Head-Shaking But True…
I talk copyright on this blog in any way and the letters and comments just dry up like they were hit by a bad desert wind on a hot summer day. Fun to watch, and I know these posts are just skipped by most. Makes them uncomfortable.
But on the last valuation posts, I got a couple of private comments that went something like this…
“How can my copyright be worth anything if I only sell a couple copies a month?” Or… “I am a new writer, my work has no value.”
Well, in some ways, past performance and sales do help set value at that moment in time.Sure. And being new means you have no track record of sales. (That “new” comment was meant more towards “quality” of the new writer’s work, but I am ignoring that because a writer’s opinion has no impact on valuation of a property they own. When you bad mouth your own work, all I hear is “I am stupid, I am stupid…”)
Keep in mind that the valuation of a copyright will change from year to year, often month to month. I had a short story that sold to F&SF Magazine. It would have had a valuation of what it made at that point plus the years and other factors. In other words, not a lot. Then one fine day I got an option on it from Hollywood and the value of that same short story shot through the roof. And so far I have made almost $20,000 from that story in real income, so who knows what I will make in the next decades. That is valuation. Figuring that “who knows.”
But these writers who wrote me clearly do not understand either copyright, business, or the extreme length of their lifetime plus 70 years that they or their heirs will own that property.
So let me start with the length of time. I am 72 from decent pioneer stock. So I could easily be still writing for 20 more years. That’s 90 years (20 plus 70) then for all my work to be protected and in my control or in the control of who or what I set up to keep that control making money with my copyright.
So calculating that 90 years looking back… That’s 1933. If I was sitting at that point I would be in the middle of the Pulp Era, with twenty more years of that, then the paperback era, then the indie world before my estate lost control of my work in 2023. (Some weird copyright law changes in that time period, but I am ignoring that to make a point.)
My point, I have no idea what publishing will be like in 90 years or what mediums my stories will be told in, and neither do any of you.
So these young writers have no understanding of the power of the future or the real power of copyright. They just gave up on their own work, bad-mouthed it, because of short-sightedness.
If a work is not selling now, does that mean it won’t sell ten years from now???? Uhh, nope. Unless the writer takes it off the market and tosses it away. Then it will not sell.
Amazing how powerful knowledge can be, and how damaging being willfully stupid can also be.