Writing World Newsletter Archive
Return to Newsletter Index · Home


                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 12:21         13,375 subscribers           November 1, 2012
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editors.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Copyright to articles and columns published in
this newsletter rests with their authors.  No article or column
may be published without the author's written permission unless
otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use is a copyright infringement.

THE EDITOR'S DESK: Once More, with Slightly Sharper Teeth, 
by Moira Allen 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Extending Your Character Range: Sex, Age
and Other, by Victoria Grossack 
FEATURE:  Copyright, Public Domain, and the Wild Wild Web, 
by Moira Allen
FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Kindle Author Resources Part 2, 
by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
WRITING CONTESTS WITH NO ENTRY FEES                                
The Author's Bookshelf 

you ask yourself five important questions. Stephen King and J.K.
Rowling did this, and look where they are now. Find out how to get
the writer's life you've only imagined and avoid regret. 
Ever dreamed of being a published author?  Writing for children 
is a great place to start. Learn the techniques from an experienced
writer. This unique program has helped 1000's like you become
published. Free qualifying test offered.  
* Feedback. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* Contests. Over 40 contests are always open and free to enter.
* Rankings. Statistics will show you how your writing is doing.
DON'T GET SCAMMED!  Choose the right Self Publishing Company for
your book. What you need to know before choosing a self publishing
company and the questions you should ask.


First, a Heartfelt Wish...
To all of our readers who were adversely affected by Hurricane
Sandy, we extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for a speedy

-- Moira and Dawn

Once More, with Slightly Sharper Teeth
Readers responded to last issue's editorial about copyright
infringement in a variety of ways.  Some wrote to thank me for
putting into words the pain, anger and frustration they have felt
upon finding their own works stolen.  Some wrote with questions
about copyright and public domain (which I have attempted to answer
in this issue's feature article, below).  And some...  Well, within
24 hours, at least two people had stolen Victoria's latest column
and posted it on their own sites.

So let's take another look at this issue, some of the sources of
confusion about copyright infringement, and some of the myths (read
"excuses") about stealing another writer's work.

First, there is considerable confusion over the term "public
domain."  That's not surprising.  The word "domain" sounds like a
location -- thus, many suppose that if something is "publicly
available," it's in the public domain.

In terms of copyright law, however, the term "public domain" does
not refer to public availability, but to public OWNERSHIP.  Public
domain materials are those that were either never protected by
copyright in the first place (e.g., press releases), or materials
for which copyright protection has expired (in America, that means
most materials published before 1923).  When an item is in the
"public domain," that means it's owned by the public, rather than
any private individual or organization, and thus it is free for
everyone to use.

Does this mean that anything published after 1923 is NOT in the
public domain?  Not necessarily.  Between 1923 and 1978, the answer
can be "it depends."  (See the chart at 
http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm for more information on
just what it depends upon.)  However, materials published after
1978 are protected for the lifetime of the author PLUS 70 years. 
That means that articles published in this newsletter will be
protected by copyright long after most of us have stopped reading

Please note, as well, that an article does not actually have to
bear a copyright notice to be protected.  Under copyright law, your
work is protected by copyright the moment you write it down. 
However, posting a copyright notice provides some extra levels of
protection; perhaps most importantly, it makes it impossible for
someone to claim that they "didn't know" your work was protected.  

Now let's look at two of the most common myths/excuses about

Excuse #1: "I'm doing it to help writers!"
That makes about as much sense as snatching a purse from one woman,
handing it to another, and proclaiming, "I'm helping women!"  One
cannot help writers by stealing from other writers.  In reality,
one is simply "helping oneself."

Excuse #2: "The writer should be GLAD of the extra exposure!"
I have yet to hear from a writer who is glad to have their material
used without their permission.  This excuse rings particularly
hollow in the many cases where an infringer removes the author's
byline, bio, links to their website and books, and any other
information the author might like to promote.  But if an infringer
truly believes authors are "glad" of the exposure, where is the
harm in asking?  If an author is genuinely grateful, permission
will be granted gladly.  If the author isn't, then one avoids the
faux pas of committing a criminal act based on a false assumption.

So let's say it straight out, to avoid any further confusion:
Copyright infringement is the act of using another person's
material without permission.  It is theft, in every sense of the
word.  It is illegal, immoral, and hurtful.  And eventually it may
end up hurting the thief: What reputable publisher would wish to
deal with an author who has a history of copyright infringement?

Now, do I fondly suppose that by saying this, I can change the
actions of writers who steal?  Of course not.  But
Writing-World.com CAN take actions that will at least prevent
writers from being able to claim "I didn't know it was wrong!" 
Henceforth, at Writing-World.com:

1) We will post a copyright statement at the top of every

2) We will post a statement of copyright and relevant restrictions
on each article within the newsletter.

3) We will post that same statement on articles currently published
on our website, where applicable. (If an author DOES authorize
reprints without the need to obtain permission, this will be noted.)

As a writer, you can take steps to protect your works as well.  Run
a search periodically on titles of your posted works, or on key
phrases within a work (infringers often change titles and remove
bylines).  When you find an infringement, we recommend contacting
the infringer first; many writers report positive results from a
simple, courteous e-mail.  If that fails, you can report infringers
to the appropriate blog host (e.g., Google), or click the little
gear button next to a Facebook post to report it.  If your work is
posted on a blog or Facebook and the infringer refuses to remove
it, add a comment to indicate that the work was posted without the
author's permission.  Keep in mind that an infringement can only be
challenged by the owner of the copyright, or by someone you have
authorized to act on your behalf.

Finally, let me reiterate Writing-World.com's policy on the
newsletter itself.  Readers are welcome to forward the newsletter
on by e-mail, IN ITS ENTIRETY.  They may not, however, post the
newsletter or any portion of the newsletter in a blog or website,
or reprint it in any way (in print or online), without permission,
as this violates the copyrights of our authors.

If you wish to share a great article that you've read here, there's
nothing wrong with posting or passing along the link to that
article.  Now, here I will freely admit that I have been slow in
getting issues and articles online.  So as part of our effort to
combat infringement, I'm going to step that up.  From now on, I
will include a "link to this article" URL at the end of every
article that we post.  (Keep in mind that some columns and
editorials are NOT posted on the website.)

Again, we don't expect to be able to single-handedly end the wave
of copyright infringement that is sweeping the web.  All we really
aim to do is change the way infringers see themselves when they
look in the mirror.  Right now, I suspect, there are many writers
who argue:  "I didn't know.  I'm helping other writers.  I'm not a
thief!"  If you are one of those, well, then...

Now, you do.  No, you're not.  And yes, you are.

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and this should not be construed as
legal advice.

Link to this article here:

Copyright 2012 Moira Allen 


Read by over 1,000 children's book and magazine editors, this
newsletter can be your own personal source of editors' wants and
needs, market tips, and professional insights.  Get a FREE issue to
start. http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/AY529


Extending Your Character Range: Sex, Age and Other 
One of my on-line students -- let's call him Joe -- showed plenty
of talent in his assignments.  I noticed, however, a pattern: all
of his characters were males in their teens and in their twenties. 
Not surprisingly, Joe was a male in his twenties, obeying the old
adage, "Write what you know."  Nevertheless I challenged him to
create a female character.  Joe's first female was in a coma, with
her young husband hovering at her side.  I then specified that the
female needed to be CONSCIOUS.   

Many male authors have difficulty creating realistic women; the
reverse is true as well.  Mr. Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice" is
rich, handsome, virtuous, and only marred by character flaws that
are cured by his love for Elizabeth Bennet -- wonderfully
entertaining but pretty unlikely.  

Jane Austen actually made a point of not writing scenes with just
men in them.  Her scenes with men talking to each other usually
have a woman present, perhaps softening the masculine discourse
with feminine attendance; she has men report to women on their
conversations with other men; she sometimes summarizes actions
between men.  She rarely, however, shows them.

If the great Jane Austen did not cross the gender barrier, then why
should we?

And what about other barriers?  Should old people write about the
young, or young people write about the old?  What about rich and
poor?  Different races and different cultures?  Are these barriers
worth crossing in your stories or not?

There are reasons for and against.  

Some genres do not require learning to write realistically from
other character viewpoints and others may even discourage it.  If
you are writing a military novel about D-Day you may need few
female characters or even none.  If you are writing a young adult
novel set in a boarding school you may focus on rich teenagers and
prefer to use caricatures of adults.
You may also not want to create realistic characters because
realism won't please your readers.  Devotees of romance may not
want to read about men who snore, or heroes who are more
preoccupied by food or cars than they are about choosing the
perfect present for their leading ladies.  Many people pick up
books to escape their humdrum or even difficult lives; they don't
want more exposure to reality.

Although some of Jane Austen's male leads may have been a little
too perfect, her other male characters were well-rounded and
believable.  Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet and Mr. Wickham have flaws and
depth which enhance the appeal of "Pride and Prejudice."  

Besides, what if you want to develop more characters?  What if your
story NEEDS to go further?  Could you do it?  Can you imagine a
situation from other points of view?  

A good reason for working on this is the potential conflict and
drama provided by different points of view.  Consider a situation
in which a factory is being closed and the jobs are being sent
overseas.  Here are some perspectives you could consider: the
ambitious young executive who wants a promotion and a pile of
money; his wife; his mistress; the old fellow who will lose his job
and his pension; the Hispanic single mother; the secretly
homosexual accountant being blackmailed into cooking the books; the
journalist being bribed to write editorials promoting one position.
 You could also include the other side's perspective -- those
receiving the new jobs, say in China or in India.  

Understanding the different characters can open up possibilities
for your story.

Identify Your Gaps 
Assuming you want to extend your character repertoire, how do you
go about it?  Try reviewing basic categories you might find in a
Census questionnaire: gender, age category, level of income, race,
ethnicity, religion, marital status, education level.  

Which groups of people have you ignored in your writing?  Which
groups would add most to your stories?  What would your readers
enjoy?  As learning to think outside of your usual boxes takes
work, you should prioritize.  If your story is set in the French
Revolution, you probably don't need to concern yourself with the
attitudes of those living in Korea.

Just becoming aware of these categories will help you increase your
ability to write about them, but there are other things you can do
besides think about it.  Study can make a difference.  Here are
some suggestions:

GENDER: Although men and women allegedly belong to the same
species, studies show that we really do think differently.  The
claim that men think about sex every seven seconds has been
debunked -- apparently there was never a study to support it -- but
there is evidence that men think about sex about 1.8 times as often
as women (see reference below).  Men also seem to think about food
and sleep more often than women.  

You could also read the classic "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from
Venus."  That may help you understand the differences in
relationships.  You should consider, too, the physical differences.
 Men shave; women have babies.  Men tend to be taller and stronger;
women tend to be shorter and weaker.

AGE: It should be easier to write about those who are younger in
comparison with writing about those who are older, because we all
were young once, right?  Yet we often forget certain aspects of our
youth (some of us would even prefer to forget).  So take some time
to remember.  Observe kids in the age group you wish to portray. 
How do they move -- how do they talk -- how do they dress -- how
much do they sleep -- what do they eat?  How does the world look to

You can apply these questions to every age group.  You should also
focus on issues that you know are more important at different ages.
 Puberty: skin for all teenagers, changing voices and facial hair
for males; changing bodies for females.  Old age: less sleep for
many; digestion problems, worse vision and hearing.

RACE AND CULTURE: If you can study actual works created by those
from other races and cultures do so.  If these are not available,
which might be true if you are placing your story in a prehistoric
setting, then do what you can with the information supplied by
archaeology and other sources.

Plunge in
Your first attempt to extend your character repertoire may not be
that successful.  You may not be comfortable, and you should not
expect to be.  The first time you went bowling, were you any good? 
 Did you get better?  Practice makes a difference.  

You also need to be careful with respect to stereotypes. 
Stereotypes often exist because some people in a group behave a
certain way, but the stereotype can also exist because that is how
the people outside the group choose to perceive that group.

Furthermore, each category will contain a range of personalities
and attitudes.  So you should not think that "all men will react
this way" or "all women believe that."   This should be
encouraging, for you can comfort yourself  that at least one person
in that group might behave like the one you've created.

Although for each of these attributes you could check a box, often
there is a range of possibilities.  A character may be of a mixed
race.  Another may have a low income on paper but secret sources of
money.  A character may belong to a church but not believe.  

I think we should amend "Write what you know" to "Write what you
can imagine."  After all, we fiction writers are supposed to use
our imaginations professionally. 

For those who want to read more about what men and women are
thinking -- or perhaps what they admit to thinking -- here's the


I considered including different passages from "Pride and
Prejudice" to make my points.  However, that would have taken too
much room in this column, so if you're interested, consider
chapters four and eight and the opening sentence to infer Jane
Austen's attitude.

Until next time! 


A version of this article appeared at the Coffeehouse for Writer's
Fiction Fix. Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English
Literature at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and
articles in publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I
Love Cats. She teaches a variety of writing classes at 
http://www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/courses.html.  Victoria
Grossack is the co-author of the Tapestry of Bronze series
(Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes; Arrow of
Artemis) based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. 
Besides all this, Victoria is married with kids, and (though
American) spends most of her time in Europe.  Her hobbies include
gardening, hiking and bird-watching.  Visit her website at 
http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com.   

Copyright 2012 Victoria Grossack.

This article may not be reprinted without the written permission of
the author.

Link to this article here:


Enroll FREE in a 14-part 'mini course' in short-story writing
success. This highly acclaimed Writers' Village 'Master Class'
shows you how to get published - profitably - and win cash prizes
in fiction contests. Discover how to open a chapter with 'wow'
impact, add new energy to a scene, build a character in moments,
sustain page-turning suspense even through long passages of
exposition... plus 97 additional powerful ideas you can use at
once. Enjoy the course without charge now at:


WRITING A MYSTERY OR CRIME STORY? Forensic Science for Writers: A
Reference Guide can help. Based on a long-running course offered
in colleges and universities, this survey shows you how to create
believable plot twists and enhance your stories with realistic
forensic details.  Available from Amazon and other bookstores.
For details visit http://forensics4writers.com/the-book


Amazon UK Told to Start Charging VAT
For a long time ebook prices at Amazon.co.uk have been considerably
low and this is because the company registered itself in
Luxembourg, where VAT is only 3% and not in the UK where VAT is
20%.  Now, however, the company has been told by the European
Commission to increase the amount of VAT it pays.  Apparently,
according to this article, Amazon is pushing this VAT increase onto
publishers.  For more on this story visit: 

Penguin and Random House to Merge
Pearson's Penguin and Bertelsmann's Random House are to be merged
into a new company called Penguin Random House.  The merger will be
complete by the second half of 2013. I rather hoped, like many
others, that the new company would be called Random Penguin.  The
merger is not being looked upon too kindly by agents who fear that
the merger of two publishing houses means less competition and
lower advances for authors.  For more on this story visit: 

Pew Survey Shows that Young Readers Do Use American Libraries
The survey shows that 80% of Americans aged 16 - 29 have read a
book in the past year and that 60% have used a local library, but
not necessarily to borrow a book!  To find out more about the state
of reading in the US visit:  http://tinyurl.com/8zak6up


FEELING PRESSURED TO PRICE A JOB? Follow the 3-step process in
Freelance Fee Setting: Quick Guide for When a Client Demands a Price
NOW. This brief e-book is by the author of the award-winning What 
to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants.
Get it now at http://tinyurl.com/86qfupw


Writing Jobs and Opportunities

New Literary Magazine Seeking Contributions for Inaugural Issue
Red Earth Review is being launched by the Red Earth MFA program at
Oklahoma City University.  The first issue will be published in
Summer 2013 and they are seeking poetry, short stories and essays
for this issue. Payment will be in copies of the magazine. 

Espresso Ink Open to Submissions
Espresso Ink seeks quality submissions of previously unpublished
fiction, visual art, criticism, and poetry. 2000 words maximum.
Editors encourage artistic exploration in all work. Submissions are
accepted year-round.  This magazine responds more rapidly to paper
submissions rather than email submissions. The only payment is a
copy of the issue of the magazine your work appears in. 

Stone Voices Open to Submissions - Snail Mail Only
This magazine examines the links between art and spirituality. 
They are looking for articles, 


 words) that explore the links between the
visual arts and spirituality.  They are also always on the look-out
for new columns too. Payment is by a small honorarium, three copies
of the magazine and three one year subscriptions to the magazine. 
For more information visit their website: http://www.stonevoices.co/

IMAGINATIONTREE.COM - Gifts for the writer in your life (you!).
Browse our brand new selection of tools for writers. Writer's
Boxes, Writing Journals, Notepads and Pens. For jotting the
outline of a great story, taking notes, or anything else that
deserves to be written on the page. http://www.imaginationtree.com


FEATURE: Copyright, Public Domain, and the Wild Wild Web
By Moira Allen 

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and this should not be construed as
legal advice!

The growth of the Internet has brought an explosion of
opportunities for writers.  It has enabled writers to find markets
and audiences in niches never before accessible.  It has opened
doors to new forms of expression and access to new types of media. 
It has brought about the rise of the e-book, and a surge of new
opportunities in the Kindle and Nook markets.  It has brought
opportunities for communication, connection and sharing through
e-mail, chats, forums, websites and social media outlets that, a
little over a decade ago, we could scarcely have dreamt of.

It has also brought a wave of confusion about what rights we, and
others, have with respect to the work that we're now transmitting
so blithely through the ether.  If it's publicly "available," does
that mean it "belongs" to the public?  Many fledgling writers have
supposed, erroneously, that if something is posted online or
transmitted by e-mail, it's "free to use" and can be reposted or
retransmitted at will. Others, conversely, fear that putting their
work out there means that they'll lose the right to publish or even
control it.  

So let's take a moment to clarify the issue of what copyright law
protects, online and off -- and what types of materials are, and
are not, "free to use."  

What Does Copyright Protect?
The first official "copyright law" was established in Britain in
1710.  Here's a definition of the term from Wikipedia:

"Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving
the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for
a limited time. Generally, it ... gives the copyright holder the
right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the
work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially
benefit from it, and other related rights." The article goes on to
state that "...the contemporary intent of copyright is to promote the
creation of new works by giving authors control of and profit from

In plain English, here are some of the things that your copyright
enables you to do:

It protects your right to claim AUTHORSHIP of a work you have
written or created (including writing, artwork, photography, music,
sculpture, and anything else you create in a fixed form). You, and
only you, have the right to say that you are the author of your own

It grants you exclusive OWNERSHIP of your works. No one else can
buy or sell them, publish them, take them or give them away,
without your permission.  You, and only you, have the right to
determine how your works are used, where, when, and by whom.  Only
you have the right to submit your works for publication, and to
accept (or refuse) a publication contract.

It provides you with a suite of RIGHTS that you can license to
others.  This includes a variety of publication rights, as well as
performance rights, the right to display your work, and more.  Note
that in most cases, licensing some or even all of your rights does
not mean that you've given up your copyright.

It gives you the right to create DERIVATIVE works.  This is
particularly important for fiction writers.  If you create a
character, a world, or a particular plot line, only you may use it
in additional stories, sequels, spin-offs, etc.  Only J.K. Rowling,
for example, may write about Harry and Dumbledore, or set a tale at
Hogwarts.  And while anyone can set a story in New York, only Cleo
Coyle can write about the Village Blend coffee shop that she
invented for her "coffeehouse mysteries."  For nonfiction writers,
this has applications in terms of spinning off different versions
of a similar article for different markets -- a short version, a
long version, a version for parents and another for teens, a
column, a book, etc.

It gives you the sole right to PROFIT from your intellectual
property.  More specifically, it assigns the potential profits from
your works to you and you alone.  Only you have the right to sell
your work and make a profit from it -- a right that transfers to
your heirs or estate.

All of these rights -- and here's the important bit -- are
exclusive.  They belong only to you, as the creator of your work. 
This list, therefore, not only demonstrates what rights copyright
law grants to you, but the rights it denies to others with respect
to the use of your work.

Copyright and Licensing Rights
As writers, our goal, typically, is not to hold onto every right
granted us under copyright law.  Most of us want to be published,
and that means giving up certain rights in exchange for certain

Other articles on Writing-World.com address the array of rights
that writers are most likely to be asked to sell or transfer, so I
won't attempt to repeat that information here.  However, I will
take a moment to touch on the broad categories of rights that
you're likely to license:

Media.  This refers to the way in which your work may be published
and distributed.  The two most common media designations are
"print" and "electronic," with "audio" as a distant third. 
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for a publication
that distributes in only one medium to seek the rights to the other
-- print publications often demand electronic rights and vice versa.

Distribution.  In the days of print-only publication, American
writers typically sold "First North American Serial Rights"
(FNASR), meaning that their works would be distributed primarily
within North America.  (Distribution rights refer to where the work
is distributed, not to the location of the publisher.)  When a work
is published online, that term is meaningless, as an article in an
electronic publication can be accessed by readers around the world.
 Another type of distribution right is "language" rights (e.g.,
"English-language rights") rather than geographic rights. 

Exclusivity.  The degree of exclusivity that is attached to a set
of rights ensures the degree to which a publisher will be the only
agent licensed to use, distribute, or profit from your work. Some
rights, such as first rights, are exclusive by nature -- after all,
a work can only be published first ONCE.  First rights are
sometimes subdivided by media or distribution (e.g., first
electronic rights, first British serial rights), but many
publications consider any form of publication to be "first," and
will treat a previously published work as a reprint regardless of
such sub-clauses.  Some publishers may require total exclusivity;
others may request exclusive use of a work for a period of time or
in a particular market area.  Probably the most "exclusive" rights
transfer is the transfer of "all rights" to a publisher, which
basically precludes the writer from using that work again, anywhere.

Common Misperceptions about Rights
Writers are often confused about what happens to their rights in
the absence of a contract or formal agreement.  Some of the common
misperceptions I hear about rights include:

1) "I didn't sign a contract, so I didn't give the publication any
rights."  Many rights are "use" rights, which means that they are
transferred when used, regardless of whether you have a contract. 
You have transferred, at the very least, "first" rights, or first
rights in that particular medium.  However, in the absence of a
contract, a publisher can't claim a host of additional rights --
even if it states that it acquires such rights in its guidelines.

2) "I wasn't paid, so the publisher didn't buy any rights." 
Payment, or lack thereof, means even less than the absence of a
contract.  As above, all that matters is whether you permitted the
use of the material.  If you did, the associated rights were
transferred, whether or not you were paid.

3) "All rights revert to the author after publication."  I always
snicker when I see this line in a contract or publishers'
guidelines.  Some rights may revert, but never all.  First rights,
for example, can never "revert," because once they are used, they
are gone.  Similarly, once a piece has been published, no
subsequent publication can be fully "exclusive."

4) "Our collective copyright notice means we own your copyright." 
Most publications, print or electronic, carry a "collective
copyright notice" that applies to the publication as a whole.  This
does not mean that the publication owns the copyright to individual
contributions -- even though there are, indeed, publishers who
believe otherwise.  According to the Copyright Office: 
"Under the present copyright law, the copyright in a separate
contribution to a published collective work such as a periodical is
distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole. In
the absence of an express transfer from the author of the
individual article, the copyright owner in the collective work is
presumed to have acquired only the privilege of using the
contribution in the collective work and in subsequent revisions and
later editions of the collective work." (

This notice does, however, provide a benefit from you.  Again,
according to the Copyright Office, the presence of this notice can
be enough to defeat a defense of "innocent infringement" if your
work is stolen, even if your own article does not bear a copyright

5) "Your copyright reverts to you on publication..."  I've often seen
this clause in guidelines or contracts.  However, if you never
transferred your copyright (via contract) in the first place, it
doesn't "revert" -- because you never lost it.  The publisher
doesn't own it, and never did, even if they erroneously believe
that they do.

It is, of course, possible to transfer your copyright to a
publisher.  This is most often accomplished through a
"work-for-hire" agreement.  Work-for-hire contracts were originally
developed to ensure that a company would be the legal owner of the
works created by its employees.  However, many publishers use this
term to obtain the copyright to works created by freelance writers.

When you sign a work-for-hire contract, you are literally giving up
your copyright, and all the rights and protections that it
provides.  It means that you can no longer legally claim to be the
author of the work (even if your name is still on the byline).  A
publisher is no longer obligated to credit you with the work, but
can remove your name or attribute the work to someone else.  You
have no further rights to sell (or withhold) the work, or to profit
from it.  Perhaps more significantly, you lose the right to create
derivative works -- which means that, in the case of an article,
you couldn't market a "revised" version of the same piece without
being in danger of infringing upon the publisher's copyright.

Copyright and Public Domain
The preceding should, I hope, help establish what copyright law
enables you to do with your own material -- and what it allows
publishers to do with your material.  But what about the material
of others?  By making so much material available so publicly, the
Internet has caused many writers a great deal of confusion about
what types of material are actually "publicly available."  

The term "public domain" doesn't help.  Nor does it help to find,
when you go to Google for a definition, you find the following
information right at the top of the search results:

1. The state of belonging or being available to the public as a

2. Not subject to copyright.

Unfortunately, many writers  have come to suppose that "public
domain," in the copyright sense, refers to the first definition:
"being available to the public."  However, as it applies to
copyright law, public domain actually means "BELONGING to the
public" rather than "AVAILABLE to the public."  A work may be
available to the public without belonging to that public.  

Returning to the initial description of copyright, you'll recall
that one of its provisions was to establish the OWNERSHIP of a
creative work.  When you create a work, you are its owner.  As its
owner, you have the sole right to determine what happens to that
work and where it is published, and you are also the only person
who has the right to sell that work to a publisher for a profit. 
Your work is PRIVATELY owned (by you), not PUBLICLY owned (by

You can certainly make your work "publicly available," by posting
it on a website, by selling it to a magazine or webzine, by
broadcasting it, by creating an e-book, or whatever.  But even if
you "give it away" for free (again, for example, by posting it
online or creating a free e-book), that doesn't transfer its
ownership out of your possession.  It's still yours.  

When a work ceases to be privately owned by one person, and becomes
publicly owned by everyone, that means that all the rights hitherto
reserved to you are now equally available to everyone.  That's why,
today, anyone can write a story featuring, say, Romeo and Juliet,
sell it, and profit from it.  (However, just to be clear, your
Romeo story, as a new creative work, is itself protected by
copyright, even though the characters are not.) 

(It's important to note, however, that just because a work is in
the public domain, that does not mean it's available to plagiarize.
 While it's perfectly legal to write a new, original story about
Romeo and  Juliet, sell it, publish it, or post it online, it's NOT
acceptable to copy an existing Shakespearian play and try to sell
it as your own!)

One of the critical elements of copyright law is determining when
and how a work passes out of copyright protection and into the
public domain.  Many charts and articles are available to help one
determine whether a work can be considered "publicly owned" and
therefore available to you to use as you see fit.  To make things
more confusing, the rules on when and how something passes into the
public domain vary from country to country.  For U.S. writers,
however, here's a short, and certainly not all-inclusive, list of
materials that are considered "public domain:"

1) Materials published prior to 1923.  Books, magazines, stories,
articles, poetry, songs -- anything published before 1923 is
generally fair game.  There ARE exceptions, but they are rare. 
(The character of Sherlock Holmes, for example, is still protected
even though the first stories were published in the 1890's.)

2) Materials published by the U.S. government.  Most publicly
issued government documents, reports, studies, etc. are public

3) Materials issued as press releases or marked "for public

4) Materials that are classified as copyright-free by the author
(i.e., the author voluntarily forfeits the copyright).

There is another category of almost-copyright-free materials that
fall under the "Creative Commons" license.  Actually, Creative
Commons offers a wide range of license options, depending on how
much or how little control an author wishes to retain over a work. 
Creative Commons is NOT the same thing as public domain, and a
Creative Commons license may have a variety of use restrictions and
attribution requirements.  Its goal, however, is to make material
more freely available for re-use, distribution and development.

If a work does not fall into one of these categories, however, it
is exceedingly unwise to assume that it is in the public domain, or
available for re-use or redistribution, regardless of where it is
found or how "available" it seems to be.  The presence or absence
of a copyright notice is irrelevant; copyright law no longer
requires material to actually physically display a notice to be
protected.  The mere act of CREATING a work places it under your
copyright -- so the fact that a work has been created outside of
any of the categories above means that it most probably is under
someone else's copyright.

Summing Up...
While the Internet has changed the playing field for writers in
many ways, surprisingly, copyright law is not one of them.  Many
writers suppose that the "rules" about copyright have somehow
relaxed in the Internet age.  In fact, quite the opposite is true. 
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act strengthened existing copyright
regulations, responding to the amount of theft and piracy that was
taking place online.  

Copyright law treats all creative works the same, regardless of
where and how those works are published and/or distributed.  In the
eyes of copyright law, the form, mechanism, or medium of
publication and distribution is irrelevant; all that matters is how
the work is CREATED.  It exists to protect the creator -- you.  

Copyright law was originally developed to protect writers from
avaricious publishers and booksellers.  Today, it still fulfills
that function.  Its creators probably never imagined, however, that
one day it would be protecting writers from each other!

For More Information:

Copyright Law - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law

Public Domain - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

The Statute of Anne (the original 1710 copyright law) - 

Creative Commons - http://creativecommons.org/about  

On Writing-World.com:

The Nitty-Gritty of Copyright, by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Rights: What They Mean and Why They're Important, by Marg Gilks

Top Ten Questions About Copyright Permissions, by David Taylor

Understanding Rights and Copyright, by Moira Allen


Copyright Moira Allen 2012

Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written
nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor
for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest,
and Byline. Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting
Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries,
Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to
Writing Contests.  In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts
Mostly-Victorian.com (http://www.mostly-victorian.com), a growing
archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss
Support Page (http://www.pet-loss.net), a resource for grieving pet
owners.  She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory
writer's cat.  She can be contacted at editors "at"

This article may be reprinted in accordance with the terms and
conditions specified here:

Link to this article here:

For more information on copyright read: 


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Kindle Author Resources Part 2, 
Marketing on Twitter
By Aline Lechaye  

Last month we looked at some places to post news about your Kindle
eBook promotion. But what if posting details about a discounted (or
even free) eBook isn't enough to catch people's attention? (I know,
what more do they want, these Kindle readers out there in the
world? Writing a book and giving it to them for free isn't

This month, we'll be looking at some ways to promote your Kindle
eBook on Twitter. But first, for those of you who don't have a
Kindle, Amazon has a Kindle app for Android, Windows, Blackberry,
and Apple phones. There are also versions for laptops, desktops,
and tablets. Download the app at 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771, and
start reading Kindle books on the go. 

Twitter is still among one of the most popular social networking
sites to promote a book in the world today. Authors stress about
Twitter. They stress about when to tweet, what to tweet, how many
followers they have, and how many followers they have that aren't
spammers. Most of all, authors stress about how to get new Twitter
followers. Turns out, one way to get new Twitter followers is by
following other people. Every time you follow someone, Twitter
sends them an email to tell them you're now following them. This
(hopefully) results in said person looking up your profile, taking
an interest in what you do, and following you back. 

But how do you find that wonderful potential reader/tweeter to

Refollow (http://refollow.com) lets you search for new followers by
the people they follow, the things they mention in their tweets or
profiles, or the people who follow them. You can further filter
your search results by the language they speak, the things they've
mentioned or never mentioned in their tweets, the followers they
have, the number of tweets they've posted, and so on. You can then
look over the tweeters in the search results, decide who you want
to follow, and then click the "Follow" button to the top right side
of the search results. The free version of Refollow comes with 100
free follows/unfollows. Use them wisely!

Tweepi (http://tweepi.com) is another free service that helps you
find new people to follow, based on the people they follow, the
lists they've joined, and the people who are following them.
Currently, Tweepi has disabled their mass follow function, so
you'll have to manually check the checkboxes to the left of the
search results to follow. Tweepi has some great features: for
example, the option to "Flush" the tweeters who didn't follow you
back after you followed them. 

Use this nifty little tool on KindleBoards to recommend your Kindle
eBook on Twitter or Facebook: http://www.kindleboards.com/like/.
Simply type the name of your eBook or your name into the search
box, and then click the buttons below the search results to Like or
tweet. The link generated on your Facebook and Twitter page will
take your followers to a mini profile of the eBook, complete with
product description, customer reviews, book sample, and
recommendations to other books by the same author.


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com

Copyright 2012 Aline Lechaye

This article may not be reprinted without the written permission of


screenwriters attempting to beat the odds, publishing on Kindle
(for free) opens up a golden opportunity to get noticed and earn 
money. "Publish Your Screenplay on Kindle" by London Tracy



I can't believe I never came across this site before!  99U is a
site for creative types and is packed full of thought-provoking
articles on topics as wide-ranging as how to negotiate a pay rise,
to which is more beneficial, positive or negative thinking? It has
lots of useful videos, blogs and even soundtracks to help you as
you work. 

This is another site I came across recently that I find helps me
keep the black dog at bay, get my mind in focus and get on with
things.  This is especially useful for those days, and we all have
them, when nothing seems to go to plan.  

This is a great blog that I came across via Facebook. This handy
blog, written by experienced food writer Dianne Jacobs, is packed
full of hints and tips, interviews with other food writers and
career advice. 


SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING? Join the National Association of Independent
Writers and Editors, the professional association with a
career-building difference. We partner with you to create a
strategic online presence with genuine credibility. You get a free
NAIWE-linked website (and more) so you'll be where people come to
find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers
American Proverbs About Women, by Dr. Lois Kerschen

Battles that Altered the World, by Jay Kimmel

A Red Sea of Red Tape, by Larry Vandeventer

Find this and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know: 
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach more than 140,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Readers are welcome to forward this newsletter by e-mail IN ITS
ENTIRETY.  This newsletter may not be reposted or republished in
any form, online or in print, nor may individual articles be 
published or posted without the written permission of the author
unless otherwise indicated.

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com) 

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2012 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor