Permissions in progress...

So, in my current novel, there are a lot of references to the works of Rex Stout, namely the Nero Wolfe novels. Someone comes up with a manuscript that appears to be an unpublished Nero Wolfe novel, and unfortunately it proves to be a pastiche. There is a lot of discussion of Stout's characters and style, including a few citations from the challenged document.

 

Bullets fly, cars are chased, things get broken into, blood is shed.

 

I'm getting down to the final parts of the writing process. I have a few scenes that need to be filled out and fleshed in, and a few rewrites to do, but I'm reaching towards my target length, and expect to be finished soon.

 

Of course, I need permissions. I'm using Stout's characters whenever I quote from the challenged manuscript. After a lot of research, and six months of email exchanges with the Werowance of the Wolfe Pack, I have finally gotten my request in front of the Stout family, who hold the copyright.

 

There are two issues left -- they may not be able to grant permission, due to an agreement with a novelist who writes full length Nero Wolfe novels under license, or they may not be willing to permit my specific usage.

 

But... If I do get permission, my contact with the Wolfe Pack may allow me access to a ready-made readership. The Wolfe-Pack's semi-annual Gazette (newsletter) has expressed some interest in publishing my first chapter as an article. Discussion pending. No promises, and no payment, but publicity is where we find it.

 

So now I wait... On bated breath... And write... And edit... And polish...

 

Wish me luck...

Comments

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor

    A great big tip of the hat to you, by the way, for doing the Right Thing.


  • Ron Miller wrote:

    A great big tip of the hat to you, by the way, for doing the Right Thing.


    Thanks.

     

    If I don't get the permissions, I'll have to really chop up the novel -- a lot of things that I tell will need to be explained as exposition, instead, and that sort of thing.slightly nervous, but waiting... Smiley Happy

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Yes, well done for asking and good luck with that., but would it not be best to use a fictional 'famous writer'? It would save a lot of bother.

     

    But no offence to the chap but I have not heard of him anyway.

     

    Ah right, I have just looked him up and it's not my type of story, but he's no longer alive, but his copyright still stands, so it will be his Estate you will be dealing with. They should have no objections but Estates can be a bit 'funny'.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • potetjppotetjp Bibliophile

    Exciting. Your book is the story of the discovery of an unpublished novel by a copyrighted author.  The latter's estate's copyright is on the characters, not the story, which is yours.  Obviously you should pay some royalties for using these characters. So, the best would be for you to be licenced, like the other author, but be published among the books about the series, not as an author continuing it. Have you contacted the publisher? They should be ideally placed to conclude an agreement.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor

    potetjp wrote:

    Exciting. Your book is the story of the discovery of an unpublished novel by a copyrighted author.  The latter's estate's copyright is on the characters, not the story, which is yours.  Obviously you should pay some royalties for using these characters. So, the best would be for you to be licenced, like the other author, but be published among the books about the series, not as an author continuing it. Have you contacted the publisher? They should be ideally placed to conclude an agreement.

     

    The estate's copyright claim is not actually on the characters per se (which in fact cannot be copyrighted) but on the fact that your book could be considered a "derivative work," that is, "a new, original product that includes aspects of a preexisting, already copyrighted work." This would include using an author's characters.

     


  • potetjp wrote:

    Exciting. Your book is the story of the discovery of an unpublished novel by a copyrighted author.  The latter's estate's copyright is on the characters, not the story, which is yours.  Obviously you should pay some royalties for using these characters. So, the best would be for you to be licenced, like the other author, but be published among the books about the series, not as an author continuing it. Have you contacted the publisher? They should be ideally placed to conclude an agreement.


    Part of the issue there -- and normally one would contact the publisher -- is that Stout had many publishers over his career, and many had only certain rights. For example, his entire corpus has been republished by new imprints from time to time, as rights were sold, re-sold, reverted, were sold again, and so forth.

     

    Contacting the heirs directly, especially since the head of the Wolfe Pack has direct access, shortens the path considerably.

     

    Still haven't heard anything.

     

    As Ron said, this will definitely be a derivative work with the included portions of the challenged manuscript. In theory, if all the parts of the challenged manuscript were removed, the rest could be considered criticism, a fair use. To discuss a writer's work is not a derivative work.

     

    And much of that sort of work, including the cookbooks of the recipes from the Wolfe canon, have been permitted. There are at least two cookbooks from the corpus, and a considerable number of guides, digests, and discussion books. there have also been parodies published.

     

    So the worst case would be a complete re-write, removing the infringing portions.


  • kevinlomas wrote:

    Yes, well done for asking and good luck with that., but would it not be best to use a fictional 'famous writer'? It would save a lot of bother.

     

    But no offence to the chap but I have not heard of him anyway.

     

    Ah right, I have just looked him up and it's not my type of story, but he's no longer alive, but his copyright still stands, so it will be his Estate you will be dealing with. They should have no objections but Estates can be a bit 'funny'.


    It would save a lot of bother, but it would defeat the point. I would have to create a body of work, just to be able to critically examine that body of work.

     

    It's a bit like building an ocean to have a place for your sailboat. And building a wind to push it.

     

    As for not having heard of him... Kevin, you don't know what you've missed. Read The Mother Hunt or The Golden Spiders.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Skoob_Ym wrote:

    kevinlomas wrote:

    Yes, well done for asking and good luck with that., but would it not be best to use a fictional 'famous writer'? It would save a lot of bother.

     

    But no offence to the chap but I have not heard of him anyway.

     

    Ah right, I have just looked him up and it's not my type of story, but he's no longer alive, but his copyright still stands, so it will be his Estate you will be dealing with. They should have no objections but Estates can be a bit 'funny'.


    It would save a lot of bother, but it would defeat the point. I would have to create a body of work, just to be able to critically examine that body of work.

     

    That would be an interesting challenge, a bit like inventing Klingon or Elvish. But I wonder if enough people are aware of him to realise he was a real person?

     

    It's a bit like building an ocean to have a place for your sailboat. And building a wind to push it.

     

    How is it? I was watching George R R Martin talking about writing A Song of Ice and Fire and how far he got in to the first part before he realised he needed to write the history and background of the place and people before he could carry on. J R R Tolkien had to do the same thing for LotR.

     

    As for not having heard of him... Kevin, you don't know what you've missed. Read The Mother Hunt or The Golden Spiders.

     

    Not my kind of thing at all. It's simply fictionalised realism. One may as well just watch the news.  Smiley Happy

     

    Anyways. it was just a suggestion.


     

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • With JRR Tolkein, he spent his life writing an epic tale, and Silmarillion barely scratches the surface of it, and from that epic he drew parts that he wrote into LOTR and the hobbit. If you read all the stuff his son published after his death, you get an idea what a huge body of work he had on hand.

     

    Even now, there is a silmaril in my right hand....

     

    But I don't have 50 more years to sketch out the back story.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    It took him 12 years.  Smiley Happy

     

    The stuff his son later 'wrote' is almost impossible to read.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.


  • kevinlomas wrote:

    It took him 12 years.  Smiley Happy

     

    The stuff his son later 'wrote' is almost impossible to read.


    I don't think his son wrote any of it, but just edited it. It seemed to be drafts and fragments that hadn't been sketched out.

     

    It took me ten years to write the one I'm working on now, so by word count, JRRT had a ratio of 18.7:1 on me, which means that to write a corpus equivalent to Stout's would take me roughly 213 years.

     

    Which might extend beyond my scores and ten.

     

    Wait... you're messing with me, aren't you?

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Hence the ' on the word wrote.

     

    Messing?

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • An idiom or a euphemism.

     

    By accusing you of "messing with me" I'm suggesting that you're not entirely serious in your suggestion that I spend a lifetime creating a background and a back-story for a single novel.

     

    Similar Anglicisms, if my vernacular dictionary is only a bit off, would be, "Trying it on, what, Guv'ner?" or "Taking the piss, what what?"

     

    Smiley Happy

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    !2 years is not a life time, unless you are 12.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • I give, Kevin. Smiley LOL

     

    You win this one.

     

    Tell you what: I'll spend the next 20 years writing a body of work instead, and then twenty years from now I'll parody myself.

     

     Smiley Tongue

  • So while I'm waiting on permissions and my beta-readers, I'm working on the cover.

     

    I don't have it with me and can't upload it at the moment, but I have a plan...

     

    I began with a 9" H x 12.62" W image. For a background image, I have a closeup of a purple orchid, cvering the entire area, front and back.. 

     

    For those not familiar with Nero Wolfe: his hobby is growing orchids, and orchids figure significantly in several plots. To readers of Stout or of Goldsborough, an orchid will immediately suggest Nero Wolfe.

     

    I have superimposed two horizontal black bands: One about 1/3 down for the Title (I'm leaning towards "A Stout Draft" at this point) and one about 1/3 from the bottom, for my name. These bands go all the way around front and back. 

     

    Over the bands, in the back, I have an image of a raceme of white orchids, which I have adjusted to be somewhat bright without fading the image away. The white-orchid image begins above and below the bands, that is, you can see that the bands are in front of the background image and run behind the blurb image.

     

    My blurb will be on top of the white orchid image, using it for a text background.

     

    in the front, between the two bands, I have a repeat of the white orchid image, but cropped differently, small enough to remain between the bands with a small margin, and without any white-balance adjustment (i.e. higher contrast).

     

    All photos used are my own original work, and I own all rights to them.

     

    For the binding edge, I have made a vertical band, purple, with white letters, matching the title and byline. This may overlap slightly onto front or back (these things are seldom precise) but very little, and in a balanced way.

     

    Once I am in a location to upload the image, I'll post it so that you have more than just my description.

     

    Any thoughts on the cover as described?

     

    WRT the title: A Stout Draft has a double meaning: The story begins with a ms. allegedly by Rex Stout, hence it is a Stout Draft; also, Wolfe drinks beer (though I believe he's more of an ale man) thus he might have a "Draft" (or draught) of a Stout beer. 

     

    Any thoughts on the title?

  • WooHoo!

     

    I heard from Rebecca Stout Bradbury today: She has received my letter and is researching the existing contracts to see if the permissions I have asked for are permissible!

     

    WooHoo! Smiley Happy


  • Skoob_Ym wrote:

    So while I'm waiting on permissions and my beta-readers, I'm working on the cover.

     

    I don't have it with me and can't upload it at the moment, but I have a plan...

     

    I began with a 9" H x 12.62" W image. For a background image, I have a closeup of a purple orchid, cvering the entire area, front and back.. 

     

    For those not familiar with Nero Wolfe: his hobby is growing orchids, and orchids figure significantly in several plots. To readers of Stout or of Goldsborough, an orchid will immediately suggest Nero Wolfe.

     

    I have superimposed two horizontal black bands: One about 1/3 down for the Title (I'm leaning towards "A Stout Draft" at this point) and one about 1/3 from the bottom, for my name. These bands go all the way around front and back. 

     

    Over the bands, in the back, I have an image of a raceme of white orchids, which I have adjusted to be somewhat bright without fading the image away. The white-orchid image begins above and below the bands, that is, you can see that the bands are in front of the background image and run behind the blurb image.

     

    My blurb will be on top of the white orchid image, using it for a text background.

     

    in the front, between the two bands, I have a repeat of the white orchid image, but cropped differently, small enough to remain between the bands with a small margin, and without any white-balance adjustment (i.e. higher contrast).

     

    All photos used are my own original work, and I own all rights to them.

     

    For the binding edge, I have made a vertical band, purple, with white letters, matching the title and byline. This may overlap slightly onto front or back (these things are seldom precise) but very little, and in a balanced way.

     

    Once I am in a location to upload the image, I'll post it so that you have more than just my description.

     

    Any thoughts on the cover as described?

     

    WRT the title: A Stout Draft has a double meaning: The story begins with a ms. allegedly by Rex Stout, hence it is a Stout Draft; also, Wolfe drinks beer (though I believe he's more of an ale man) thus he might have a "Draft" (or draught) of a Stout beer. 

     

    Any thoughts on the title?


    My only comment really just reiterates what we've been talking about this week.

     

    If you make a cover that is relevant only to existing Nero Wolfe fans you risk losing new readers who may be unfamiliar with Stout's work.

     

    In this case, anyone looking at a cover of a book that features nothing but orchids is not going to have a clue what sort of book this is, what genre it belongs to or what it might be about.

     

    R

  • That post was before we discussed covers at great length. I've scrapped all but the single small spider orchid on the back cover.

     

    The only part of that post still relevant is the fact that my proposed title is "A Stout Draft." Smiley Happy

     

    But I did almost hear about permissions... Smiley Happy

     

  • So, to wrap up the thread -- I did not receive permission and will not be publishing this book.

     

    Thank you all, nonetheless, for your help.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    That's a shame, just change it to a fictitious writer then.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • That will require gutting the story as it sits and rebuilding it. I probably will rewrite it at some point, since I really liked chapters 11 and 17.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Ah well, such is the lot of a writer. There's times I can get up to many 1000s of words and then wonder where it's going, so I shelve it and work on something else. Then go back to the works in limbo. Possibly even years later!

     

    The thing is, is to try not to waste creativity.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Ah, so then you're a "Pantser?"

     

    Myself, when I find that I'm not sure where I'm going, I dredge through my mental compost pile, to see if there's a nugget that fits into my current story. Sometimes this requires a twist to the plot, and other times it fits in as if I had planned it all along.

     

    And of course, the golden moment is when you envision the last scene, and then refine everything else to point towards that vision.

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