Right to Resubmit

On 26 June, I received an e-mail from Strange Musings Press saying they were to close and that the rights from the stories they’d published would immediately revert back to their respective authors. This frees up my short story Amending Diabolical Acronym Misuse, which appears in their Alternate Hilarities anthology.

It isn’t well known,  even among authors, that once a piece is published, the publisher usually only holds the rights to it for a fixed period of time before said rights revert back to the writer. Some publishers accept reprints, and some original publishers insist that you credit that publication before it’s placed in a second home. It’s a good idea to credit the original publisher anyway, even if it isn’t insisted upon.

By now, it’s probably safe to resubmit my other two published stories, though I would still check the small print if I still have it, or e-mail the editors if I don’t. While it’s impossible to say how an individual editor feels, I know I’d be more inclined to accept a story if I knew it had been published before; a phenomenon known as the halo effect.

In the longer term, an author can retain copyright for a whole lifetime plus 70 years after death, which is why it’s so important to leave a will.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (soundtrack)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1971, Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. The author was so displeased that he specified in his will that its sequel Charlie and the Glass Elevator must not be made into a screenplay.

However, this didn’t prevent the 2005 remake starring Johnny Depp, which included some elements of the sequel. It will be interesting to see what happens when the novel falls into the public domain in the second half of this century as anyone will be able to use the work without charge. The question is whether people will still respect Dahl’s wishes at that point.

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Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!

I enjoy having people follow me on Twitter. If you’re so equipped, you can do so at @LadyGavGav.

As you might imagine, a number of writers follow me, plus those in other creative fields such as music or visual arts. However, there are a significant minority who do nothing but sell sell sell. If you type the words “Buy my book” into the Twitter search bar, you’ll see plenty of examples.

I understand the temptation. It was September 2013 when my first story was published in an actual proper actual book on an actual shelf somewhere. All I wanted to do was fill my 140 characters with Buy My Book! 50 times a day. But there’s a word for that, and that word is spam.

Spam is everywhere, and has been since the earliest days of the World Wide Web. Regular Web users have long learnt to filter out advertising—legitimate and dubious—to the extent that we can concentrate on genuine content. So when someone comes along with a wall of identical messages, the average user will hit the Back button like Billy Whizz.

Targeting your audience so directly also potentially discourages people from interacting with the user. How often have you been in a shopping centre when somebody at a stall enquires, “Can I ask you who supplies your gas and electricity?” I’m by no means a shy person, but I ignore that as it’s so confrontational.

Twitter
Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So how do you use Twitter without coming across as a complete pillock?

One Twitter user, in my opinion, achieves a great balance. Rayne Hall is an author and editor of fiction and factual books. She intersperses promotional material with writing tips and pictures of her cat. Sometimes the feline even ‘promotes’ her books. This approach encourages people to interact with her, particularly if it’s agreeing (or disagreeing) with a writing tip or commenting on a picture, and she makes a point of responding to messages.

For my own part, I like to crack a lot of puns, mostly because they come naturally to me but partly because people bond over a bad joke in a way that they don’t over good material, according to Professor Richard Wiseman. At least then someone can say how much they liked or groaned at it. And then, when I do have something to promote, it stands out from the jokey messages.

PS, buy my books. My stories are in the following anthologies: