were ready to announce the winner. Big drum roll, authors poised, we all gaze up like little chicks: waiting, praying, hoping for a chance from the Mother hen. Then…
“Suzanne Wells is the winner tonight.“ It was surreal. The crowd looks my way and transforms with rising sounds of well wishes and pats on the shoulder for congratulations. A tribe! A tribe of writers wishing me well! So nice to be part of tribe of like-minded people collected in art. I always wanted to be part of a tribe. I write all about it in my book.
Then, I head up to the panel and I have this weird experience. Suddenly I hear the music from the Miss America Pageant playing on the speakers in my head! Startling! Then I imagine a gem-med crown floating in the air above my head! I smell the fragrant roses I’m carrying! I smile big.
I did win. And I cried – again! Uggh! Then I went home and kissed my kids.
“Mommy won something.” I whispered as I kissed them goodnight. Their eyes opened like saucers.
“You d-i-i-i d?!
“I did. I won a chance, for a better life, for that book I’ve been writing…and for us.” They smiled like Santa Clause was coming. They’ve watched me write this book; lived the hours invested in it with me. Our eyes met and I took in their shiny faces. My heart stirred. They were genuinely happy for me. Kids who can feel you. I raised kids who can feel you, I thought. This is a good thing. Hope returned.
“Work hard, remember your dreams, don’t ever give up on your self. Your good kids – the best! We’re going to be alright.“ I kissed their heads, tucked them in their blankets, so they would sleep warm and sound.
Then I padded up the stairs and wondered about that crown.
Great pitch for memoir about being thrown into a Mexican prison.
The Book Doctors will make a house call in San Francisco, and they want YOU to PITCH your BOOK at their Pitchapalooza.
It’s like American Idol for books, only without the Simon. Writers get one minute to pitch their book ideas to a once-in-a-lifetime All-Star cast of publishing experts. Joining them this evening are Chris Baty, Founder of NaNoWriMo and author of No Plot? No Problem! and Laura Mazer, Managing Editor of Counterpoint.
Plus: every writer who buys a book at The Booksmith will receive a free consultation with The Book Doctors, a $100 value!
The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza, Long Island #17: White Knuckles, Crime & Punishment, and Transcendent Triumph in Long Island
We hope and pray you never get stuck on Northern Blvd. in Long Island during rush hour when you have to be at your bookstore event by 7. It plum wears you out. It took us longer to travel 10 miles in Long Island than it did to get from New Jersey to Great Neck. At 6:48 David was into full-blown white-knuckle mode, and the knots in Arielle neck had migrated into her belly. Naturally, when we finally arrived, there was nowhere to park. But we finally slammed out of the car, and ran the two blocks back to the bookstore.
The second we entered Book Revue, all anxiety melted away. It was packed beyond the gills, ripe and swollen with 250 writers just waiting for us to hear them pitch their books. It was an absolute mob scene. From 12-year-olds to 90-year-olds, pierced to permed, ex-junkie to a man who’s run marathons in every state.
We were again blessed with a fantastic panel: James Levine, founder of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, author, golfer, and a man who’s helped dozens and dozens and dozens of writers, thinkers and businessmen become successfully published authors; and one of the great book dudes in the business, Mauro DiPreta, Executive Editor at It Books/HarperCollins, who has shepherd mega-bestsellers like Marley and Me onto the New York Times bestseller list. Oh, and he’s also a children’s book author. Not only are these men spectacularly articulate about the book business, they both have a ribald sense of humor. It was kind of like getting to have Derek Jeter and Tom Brady both on your team.
And then it was ON! A rhyming scratch’n’sniff pitch. A weight loss pitch with a bold new twist. A literary novel that was somehow Portnoy’s Complaint meeting Crime and Punishment. Swami Pajamananda dispensing equal parts spiritual wisdom and comedy. The winner gave a beautiful pitch about plunging from business executive to homeless heroin addict. Arielle had welled up by the end of the pitch. The whole thing was yet another vivid illustration of just how many Americans, from every walk of life imaginable, have books inside them that they desperately want to share with the world. Looking out over that vast sea of aspiring writer faces, our hearts and minds were filled with a real sense of happy accomplishment.
The pitches went by so fast, all of a sudden it was 8:30–time to wrap it up. Only about 20 people got pitch, and an audible groan came up from the crowd when we announced our last pitcher. But we offered up a new deal: anyone who buys a copy of our book gets a free consultation, and this seemed to soothe the savage beast. Julianne, the events coordinator, who was in large part responsible for getting the word out about this event, whisked us upstairs to a signing table. The line to buy the book literally went around two different corners and down a flight of stairs.
We ended up selling 100 books. If you’ve never actually tried to sell a book, that might not seem like much. But this is a niche reference book, on a Thursday night, in the middle of Long Island. It was the closest we’ve come to being Justin Bieber.
Spent and drained, but gratified and ecstatic, we hauled our asses back to Montclair, New Jersey. In half the time it took us to get to Long Island. But we were reminded how the hundreds and hundreds of hours spent writing the book, sending out the e-mails, putting together the website, the often dull, tedious, frankly painful work that’s gone into making and marketing this book, can sometimes, when the stars line up just right, lead to a transcendent triumph that lifts the spirit high, higher, highest.
From Author Enablers, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry…
“We have a time-honored tradition of providing our readers with gift book suggestions from noted authors. This year, we’ve decided to put in our own two cents with a list of the very best books—some new and some classics—for the writer in your life, even if that writer is you.
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry is an updated version of Putting Your Passion into Print, a book we’ve recommended before. Eckstut and Sterry leave no stone unturned in this comprehensive look at the current landscape of publishing.”
For the rest of the list, go to Book Page.
Thanks once again to Huff Po! And thanks to the Book Maven for guiding us through our first live Twitter event, and leading us into the Future.