Protecting Your Rights and Your Wallet with Helen Sedwick

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In this hour-long webinar, attorney and author Helen Sedwick reviews a wide range of issues from intellectual property, copyright issues, publishers to be wary of, and fraudulent entities wanting complete control over your book and its film rights.

Here are a few notes from Helen’s presentation:

  • Intellectual property is a product of the mind.
  • You can protect intellectual property just like you can protect your car or home.
  • There are people and companies who will try to take control of your intellectual property from you.
  • Some of the worst entities are contests where the prize is the content sponsors get the right to publish your book, merchandizing rights, film rights, etc.

  • Some publishers have “sticky fingers” … If things don’t work out, it will be difficult to get your rights back.
  • Copyright attaches as soon as you put your book into physical, tangible form.
  • Since the 1970s, copyright attaches automatically and lasts your lifetime plus 70 years in the U.S.
  • You don’t need to register your copyright yet it provides you with additional rights. You can even register blogs and websites.
  • What can be copyrighted: your manuscript, poems, books, blog posts, songs, films, new articles.
  • Ideas can’t be copyrighted nor can short phrases
  • Factual events can’t be copyrighted or ideas such as, damsel in distress, etc.
  • You can register your copyright at U.S. Copyright Office for $35.
  • Contracts: you’ll want to know how to get out of it. Try not to be intimidated by contracts.
  • Traditional publisher: pays for editing, graphics, marketing
  • Self-publisher: indie author pays for everything.
  • Don’t want to sign with Author Solutions. They have a terrible reputation.
  • Some contests want exclusive, worldwide, perpetual rights to prequels and sequels, and the sale of film and TV rights.
  • Take time to read important provisions of any contract involving your books.
  • If you’re not sure, reach out for help. Don’t try to do it alone.
  • Careful about the images you use on your blog or book cover. Sometimes, giving credit isn’t enough.
  • Scams and myths, including book fair invitations that want exclusive rights to your book.

Be sure to check out Helen Sedwick’s newly updated Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook.

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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