First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

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First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby RedImperator » 2009-11-24 10:12am

Posted with Mayabird's approval:

If you are writing an original fic, be aware that posting it here constitutes an exercise of your first rights; that is, first rights to publish a story or novel anywhere, in any format. First rights are the most valuable rights you own besides the copyright itself, and once you exercise them, they are gone forever, even if you take the story down later. If you are thinking your short story might be commercially publishable, and that you might want to pursue that avenue someday, then do not post it here in any form, under any circumstances. There is virtually no paying market for stories without first rights. If you have a novel-length work, be advised that while book publishers can be more flexible, not all are, and you will freeze yourself out of some markets, and so you should think very carefully about posting it online.

We repeat: once the story is posted, your first rights have been exercised, even if you take it down later. This will make a novel more difficult to publish and a short story unpublishable entirely (even many story contests do not want a story which has appeared anywhere). If you are looking for advice and critique for a story before publication, you should join the Writer's Guild, an online writing workshop, or, better yet, find a few trusted people and correspond by email (password protected, members-only forums don't count as first rights, and neither does email).

COPYRIGHT

Please note that the above does not apply to copyright. First rights are the right to be the first to publish a work. Copyright is the overall right to control a work, from which all others rights spring, and must be explicitly given up by the author. Once a work is committed to any permanent medium, including computer memory, copyright attaches--contrary to popular belief, there is no need to register with the copyright office. The author of any original story in this forum holds copyright, and unless he grants explicit permission, may not be reworked, redistributed, or resold in any way by any party except the author himself. This is beyond SDN rules; that's copyright law in North America.


Note that none of this applies to fanfic authors, who for reasons which should be obvious do not have any prospect of commercially publishing their works.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby White Haven » 2009-11-24 11:12am

Wouldn't flagging the Fanfics forum as invisible to non-members protect original fiction from losing first rights? It would be a minor annoyance, if that, to our members, and could potentially spare some grief down the road.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2009-11-24 11:36am

That might suck since a lot of the new members, for example, got drawn in by reading Stuart's work, or Stravo's Star Cross works, or something.

Perhaps a special sub-forum in Fanfics especially for authors who want to post their original works to only the SD.net audience?
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby GrandMasterTerwynn » 2009-11-24 12:54pm

White Haven wrote:Wouldn't flagging the Fanfics forum as invisible to non-members protect original fiction from losing first rights? It would be a minor annoyance, if that, to our members, and could potentially spare some grief down the road.

It may afford protection to fiction posted after that, but for everything that's been posted to the forum already; it's much too late, since Google and the other search engines have already crawled through it and completely disseminated it into the wilds of the interweb. It also offers no protection if Joe Blow decides he likes something you wrote and prints out a copy for his buddies to read. The best option for aspiring original fiction writers would be to join the Writer's Guild, since that is accessible only to other members of the guild. Moreover, what's produced by the Guild doesn't have nearly the escape-into-the-wild potential that even an invisible Fanfics forum would.

If you must test out your original writing in an open environment; write a short story, and accept that this story will never, ever be commercially salable. If you're thinking about posting a longer work that you hope will be commercially published someday; I'd think you only be less-screwed if you(*):

A) Only published a small part of it.
B) This part you self-published online will bear only a passing resemblance to the full novel, on the account of being a few major revisions behind the novel in it's final first draft manuscript form. Meaning that the two are separate and distinguishable works.

Be aware that you'll still have to disclose that you've done this to whomever is representing you / your potential publisher.

(* - May be total bullshit and you may be totally screwed. Your results may vary.)

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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby RedImperator » 2009-11-24 03:54pm

White Haven wrote:Wouldn't flagging the Fanfics forum as invisible to non-members protect original fiction from losing first rights? It would be a minor annoyance, if that, to our members, and could potentially spare some grief down the road.
This is something that's under discussion among the moderators now. From my reading of the situation, this would provide some measure of protection. However, it's in a gray area. When publishers say it's okay to post in a private, members-only, password protected community, they mean something more like the Writer's Guild, where you have to be a writer to enter and stories are posted for critiquing help. By comparison, the barrier to entry onto SDN (and hence Fanfics) is very low. Password blocking Fanfics might or might not protect writers who post in it.

Password blocking would primarily be for writers like me, who started out writing something with no intention to publish and then changed their minds. If you're sure you want to publish, I wouldn't put it in Fanfics.

Shroom Man 777 wrote:That might suck since a lot of the new members, for example, got drawn in by reading Stuart's work, or Stravo's Star Cross works, or something.

Perhaps a special sub-forum in Fanfics especially for authors who want to post their original works to only the SD.net audience?
That is a consideration. The overwhelming majority of what's posted in Fanfics is...well, fanfics, and their authors aren't concerned with publication. And the most popular original work, TSW, is self-published, so Stuart doesn't have to worry about any of this. It might be that the staff decides that it's worth losing a relative handful of original work in order to keep Fanfics visible.

There might be merit to your idea as well. I'll talk with Mayabird about it.

GrandMasterTerwynn wrote:If you must test out your original writing in an open environment; write a short story, and accept that this story will never, ever be commercially salable. If you're thinking about posting a longer work that you hope will be commercially published someday; I'd think you only be less-screwed if you(*):

A) Only published a small part of it.
While I wouldn't stake my career on advice from me, I think small excerpts are acceptable, especially of novels. Short stories, I wouldn't let any part of them anywhere near the Internet.

B) This part you self-published online will bear only a passing resemblance to the full novel, on the account of being a few major revisions behind the novel in it's final first draft manuscript form. Meaning that the two are separate and distinguishable works.
This one's wrong. Subsequent drafts are new editions of the same work, not whole new works, unless you change the story so much that it's totally unrecognizable between drafts. Think about it this way: if the first draft were published as one book, and the final draft were published as another other, would the authors be able to sue each other for copyright infringement? If they could, it's still the same book.

Be aware that you'll still have to disclose that you've done this to whomever is representing you / your potential publisher.
Absolutely. Don't even think you could lie or hide something like this. Not only would you be on the hook for breach of contract if the publisher found out (and responsible for returning your advance--sucks for you if you've already spent it), but publishing is a small world, and you don't want a reputation as someone who fucks editors around.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby Edi » 2009-11-24 04:37pm

I turned this topic to an announcement because that's what it's supposed to be, only Red doesn't have mod powers anymore.

To reiterate, I have friends who are in the publishing process, one who does a lot of work for the Clarion South writing workshop in Australia for example and who knows damned many authors. Her advice on this was the same.

If you have an original story and you entertain even half a notion of trying to get it published, DO NOT POST IT ONLINE. Anywhere. I would not post my stuff even in the Writers' Guild, and that place is about as secure as you ever get with an online venue.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby GrandMasterTerwynn » 2009-11-24 04:46pm

RedImperator wrote:
GrandMasterTerwynn wrote:If you must test out your original writing in an open environment; write a short story, and accept that this story will never, ever be commercially salable. If you're thinking about posting a longer work that you hope will be commercially published someday; I'd think you only be less-screwed if you(*):

A) Only published a small part of it.
While I wouldn't stake my career on advice from me, I think small excerpts are acceptable, especially of novels. Short stories, I wouldn't let any part of them anywhere near the Internet.

I believe so to. For a certain definition of "small." What counts as "small," I'm entirely unsure.

B) This part you self-published online will bear only a passing resemblance to the full novel, on the account of being a few major revisions behind the novel in it's final first draft manuscript form. Meaning that the two are separate and distinguishable works.
This one's wrong. Subsequent drafts are new editions of the same work, not whole new works, unless you change the story so much that it's totally unrecognizable between drafts. Think about it this way: if the first draft were published as one book, and the final draft were published as another other, would the authors be able to sue each other for copyright infringement? If they could, it's still the same book.

Well . . . fuck . . . That's likely going to call for a very drastic rewrite of my first eight chapters, then. Or completely restructuring the other twenty-two. I'm going to have to think about this. Let this be a lesson to you, ladies and gentlemen.

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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby CaptainChewbacca » 2009-11-24 06:05pm

There ARE services you can hire which will sanitize the internet of particular data. If you were to give them copies of your story and/or keywords and pay a fee (several hundred dollars) they can get rid of it all. I personally spent a few weeks of my spare time flushing, deleting, and removing the first 100 pages of an original work of mine from the internet.

Its a LOT harder than you think.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby RedImperator » 2009-11-24 06:59pm

CaptainChewbacca wrote:There ARE services you can hire which will sanitize the internet of particular data. If you were to give them copies of your story and/or keywords and pay a fee (several hundred dollars) they can get rid of it all. I personally spent a few weeks of my spare time flushing, deleting, and removing the first 100 pages of an original work of mine from the internet.

Its a LOT harder than you think.
Doesn't matter. What it someone downloaded it to his hard drive? What if your entire potential market has already read it? Once your exercise your first rights, they're gone.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2009-11-26 05:18pm

Nothing that I have even the slightest intention of submitting for publication goes up on the web, for all the aforementioned reasons. If you have any doubts at all on the matter, err on the side of not posting.
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby Themightytom » 2009-12-14 12:17pm

Imperial Overlord wrote:Nothing that I have even the slightest intention of submitting for publication goes up on the web, for all the aforementioned reasons. If you have any doubts at all on the matter, err on the side of not posting.


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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Posting

Postby RedImperator » 2009-12-14 01:21pm

Themightytom wrote:
Imperial Overlord wrote:Nothing that I have even the slightest intention of submitting for publication goes up on the web, for all the aforementioned reasons. If you have any doubts at all on the matter, err on the side of not posting.


Bladed Crescent's been giving up a gold mine, not that I want him to stop, but everything he posts I would stand in line to buy.
Like I said, novel-length works are safer. Book publishers are more willing to be flexible; probably because their margins are better than the magazines' and a novel online is less likely to be read by its entire potential audience.
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Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves…We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.--Ada Louise Huxtable, "Farewell to Penn Station", New York Times editorial, 30 October 1963
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Re: First Rights: Original Fic Authors, Read This Before Pos

Postby Mayabird » 2010-10-02 01:48pm

Amended RedImperator's initial post with copyright information.
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