A Publisher's Conversations with Authors: Rights, Copyright -- Understanding What You Are Offering

 (photo by Frank Perez)

It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is--for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.

Today's topic is about an important understanding that many new authors do not have and that can make a huge difference in the long-term value of their book to them. What is the difference between copyright and rights? Sell the wrong thing, and you lose control over your book.

Here is the difference and the importance and implications:

- Copyright is what protects your book as being your work and your legal property. Selling the copyright (never do that--if a publisher asks to purchase copyright, run in the other direction) takes your work away from your permanently. While you may have written it now belongs to the person who purchased your copyright. Reputable publishers will never as to purchase your copyright.

- Rights are permission to use your book in various ways. You determine the ways in which your book may be used by the rights you sell. For example, you may want to sell the English (or your language) rights to a publisher and retain translation rights into other language for yourself or for sale to publishers working in foreign languages/countries. You may want to sell audio and digital rights--or you may want to retain those for yourself. You may want to sell movie rights or ancillary products rights--or you may want to retain those for yourself.

Always know what you are offering to sell and what you want to retain--and why. Here is where a good intellectual property rights lawyer can be of immense help. Never sign a contract without consulting one.

Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Know your rights!
The importance of understanding and delineating all the rights you can sell and deciding what rights you want to sell and to whom and what rights you want to retain ahead of approaching a publisher will lead to much easier and fruitful contract negotiations. Very important: never sell your copyright; you have invested too  much time and ego into your product to lose it.

Read more posts about publishing HERE.

The Tuesday talks reflect real discussions between the management of MSI Press LLC and our own authors or those would-be authors who come through our doors but don't make the cut--yet. If you have a topic you would like addressed, leave the question in the comment section. Chances are, in our 17 years of publishing first-time and experiences authors, we have had a conversation with one of our authors that we can share with you.


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