I was doing some research for one of my books in progress, when I talked to someone promoting a new Fashion Magazine. I mentioned being a writer doing research, he pointed out that he was publisher, and would like to see some of my work.
A.) This sounds too good to be true.
B.) Am I being too suspicious and passing up a good opportunity?
C.) Was I wrong to ask him for details about his company and such? Was it rude?
D.) (totally unrelated to the topic) Do I need to be willing to give up my rights to my first few published works in order to "get my foot in the door?"
Ive just been looking into publishing. It seems that a the norm is that you give the "first to print" rights, or something to that extent, where the publisher has the right to be, well, the first to publish it. ha ha ha
from my understanding, but there are definetely more experienced people here who can help you!
A) Probably. Sounds a little suspicious to me. What other books has he published? What else does he do besides promoting a fashion mag?
B) Suspicion is healthy in this industry.
C) No. Absolutely not. If he's a professional and means business he should be more than happy to talk about his company and what he can do for you.
D) Do you mean your copyrights? When I thought about this for a second I'm actually not sure... They have the right to publish your work. I believe you can't solicit publication elsewhere. Novels, that is.
There's some great information out there, both in Writer's Digest site and the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers site. If you go poke around you'll encounter them. Being informed and educating yourself about potential scams is essential.
[This message has been edited by annepin (edited September 24, 2008).]
The question I would have in a similar situation is what's the agenda. Does the fashion mag need a stringer to write copy? In that case it's work for hire and you would have no automatic copyright to the material, whether it's published or not.
Otherwise, never offer to or consider surrendering intellectual property to get a foot in the door. If they aren't paying, they're not a professional operation or they are and are preying on your naiveté.
I've recently been asked as part of an invitation to apply for a freelance researcher and copywriter to submit samples of my work for consideration. I did and passed into the final interview stage today, a successful interview I might add. I'm in competition with two other candidates. If I get the position, any copy I write for submission will belong to the company and I will have no copyright rights to it. But the pay is good and the hours are low!
[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited September 24, 2008).]
I never thought that it might be about a job...hmmm. That could prove interesting.
I knew that I have to give them the rights to publish, but I've been approached by other people who want to buy my story outright and I have no right to it anymore.
It's definitely a relief to know that I wasn't rude to ask about their company. I've been looking for the company he has on his MySpace page, and I can't find anything online about him or the company. This is not to say that it's not a new company, and I really wouldn't mind trying out a new company, I just want to know that my "babies" aren't being kidnapped. Make sense? LOL
The only thing I'll add to what has been said above is that money should always flow from the publisher to the writer. The amount of money might be miniscule, but it should always go from them to you, not the other way around. Sounds obvious, but it isn't always. Think about how they're going to make their money.
There are very few times when you might want to give up all rights to your work. Work for hire, as extrinsic has said, is one of those times, and that is partly because in the case of work for hire, you are writing their stuff for them (instead of writing your stuff, more or less).
All you should ever sell to a magazine is periodical rights, usually first periodical rights, though some will purchase second (or reprint) rights as well. There is no reason a magazine would need any other rights.
Only sell the rights that someone actually needs in order to publish your work, whether that's anthology rights, or periodical rights, or book rights, and so on.
Do people have their work stolen very often? Is that even something that writers have to be afraid of nowadays? How does one protect against pseudo-publishers?
What I mean is, you can't find an agent, and you're still shopping your work around. You send someone your letter, the synopsis, etc, and he/she wants to read the full MS. How do you protect yourself from having it stolen? Or does that even happen?
Do I sound paranoid to you? I sure do sound paranoid to me. heh heh.
If you've got a name, you can check it out with others before submitting.
I'd see it not so much as "giving up" the publishing rights, but "conveying" them to another party. And, also, what Kathleen said: you convey, say, something on the order of First North American Serial Rights.
(It is considered the mark of an amateur to put something like "First North American Serial Rights Only" right on the MS, though. Submit without mention. If a market wants to buy all rights, and you don't want to sell them, you can always turn them down.)
I'm confused. Is the fashion mag guy also a publisher of novels?
I guess the first question would be what is he interested in? Seeing a sample of your work for consideration for articles for the fashion mag? Assuming it's a paying market, that can be a good way to build experience, get some credentials, etc. I've done some non-fiction writing for free for a non-profit I am active with. It's a byline for me (a lead article in their print and online publication) so even though I didn't get paid, it was worth it for the pub credit and because I believe in the mission of the organization (even if pay had been an option I would have declined it or donated it back to the non-profit.)
If he's asking to see your completed novel as a candidate for publication, I wouldn't treat his (not to sound cynical - but alleged) publication company any differently than any other. If your novel isn't complete, it's not ready to query. If you have a previous novel that is complete and his company sounds like the kind you'd want to be published with, then prepare a query package ppl here can comment on specifics, but typically a letter summarizing the entire plot, followed by a sample chapter or up to three chapters. I believe some publishers start with the letter only, requesting the chapters after that and a full MS if they're *really* interested, while other publishers may take the letter + 3 chapters as a query package.
If he just wants to see samples of your work for a non-specific reason, I'd suggest providing him some other kind of sample. Even a well-written blog post or a previously published/shared short-story would suffice. Something that shows that you know how to put sentences together and use grammar properly, possibly that shows your storytelling ability (e.g., a blog post retelling a funny story) etc.
You don't need to be paranoid, but you do need to do your homework. Know who your submitting to, what they publish, what rights they usually buy, how long they take to respond and to actually publish something, so on and so forth.
Some of this information is available on market lists like ralan.com and duotrope, and some you may have to ask around for.
Be sure to check out the Writer Beware stuff on the SFWA website as extrinsic has suggested.
You don't need to be afraid, but you do need to be informed.
I thought I should add that if you own all of your rights, you will also be owning a lot of the PR burden for your work, you have to give a little to get something, but that's why they have lawyers who go over the fine print.
Posts: 243 | Registered: Aug 2008
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Have I ever told all of you how wonderful you and your advice are? I really already knew everything you've pointed out, but I guess having someone suddenly approach me set me off balance. Thank you for the links and the sound advice. I've had a friend tell me that I had to just risk it all and hope for the best, but it always felt wrong to me. It feels really good to know that I wasn't off base in questioning him.
Well, after a little thought...a lot of places do buy all rights to what they publish, and make no bones about it. (A lot of non-fiction places, and most of the children's magazines I know and remember, and, likely, anything involving somebody else's creations (like "Star Trek") are what come immediately to my mind.)
You can, of course, make your own decisions about whether it's worthwhile...me, I'd probably pass on it if it were a major piece of original fiction...non-fiction, now, I might go for the sale and the surrendering of rights under some circumstances.
quote:I've been looking for the company he has on his MySpace page, and I can't find anything online about him or the company.
Don't stop your research there. In the USA check the online Better Business Bureau site http://www.bbbonline.org and if you are in the US your state should have some information about business registrations to see if he's set up as a legit business. In Oregon the Corporation Division is run through the Secretary of State's office.
Do your due diligence before making any business association with someone you don't know.