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The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition Paperback – October 20, 1998


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Frequently Bought Together

The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition + The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers + Author Law A To Z: A Desktop Guide to Writers' Rights and Responsibilities (Capital Ideas)
Price for all three: $36.71

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 3 edition (October 20, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073820031X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738200316
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 9.1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is a fantastic reference for writers interested--and all should be--in legal issues concerning contracts, collaboration, agents, defamation, copyright, taxes, and high-tech publishing. Authors Brad Bunnin and Peter Beren have written this guide with such style and clarity that you might find yourself reading it, rather than just consulting it. But that's okay: you can't help but feel empowered by having read such a thorough and, when appropriate, opinionated text. Consider, for instance, the book's first chapter, "The Publishing Contract." Contrary to what publishers tell you, Bunnin writes (Beren contributed the chapter on "The Author and the Business of Publishing"), there is no such thing as a standard book contract. In fact, he says, "virtually without exception, publishers willingly change contracts at the author's request." Bunnin proceeds to lead his readers, line by line over 63 pages, through every single element of a publishing contract, including the grants-of-rights clause; warranties and indemnities; royalties, revisions, and remainders; and "all that incomprehensible, apparently unimportant stuff at the back of the contract." Whether or not you've retained a literary lawyer to work on your behalf, you'll want a book such as this on your shelves, to refer to when you need advice on avoiding defamatory statements, protecting yourself against copyright infringement, or even knowing which home-office expenditures you may deduct come tax time. --Jane Steinberg

From Library Journal

The aim of these two volumes is the sameto inform certain groups of their legal rights and responsibilities. Both are excellent resources, clearly written for lay users. The Artist's Friendly Legal Guide, by four members of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, covers copyright, the evolving area of moral rights, contracts for artwork, and tax concerns. Questions and answers are included after each section to cover minor points of law; sample legal forms are also given. Intended for professionals in the fine arts, this guide is recommended for legal and art collections. The Writer's Legal Companion covers some of the same areas but naturally focuses on writers' concerns and gives particular emphasis to copyright and defamation. Sample forms are included here as well. Because the intended audienceany persons in the writing or publishing fieldsis larger than those in art specifically, this book is recommended. Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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You can find all kinds of help just going to the back of the book.
S. Slaughter
The great benefit is that it takes the arcane business of contract and copyright law and presents it in terms that a non-lawyer can understand.
John Boddie
Whether you are a new writer or an experienced professional, this book is a must-have.
Debbie Lee Wesselmann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dan Poynter VINE VOICE on October 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
To understand why, I will begin with a page on author-publisher contracts from my own book: Successful Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books.
"The contract you receive from your publisher may be in two colors and printed on fancy paper but it is not chiseled in stone. Only new authors sign and return a publisher's first offer. You may make changes to the contract and return it-that is a "counter offer". The contract may go back and forth until someone "accepts it."
"I took a distressing telephone call from an author who had just received a contract from a large New York publisher. There were a total of 21 items in the contract she didn't like or didn't understand. After discussing some of them, I suggested she call her editor and have a discussion. Better communication was certainly required here.
"She called back two days later, both astonished and delighted. When she asked about the first paragraph in question, the editor said, "that's okay; you can have it." She got what she wanted on the next paragraph in question too. On one other paragraph that concerned her, the editor said something like, "Well, that sounds like this but in the book trade it really means that; so it isn't a big issue."
"The result: she got 19 out of the 21 things she asked for. So contract discussions do not mean pulling the wool over the eyes of your publisher. This was a win-win negotiation.
"Take the contract to a book attorney (not just any attorney, not a contract attorney and not a media attorney). When it comes to literary properties and money, you need professional help. And make a counter offer.
"As Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale says: "Remember, all of this is negotiable.
Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Without this book, I would never have been able to negotiate my first book contract. Bunnin and Beren gave me the necessary tools: book contract language and what it means, fair and unfair clauses, negotiating tactics, and how to get most of what I wanted. The sections on contracts alone are worth the price. They are by far the most valuable aspect of this book
But there is more here than information about book contracts. This book will teach you the necessary skills to be a business person, to think like the small business owner you are. Writers have a tendency to want to deal with art only, shying away from finance and law, but the authors point out time after time how dangerous this stance can be. With the knowledge provided here, you will protect yourself and your career.
Whether you are a new writer or an experienced professional, this book is a must-have.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Boddie on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a guide to copyright, contracts, agents and all of the messy "non-creative" part of writing that you need to know if you are writing for commercial publication, even if you are acting as your own publisher.
The great benefit is that it takes the arcane business of contract and copyright law and presents it in terms that a non-lawyer can understand. It will help you to ask the right questions before you submit a poem, article or manuscript. It will teach you what copyright is, what it protects and what you need to do to ensure and enforce it.
Seriously, if you write, you'll find this at least as useful as Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan F. Heywood on January 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Writer's Legal Companion is a must for the reference shelves of writers who want to make money at their craft.
By explaining common contracts section by section and adding helpful hints regarding the types of clauses likely to cause grief later, the book helps writers avoid common causes of legal headaches.
The Writer's Legal Companion is forward-looking, addressing issues like electronic rights and the contract clauses that pertain to them. The book tells writers what to do to remedy infringements on the copyrights of their works, as well as how to avoid infringing on those of others.
Along with the explanations and examples in the book are sample contracts covering a variety of situations including hiring an agent, serializing a novel and granting publishing rights.
Examples of the forward-looking consideration of the authors are the use of 20__ in the date area of each sample contract and the inclusion of Web resources for writers. The authors are correct in their assumption that this reference will be useful well into the next century.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Allen E. Wiesen on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
While many books are designed to help writers navigate the increasingly complex array of legal and marketing issues, most just skim the surface. This book is a rare exception. Not only does it help writers avoid awkward business arrangements, but it provides specific examples of wording which would be essential to include in contracts. But is this book an absolute must? Only for the writer who is serious about avoiding problems and making sales. Buy it!
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