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!