Writers' Tools & Workflow
Independent Publishing,
Reversion of Rights
Resources & Software

Guide by
Robert Wilfred Franson
January 2015

Independent Publishing

The growing availability and acceptance of ebooks in various formats has transformed print publishing rather like the MP3 format revolutionized music publishing and availability, and the World Wide Web revolutionized all kinds of short-form print publishing. It's been clear for decades to science-fiction fans and other futurists that digital presentation was the future of print, although of course we don't know exactly when or how. Much of the availability and acceptance of ebooks is owed to Amazon's Kindle format and devices, and Amazon's free applications allowing the Kindle format to be read on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

For writers, self-publishing or independent-publishing of books has become unprecedentedly easy and straightforward, thanks to the efforts of Amazon and their e-publishing rivals, and to the third-party programmers who've been creating better and better tools for writing and editing, and more recently, especially for formatting and publishing.

Reversion of Rights

The typical contract from a legacy publisher, if signed by an unwary writer or even an informed one during the "era of good feeling" (to hijack a phrase from political history) — those long decades when it was the only game in town — combined with copyright law to give the publisher more or less complete control over the writer's work during his lifetime and possibly unto his children's and grandchildren's lifetimes. The fault is not in the copyright law but in the fact that so many of these deals straitjacket the writer's creative, financial, and managerial options. They generally are bad deals, sometimes outrageously bad; certainly no one today ought to sign one without an intellectual-property lawyer at his elbow. Don't assume that a literary agent knows much about the actual law of literary contracts, or is willing to go to the mat for writers he represents against the big publishers who sign the checks.

I had to hire legal assistance to pry the reversion of rights for my science-fiction novel The Shadow of the Ship from the grip of its former publisher. My research among writers who've fought such battles yielded recommendations for one of the experts in the field, very knowledgable and sharp, and I am happy to endorse the recommendation:

David P. Vandagriff - Contract Counsel
News & discussion of independent publishing

Some very helpful information sources for writers, particularly those engaged in self-publishing or considering it. Of course there are many resources but I would start with these informed and popular standards:

David P. Vandagriff's multifaceted and entertaining
  The Passive Voice
  A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
Kristine Kathryn Rusch's wide-ranging and detailed
  Business Musings
  The Business Rusch: Publishing Articles
  Overview of Publishing Industry
J.A. Konrath's hard-hitting
  A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
Some software tools for writers & self-publishers

There's more than one way to do it, as Perl programmers say; but why not start with the best tools you can find? In fact, my non-Web workflow resembles the following sequence:

  text editor; Macintosh
  ebook editor; multiplatform
  ebook library management; multiplatform; open source; free
  office suite; multiplatform; open source; free
    (an adjunct rather than within the direct workflow)
  image manipulation; multiplatform; open source; free
Kindle Direct Publishing
  Amazon's paperback & ebook self-publishing; web-based; free

© 2015 Robert Wilfred Franson

Honorable precedents:
Self-Published Authors
in the Printed-Paper Era

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