Saturday, September 24, 2016


The copyright law also offers protection for photographers and their photographs. Following are a few thing photographers need to know about that protection:

  1. Photographs are also protected for the author’s lifetime, plus 50 years. This has eliminated two major problems for the photographer. Now they no longer have to worry about the copyright running out on a photo while they are still alive and want to resell it. They are also relieved of the daunting task of keeping track of the copyright on each individual photo and being sure to renew the copyright after the first 28 years was up.
  2. Photographs can be registered prior to publication.
  3. Photographers no longer lose a copyright on a photo if the copyright notice is left off, lost, or written incorrectly. If such a mistake is made, they have five years to correct it before they lose the copyright.
  4. Having a photograph published in a book published in a foreign country does not jeopardize the photographer’s copyright in this country.
  5. Having a photograph shown in a public display is not considered “publication” unless the photo is sold at the showing, or other plans are made to distribute it in some way.
  6. Unless a photo has been registered, the owner cannot bring suit against anyone for using it.
  7. A contact sheet of several photos can be copyrighted under one $45 fee.
  8. Copyright ownership of a photograph is not determined by physical possession of the photograph nor by the fact that someone is the subject of a photograph.

Friday, September 23, 2016


           The following Websites will give you more information on copyrights:






Wednesday, September 21, 2016


What About Copyright Protection in Foreign Countries?

American writers do have copyright protection in foreign countries, but it is limited, and not necessarily the same as in the U.S. The U.S. is part of the Berne Convention—the oldest, most important, and effective multilateral treaty governing international copyright policy. You do not have to do anything to get this protection. It is automatic—just like U.S. copyright protection—when your piece reaches a tangible form.

The copyright protection each county affords is based on their own laws, so it varies. Most provide what is called “national treatment.” This basically means you will have the same protection the citizens of that country have. If you are distributing your work to a specific country, you may want to check out exactly what kind of protection you will have.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


What if someone does infringe on your copyright?

Although copyright infringement does not happen regularly, it does happen and there may be times you will need to know what to do. The fact that someone steals your material does not necessarily mean you will take action of any sort. Generally it depends on how much money is at stake. With the high cost of litigation, most writers will not even consider it unless a great deal of money is involved—such as a manuscript that is stolen and made into a movie.

I remember several years ago when word got around that a man from California was copying articles from Christian publications and trying to resell them to other magazines under his own byline. Unfortunately (for him), this is a relatively small market where many publishers buy reprints and before long editors and writers began to recognize the articles and stories he was offering. Eventually someone tracked down the man and knew where he lived, but because the amount of money he was making off the stolen material was minimal, no one ever took him to court. He eventually just faded away, but this is typical of most copyright infringements. The only ones that make the news are the ones where large sums of money are in contention.

Even if you go to court over an infringement, it is often hard to prove. If you registered the copyright at the time of publication it will be easier, of course. However, you can register a copyright after the infringement. The problem comes if the one who has stolen it has also registered it. The task, then, is for each of you to come of with sufficient evidence to prove that you actually were the creator. It helps if you have copies of first drafts, submissions to editors, and the like. The one who has stolen a literary property will have no such historical data to prove creation or ownership. Before attempting a suit, be sure that you have sufficient background/evidence to make your case.

Even being in the right never guarantees that you will win such a suit. Mark Twain would be the first to attest to that. In his day the big problem was with book piracy, and he often went to court to defend his rights. His response, after losing one such case, puts copyright infringement into perspective: “A Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him, but to me—property which he has not bought and which I had not sold. Under this ruling, I am now advertising that the judge’s homestead is for sale and if I make as good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go out and sell the rest of his property.”

Monday, September 19, 2016


Some writers are unnecessarily paranoid about sending out their material without a registered copyright. As I have said, they have automatic protection, whether it is registered or not. Although there may be rare exceptions, editors/publishers do not steal the material that is submitted to them. It would not be worth the risk to their reputation. Even stealing a writer’s idea is usually counterproductive, since it is an author’s unique connection to or treatment of the topic that makes most ideas valuable to the publisher.

Some writers believe that if they complete a manuscript and mail a copy to themselves, it will prove that they wrote a particular piece at a certain time. This has become almost an urban myth. Since postmarks can be falsified, such a letter will not stand up in court. If you have a valid reason to protect your material—as indicated above—then spend the $45 for the copyright registration.


Some writers are unnecessarily paranoid about sending out their material without a registered copyright. As I have said, they have automatic protection, whether it is registered or not. Although there may be rare exceptions, editors/publishers do not steal the material that is submitted to them. It would not be worth the risk to their reputation. Even stealing a writer’s idea is usually counterproductive, since it is an author’s unique connection to or treatment of the topic that makes most ideas valuable to the publisher.

Some writers believe that if they complete a manuscript and mail a copy to themselves, it will prove that they wrote a particular piece at a certain time. This has become almost an urban myth. Since postmarks can be falsified, such a letter will not stand up in court. If you have a valid reason to protect your material—as indicated above—then spend the $45 for the copyright registration.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


There are some things that cannot be copyrighted. The following list covers the most common ones.

  1. Ideas, plans, methods or systems. When presenting an idea for publication, only that author’s interpretation or expression of that idea can be copyrighted. For that reason the same ideas may be used as long as you express them in your own unique way.
  2. Ideas or procedures for doing, making or building things.
  3. Scientific or technical methods or discoveries.
  4. Business operations or procedures.
  5. Mathematical principles, formulas, and equations
  6. Any sort of concept, process, method of operation, or plan of action.
  7. General idea or outline, or title of a radio or television program.
  8. Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions, such as: names of products or services; names of business, organization or groups (including a group of performers); names, pen names, or stage names; titles of works; and catchwords, catch phrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions. For that reason you do not have to worry about whether or not someone else has already used the title you have selected—they probably have. And there is nothing you can do about it if someone else uses one of your titles. The exception is names that have become trademarks.
  9. Even if you register a copyright, it does not prevent you from revising the material or even renaming it. However, the original copyright will only protect how it was written originally. If you want to protect subsequent versions, they will need to be copyrighted as “derivative works.” Since a title cannot be copyrighted, you do not have to register a title change as a derivative work. Instead you file a supplementary registration on Form CA. Note that in most cases, neither the original registration or these supplementary ones are necessary.
  10. If a work was copyrighted as an unpublished manuscript, you may apply for a new copyright when it is published.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


*  When you sell a book, the publisher registers the copyright. The contract will specify whether it is copyrighted in the name of the author or name of the publisher (that is negotiable).

  1. If you have an article published in a copyrighted publication, your article is covered under that publisher’s copyright. If selling to an uncopyrighted publication (where they do not register the copyright), it is best to ask that your copyright notice appear at the end of your article. Asking for a copyright notice on your piece even in a copyrighted publication indicates to the reader that they need to contact you, not the publisher, if they want permission to quote from or reprint it
  2. If you ask that your copyright notice appear on every article you have published (whether the publication is copyrighted or not), you may register all those published pieces at the end of the year for one $45 fee. Bind them together or put in a loose-leaf binder under a collective title, such as “The Writings of Jane Doe 2016.” If a copyright notice does not appear on an article, it cannot be included in this collection.
  3. You may also register all your unpublished pieces for the year in the same way, selecting a similar identifying title.
  4. The copyright law does provide a way to correct or restore copyright protection if it was lost due to an error in or omission of the copyright notice, as long as it is done within 5 years of the error.

Friday, September 16, 2016


     6. Cost for registering a copyright is $45 each. The cost alone makes registration prohibitive for most writers.

     7. The only reason you need a copyright registered is if you plan to sue someone for infringement, and in that case it can be registered after the infringement. The difference monetarily is that if the piece is registered after the infringement, you can sue for actual damages; if registered before, you can also sue for attorney’s fees.

8.     If you want to register a copyright, send to the Copyright Office for form TX (for published and unpublished non-dramatic works), or form PA (for published and unpublished works of the performing arts). Write to Register of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington DC 20559.

9. A copyright affords you the following rights: (1) to reproduce the work in copies; (2) to prepare derivative works based on the original; (3) to distribute to the public copies of the work by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease or lending; (4) to perform publicly a literary, dramatic or audiovisual work; and (5) to display publicly such a work.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Although the copyright law itself is quite extensive, the part of it that affects the writer is actually quite limited. For that reason, this section will cover only what you really need to know to carry on the day-to-day business of writing and selling. Following are the major points to learn and remember.

  1. The current copyright law went into effect January 1, 1978, so affects only material copyrighted on or after that date. Additional revisions were made effective March 1, 1989.
  2. Everything you write has copyright protection from the time it reaches a tangible form (it is written down somewhere). You do not need to register the copyright to have that protection—it is automatic.
  3. Technically when we say we are selling a book or other piece of writing, what we are actually selling are the rights to use that material.
  4. As of March 1, 1989, you are no longer required to put a copyright notice on a piece of work to have copyright protection. However, common sense dictates that we put a copyright notice on each manuscript before submitting or distributing it. A copyright notice consists of a © (a C in a circle or parentheses) the year of creation or copyright, and your name, i.e., © 2016 Sally E. Stuart. For a book, the copyright notice is included on the title page. For periodicals, it can be included in either of the top corners of the first page, under your name and address on the left or under the number of words and rights offered on the right.
  5. Generally, it is not necessary to register a copyright before submitting your manuscript to a publisher. The exception would be if you have done a lot of original research and have come up with information or statistics that others may want to use without permission.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Some magazines or periodicals have the author sign a separate contract for each article they agree to buy. Other publications never use a contract, and simply lay out the terms in a letter. The contracts are usually simple—about a page in length—and basically indicate what you will be paid, when (on acceptance or publication, etc.), and what rights they are buying. Nevertheless, it is important that you read the contract carefully before signing and be sure that what the contract says adheres with the terms you agreed to verbally or the terms you expected. If it does not agree with your expectations, or you have questions, be sure to ask for clarification or answers. Do not sign the contract as long as any of your questions/concerns remain unanswered or the answers unsatisfactory.

Since publishers have been known to revise their terms without pointing it out to their authors, don’t assume that because you have signed a contract with this publication in the past that the terms of this one will be the same.

Once you have become a regular contributor to a publication, it is not out of line to ask for payment on acceptance (if they have been paying you on publication). If they have to do little or no editing on your work, you can also begin to expect (or ask for) a higher rate of payment.

The one area that may cause the greatest concern is the rights they are buying. Avoid selling all rights or doing work for hire unless the prestige and the payment justify it. Even publications that indicate that they buy all rights are often willing to negotiate. Unless you are writing curriculum, or the like, you should not be expected to do your freelance work as work for hire. (See section on Work for Hire.) Be especially careful of giving permission for publishing your material online. That should be carefully spelled out in the contract, and granting electronic rights should also indicate a higher payment. If in doubt—ask.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Anytime you are considering collaborating with another writer on a project, realize that the first step after deciding to go ahead, is to write up a contract between the two of you. This is essential whether the collaborator is your mother, brother, sister, pastor or best friend. It does not have to be long, too formal, or prepared by a lawyer. The two of you can compose it together and then sign it. It needs to indicate how the byline will be written (co-authors, as told to, with, inside acknowledgment, or whatever); how the proceeds will be split (50/50, 40/60, or whatever), this applies to the advance, royalties and subsidiary rights; who has the final word on disagreements; who is responsible for what part of the writing or research; how and when the contract can be terminated (usually by either party on 30 days written notice); as well as anything that may become an issue with this particular book. Anticipate any potential problems ahead of time and include the solutions to those in the contract.

The contract should also indicate what happens if the collaboration is terminated before the book is completed. Is the person initiating the termination entitled to any remuneration or a lesser percentage of the royalties? What if the termination is by mutual agreement? Who is entitled to go ahead and complete the project? Always prepare the contract to cover the worst-case scenario. For example, I worked with a co-author for two and a half years before deciding the partnership was not going to work. I backed out of the collaboration agreement, but because of the time I had invested, the contract with the publisher indicated that I still got 20% of the other author’s royalties.

If you plan to do subsequent books with the same co-author, you will want to have a separate contract for each project. When doing more than one book with a collaborator, it usually works well to alternate which one of you will have the final work on each project. When preparing each new contract, be sure to resolve any problems that have come up earlier and have solutions for those reflected in the new contract.

When collaborating, a publisher does not care what the arrangement is between the two authors. You simply tell them what the arrangement is and they will write it into the contract as you dictate.

Note: It is also a good idea to have a simple contract with other people involved in the preparation of the book—such as an editor you might hire to edit the book before submitting it to a publisher. I spoke with an author recently who hired an editor for a final edit, and paid him as agreed. When she then submitted the final manuscript to a publisher, that editor insisted he was a co-author and wanted his name on the contract. A contract with the editor (which she did not have) would have clarified his role in the project.

Monday, September 12, 2016


As writers we need to be as scrupulous and ethical as possible when it comes to identifying our sources for sensitive information we include in our articles and books. But the question of anonymous sources is bound to come up in some situations. When it is proper and acceptable to site anonymous sources for that sensitive information?

Before you include such information, you will need to evaluate it very carefully—because you will eventually have to convince an editor that it is trustworthy and worthy of inclusion. Ask and answer these basic questions: (1) How does the source know this information? (2) Does he/she have a reason to lie or color the truth? What do they have to gain? (3) Do you know the source; have they provided you with information in the past? (4) Does their information “fit” with what others are telling you? Can it be substantiated? (5) Can the facts/information they are giving you be interpreted in any other way?

The questions may vary with each different scenario. If you doubt your sources credibility, your editor and ultimately your readers will too. Trust your instincts—then get a second opinion from someone who has no vested interest in the piece and who’s judgment you trust.

If often comes down to your personal tolerance for using anonymous sources—some writers choose never to use them—and your editor’s (who also may have strong feelings about it). In many cases, using an anonymous source is like sending a nasty letter without signing it. Ultimately it is a matter of trust—your trust in the source—the editor’s trust in you—and the public or reader’s trust in the publication. So use the anonymous source only when you have no other way to deliver the truth.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


When I started writing almost 50 years ago, I was not even aware of the need to know anything about rights, copyright, or permissions. But times have changed. Never before in history has there been so much said—or misunderstood—about what is right or wrong in this critical area.

Authors and publishers alike are more concerned than ever about protecting their material from those who would steal it and attempt to peddle it as their own. But this whole problem goes way beyond that. Today, we have to keep a close eye on the Internet, negotiate publishing contracts even for magazines, steer clear of unethical agents, often fight for payment or the return of our manuscripts—to name just a few. I don’t want to give the impression that it’s a minefield out there, but the professional author must both understand and be able to fight for his or her rights. This blog is being written to help you do just that.

I have been threatening to write about this for years, but it wasn’t until I sat down and started laying it out that I realized how much more I needed to include than I had originally planned. My intention is to both make you aware of the potential problems and also provide enough information that you can respond professionally and appropriately in almost any situation you come up against in your dealings with agents, editors, publishers, and even other authors. Some topics covered here may not be what you expected, but they are included because they relate to ethical/unethical situations in which writers may find themselves. In those parts we will focus on the problem situations or possible rights violations to look out for.

 After years of working with writers, teaching classes on copyright law, and answering specific questions dealing with rights and permissions, I am well aware of what kinds of questions and problems typically plague writers. This blog is written to meet those specific needs without making you wade through a lot of extraneous material.

I would suggest that you read through this material at least once a year for general background information and to increase your knowledge in these important areas, so you will be better prepared to defend your rights. Then also use it for reference when specific problems or questions come up.
In all my years experience as a writer and working with writers, one of my biggest frustrations has been in watching writers who were so ignorant of their rights that they let editors/publishers take advantage of them, or were so afraid of losing a contract that they were willing to accept any terms or treatment. The result of such ignorance or unwillingness to act has had a profound affect on writers everywhere. Publishers and agents are not going to change their policies unless the majority of the writers they work with let them know that slow response times, unfair contracts, late or ignored payments, and reusing material (print or electronic) without payment or credit are not acceptable. Together we can accomplish much more than we can do individually.

Tomorrow come back for the help you’ll need to recognize the problems and to act in a way that will protect your rights and the rights of your fellow writers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


When you find an agent interested in handling your work, there are specific steps to take or criteria to follow in evaluating them.

  1. Legitimate agents make their money from selling your book to a publisher and collecting their 10-20% of your royalties (15% is average), not from collecting fees from unpublished authors.
  2. Legitimate agents generally do not charge up-front fees. I have found some exceptions to this among the Christian agents listed in the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. Because agents are so new to Christian publishing, many of them are starting out on a shoestring and ask for an up-front fee to cover their expenses. Even so, these expenses should be handled one of two ways. In the first scenario, they ask for an up-front fee—say $500—that will be refunded when the book sells (be sure you have that in writing). In the other case, they ask you to cover typical office expenses, such as phone calls, postage, or photocopying. Those kinds of expenses can be legitimate for a small agent, but you should be paying for actual expenses, not a set monthly fee.
  3. Legitimate agents spend their time trying to sell their client’s manuscripts, not editing their material for a fee. If a potential agent says he wants to represent you but you need to pay him to edit your manuscript first—or suggests you send it to a specific person or company for the editing work—a red flag should go up. Such agents are in it for the editing fees, and often get a kick-back from the editors they refer you to.
  4. Legitimate agents also do not charge reading fees—fees to read your manuscript for possible representation. Reading a manuscript is just part of the job—not a chargeable service.
  5. Check out a perspective agent’s sales record. Ask for a list of books they have sold and to whom, as well as a list of satisfied clients. Watch out for agents who are secretive about such information, which most agents make readily available to potential clients. Unless an agent is familiar with your target market, knows the publishers and is known by the editors, their chances of selling to those markets are only slightly better than yours.
  6. Avoid agents who try to convince you to accept subsidy or co-publishing contracts. Such deals are usually more lucrative for the agent—who gets a kick-back from the publisher and charges the author those up-front fees. Agents should never have any kind of a business connection to the publishers they sell to.
  7. Legitimate agents do not charge so-called “contract fees.” Such fees are assessed when it is time to sign a contract with a publisher. Again, this is part of the agent’s job and the author should not be expected to pay such a fee.
  8. Also beware of agents who contact you and offer to represent you, especially because they “have heard you have a great manuscript.” How would they know what kind of manuscript you have?
  9. Anytime you receive a letter from an agent praising your manuscript, check to see if anything they say relates specifically to what you have written, or if they could be talking about any manuscript. Those letters are often form letters. Also watch out for agents who brag about themselves or have fancy brochures listing all their “services.”
  10. In times past, almost all agents were hired on a handshake. Today, a good number will have their clients sign a contract. Be wary of agents who are not willing to go over the contract with you and answer any questions. These contracts vary, but the average one allows for a 15% commission for the agent, with 20% for foreign sales; and is good for a year, with an option for either party to get out of the contract on written notice. It should also specify any fees that will need to be paid.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


             #1 -- UNINVITED by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson)


Baker Publishing Group Adds Industry Veteran to Acquisitions Staff
Baker Publishing Group is pleased to announce that it has hired Henry L. Carrigan Jr. as Senior Acquisitions Editor for Baker Academic and Brazos Press. Henry has served in editorial/acquisitions leadership positions since 1999 at Northwestern University Press, T&T Clark/Continuum, and Trinity Press International. He was religion book editor for Publishers Weekly for five years and continues to write news features and reviews for the magazine

Monday, September 5, 2016


In seeking an agent, one of your first concerns will be in finding one who is ethical and well-respected in the industry. Unfortunately, writers—due to there overwhelming desire to get published—often fall prey to unethical and unscrupulous agents. I have heard more than one horror story of authors who have paid agents thousands of dollars in hopes of getting a book published.

Before you start looking for an agent, it will help to know what is acceptable and unacceptable in this usually unfamiliar arena. Although there are agents who handle Christian books exclusively, there are also secular agents who are willing to or routinely handle Christian manuscripts. Although we would want to believe that the “Christian” agents would be beyond reproach, that is not always true. It is that trusting nature of the Christian that leaves him vulnerable to agents out to prey on that trust. Keep in mind that anyone can be an agent—or call themselves one. It takes no education, experience, or license of any kind.

As more and more people are pursuing their dream to write a book, the need for agents has grown as well. Unfortunately, as that need has increased, so has the number of would-be agents out to fleece the uninitiated. The watch-dogs in this area report that a good number of those who claim to be agents use it only to collect up-front fees with no intention of ever selling a book. It is such schemes that make it all the more important that authors know what to expect when approaching an agent.

Fortunately there are certain criteria you can use in evaluating a perspective agent. Anyone who signs on with an agent without doing their homework would be lucky not to get stung in the process. Since an agent is going to handle all the money that comes to you from a publisher, you had better know that they can be trusted.
Tomorrow we'll look the questions to ask.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Before we conclude this section on marketing, I want to say something about trends. Writers often ask me what I consider the latest trends, and how important it is for them to know and follow the trends. My general feeling is that it is not very important at all. Spotting trends is a difficult endeavor at best, and nearly impossible for the average writer. When I’m asked about trends, it is often by a writer or would-be writer who thinks if they can just catch the edge of the next trend, their book or article is a sure sell. If that were possible, more writers would be doing it.

The problem is that by the time we are able to recognize a trend, it is usually on its way out. This is especially true when you are talking about books. Because a book often takes a year or two from completion to finished product (to say nothing of the several months to a year or more to write it), most trends would be a distant memory by the time the book hits the market.

For that reason, I have always encouraged writers to pay less attention to trends and more attention to their own or their friend’s needs or concerns and write to those instead. If God gives you a burden for a particular subject or audience, that is a greater indicator of direction than is some undefinable trend.

What is more important than topic trends are the industry trends. Reading writer’s newsletters or magazines, belonging to a writer’s e-mail or Internet group, attending conferences, and talking regularly with other writers will help keep you informed on what is happening in the marketplace.


The fourth edition of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, compiled by Zondervan editor Robert Hudson, has released. Nearly half of this revision is new material, including information about turning blogs into books and the effects of digital media on writing. It also contains an all-new “Word List” that makes up a third of the book.