Saturday, December 3, 2016


All footnotes used must follow an acceptable form as indicated in The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), or in the examples below. As long as a form is acceptable, it may vary somewhat from these examples, but the important thing is that they are consistent throughout. If any changes are made, be sure they are made consistently.

The following guidelines may vary from publisher to publisher, and they may change some of the forms to fit their style manual before publication, but if you prepare them as indicated below, they will be acceptable and deemed professional, even if they have to be changed somewhat later.

Note: The examples below show note forms first, followed by bibliographic forms for the same items.

  1. Books

  1. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1983),238.

(Note that 1. is used, rather than a raised or superior 1. This is the style to follow both in footnotes and endnotes. Superior numbers are needed only in the text.)

Schlossberg, Herbert. Idols for Destruction. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

  1. Elisabeth Elliot, ed., The Journals of Jim Elliot (Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1978), 356.

Elliot, Elisabeth, ed. The Journals of Jim Elliot. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1978.

  1. Rosemary Ruether and Rosemary Keller, Women and Religion in America: The Nineteenth Century, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1982), 131-35.

Ruether, Rosemary and Rosemary Keller. Women and Religion in America: The

Nineteenth Century. Vol. 1. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1982.

  1. Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, trans. E.M. Blaiklock (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1979), 46-47.

a Kempis, Thomas. The Imitation of Christ, trans. E. M. Blaiklock. Nashville,

Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1981. [alphabetize under K]

Friday, December 2, 2016


Occasionally a publisher will send you a contract for an article or book that they are calling “work for hire.” Signing such a contract means you are giving away all rights to the material and that the buyer has full control. The rights will not revert to you after 35 years as they do when you sell All Rights.

This designation was intended to refer to material you wrote while working as an employee for someone else. Anything you wrote as part of the job is technically work for hire and belongs to the employer, not to you. They may or may not use your byline, because technically they become the author when you sign such a contract.

Some publishers attempt to use work-for-hire contracts in buying articles or books from freelancers, but that was not what the law intended, and you are encouraged not to sign such contracts. A work for hire is usually done by an employee, not an independent contractor—such as a freelance writer.

The exception is in writing something like curriculum material. That is often done as a work for hire since the publisher provides very strict guidelines, and the material is often used over several year’s time. Since this is not material that has any other potential market, it is acceptable to sign a work-for-hire contract for curriculum or other very specialized material. Ghostwriting also usually falls into the work-for-hire category.

A work for hire always has to be laid out in a written contract—it is never a verbal agreement—and it should be signed before the work begins. Be sure the contract specifies that the transfer of rights does not take place until the writer is paid in full. That way you won’t lose the rights if you are not paid. The contract should also specify whether or not you will be given credit as the author, and if so, how and where (size, type, and placement).

Who Owns the Copyright?

You may still run into editors/publishers who want to claim that a piece of work you do for them is work for hire if it is an assignment, and they are controlling the content. In any such cases, be sure to let them know you are not doing it as a work for hire, and work out the details of the sale before you begin.

A work for hire needs to meet certain criteria before it qualifies. Following is a list of the general criteria required:

  1. The source of the required “tools” used for the job. WFH can be argued if you are using their equipment to prepare the work.
  2. Place where the work is done. WFH can be argued is you do the work in their office.
  3. The length of the relationship between you and the publisher. The longer you work, the more likely they will claim WFH.
  4. Whether the publisher has the right to assign you additional projects. Usually you will be working on this one assignment and you will not be given additional projects while this one is in progress.
  5. Whether you or the publisher plans your daily work schedule. WFH might be argued if the publisher controls your time.
  6. How you are paid. If you are paid by the week or month as opposed to a lump-sum payment when the job is finished.
  7. Whether the publisher hires any necessary assistants or you do it yourself. WFH could be argued if the publisher hires your assistants.
  8. Whether your project is considered part of the regular work of the publisher.
  9. Whether the publisher actually is in business.
  10. Whether you receive employee benefits. WFH can be argued if you receive employee benefits.
  11. How your taxes are handled. If they deduct taxes like for wages, they could claim WFH.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In addition to all the practical reasons anyone has for making a will, as a writer you need to be concerned about what is going to happen to the copyrights in your works. They could be your most valuable assets. Because any copyrights you hold will last for your lifetime, plus 50 years (if copyrighted since January 1, 1978), a copyright is something you can leave to your heirs in your will, and they can collect royalties or reprint fees long after you are gone.

Since there are any number of ways to divide these rights, you will want to think about it and make your wished known in your will. Since a copyright embodies a number of different rights, you can transfer them in their entirety or divide them between a number of different heirs as multiple shares. For example, a novelist might leave the dramatic rights to one heir and the translation rights to another. You could give the rights for the whole 50 years (after your death) to one person, or it could be divided, giving the first 25 years to one and the second 25 years to another. You actually can do it any way you want as long as there are clear guidelines to be followed. When you are having a lawyer prepare your will, be sure to let them know you want to make provisions for your copyrights and supply all the information needed to do so. Any such choices you fail to make now, the state will make for you later.

Monday, November 28, 2016


        All publishing rights are negotiable, so don’t be afraid to negotiate with publishers who ask for all rights when you only want to sell first or one-time rights. If a publisher wants a piece badly enough, they will usually be willing to negotiate.

        Even if you sell all rights to an article, you can retain book rights if you think you might want to include it in a book later. In the cover letter to the editor, or in the upper, right-hand corner of the manuscript put, “Book rights Reserved” under whatever other rights you are offering.

        Don’t forget that just because a publisher offers to buy a piece, you do not have to accept the offer if the rights arrangement or payment are not acceptable to you.

        When you and the publisher have come to an agreement about what rights they are buying, preferably first or one-time rights, be sure to watch out for any statements printed on the back of your check that indicate that signing the check conveys the transfer of all rights (or any rights not agreed on). If that happens, return the check and ask that that statement be removed. Some have suggested that if you write “for deposit only” on the back of the check and do not sign it, that you are not agreeing to it. That will not work. Simply cashing the check implies your agreement.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


The terms for when and how you are to be paid for a book are all covered in your book contract. It should indicate that you will be paid royalties once or twice a year (contract says which), and by what specific dates. Be sure to provide yourself with reminders so you can follow-up if the payments are not forthcoming when due. Since most publishers make these payments 90 days after the end of the accounting period, there is no reason for royalty payments to be late. If you have an agent, it will his/her job to deal with this kind of problem.

Following are some typical problems and how to deal with them yourself:

  1. If your royalty payment does not arrive on time, call the editor you worked with on the book and ask them to check into it for you. Follow up with a letter to the editor (reiterating your phone conversation) and another letter to the accounting department asking if the royalty payments have been sent out, and if so, letting them know you have not received yours. If you have been paid on time in earlier accounting periods, assume this is an oversight or lost check. If this is your first royalty payment, be more aggressive—although it could be that the royalty account has not been set up or set up correctly. In any case, you will want to correct any problems immediately.
  2. If this is a reputable publisher, the editor will likely follow through to correct any problems and be sure you receive your check. If the editor is evasive or uncooperative, you may have more to worry about. Don’t let the situation slide—follow through immediately and persistently until you are paid.
  3. Most book publishers pay on time, so if you have trouble getting paid it is usually a good sign that the publishing house is in financial trouble. If that is the case, it is usually best to follow the “squeaky wheel” principle. Let the publisher know that if you do not receive payment within two weeks, you will take legal action to collect.
  4. In some cases you may be paid on time, but you have serious questions about whether your sales were reported accurately or you were paid according to the terms of your contract. Always study your royalty statement carefully, and ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. Royalty statements are typically impossible to interpret, so don’t be intimidated. Ask those questions until you get satisfactory answers.
  5. If the answers aren’t satisfactory—and you suspect something is amiss—your contract should give you the option of paying an accountant to audit the publisher’s books in relationship to your royalty account. If the auditor finds a discrepancy of 15% or more (or the percentage indicated in your contract), they must pay that, plus the cost of the audit. Always check your contract to see what your options are (and try to get this clause added to any of your contracts before you sign them).
  6. Occasionally the problem in payment may be a difference of opinion about how the contract is interpreted, or you may discover that they are not abiding by the terms of the contract in calculating your royalties. For example, the contract may stipulate that if they sell books at a greater than 50% discount to bookstores or distributors, that you will get only half the usual royalty on those sales. That is a typical clause, but your publisher may be offering that higher discount on all sales to avoid paying you full royalties. You can challenge them in such a case, especially if the contract indicates that this is to be an untypical discount. It is best to have it written right into the contract that such discounts will be limited to a certain percentage of sales, but you can still likely win in court if the publisher is not living up to an industry standard or an author’s logical expectations.
  7. Since most publishing contracts today do not allow you to sue your publisher, if you get no satisfaction in collecting your royalties or resolving differences of opinion, you may have no recourse except arbitration (which most contracts indicate).
  8. Any time you have problems of any sort with your contract, always check the terms of your contract to see how to proceed. If legal action is called for, contact an attorney who is well versed in literary matters, and understands how the publishing industry operates.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Any writing not having copyright protection is said to be in the public domain. That would generally
be written material that either never had copyright protection, or for which the copyright has run out. Before the new law went into effect, a piece of writing could be copyrighted for 28 years, and be renewed for another 28 years—or a total of 56 years. In 1978 the total length of a copyright was changed to the author’s lifetime, plus 50 years. Note that all copyrights are extended to the end of the final year. For example, if a copyright went into effect on June 15, the copyright would be good through December 31st of the 50th year after the author’s death.

If a copyright was in its first 28 years of copyright registration when the new law went into effect in 1978, in the 28th year that copyright could be extended for 47 more years, for a total of 75. For that reason, anything that is 75 years old or older is always in public domain. When determining if the copyright has run out on something you wish to use, simply deduct 75 from the current year. If it was published prior to that date it is always in public domain.

Once a piece of writing is in public domain, it can never be copyrighted again. That is the reason you now see so many classic books or stories published by a number of different publishers. Since the material is in public domain, anyone can publish it without permission.

What Kinds of Materials are in Public Domain?

Following is a list of most of the materials that will be in public domain:

  1. Anything published more than 75 years ago.
  2. Anything published more than 28 years ago, if the registration wasn’t renewed.
  3. Anything published prior to 1978 without a proper copyright notice.
  4. Anything created by federal government employees as a part of their job.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


If you write about other people, you need to be aware of the privacy laws and what affect they have on such stories. Although we often hear of celebrities who have sued for invasion of privacy, the most ordinary citizen is protected by the same privacy laws that protect the celebrity—protected from unauthorized use of their name, likeness or personal history. The problem is the ongoing erosion of and changes in those privacy laws.

I would like to be able to give you a simple list of guidelines—a map of sorts-- to carry you through this minefield, but unfortunately the map is as full of holes as the minefield. In each case that comes before the courts, it comes down to how the judge decides to interpret privacy laws against the rights inherent in the first Amendment.

The rights of the individual will almost always win out when what is published is very personal or intimate—and the purpose in publishing it is wholly unworthy—or if what is written is obviously inaccurate.

Generally, the law says that “one who is part of a public scene may be lawfully photographed as part of that scene,” but if the person is being shown in a negative light within the scene, it could be an invasion of their privacy.

Another problem for the writer or photographer is if what they say or photograph gives the reader a false impression of the subject. For example, using the photo of a woman to illustrate someone else’s story of indiscretions—giving the impression that she was the guilty party.

Suits for invasion of privacy are not all that common, and if a suit is brought, the plaintiff must prove there was actual malice intended on the part of the writer or photographer. So generally, if you use your common sense, do your homework, always check your sources, and write only what you know to be true, revealing identities only when necessary, you won’t need to worry about being sued.