Helen Sedwick on Seven Common (and Avoidable) Copyright Mistakes


Photo in jacket.original

Thanks to copyright expert attorney Helen Sedwick for this key information about copyright for authors.

 While speaking at a recent conference I asked the audience if anyone used song lyrics in their manuscripts. A third of the writers raised their hands. After all, well-placed lyrics create setting. A crooning Frank Sinatra places readers in a war-time romance, while a droning Jim Morrison transports them to a smoky love-in. When I explained that using lyrics may be infringement, an audible groan filled the room. One writer leaned forward and put his head between his hands. Using lyrics is one of the most common mistakes writers make. Our brains are so packed with familiar tunes, we forget someone owns them. The sad truth is even if you know every word of a Beatles’ song, you do not have the right to use a single line in your novel. If you are blogging or publishing (either traditionally or as an indie author), a little knowledge about copyright will save time, embarrassment and money. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them. [Read more…]

2014 San Francisco Writers Conference

SFWC logoI’m gearing up for this year’s San Francisco Writers Conference Feb. 13th-17th at the Mark Hopkins Hotel—and getting psyched! It’s the only writers conference I attend each year (besides BEA). It’s classy and conscientious. SFWC  includes esoteric stuff like poetry jams and panels on using writing to make the world a better place—along with great practical panels and big name presenters. I love that about it!

Here’s a PDF of the official conference flier: 2014 SFWC Flyer

The conference provides insight and guidance for traditional, self-published, and aspiring writers.

You can attend the conference as a whole (learn more here), or purchase one or more of the pre- and post-conference workshops separately, or both.

I’m teaching: [Read more…]

Top Ten Places to Discover Books Online

Too many bookstores are closing their doors.  How will we find our books?

That’s the rub.

bookstore closedNot a massage kinda rub, but an OUCH! bruising kinda rub.

Plenty of studies show most bookbuyers find books in bookstores or libraries, through word of mouth, regardless of where they ultimately buy them.

Not online. Online is confusing and overwhelming.

A bunch of companies are trying to make online book “discovery” more user-friendly.

Will they replicate the bookstore experience? Never. But if they help readers find worthy books online, and keep the business of publishing good books alive, everyone benefits, even booksellers.

What do you think? Do these spots work for you?

Newest “Recommendation Engines”

1. Bookish was years in the making; it’s the result of a major collaboration between some of the largest publishers in the world. The look and concept is cool: type in a book you love and through miraculous algorithmic juggling, others you will love pop up. Plenty of bells and whistles; plenty of early praise and complaints.  Compared to Amazon: easier and cleaner; both less suspect and less powerful. Good people behind it; good luck to them. [Read more…]

Apple to Highlight Self-Published Books

Self-Published Books Pushed by Apple

Apple recently announced its new program of “Breakout Books” as reported in The New York Times.

According to the piece, “popular” self-published books will be featured under a banner on the iBookstore for the first few weeks, and then will become a regular feature.  Not mentioned in the article: exactly where these books come from. The piece interviewed Smashwords founder Mark Coker, who said the books “were nominated to Apple’s editorial team.”  Given the happy Smashwords/Apple relationship,  “were nominated” probably means “nominated by Smashwords.”

Smashwoods’ Reach Extends

Smashwords’ importance as a sales and discovery channel for self-published works is ever-growing. Mr. Coker recently also allied with many public libraries to make thousands of self-published ebooks available to the library market.

Can We Trust the Books?

The titles Apple will  highlight are selected based on: “criteria including sales performance and reader reviews” although the Apple “editorial team” has “final say” on the selections.

The world needs [Read more…]