Just recently, a big story that ran in national publications (People, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone) saw Virginia congressional candidate Denver Riggleman accused of authoring Bigfoot erotica. (He was outed by his opponent, aptly named CockBurn). While the details aren’t super important, the story brings to the forefront what can happen when your author life slams into your real life. While the two generally happily coexist, sometimes they bleed into each other in bad ways. Since we’re living in an age of social media, it’s a good time to examine the ways in which your writing life can impact the rest of your life.
A question that comes up fairly regularly in the mailbox here at IU is whether or not authors can use brand names and place names in their novels. The answer is, unequivocally, yes. Ever heard of a book called, The Devil Wears Prada? Or the novel Sex and the City, which, like the TV show that came after, spoke endlessly of name brands?
Now, yes is the simple answer. But it’s more nuanced than just yes. Generally, if you have a contemporary novel, written in the real world, people are going to exist in it. They are going to go real places. If they live in Washington, DC, they may look out their window and see the Washington Monument. They may visit a Panera Bread while listening to Cardi-B and wearing their Christian Louboutin red bottoms. They may even gawk at the tourists who pass by on a DC Duck Tour. And they should. Because these are all real things that can enrich the novel for readers and really set them in the place. Your characters are going to wear clothes and shoes and eat at restaurants. If they’re like most of us, they’re going to have sneakers that are a common brand: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour. That’s fine to do.
The reason people worry about using name brands and sometimes locations is because they are concerned they will be somehow be sued. Continue reading “Using Real Places, Products in Your Novel? Name, But Don’t Defame”
A few weeks back, we had a guest post by Kat Cantwell about the ins and outs of writing fanfiction. Now we have word of a cautionary tale that fanfiction writers – in fact, all sorts of writers – might do well to heed.
Trad-pubbed urban fantasy author Sherrilyn Kenyon has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tennessee against fellow author Cassandra Clare. Kenyon’s complaint alleges Clare’s “Shadowhunter” series infringes on the copyrights and trademarks associated with Kenyon’s “Dark-Hunter” series. Kenyon says she learned of the infringement from her fans, and that when she spoke to Clare about it, Clare promised to change her work so that there would be no infringement. What Clare did was to change the term for her demon-fighting warriors from “darkhunter” to “shadowhunter” – and then proceeded to use the new term extensively in promoting her series. Continue reading “Fanfiction or Plagiarism? Better Make Sure.”
Like it, hate it, curse at it, deny it, but at some point, you’re going to have to face it: If you’re an independent author selling your work, you are running a business. And in some of your transactions with professionals who provide services for independent authors, like editors and designers, you might benefit from having a solid, written agreement.
First, a disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, unless watching Legally Blonde about a dozen times counts. But as an author and an editor, I’ve worked under a few agreements. Let’s look at the basic types and how they might help you: Continue reading “The Basics of Agreements for Indie Authors”