Archive for July, 2016

COPYRIGHTS AND RIGHTS

July 28, 2016

This blog will be at least a 2-part one and maybe 3.  So much confusion surrounds the issues of copyright and rights issue, I’ll try to make sense of at least some of it.

For decades little changed in the copyright law and writers were safe to trust their minimal understanding of the subject.  With the advent of the Internet that changed and it seems a new law comes out almost yearly to clarify copyright issues.

Here are some of the basics:

  1. Your work is considered copyrighted the moment it leaves your printer or (heaven forbid) your typewriter. That doesn’t mean you can waltz down the road of ignorant bliss and never copyright anything. It does mean it’s pretty difficult to plagiarize your work.
  2. When you copyright something you copyrighting your words as they appear on the page. That means if someone writes basically the same thing but puts it in their words, they aren’t plagiarizing you.  So you just have to put your indignation aside and go on.
  3. You cannot copyright an idea. So keep your ideas to yourself and don’t go ballistic if someone writes an article/short story/poem/ or even a novel that’s like what you thought about writing. Writers learn that’s just the breaks.
  4. You cannot copyright at title. Yes, you could write another book titled Gone With the Wind (unless it’s been trademarked. And that is not my expertise, but I do know a great attorney.)
  5. Copyright term is for the life of the author plus 75 years. (I’m pretty sure they just changed it from 50 to 75.) So your work is protected for a long time. On a related subject, you might want to inform someone in your family if you’ve copyrighted something so they can keep informed.
  6. You cannot copyright procedures or instructions other than the way they appear on the page. Once again we’re back to how words appear on the page.

Before I go this time, I’m going to add a few words about plagiarism.  Yes, you are plagiarizing when you copy that favorite movie on to your own DVD.  That’s why all those warnings ruin the beginning of a movie (Oh! That’s when you take your bathroom break? ) Well, read it sometime, that’s someone’s work your copying and that nasty fine starts at $250,000.  That’s why it appears in several languages.  You can rent the movie from the library, if you want to watch again and you won’t have to worry about jail time.

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IT’S ON THE INTERNET

July 21, 2016

My reaction to this title is—so are a lot of things.  This time I’d like to spend a bit of time discussing Internet publishing. Publishing on the Internet is a blessing and a curse.  Publishing something on the Internet gives every writer access to an audience.  No more waiting for an editor or publisher to accept your work, carefully edit it, and place it in the proper venue, you can have your work available in minutes.  And that’s just the problem. So can every person with a third grade education and no spelling or grammar abilities.

The Internet is a wide open marketplace and much like the farmer’s market there’s liable to be a few rotten apples.  So if ever caveat emptor should be your policy; this is the place.  Do your research!  If someone says they will get your book on the Internet and place it on Amazon, they can.  Just be sure they are doing what they say and that you aren’t paying handsomely for it.  Remember placing something on Amazon doesn’t necessarily mean that your book will compare favorably with other Amazon offerings.  It may, but it might not.

Create Space® is a wonderful option available to authors.  Through Create Space®, authors can print one or one hundred books.  No more need to have a basement or a garage full of books.  As I say that, other guidelines still hold true.  Don’t embarrass yourself and others by presenting an inferior product.  Get an edit.  Learn how a book should be formatted.  Make your book the best looking book possible.  Have a competent critic check your book/article/short story to make sure it is as good as it can possibly be.  And don’t be pig-headed, if the critic suggests changes, make the changes.  The key here is if the critic is going to make the story their story, you probably don’t want to  change everything but if they are trying to make it better-do it.

The Internet is a wonderful writing tool; use it to present yourself in the best possible light.  And let me know about your results.

Next time I’ll take a few moments to discuss rights and copyright.

NONFICTION-PARTING THOUGHTS

July 7, 2016

 

There’s a plethora of information on nonfiction which I haven’t covered in these last few blogs.  My idea was to give you the basics and turn you loose to write your way into some money. With that goal in mind, I’m going to mention two more ways to earn cash while pursuing your dream.

Business writing can earn you extra cash and with a little effort you’ll build a reputation as a dependable source which will earn you more money.  If you want to do business writing, you want to consider that you must be able to find your spelling and grammar errors so you won’t be spending all of your cash for these services.

Most small businesses can’t afford a full time public relations writer so target them with a few specific areas where you might be able to help.  Brochures, press releases, even business cards need a writer’s touch. Some towns have a newspaper or monthly magazine that covers new businesses.  Study these publications and offer to “write up” an article on the new place.  Be mindful of the space allotted for these articles.  You’ll win an editor’s heart if you show you’ve studied the publication enough to keep within their word count.

Do yourself a favor and become a semi-professional photographer.  Being able to provide two or three passable photos to accompany the article helps the publication cut costs since the staff photographer can be utilized elsewhere.

Writing instruction sheets and manuals is also a possible job.  Remember that computer manual with the cryptic instructions?  I’d be willing to guess you can write a better one.  I remember trying to help my husband and a friend figure out the instructions for downloading a game program.  After several attempts, I made a frustrated call to the company help desk to learn what was wrong.  The customer representative snapped back, “Well everyone knows you have to press F4.”  I wrote the company and offered to re-write the instructions.  Obviously, I didn’t know I needed to press F4.

Use your imagination.  There are thousands of opportunities for business writing.