Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Releases for our New Release

For those of you wondering where our newest release Leaning into the Curves (Deseret Book)has been, it's been waiting in the warehouse for Carroll and me to get all the releases necessary sent to our product designer from people we quoted, a real organization whose name we used, and living individuals featured in our story.

It's been an adventure and an education in the legal hoop jumping to get this book on the shelves. We learned some important steps to take when building fiction around living private persons and registered or tradmarked organizations.

First, know you legal responsibility and liability. A careful reading of your contract with your publisher is a good place to start. Ours clearly stated that obtaining all the needed written legal releases was the authors' responsibility. Verbal permission isn't enough!

Next, keep a running list of the name of every living person you use in your manuscript other than recognized public figures, every statement quoted, and every trademarked or registered name mentioned. Make sure that list is complete. One legal staffer recommended even story lines most loosely based on real life experiences of someone other than the author should begin with obtaining the written permission of such usage. Know how to contact everyone on your list.

Get in touch with your publisher's legal department for copies of the forms needed. We suggest you send each participant two copies, one for them and one with a SASE for you. Upon receipt of the original signed document, make a copy for your own files and forward the original to your publisher.

It's easier than it sounds. When everyone we contacted realized how positive the image portrayed was, they were delighted to provide us with the needed forms and we eager for the novel to be a success. But we were lucky. The book had already gone to print and they could have as easily said no.

So don't take the risk. Don't wait until you have the galley in hand to start the process. Believe me, nothing, no reassurances, no electronic facsimile, no he said she saids will get those books out of the warehouses and on the the shelves until the publishers have the original releases on file. So stay ahead of the game and do the legal hoop jumping when you start your stories.


Carroll said...

Carroll, here.

Yes, everything Nancy wrote about our adventures with legal releases is unfortunately true.

And before one of you thinks it, I'll say it out loud: Why didn't they just fictionalize all the names?

Sure wish we had--it would have saved me a bundle trying to wash those gray hairs away.

Greg & Dlora said...

I read all your novels years ago when they first came out and loved them. I was sorry when I couldn't find any more of your books. I was delighted to find Leaning into the Curves recently. I just finished reading it and was delighted. I'm almost at that 'retired husband' stage and related so much to the events and problems in your book. Thanks to you and your sister Nancy for writing again and sharing your insights and wisdom about life.
Dlora Dalton
Salt Lake City, Utah