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About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone asked a question online recently that stumped even me ... for a while at least. He wanted to know what happens to an author's book rights if the book isn't selling. Here's how I finally decided to respond.

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This is an easy one. If your book is not selling, the Copyright Cops show up at your front door, usually around 3 a.m. although sometimes right in the middle of your favorite television show, and serve you a court order and an injunction forbidding you to receive any future royalties from book sales and ordering you to sign over all rights to your book to the federal government.


Surprised? You shouldn't be. Uncle Sam is trying to grab everything else you own, why not your creative endeavors, too?


Of course that's not true. I mean about your book rights, not the feds. And, I find your question either overly naive or somewhat obtuse. What would you expect would happen to your rights if your book isn't selling? It's your book, correct? What happens to your rights to something you list on eBay when it fails to sell? Do you lose those rights? Does someone confiscate your goods and send you a "Sorry, Charlie" kiss-off note? Of course not.


I'd say here that I hope this answer helps, but I doubt it. I feel a little like someone who just walked into a butcher shop and ordered a ten-pound sack of potatoes. In Russian! If I have misread your question somehow, please feel free to revise it and submit again. Meanwhile, I'm going to go off in a corner and contemplate the meaning of my navel.




(And never answer your doorbell at 3 a.m.!)

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D. J. Herda is author of the new series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available in eBook, paperback, and hardcover formats at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack. It's free; it's entertaining; it's informative, and it runs weekly. Well, almost weekly. Occasionally weekly. Sometimes weekly. (Hey, he does his best!)

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