Kay: When Agencies Go Rogue

By now, probably many of you have heard the news about Donadio & Olson, the New York–based literary agency, whose bookkeeper stole $3.4 million (or more) from the agency’s clients, its writers. One of these writers is Chuck Palahniuk, who has written 24 books so far, including Fight Club, which was turned into a film. None of the royalties, advance monies, or film-option payments were turned over to him, leaving him “almost broke,” he says in an incredible and heartbreaking blog post.

I briefly had an agent at one time, and I never had to get into trust issues with her, because she never sold the book she’d taken on for me. But I’d wondered about the language in the standard contract she sent—how your royalties or advances go from the publisher to the agent, who takes her cut and then sends the rest to the writer, supposedly in 10 days or two weeks or so. You really have to trust the agent, I thought, but because this woman was a friend of a friend, and because she’d signed on with all the usual agents organizations, I did trust her. Continue reading

Justine: Intellectual Property Questions – Follow-Up

flag and gavel

In case you missed it, the last time I blogged, I did a Q&A with Greg Ourada, an intellectual property attorney with Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, LLP in Atlanta, GA. He answered questions about copyright, trademark, registered trademarks, and several other related topics. You can view that post here.

A few commenters had follow-up questions and I have the answers.

Before we begin, though, a disclaimer: The responses below are general in nature and should not be considered legal advice.  Due to the highly fact-specific nature of copyright and trademark issues, you should contact an attorney if you require specific legal advice regarding a particular matter.

Now, your follow-up questions! Continue reading

Justine: Your Intellectual Property Questions Answered

copyrightWhat a week it’s been in the romance writing world! In case you missed it, there is a huge uproar over #cockygate, or the trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series.

Background: Faleena Hopkins, the author of several books that have the word “Cocky” in the title, recently received an official trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series in both regular and stylized (meaning in a specific font) form from the US Trademark and Patent Office. You can view her filings here and here.

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 9.29.29 AM

Ms. Hopkins’ stylized trademark of the word “cocky.”

Ms. Hopkins has threatened other writers whose book titles also contain the word “cocky” with a lawsuit if they don’t change their titles. She’s also reported some authors to Amazon, telling the Zon that the authors were in violation of her copyright. Amazon took down the offending books at once. Romance Writers of America has hired an IP attorney and has asked Amazon to reinstate the take downs pending a legal challenge (Amazon agreed), and former IP attorney-turned-writer Kevin Kneupper has come out of retirement to Continue reading

Kay: An Agent’s Nightmares

The Nightmare (Henry Fuseli, 1781)

Several of the Ladies have committed to pursuing indie publishing careers; others are more interested in a traditional path. Each strategy has its pluses and minuses, so whichever way is best for the individual, or whichever way opens to an author, will work.

We’ve given some thought here at Eight Ladies to what it’s like being an author, especially the difficulties thereof, but most of us don’t think very hard about the publishers’ side of the equation. I recently ran across a [hilarious] Twitter feed from an agent, describing the difficulties of her work. For those of you who’d like to read the original thread, go here. For those who don’t want to click through, I’m quoting the rest here.

The thread is from Ginger Clark, a literary agent at Curtis Brown. Continue reading

Kay: Gargoyle Cover Redesign

 

We’ve talked about book production and book covers some (here and here), and I’m continuing that conversation by talking about a cover of mine that was particularly hard to pull together. And that was because my protagonist is a garden gargoyle.

First let me tell you that I never wanted to write a story about a gargoyle, garden or otherwise. But my two critique partners got it in their heads that it would be a fun project to write an anthology “about” gargoyles. We could write whatever we wanted. So they dragged me, kicking and screaming, into this abyss.

Argh.

One of my critique partners, Patricia Simpson, is a Rita-nominated author of gothic romances. Beth Barany writes contemporary romance or fantasy, often for a YA or NA audience. I write light-hearted stories, which sometimes verge on comedy, with a romance angle. So we couldn’t be more different. Continue reading

Kay: Rethinking a Cover

Remember this cover on the left? Not long ago I whined about what a hard time I’d had creating a couple of covers for novellas I’d written. At the time, I didn’t want to hire a designer for work that was unlikely ever to sell well enough to recoup the expense. So I did this one myself. I knew it was weak, and comments validated my opinion. Several of you said it looked like a business or self-help book.

Since then, I’ve had a change of heart about improving my DIY covers. Those stories are all my babies, right? I love them all equally. They all have given me joy and made me sweat tears. So why shouldn’t they all have nice covers?

I’ve hired designers before, many times, for my books and other projects in my day job, but I found this experience to be more interesting than usual. For starters, what sort of image should go on the cover? There’s no reason to put an embracing couple there. In the story, while the couple has corresponded by email for a while, they meet in person only on the last page of the book, and they decide to go for dinner. That’s it. Continue reading

Jilly: 2017 In A Word

PublishHappy New Year! Here’s wishing you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2017 😀

If you had to choose one single word to epitomize your approach to the coming twelve months, what would it be?

A watchword is more flexible than a goal or a resolution. More like a theme, defined as an idea that recurs and pervades.

I last played this game in 2014, when I chose MORE (click here to read that post and the comments, where you’ll find some interesting choices). I already had a specific, measurable writing goal for the year—to finish my contemporary romance WIP—but I knew I was letting my inner editor hold me back. I kept under-cooking the conflict, emotion, action, tension, everything…so I chose an intangible, aspirational word to remind me to go for it.

This year I want my watchword to be a call to action, so Continue reading