My Writers Circle

Writing => The Writers Circle => Topic started by: ed on March 06, 2011, 06:21:50 PM

Title: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: ed on March 06, 2011, 06:21:50 PM
You know established tv shows like Dr Who, Supernatural, Buffy Vampire etc etc.. I notice that while the show is on or even after their are authors who are writing books ( with their own story idea ) using the characters from the show and being able to name the book using the name of the show. How does that happen? Does one publishing company own rights and assign authors? do authors seek out permission? I noticed with Supernatural tv show there have been several books written by different authors under different publishing companies. So i wonder how that happens...

Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: Skip Slocum on March 06, 2011, 06:24:27 PM
 ??? I have no idea. However, I'll watch this thread with you to see what we both learn.  ;D


Skip
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: Gyppo on March 06, 2011, 06:53:24 PM
One for Wolfe, I think.
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: Nick on March 07, 2011, 10:16:07 AM
Here's my 2c worth, anyway...

It's complicated, and every TV show is different. In the case of Doctor Who, of which I have some limited knowledge, the BBC holds rights in some of the characters and ancillary items such as The Tardis, but not others. For a while the BBC leased the right to publish novels about Doctor Who to Virgin Books. Virgin then invited writers to submit outlines to them, some of which ended up being commissioned. A couple of years ago, the BBC took back the rights from Virgin, and they now commission authors directly.

I don't know how it works with other TV shows, but in general the creators and programme-makers guard their rights jealously. That means you would not be able to write a book about, say, Supernatural, without the express permission of the rights-holder. In some cases, though, permission may be leased by the rights-holder to one or more publishing houses, who can then commission authors directly.

Apart from that, of course, there is fan fiction. This is where fans of a series write their own stories based on the characters and settings. Strictly speaking this is a breach of copyright, but as long as it's not for profit, the rights-holders often look the other way. If you tried publishing a book of fan fiction on (say) the Kindle, though, I suspect that a lawyer's letter wouldn't be long in arriving.

Hope that helps. I'd be interested to hear any other views or insights into this process. I quite fancy writing a TV tie-in title myself!

Nick
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: ed on March 07, 2011, 10:18:38 AM
Thanks Nick

Yeah im pretty sure it must be linked to the creators and selected publishing houses.
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: ed on March 08, 2011, 08:21:48 PM
Found out from one author. he was contacted by the publisher after they had seen his star wars book
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: Nick on March 09, 2011, 04:52:26 AM
Found out from one author. he was contacted by the publisher after they had seen his star wars book

Yes, that figures  :)
Title: Re: Do authors get assigned or permission?
Post by: Wolfe on March 10, 2011, 04:37:46 PM
The answer depends on the contract. This is another reason, if not the top reason, to get an agent. The publisher or corporation will do everything in its power to give as little money as possible to the creator and more money to the machine. Your agent will attempt to get as much money to you and her instead.

Now to the answer.

When you write a novel or script, if done correct, they belong to you. In fact, everytime that character sees print or media, you should get paid royalties.

For example, in the shortlived series Enterprise, the female Vulcan T'Pol was originally suppose to be the famous T'Pau from the episode Amok Time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok_Time

But, if the producers used the character T'Pau and her immense history, they would have to pay her creator and writer, Theodore Sturgeon, royalties every time she appeared in episode.

So they changed her name and background.

This is also the reason Rowling is our first billionaire: character royalties.

Now, the other side.

If you sell the rights to your characters and book to the corporation, you lose all rights to voice objection or future monies. In other words, if you take the big check now, Hollywood can rewrite and change your work into something completely different.

Ask Alan Moore.

And this is why the publisher can commission new authors to continue to write books, with someone else's characters, for the stockholders.

Again, the answer lies with the contract's wording.

Fair warning to you future, and hopeful, millionaires.

Don't let it screw you.

Wolfe