The “right” clause depends on many factors – there is no “one size fits all” – so be vigilant and pay attention, and make the right business decision for you and your book.
Today’s big take-away lesson is this: pay attention to the grant of rights, and know what rights you’re agreeing to give your publisher. A proper grant of rights lays the foundation for a positive, long-term business relationship between the author and the publisher – and that, of course, is good for everyone.
Many of our Writers in the Grove members publish and share their work on our website here, often a first step toward publishing elsewhere such as on other websites, magazines, newspapers, and books.
According to many authors and publishing experts, one of the first things a professional writer needs to learn is what their publishing rights are, though it is often the last thing learned, usually after much confusion and frustration.
Writing is an art form, and professional writing is a business. There are business standards and practices. There are contracts, agreements, guidelines, and policies. You need to be professional in your writing and writing submissions.
Among all the things you need to learn before sending your work out into the world, you need to begin with understanding your publishing rights, the rights that determine who owns your work, how, where, and when it may be published, and how these rights influence your income from your written words.
Copyright and Trademark
To begin, let’s address the first two rights for writers, two that come with some confusion: the difference between copyright and trademark. When someone abuses your copyright or trademark, it is legally called a violation of your intellectual property. Both are intellectual property rights you will deal with constantly in your professional writing career.
Trademark protects brands and brand names. As a writer, you could choose to register your brand and author name, or the title of a book series, not the book title itself, as a trademark, protecting it from abuse and misuse, but that is a discussion for your legal professionals as you step through your career.
J.K. Rowling has long history of legal battles to protect Harry Potter and its entertainment empire. Some of those legal actions were over the trademark name of “Harry Potter,” “muggles,” and “Hogwarts,” including use of the name in fansite website addresses. Apple, Coca Cola, and many businesses protect their trademark name and brand by preventing trademark violations such as these. You are not allowed to use those names in your domain name or within your creative work unless it complies with their trademark rules and guidelines, or you receive legal permission, commonly called a license. (more…)