Saturday, 4 August 2018

Rights...

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In the past, I have derived a substantial part of my income from women's magazines. I have written many, many stories for them - long, short and medium-length - and a goodly number of serials. They used to pay for First British Serial Rights (meaning they got to publish my words first) and there was usually an agreement that I wouldn't re-sell or re-publish them for a year. The copyright remained with me.

I was, needless to say, entirely happy about the situation. Some magazines paid better than others, but it was all fair, all above board, and I RETAINED THE COPYRIGHT.

One magazine I wrote for rolled out new contracts asking for global rights, but not exclusivity, so I was free to re-sell on myself if I wanted to (I do). I didn't like the idea that they could also re-sell on without paying me anything. I no longer write for them.

Woman's Weekly are now asking for all rights. ALL RIGHTS. Even copyright. So if I sell a piece of work to them once, that's it, it's gone forever and I will never again be paid for the use they get out of it. I will also never be able to expand it, add more story strands, give the characters enriched lives... I won't, in other words, be able to reap the benefits of my own imagination and of the not inconsiderable amout of work it takes to create a believable world.

This is totally unacceptable. I will not write for them again until fair contracts are resumed. The thing is - women's magazine fiction is important. It is often the only fiction people have time to read. The reach of women's magazines is immense. My words have touched countless thousands of lives. By driving good, strong writers like me away, the magazine is impoverishing the very readers who keep them in business. They are dismissing both writers and readers as irrelevant.

Not well played, Woman's Weekly. Not well played at all.
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17 comments:

Kath McGurl said...

Well said. Not acceptable at all.
I no longer write magazine fiction but if I did, I'd also boycott WW now. No one takes my copyright.

Jan Jones said...

It's shocking, Kath.

Jenny Haddon said...

With you every step of the way, Jan. I only ceded my copyright once - for an online-serial, commissioned by Harlequin Mills &Boon back in the day when that was a new idea and they insisted.

I have never ceased to regret it. Occasionally it gets translated and/or put in a collection and they send me a copy. That arriving will sour my whole day. And it's not about the money, because it's only 15,000 words and would earn peanuts. It feels as if I abandoned the poor thing. Or worse.

Jan Jones said...

Sending you a copy is just salt in the wound, Jenny!

Elaine Everest said...

Well said, Jan! The market isn't what it was and we need to fight to save what is left.

Lolli said...

It's not only shooting at their authors, but they are shooting themselves in the foot,too.At present they are a highly popular wonag, but as writers decline writing for them in response to this rights grab cz so their sales will drop off,as they won't be able to get the variety and high standard of writing,to fill their weekly and their sspecials. As arole Blake was insistent about getting good rights for her writers and she once spoke at one of their writers days (l was there) she'll be spinning in her grave!

Jan Jones said...

I agree, Lolli. I can almost hear Carole's reaction now!

Jan Jones said...

We do indeed, Elaine!

Natalie Kleinman said...

I'm quite surprised they didn't anticipate the reaction I've seen everywhere. Did they really think we'd just roll over?

Jan Jones said...

It seems so, Natalie.

Carolb said...

Agree 100% Jan. Apart from the new contract being unacceptable, damaging to writers- it's already put one out of business- it will also hit library readers too, as the serials are often sold on to publishers who produce books suitable for libraries.

Francesca Capaldi Burgess said...

I quite agree Jan. It used to be a good magazine to aim for with a supportive editing team. A sad time.

Jan Jones said...

True, Carol, mine amongst them.

Jan Jones said...

Very sad, Francesca

Pat Metcalfe said...

The new powers at WW are keeping their heads down, deleting outraged comments from their facebook site, no longer responding to reasoned letters. It's as if the shitstorm they've stirred up is a surprise to them! Did they think we'd just let them walk on us? Not happening.


Jan Jones said...

The decision was probably made by accountants further up the line of command. Only looking at the financial gain for them and not the forward consequences.

Fingers crossed they think again.

Linda Daunter said...

I haven't had a story published by WW (it was on my list of writing goals) but I did buy it to read - no more!