Or Maybe Just Puzzlement…
Before I start on the rant, a reminder that the workshop discount I offered in the Monday blog will expire late on Friday night. Don’t miss it.
This story starts at Superstars. Kevin J. Anderson and his wonderful crew had set up some panels on estate planning for writers and I was sitting in all of them. So was Kevin. Kevin and I and Kris are all working hard on dealing with our estates after two of our friends died without even a will. We all have wills and such, but we want to take everything to the next step.
We all want our estates to be publishing our work long after we are gone. Not because I will be around to care, but my copyright is worth a lot of money and I hope others can make money on it, and maybe a few charities as well.
So I mentioned in a group a few hours later after the Estate panels that the panels had been great and this one writer said, “I want my family to destroy my writing when I am gone.”
And another young writer popped in and said that he would toss out all his unfinished stories before he died.
I sort of stood there, mouth open, as four young writers talked about destroying their own work. I honestly was so surprised and the conversation didn’t last long enough for me to say anything before they went their own ways.
I had just never heard of people talking so openly about throwing money away and not letting their heirs have it. Wow, what egos. And what lack of knowledge about how much copyright is worth.
Edgar Rice Burroughs luckily did not do that, and neither did hundreds of other writers you still read that are long dead. In fact I just read that there is a new Tarzan graphic novel coming out. Cool.
For me, when I go, I want my copyright to be mined and expanded. I don’t care if other writers are hired to write new books in my top series (called derivative rights). Why would I try to stop anyone from doing that? I will be dead. And my work has value for a very long time after that point. I want my estate to license that work out, keep my work growing and expanding.
Unfinished short stories and novels? Now granted, I have very few, but not in a million years would I throw that copyright away. Even unfinished, it has value and someone can be hired to finish it.
So let me be clear.
- Make sure, if nothing else, you have a will which mentions what you would like to have done with your writing. Keeping it in print might be enough in a will to get the idea across. If you tell your heirs to throw away your work, just stop!! Go learn copyright, learn valuation of copyright, and if that doesn’t get you to change that, silliness, seek professional help for your overinflated ego.
- If you get to understand copyright and wills and estates, you can do a lot, lot more in estate planning to help out your heirs. But make sure the focus is to keep the work in print.
- Do not throw any writing away, no matter your opinion of it. You will be dead and others can worry about your sorry ego and your reputation for you.
- All writing has value. All copyright has value. Fairly certain Burroughs would not have thought about the chance of electronic books and graphic novels.
- Let your heirs do what they want with your work as they see fit as long as it stays in print and is tended to. Make sure that “staying in print” is the focus requirement of your estate. Nothing else. In other words, give them the power, a large part of the earnings, and get out of their way.
Just understand that you are the worst judge of your own work. Nature of writing. And every bit of writing you do is protected by copyright that you own and it has value. If you don’t think so, you are wrong. Go learn copyright.
Never throw anything away. If you do, just imagine that you are tossing away more thousands and thousands of dollars than you can even imagine. Bags and bags of money. You might not ever finish that story or book, but someone twenty years after you are gone might, hired by your estate. And make your heirs a ton of money doing so.
Okay, moving on.
(Don’t forget this is the last day of the workshop discount code.)