Writer Be Aware

Just a quick post this morning because I’ll be leaving shortly to take Mom for another procedure on her back. In other words, my brain is elsewhere and has been, so I’ve gone trolling through various sites relating to writing and the various groups I belong to and have come up with a few things I thought I’d pass along. Most fall under the “writer be aware or even beware” heading.

First, if you are a writer or are considering dipping your toe into the publishing waters, bookmark the Writer Beware website. Those of you who have hung around the blog for any length of time know I have little use for SWFA. But the Writer Beware site is the one good thing they do. A. C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss did the list for years. When Crispin died in 2013, Strauss continued the work. The blog has continued as well. This is one of the sites you must check before looking for agents or publishers–and before signing contracts. You’ll even find information about “contests” to be wary of. Bookmark both sites and take time to familiarize yourself with what they have to offer.

Second up–and I don’t have links for it because the information I’m seeing right now is from private groups or being told to me in private–is a warning about putting your books up on some of the reading apps being offered now. I’m not talking about apps for the Nook, Kindle, etc. Instead, I’m talking about those apps that allow you to download specific genre books and fanfiction. These can be a wonderful alternative route to get your books into the hands of readers you might not otherwise reach. However. . . .

You knew there had to be a however.

However, be very careful and read every provision of their contracts. Some of these apps are trying for rights grabs that would make traditional publishers proud. As indies, we’ve gotten so used to simply agreeing to what Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and third-party platforms want that too many of us do the same with alternative outlets as well. The problem is we then discover we’ve signed away audio rights, foreign rights, etc., and often without compensation terms being spelled out. So be very careful and make sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.

Next up is something I hadn’t been aware of. Apparently, #Audiblegate is a thing. I’ll let you read the article over on the Alliance of Independent Authors site. The short version is a group of indie authors and small presses are suing Audible over some rather “creative” accounting practices. This isn’t, apparently, a new problem and is something The Author’s Guild and other groups have voiced concerns about. So here’s your head’s up to do your homework where Audible is concerned.

Specifically, the concerns of ALLi, the suing authors and publishers, as well as Author’s Guild and the other groups is Audible’s easy exchange program. Here’s a link to the open letter from AG and others to Audible back in 2020.

Finally, here is a resource–with a hat tip to The Passive Voice–for writers concerned about how they can use real people in their writing without being sued. To say it can be a confusing topic is putting it mildly because you have to deal with state and federal law. Then you have to add in the internet and how what is written from your sofa in Wetumpka, Alabama may violate the laws in another nation.

My advice has always been never use friends and family unless you change them enough no one will recognize them. Public figures can be mentioned but not in a way that can be even remotely viewed as damaging to their image. But, if you want a more in-depth (but still not completely definitive since laws change) resource, check out Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. (Full disclosure, the link is an Amazon Associate’s link.)

Whether you purchase the book or not, I suggest you consider this from PG:

PG will caution that some elements of defamation, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of the right of publicity exist under federal law and state law and, while the general rules may be similar, there may be some borderline cases that are actionable in some locations and not actionable in others.

The internet has added a whole new element to defamation law because a defamatory remark may originate in one state or nation but appear in all states and nations via the internet. There is even something called Twibel, libel via Twitter – See Pillsbury: Internet+Social Media for a discussion of Twibel.

And now I need to head out. Until later!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

13 comments

  1. International law: When I was writing the Cat series, I had to limit the release of one book in the series to US and Canada only. The reason was the then-new defamation-of-religion laws that had been passed (or enacted by judicial ruling) in other countries. I could not be sure, without hiring lawyers in several countries to find out for me, if using a religious group as a cat’s-paw for the Big Bad would be considered actionable defamation, and open me up to lawsuits. Better safe than sorry, so I went for limited release.

    1. I delayed a book or two for similar reasons. I’ve seen other authors get in trouble for not being aware of potential issues due to various libel and slander laws.

  2. This is why I am no longer putting books on Audible and are either selling them myself via bookfunnel, or doing a deal with author MSE on his page. Audible is and has been engaging in illegal practices, but good luck taking them to court! The lawsuit to prove it would cost millions and in this day and age, I sincerely doubt any judge out there would rule against Amazon.
    Audible’s terms have always been nasty, I mean 7 years? Really now? And if you try to work with them on anything they will tell you to FUCK OFF. Literally. I’ve had them say that to me, when I was trying to get them to do something that they CLAIM you can do.
    Don’t even get me started on rights issues!
    I hate making and selling audiobooks. Because they rarely make me any money. That was, until I started selling them myself (and gee! Look at all the people buying them!) or went through a third party LARGE company with lawyers who Audible won’t fuck with. Yes on that later one, it cost me, I get 10 percent instead of 40 percent, but on the other hand suddenly the audiobooks were making Money. Lots of it.
    Head scratcher there, why do the books that I publish directly at Audible NEVER make much money, but the ones I do differently make tons?
    And then of course the rip off that they were running, that got caught ONLY because their software screwed up and showed everyone what was going on behind the scenes. Then they came out and said ‘oh, our bad – we promise never to do that again!’ – Yeah, pull the other one.
    But honestly? If you’re an indy DO NOT do business with Audible. Not now, not ever. They WILL screw you and steal your money. Sure, going it alone is hard – but you will make more money. Audible needs to be put out of business, the people in charge of it jailed for fraud, the buildings burned down, and the Earth beneath it salted.

  3. “Joel Braden, idiot puppet president, glanced at his teleprompter, trying to remember how to pronounce the words his handlers had written for him.”

    1. And this is here why? Consider this a warning not to bring politics here unless it directly pertains to the post. This doesn’t.

  4. I’m curious about your thoughts on redshirting fans. Do you consider that an exception, or would you also avoid it?

    1. I’ve got no problem redshirting fans. That’s usually a “hey, you guys, who wants to do their Joe Buckley imitation?” or something similar. So you’ve gotten permission. I would be sure to either get the agreement in an email or snap a screen cap of a text/convo/etc.

  5. Thanks for the heads-up. Where there’s money, there’s someone trying to steal it.

    On a related note, my local chapter of RWA voted to dissolve since no one would run for office and we’re losing members right and left. We are not the only chapter doing this.

    This is very sad because RWA would go to bat legally for romance writers to get their rights. See the NYT story about Blushing Books: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/03/business/romance-publishing-blushing-erotica.html?searchResultPosition=1

    Good Lord.

    RWA worked hard on Disney Must Pay as well as other legal issues in the past.

    As always, read that contract carefully and if you don’t understand it, don’t sign it until you do understand it. Pay your own lawyer for his time if necessary.

    1. The RWA situation is one I wish wasn’t happening. For a very long time, it was the only professional group I recommended authors joining. But it, like so many others, is facing the consequences of their actions in letting a small but vocal group tell it how it should be run.

  6. As far as the Writer Beware stuff goes, I’ve found that a pretty good rule of thumb is that, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone emails you out of the blue saying that Disney is looking to adapt your Indie book into a movie starring Chris Evan and Megan Fox, I don’t think you should need a specific entry on Writer Beware to be skeptical of it.

    The really useful thing they do over there is read the fine print on contracts, particularly contests. Yes, we should be doing that ourselves, but it is awfully nice to have someone willing to highlight the bad passages.

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