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”
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”
I saw a recent article with the headline The Atlanta fire chief who wrote the homophobic book has been fired. When I read this, I thought it might be a good time for a post about some of the unintended consequences that can occur from your self-publishing life, if you don’t use a little forethought when publishing.
Clearly this fire chief wrote the book and intended to keep his job after writing it. However, things went awry because his job considered his content to be in violation of their standards for employees. While I don’t want to debate whether forethought could have prevented the situation that resulted here, I think the case serves as a reminder that the things we write can have unintended consequences if we’re not careful. Continue reading “Avoiding Unintended Consequences of Your Self-Publishing Life”
Yay, you came back! On Monday, we talked about what happens to a writer’s intellectual property (IP) after they die. A will was mentioned as a fairly simple way to pass on this asset. However, a will has some drawbacks.
“Every state is different, but a will can spend up to a year in probate,” said Chad Whitfield, an attorney with Hunter, Smith and Davis in Tennessee. “It has to stay open between four months and a year, and things become public. The copyrights you own, all the assets have to be on the inventory. Some people like to keep it private. With a living trust, you can accomplish the same goals, but it’s private.” Continue reading “Part II – A Trust or an LLC Can Help Manage Author Assets after Death”