Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Damyanti's Dilemma

How fair is it for a local publisher to offer these terms to writers submitting work to their anthology?  My friend and writing buddy Damyanti Ghosh writes that CCC Press :
... want to retain the right to abridge my work and to continue to publish it not just for one year, but till they decide to let it go out-of-print. ... And in the meanwhile, they are going to charge sub-licensing fees to any publisher who decides to publish the story again, including, hypothetically, my own anthology!
Any publisher has of course the right to set their own terms, and a writer can elect to accept or refuse those terms.  

If you are a new writer who needs the exposure and could benefit from getting your name out there (especially in an international anthology), you might be happy to accept such conditions, but if, like Damayanti, you see writing as a career path, are finding success elsewhere, and plan to compile your work into a book, this may not be the best deal for you.

Choices!

I'd advise Damyanti to take her story elsewhere - what about you?

(This was the original call for submissions.)

64 comments:

Jordan said...

I agree. I'd probably back out.

Kokyee said...

Don't do it, Damyantis! This is exploitation. As writers, we would love to have our work published, but that does not give them the right to take advantage.

Eeleen Lee said...
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Eeleen Lee said...
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佳皓佳皓 said...

與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Amir Muhammad said...

这实在是岂有此理 !

Damyanti said...

Thanks Sharon for highlighting this, and to the others for weighing in.

Basically the issue is I have the copyright, but they have the publishing rights till they want them, and can adapt and abridge my work as they want, all for a grand price of 50 GBP.

And hypothetically, someone will have to take their permission and pay them if they want to reprint my own work in my own anthology if the print run exceeds 500 copies.

The other writers on the anthology have been silent so far, and they include writers like O Thiam Chin and Christopher Mooney, and I'm slightly wary of withdrawing from what might be a good opportunity for a green nobody like me....sigh.

I'll wait and watch for a time and take the opinion of those who have published in the international market...and then do the right thing, I guess.

Thanks again folks, and let's see how this turns out.

Damyanti said...

Amir, as a writer and publisher, your comments would be so much more helpful if they were detailed and in English :D

Chet said...

Damyanti - Amir said "This is outrageous" in Chinese.

And you're not a green nobody.

Eeleen Lee said...
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Preets said...

Damyanti, I understand the temptation to take the risk, but this really *is* exploitative. These are just not standard or acceptable terms anywhere in the publishing world. How would any writer every put together a short story collections if these sub-licensing fees were the norm? Most short story collections consist *primarily* of previously published work, after all (though it may certainly be revised), with just a few new stories thrown in here and there.

If you're concerned about finding a publisher because your name isn't known yet, I'd urge you to take some steps to get your name out there, and then approach reputable agents, rather than signing prematurely with any publisher who will have you right now. Hope this helps, and good luck! Feel free to send me a personal message if you need more detailed advice -- Sharon has my e-mail address.

John Ling said...

Damyanti, such restrictive contracts do exist, most commonly in literature-to-film adaptations. Essentially, you are required to sign away most (if not all) of your rights. However, any sour feelings are smoothed over by the fair compensation you receive as part of the deal.

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case here. You are only receiving 50 quid (roughly RM240). Convention suggests you should be receiving at least three times that amount.

Don't be afraid to raise these points with the publisher in question, and find out if there's room to negotiate.

Also, do sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On one side, jot down the benefits you'll enjoy as a result of going ahead. And on the other side, jot down the the negative consequences. This will help ease your confusion and bring some clarity. Keep in mind, writing and publishing is meant to be fun, not a downer!

Damyanti said...

@John,
I don't think they plan to increase the fees, and have been quite insulting to another author who suggested it yesterday. In fact, I'm quite tempted to quote from the email conversation going on, which involves insults to Singapore: most Singaporeans are quiet though.

Anyway, I'm not writing for the money, money is a corollary when it comes to fiction, especially for a novice like me. I write articles for a living :D

Thank you so much for taking the time to give your advice, and it is indeed very helpful.

Damyanti said...

@Preeta, you're very kind to take the time to comment here. I was afraid before that I'm simply ignorant of the norms of publishing in the UK, but I feel validated in my concerns now.

All I want to really is write well, and if there is an opportunity, to publish. There's a whole load of work ahead of me in terms of improving my writing, anyway, so I can worry about publication a little later :D


I would indeed like to write you a short email, (not taking up much of your time), and thank you very much for the offer.

Damyanti said...

Just want to update my earlier comment:
The other writers on the anthology have been silent so far, and they include writers like O Thiam Chin and Christopher Mooney, and I'm slightly wary of withdrawing from what might be a good opportunity for a green nobody like me...


Christopher Mooney has indeed spoken up yesterday night, and since the mail is cc to all of us both from the press and from him, I have witnessed the whole exchange.

I do not have words to express CCC Press's response.

Glenda Larke said...

I'm internationally published too, and believe me, this is not the norm. No way any of you should agree to such outrageous terms. In fact, I would say it is so beyond the pale it signifies rip-off. The only thing that would make a savvy writer accept this kind of contract would be that you are offered royalties on top of the initial payment -- then for them to keep the rights indefinitely until the publication is OOP would be fair enough.

The other bit that worries me is the abridged thing. They want permission to shred your work without your input.

And although no same fiction writer does it for the money, that doesn't mean that you should write for too little. A standard payment on the international Short Story market is about 5 cents US per word.

If writers accept peanuts, then sooner or later, there's nothing except peanuts.

Damyanti said...

Glenda,
Thanks so much for our input.

I did feel a little bothered about both the "abridge" part and the retention of publication rights, sub-licensing charges.

You're right of course, writers should not settle for peanuts. I need to understand that writing can be a paying job like any other.

My story is 6730 words and at 5 cents a word it should be 336.50 USD. (And for my articles I get paid way higher!)

Wow. Hadn't thought of that part before. They are offering me 76 USD.

Ok, now I have begun to feel more like a green nobody than ever.

Thanks Glenda, I absolutely appreciate this. I just got a whole new added perspective.

Damyanti said...

Ouch. Glenda, I meant "your" input, of course.

e6n1 said...

This is *unacceptable* behaviour from the publisher- how dare they insult the country that the writers are from!

This publisher should be blacklisted or at least flagged.

Eeleen

Damyanti said...

The thing is Ee leen, so far as I know, I'm the only one who has taken the question public.

The rest of the writers, so far, with the exception of Christopher Mooney (who has exchanged emails with CCC Press), have been largely silent.

I'm not out defame or flag CCC press, they are fully legal and within their rights in sending me the contract. I can't hold against them the language they use, or what they say in emails to another author.

This whole questioning is just to understand for myself, and make the world aware, that certain publishers are coming out with such contracts.

I would say however, that at least 3 Malaysian publishers have disagreed with the clauses of CCC Press.

One on this blog (in Chinese!), another in person, when I visited his shop/office, and yet another just now via email.

So at least the publishers in Malaysia are doing what is right, and that is heartening.

Preets said...

Glenda, I have to disagree with one small point of yours: by and large, the mainstream "international short story market" does not pay. It's probably different for science fiction and fantasy (?) -- hence your comment -- but "literary" (I hate that word but have to use it as shorthand here) short fiction usually does not pay until and unless you publish a collection. Most journals, even reputable ones, do not pay for short stories. In the US the exceptions are places like the New Yorker and Harper's, but these tend to publish established authors like Alice Munro -- every now and then you *might* see a new name, but in general I don't turn to these journals to find new writers.

So it's not the measly payment I'm objecting to here -- it's the unfair terms in the contract. Just to be clear, because I don't want to mislead Damyanti.

Glenda Larke said...

Sorry, Damyanti - Preeta is p right. I was indeed talking about the SF/F/horror market. To be quite honest, I know nothing about ordinary - um, literary - short story markets. I am surprised though. They pay nothing?? I suspect that there might be others besides Harpers and NYer if you look around. Even things like the Australian Women's Weekly used to pay for stories, and probably still do, and take good quality stories too, if the subject matter deals with woman's issues. Meanjin I know pays $A 50 per printed page and even pays for poetry.

Damyanti said...

Please, Glenda, no apologies needed. You were speaking from a different point of view, but I guess the concept is important.

Some day, even for a literary short story, anthology, or novel, I would get paid a bit. That is a new thought, and not an altogether unpleasant one. :D

Preeta is right, Monsoon, Marshall Cavendish are not paying for their stories, they were upfront about it and that is alright. MPH is paying a token sum, and that is fine too.

None of them wants more than first publication rights, and that is the main thing!

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, really appreciate it.

Damyanti said...

Oh, and to everyone who has commented here, I 'm not publishing with CCC Press.

I have withdrawn/ been removed, depending on the way you look at it, because both were simultaneous!

More on my blog, which you can vist through the link on my name.

Thankou, thankyou everyone for our opinions and your time, and to Sharon, for picking up this issue.

I have learned a whole lot from this experience, and owe it to the people who have advised me on this blog, my blogs, and offline.

I'm busy being grateful :D

daphne said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the "first publication rights" stated in most publishing contracts last until the book goes out of print. If the author of a story from the said book wishes to include that story elsewhere, he/she might well have to pay for the privilege. That is up to the publisher to decide. CCC's contract merely declares this fact baldly, whereas most contracts merely imply it.

In short, CCC's contract is not so different. It's just a lot more explicit.

Damyanti said...

@ Daphne

Thank you for your input.

The issue is closed because I've withdrawn, but I understand that writers can benefit from further discussion and inputs from experienced publishers/ writers.

So I will let more experienced people weigh in on this.

But in my very limited "experience" with the three publishers I'm working with right now, I have got it in writing from each of them that I only need to inform and credit them for publishing it first, if and when I want to re-publish.

No one mentioned sub-licensing charges.


None of them mentions the right to abridge either, which I think is significant.

Lawyers, even copyright lawyers, have commented that the clauses of this contract were unusual.

bibliobibuli said...

btw thanks for opening up the conversation on your blog, Damyanti, it's an important issue in general.

but in the end, as I keep saying, it's up to writers to read the small print and make up their minds before they sign.

bibliobibuli said...

Sorry to be out of this conversation earlier - my internet was down.

I must say that I wish publishers would be straight from the outset about what terms and conditions they propose to offer writers (i.e. before they put in the time and effort) - and indeed most do spell it out.

When I first blogged about this project to encourage local writers to send their works out, Guat asked me about copyright and reprinting rights in the comments and I asked Emma Dawson by email so I could add that to the post. She said in her reply that copyright would remain with the writer, but the matter seems to be more complex.

Glenda Larke said...

Copyright and selling the rights are two different things. Copyright should always remain with the writer, who then sells the rights to...X, where X = whatever is specified in the contract. Can be anything -- e.g. world rights in any language, any format; or, at the other end of the scale, first publication, print rights only, in English, in Malaysia. Or anything inbetween. I sell rights to my books separately to different countries, because I earn more that way.

By the way, the journal that pays $A50 per page that I mention above is a literary quarterly.

Fadz said...

Preets, I have to disagree with your disagreement on Glenda's remark (what?). There are plenty of literary markets out there, depending on how you define payment. With online submissions, it's no longer relevant where you're from -- unless a publisher specifically states that they want writers from a certain locality/gender/age.

The payment Glenda mentioned is a professional rate (5cents and up per word). Some venues pay semi-pro rate (between 1 cent and 4.9 cents per word). Some pay a token amount (USD 1 to...say, 30?), while others pay in royalties. Some venues are non-monetary, but promise a good exposure for the author.

Paying literary markets out there include Glimmer Train Press, Ploughshares, Asia Literary Review (you should check this out), Harper's, The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Pedestal Magazine (among others), and that's just the pro-paying market.

For those who aren't aware of where to find a home for their stories, I strongly suggest joining www.duotrope.com. It's a huge market database for flash fiction, short stories, novellas, some even novels, and also poetry. I've managed to sell 6 stories after discovering this website (Sold 4 stories before that, to QLRS, TMPC and KAP, but since they're non-paying venues, I'm not sure if the term 'sell' is applicable). Another similar website is www.ralan.com, but it's a bit messy.

Now, as I've only managed to publish 10 stories since last year, I'm not claiming to know much about the publication world. What I do know is the author retains the copyright of a story, but the distribution right depends on the publisher. Some, who believe that certain works are gems that will be reprinted over again, may request for an indefinite publication right, with additional international distribution rights and adaptation rights. Usually these are for novel-length works, and this is where an agent comes in handy, as they know what to negotiate for.

As far as a payment of 50 pounds and distribution rights for a short story, my view is quite simple (and maybe short-term). Sometimes I write crap, but sometimes I write something I believe in deeply, something I know is brilliant (to me, at least). Every time that happens, I tell myself, "This is my best work!" and that I may not write something just as good. But after writing more stories, I find out that the new ones are better, more mature. Bottom line is, we are able to produce publishable materials. There will always be more materials to write, and to write about. A writer who banks on that one piece of work will never grow, will never go far.

For me, personally, even if I lose any right to a story, and someone else makes a ridiculous amount of money out of my work, leaving me broke, I'll get pissed off for a while, but I'll also tell myself, "Hey, I did that. I wrote something that's good and sells. I'll come up with something better, and this time it'll be easier."

-- this is not empty talk. My younger brother took advantage of my drawings when I was 13 (and he was 9 -- hah! seriously). He didn't give me a single cent, but when I stopped drawing, he couldn't sell anything new. But my drawing skill keeps on improving.

Damyanti said...

@ Fadz

"There will always be more materials to write, and to write about. A writer who banks on that one piece of work will never grow, will never go far."

I couldn't agree more.

My doubt here, however, was whether I should give my story to someone who would charge me to republish it for my own (however hypothetical so far)anthology, as well as have the right to abridge it, i.e, put my name on a version I would not approve of, without my consent. How much money they paid me, or made out of it themselves, was not really an issue.

This whole thing has become a bigger hoo-ha than I intended, only seeking guidance, but I am happy I stuck to my principles and did not make a Hobson's choice.

Thank you very much indeed for all the information you have shared here, and congrats on placing your stories!

Wishing you all kinds of success, and happy writing!

Preets said...

There's some great input here! And Damyanti, I think you made the right decision.

Fadz, thanks for clarifying -- you're right that there are paying markets (I should know -- I've been published in both _A Public Space_ and _Asia Literary Review_ and am very grateful for it), but what I meant is that *by and large,* short fiction does not pay, particularly for a beginning writer. As talented as Damyanti may be, statistically speaking, she's unlikely to be published in The New Yorker or Harper's at this stage in her career. But I think she has a good chance of getting a story into a university journal, for example, and there are many many great ones out there. They don't pay, though; they can't afford to, but they publish excellent work and help emerging writers to get their name out there.

I also think that for an emerging writer, it's more important to get your work into reputable publications (e.g. the better university journals) than into publications that pay something. There's some overlap between those two categories (e.g. The New Yorker, Harper's, etc. etc., all the ones Fadz mentioned), but not a huge amount. There are publications that pay something but would mean nothing to an agent or a publisher looking at your CV.

Got to run! Good luck, Damyanti!

Damyanti said...

@Preeta

Thank you once again, most kind and excellent advice.

Lots of work ahead of me, so I better get started!

John Ling said...

Money, exposure or upskilling aside, what it really comes down to is the principle of the matter. The ends do not always justify the means, and participating in underhandedness will only encourage more underhandedness. Damyanti, good on you for calling a spade a spade and standing your ground rather than giving in to this corrupt absurdity.

John said...

I agree with the above poster (John Ling) that it is a matter of principle. CCC Press' terms of contract may not have been illegal but a degree of obfuscation was present. From reading the above comments, it sounds that CCC Press was also discourteous in their correspondence with the writer/s- which never does wonders for PR or for writer-publisher relations.

A great website to consult and bring issues like this to attention is
Writer Beware at http://www.writerbeware.org/

I have emailed them before and have found their prompt replies to be very insightful and helpful.

David said...

@ Damyanti- I believe you made the right decision.

"I don't think they plan to increase the fees, and have been quite insulting to another author who suggested it yesterday."

I do not know the exact details of the emails exchanged but any publisher or agent who cannot correspond politely (even in disagreement) with their own clients is really not worth any self-respecting writer's time, no matter how tempting the prospect of getting published.

"If you are a new writer who needs the exposure and could benefit from getting your name out there (especially in an international anthology), you might be happy to accept such conditions, but if, like Damayanti, you see writing as a career path, are finding success elsewhere, and plan to compile your work into a book, this may not be the best deal for you."

I speak as an outsider from SEA and Asia- so kindly correct me if I am wrong: are some aspiring Malaysian and Singaporean writers so eager to obtain exposure? They maybe willing to "accept such conditions" to get published internationally but I feel it is not worth the hassle and the aggravation in this case.
With the media and internet, the world is now a global village and any hard-working, talented and conscientious writer will have their day in the sun.

John Ling said...

David, unfortunately, many writers do subject themselves to exploitation for the sake of exposure. They think of it as 'upskilling' and set the bar pretty low for themselves.

But as I mentioned before, participating in and condoning underhandedness only encourages more underhandedness. You right that it's simply not worth the trouble.

David said...

@ John Ling
You're right that it is exploitation on the publisher's side. Thanks for clarifying. And after some googling, I now see that Malaysian authors are on the rise now, and have been on some prestigious literary shortlists in recent years. Imagine if they had naively signed some sketchy deal at the start of their careers and had to pay later on for career short-sightedness.

John said...

Avoid any publisher who acts like the Sheriff of Nottingham

Fadz said...

Hmm...I think this matter has escalated (slightly) out of hand.

As far as I'm aware of, only Damyanti Gosh has received an acceptance and a contract. And it's her right as a writer and the creator of her story to withdraw it if she doesn't feel that the publication house or the contract feels right for her. No questions should be asked, no objections unless the publisher is willing to sit down with the author and negotiate the contract until both parties find it satisfactory.

After all, publishers reject writers all the time, and they don't appreciate replies that question their decision.

It's also acceptable for people to gripe/highlight something that concern them, but with blogs that are open to public response, it may lead to defamation, like what's happening here. Already there are writers pulling their stories out without even seeing an acceptance letter or the contract (pulling out a story to submit it elsewhere or because it's been accepted elsewhere is fine, but in the call for submission Emma Dawson had already stated no sim subs). But to pull out a story in view of future possible acceptance (not even considering a rejection)?

There are also writers who immediately voice their support toward the publishers, which I think is a little over the top.

General etiquette of a submission: submit a story with or without a cover letter. Wait and don't pester the publisher until a certain period (standard is 70 days. Some publishers specify the maximum days of silence before querying about an author's submission). Thank the publisher if you're accepted, no need to reply if you're rejected -- this will only swamp their inbox.

Emma Dawson has been gracious enough to give us not 1, but 3 periodical updates. To me, that's a good sign of a concerned, empathic publisher. I have not seen the contract, so why should I gripe about underhandedness, corruption and whatever else is contributing toward the publisher's defamation?

Damyanti was concerned because she didn't know if the contract is standard or not, so she sought advise. In this digital age, seeking advise online is the best way to go. Fine.

But must people go as far as defaming someone else without knowing the full story from both sides?

John Ling said...

Not so. Defamation is only defamation if a false message is being transmitted as being true. This is not the case here. The discussion has not been about the contract itself, but about Damyanti's experiences with the contract. There is a distinct difference.

Now, while words like 'slander' and 'defamation' may be used by draconian types to justify appeasement and silence dissent, let's make one thing clear -- it was CCC Press that solicited submissions from writers, and they did so largely through the blogsphere. And in the interest of quid pro quo, blogsphere can and will respond with scrutiny and feedback.

Secondly, polite email queries to CCC Press have been met with hostility and evasion, as well as an outright refusal to come clean. Again and again, CCC Press has been invited to come and set the record straight on this blog and others. They have refused, as is their prerogative. But they must be aware that silence is not a defense.

Fadz said...

Urm...John, CCC Press has written emails to us, who are directly involved with this project. I'm sorry to have to say this, but I don't see your name as one of the recipients.

They've also forwarded their exchanges with Damyanti, and as far as I can tell, they've been polite throughout. Of course, they did say that if Damyanti doesn't agree with their terms and conditions, she's free to withdraw her piece. Even that has been phrased eloquently and graciously. I think almost all publishers do that, especially major ones? Small press is different; sometimes we can negotiate with them.

Now, while words like 'slander' and 'defamation' may be used by draconian types to justify appeasement and silence dissent, let's make one thing clear -- it was CCC Press that solicited submissions from writers, and they did so largely through the blogsphere. And in the interest of quid pro quo, blogsphere can and will respond with scrutiny and feedback.

Secondly, polite email queries to CCC Press have been met with hostility and evasion, as well as an outright refusal to come clean. Again and again, CCC Press has been invited to come and set the record straight on this blog and others. They have refused, as is their prerogative. But they must be aware that silence is not a defense.

This is a tad unfair, right, seeing that you haven't personally received emails discussing terms and conditions with the publishers to be personally affronted? How can you tell polite email queries have been met with hostility and evasion? I read the exchanges; they're perfectly clear, friendly and upfront.

John Ling said...

My own position is as follows -- Damyati brought forward a matter of legitimate concern for the writing community as a whole. So I emailed CCC Press, explaining the 'controversy' that has been brewing on Sharon's blog. In good faith, I invited them to respond. They have refused.

One can only speculate that CCC Press knows full well that their terms and conditions are outside the industry's norms. Hence the desire to bury the issue with as little fuss as possible.

Secondly, it is unfair for you to tell others what they should or should not do when you have failed to practice full disclosure when it comes to your conflicts of interest. In fact, it was only in your last post (and after some prompting) that you came clean about your links to CCC Press. So, to be clear, you are not the bastion of unbiased authority on the issue. However, what you do seem to be an authority on is the publisher's 'good' intentions. So much so that you appear to have elected yourself as their unofficial spokesperson. That being the case, I invite you to front up and answer two key questions. One, is CCC Press' contract a standard publishing contract? Two, if it is not a standard publishing contract, then why is that the case?

I hope you won't resort to the kind of waffling or moral ambiguity that we've seen from CCC Press.

Thank you.

Fadz said...

Eh?

God, John Ling. Give it a rest, already. I did say that since I haven't seen the actual contract (and I'm not sure I'll even get one; there are over 30 people who submitted), I won't be taking sides. Would it matter if I had told everyone I submitted there? I haven't received an acceptance or a rejection letter, that my position is just the same as everyone else.

What I was miffed about was your passionate insistence that CCC Press is corrupt and unfair, when you've not actually read the email exchanges, and the correspondences between writers and the publisher. Being passionate about something is fair, but only if you have your facts straight. Just because as a bystander you emailed the publisher regarding a controversy between them and their potential clients/authors, and they didn't respond, you're saying bad things about them. If you asked a police officer or a lawyer to disclose confidential information and they refuse to do so, would you call them corrupt?

Just because I'm voicing my observation doesn't mean I'm championing something. And I'm not in the position to defend CCC Press. Heck, I definitely did not elect myself as their spokesperson.

I'm not looking for a fight. I'm only saying that there's a time and place for everything, and it would be great to have your facts straight before condemning others.

In that sense, you're still a Malaysian at heart. You say that Malaysians are unthinking zombies who follow and agree with a corrupt government, no question asked, and you're doing the same thing right now.

Please, let it rest.

John Ling said...

That being the case, how can you possibly tell people that it's okay to be exploited in return for 50 quid? You're waffling here.

Secondly, please don't bring in moral ambiguities into what is a clear-cut situation. Nothing is confidential about a publisher that has solicited submissions from the public sphere and then, when it suits them, they refuse to reciprocate in kind.

Finally, since all of us are so ignorant of the facts, then tell me, without singling out CCC Press, is it fair and just to hand over complete rights to your written work for the princely sum of 50 quid? Care to play ball?

Fadz said...

I'm starting to think you really love arguments, so sometimes I wonder if it's just for the sake of it.

Oh well.

First off, let's talk about a writer's rights. According to the U.S. Copyright stature*, works published after March 1, 1989 no longer require a formal copyright notice in order to receive copyright law protection. This protection is imposed automatically the moment the work is fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. In short, once you dictate, write it down, key it in, or type it out, you own the copyright.

The length of protection for works created on and after January 1, 1978 is the life of the author plus 50 years. For works for hire, it's 75 years from the date of first publication, or 100 years from the date of creation, whichever comes first, unless the publisher agrees with a shorter term.

Unfortunately, that's U.S. Copyright Protection. Those posted in the blogsphere, in countries other than the U.S., the protection may vary or not exist at all.

Now, the author owns these rights:
- The right to reproduce the work (copy, imitate, reproduce, duplicate, or transcribe).
- The right to derivative works.
- The right for distribution.
- Public display right.
- Public performance right.

When a writer sells his story in exchange for money, copy of work, or exposure, he sells his rights depending on the terms of conditions, whether it's distribution rights, dramatic, television and motion picture rights, electronic rights, and so on. When he agrees to the term and signs a binding contract, he is bound legally by that contract.

If a publisher buys all distribution rights indefinitely, you still retain other rights, such as copying and imitating your own work, and publish it under a different title. You have to know your rights first. You have to read the fine prints of the contracts, and negotiate to protect your own rights.

I do not have a copy of the contract to comment on it. But Damyanti protected her rights when she withdrew her story before signing the contract, no questions asked.

As for your question, would I sell absolute rights to a third party for 50 pounds? While it's not a professional rate of USD 5cents and above per word, it's still considered a semi-professional payment. For one story, and not one whole collection of them. I wouldn't mind, as long as in the contract I still hold imitation and derivative rights, so that I can use the same characters for a different story/continuation/expansion into a novel, or different characters to imitate the same story. As an alternative, I can ask the publisher if I could publish that story but state clearly at the top that it's published earlier in a specific publication, but the specific publisher.

I have been paid nothing for my stories other than exposure (TMPC, KAP, and QLRS). I have been paid USD3 per story, for 2 stories (Every Day Fiction), which I donated back. I have been paid USD30 for my horror story, with exclusive world rights for a duration of 30 days from the day of publication. I will also receive USD25 per story for 2 stories, with subsequent royalties in exchange for first publication rights in print, electronic, and audio forms, as well as derivative rights (under Creative Commons).

I am not getting USD300 and above for 1 story. Not yet, anyway. But professional publication houses rarely buy works from new, unknown authors. Authors need exposure in reputable places, venues that get reviewed by reputable reviewers, and possible win an award or two, before the slush readers at these professional houses even care enough to read through the story and then bug their editors with it.

Fadz said...

When I sent out the story, of course I also thought about using it for an anthology, since Malaysia is big on anthologies. I even built my anthology based on its hospital-based theme (I have 7 to 8 stories already). If I can't use the story that may or may not sell, I'll just state it in my publication credits, and write other stories.

I can also adapt the story as a novella or a novel, as authors usually retain this right.

Bottom line is, when I produced it I thought it was my best work. But then I created something much better. I will always be able to create more. That's the beauty with Art. Unless, of course, I die first.

I may be thinking short-term for being OK with selling all my distribution rights for 50 pounds, but I still retain other rights.


*Read the full article here:
http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/sept97/cew2.htm

Fadz said...

Inalienable (adj) That cannot be transferred to another or others.

Did you not read what I wrote? As the creator/author, you automatically get a bundle of rights, which you can choose to sell or loan to a third party or publisher. For the duration of the contract, you have transferred certain rights to the publisher.

Before I go any further, let me touch on your second point, which is a load of bull. “Editors and publishers don’t give preference to those with credentials. What we are keen about is the meat-and-potatoes of the writing itself.” Case in point: James Franco (American actor). He’s doing his MFA, and he has published a short story at Esquire, which is a professional-paying market. Read his story here: http://www.esquire.com/fiction/james-franco-fiction-0410. Or Paris Hilton, and her book, “Confessions of an Heiress”. Let’s not forget Britney Spears’s “Heart to Heart”. OK. So you want actual writers. What about Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”? I love his books, but that one is pure crap.

A lot of anthology editors out there, especially small-press, would kill for famous authors to contribute, so that they can grace the cover of the book with their names. After all, everything finally comes down to sales and marketing. Agents are more likely to represent an author who has a good track record in the publishing world. Publishers are more likely to buy their works, because of the name attached to it. That’s the way life is.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM) has adopted a somewhat fairer system. Authors’ names are stripped off the submitted stories for slush readers to go through. After a second-pass filtration, the names are put back onto the stories for editors to pick. Still, famous names carry weight. It’s the privilege of being famous.

“So there's no difference between authors with a record and authors without a record. In the slush pile, all are treated equally. There is no need for newbies degrade themselves just to get an 'upper hand'.”

Another lie. True, people keep on saying if your work is good, it will speak for itself. But wait. William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” was rejected 20 times before it was published. “The Diary of Anne Frank” was rejected 16 times. And who can forget about J.K. Rowling’s chance acceptance. Over 12 publishers rejected her first Harry Potter book, until the 8-year-old Bloomsbury’s CEO’s daughter begged her dad to read it. I don’t see how a newbie can get an upper hand, nor do I understand the statement.

Fadz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fadz said...

Back to your first point. You know there's never a simple 'Yes' or 'No' in life.

"You have previously made it clear that you don't mind being short-changed and messed about in the short run when someone else profiteers from your work. You really don't mind so long as there's some imagined benefit for you in the long run. However, please realise that many do not share your views and are comfortable with such underhandedness."

You like to use big words, don't you? Sure, an author must always protect his rights for future possibilities, be it international distribution, adaptation into different forms, and derivations. This is especially true for novel-length works, hence the need for literary agents. I'll use your own example, though. Could Winston Groom have made more if he had protected his adaptation rights? Yes. But did he really lose out? Every time a book is adapted into a movie, that particular book's sale shoots up exponentially. Books that are out of print are printed again as a movie tie-in. Other books by the same author also experience a boost in sales.

If a writer's aim to write is for publication and for the money, then that writer is bound to be disappointed. Whatever's said and done, writing is still an Art, and people do it because they love it, because they cannot not do it.

Another thing. I personally don't submit my works just anywhere. I choose my potential venues. A writer has this right, just as a publisher has a right to reject a work. CCC Press has a good track record, and has been publishing since 2005. Had their terms and conditions been 'draconian' and substandard, the publication house would not have lasted this long.

Had this been a fledgling publisher, I would definitely scrutinize things further for anything remotely dodgy.

Let me ask you this: am I short-changing myself if I sell/surrender my distribution right to a publisher that will get more reviews, press coverage, and distribution than, say, a fledgling small press who offer the same amount of money for a 3-month exclusive rights, but may never be reviewed by reputable reviewers?

Sure, I may lose out on that one story, but there's a higher chance that people will look out for more of my works, present and future.

If you call this short-sightedness, then so be it. I say I'm thinking wider.

If you want the world to work the way you see it must, and call everything else corrupt, you'll lead an unhealthy, unhappy life. Chill out, see the world with open eyes, and don't be too hasty to judge others.

Learn you still have much to, Young Padawan.

John Ling said...

Rights are inalienable but open to exploitation. A real-world example would be a squatter gaining control over your land and then charging tenants for rental. Yes, it’s your name on the land title. But why is rental income going into the squatter’s pocket instead of yours? So I will repeat my question for the third time: without singling out or 'defaming' CCC Press, is the retention of perpetual publication and sub-licensing rights standard or normal within the industry? Yes or no?

Secondly, MFA writing programmes provide instruction and guidance so that writers can achieve a polished, literary standard of writing that is acceptable to agents or publishers. Franco’s status as an actor aside, he is no village idiot, and he certainly does not deserve to be lumped in with the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. On the contrary, Franco has chosen to educate himself by being committed to a rigorous programme of writing, writing and rewriting. Therefore being published is a natural progression. Now, do you need to be James Franco, an actor, an MFA student, in order to be published? Absolutely not. Is the publishing industry is a exclusive club made up of elitists who shun the unwashed masses? Again, absolutely not. One only needs to observe the emergence of so many first-time writers to know that this is flawed thinking. The only question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Do I write with the skill and flair and subtlety of MFA graduate?’ Well, do you? If not, do not be so quick to attack those who choose to pursue an MFA.

Next, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have never been part of any slush pile. Their books were the result of juicy deals hammered out by their agents even before their ghost writers got down to delivering a manuscript. This is not book publishing you are referring to. This is book packaging, and cynical book packaging at that. Entirely irrelevant to our discussion.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last -- the real novelists. Neither Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol nor JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was ever in any slush pile. They both had agents handling everything. So what gives? Well, it all comes back to the meat-and-potatoes of writing. Yes, you read right. Meat and potatoes. Publishing is a real day job for many people, and they work hard at being successful so they can feed their families. So they need to focus on finding that elusive manuscript that grips them. Grips them so much that they actually find themselves nodding and believing that, yes, the reading public will actually pay good money to read this. That’s what they stick their necks out for. That’s why they’re in the business. But guess what? Out of the 200,000 books that will be published in the United States this year, 4 out of 5 will fail to recoup their costs and will be allowed to go out of print. That leaves the remaining 1 out of 5 to pick up the slack. And that’s what it’s all about. For every person who thinks Dan Brown is a bad writer, you will find two more who thinks he is good at what he does. And despite the number of rejections JK Rowling received, she eventually found one who summoned up enough belief to back her. And what do Dan Brown and JK Rowling have in common? They both were once newbies with a zero track record. Yet, today, they are among the most successful writers of our generation. This, despite the odds.

So my take on this is as follows: new writers should not be so quick to allow themselves to be exploited for the sake of exposure or upskilling. If you’re good, you’re good, and there will be proper avenues to sell your work and proper avenues to be successful. But let’s not shy away from calling a spade a spade. Do you really want your money to go to a squatter? Or do you want that money go to you, the rightful landowner?

Fadz said...

Haih. I don't understand your need to be right and everyone else who have differing opinions must be wrong.

Lemme clarify something. There are two main types of rights: legal rights (or civil rights/statutory rights), and natural rights (moral rights and inalienable rights). Basically legal rights are made by people, put in place by people, made legal by people. As such, it can be taken away or amended. Whereas, unalienable rights are universal and not restricted to a society's laws, customs, or beliefs. A good inalienable right is the right to live. God (or any Higher Power you believe in) gives humans the gift of Life, and no other humans can take it away (capital punishment is another matter).

So is copyright a gift from God? No, it's made by people to protect other people. A copyright can be transferred and shared and even surrendered to another person.

Please. I'm going to say this again. There's nothing wrong with being passionate about something, or picking up a cause. But do your research well, give all the right facts.

Before those famous authors were famous, they submitted their manuscripts to agents and publishers, some over the transom, some to add to the slush pile. Yes, once they're famous publishers solicit them to write stories. So you're wrong about them never experiencing the dreaded slush. Buy and read Stephen King's "On Writing".

You say I'm attacking James Franco. Have you read the story I linked? Can you honestly tell me you'd publish it in a heartbeat if it wasn't written by a celebrity?

"The only question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Do I write with the skill and flair and subtlety of MFA graduate?’ Well, do you? If not, do not be so quick to attack those who choose to pursue an MFA."

- Have you read my published stories? You visit my blog. I have the links at the side bar.

"My own position is as follows -- Damyati brought forward a matter of legitimate concern for the writing community as a whole. So I emailed CCC Press, explaining the 'controversy' that has been brewing on Sharon's blog. In good faith, I invited them to respond. They have refused."

- I received an email from a CCC Press representative. They never received your mail.


You wish for people to rally behind you, but under false pretense and ignorance.

I have said what I needed to say, and since Damyanti has withdrawn her story, this conversation is moot anyway.

By the way, in order for us to argue about contract details, whether it's substandard or not, we have to actually see the contract first.

Substance, mate. Always back your arguments with substance.

John Ling said...

Well, seeing as how Malaysia was recently rated 33 out of 40 in the world for the way it treats the dying and the terminally ill, I don't think any of us are qualified to talk about human dignity. Nor should we be so smug and self-righteous about it.

We should stop waffling and get back to the issue at hand. I'm not condemning your decision to go ahead with CCC Press. You have your good reasons, and that's fine. I am just uncomfortable with the way you mislead newbies about what is standard and what is not. It would have been a different matter if you had said, 'Yes, I'm going through with this because I believe the ends justify the means. However, I will admit, this is not the normal way publishing operates.' Instead, you have done the exact opposite -- spouting everything from defamation to the slush pile to religion to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. All to avoid answering a simple question, which I will pose again for the fourth time: without singling out or 'defaming' CCC Press, is the retention of perpetual publication and sub-licensing rights standard or normal within the industry? On one hand, you are finding it difficult to come clean because you haven't received a contract from CCC Press. And on the other hand, you are committing in principle to a contract you haven't even seen. It's not a good look, and it doesn't set a good example for newbies.

Secondly, writers of all creeds and all genres will encounter the slush pile at one point or another. But I reject your assertion that within the slush pile itself, newbie writers are unfairly discriminated against. This is untrue. Editors have a range of issues to consider before they accept or reject a manuscript, and rejecting a newbie for the sake of rejecting a newbie is not the main agenda.

Also, if I was running a literary journal, Franco's story would fit the mould of what I would publish. I can say this with certainty because a webzine I served with leaned heavily towards the literary side. The key word here is 'literary'. You must not and cannot take your slanted sensibilities as a speculative fiction writer and apply it to literary fiction. That would be as inane as the people I have met who slam Tash Aw's Harmony Silk Factory. 'What's so special about it?' they insist.'It's boring. Not exciting like the Da Vinci Code.'

Finally, CCC Press are entitled to claim ignorance. That's their prerogative. However, may I point out that the length of time a company stays in business does not indicate its respectability? Bernard Madoff's company was operating for close to 50 years before he was caught out. What was he doing prior? Abiding by standard contractual terms and conditions? Oh, how we wish.

Ultimately, my stance is this: if you want to be a Sith and advance yourself because the ends justify the means, that's fine. I have no doubt that you will prosper quickly, as most people often do when they select such a path. But this does not apply to Padawans uncomfortable with the concept and who are inclined to think that it is the means that justifies the ends. For them, I am simply highlighting another option besides going for sub-standard contracts.

Nonetheless, I bear you no ill will, Fadz. As I have always done, I will probably end up buying a copy of the anthology when it comes out to support writers like you, differences of opinion aside.

Cheers.

Amir Muhammad said...

James Franco looked so hot in "Spider-Man 2".

Greenbottle said...

god!!! now i know why i prefer science than 'art'...

and btw...that skoob guy thor k h thinks harmony silk factory is rubbish... i wish more people are honest like him when talking about 'local writers'...

Fadz said...

And here I am, thinking I answered your question, all three times. If it’s not clear enough, let me put it this way: there is no such thing as a standard term/condition in publishing. Google it. You’ll not get a clear hit. Each publisher has its own sets of rules and requirements. Some will clearly state what they want in exchange for payment, while others will state it in their contracts, which may or may not be negotiable. Certain houses contract a writer for an exclusive distribution right for as long as the book is in print, while some contract a writer for the duration of a series of books (falls under work for hire). Some buy the rights for the first hardcover print run only, while others buy the rights for international distributions as well. For short stories, some houses buy rights for the first print and electronic forms, or exclusive/non-exclusive rights for a reprint in a possible future anthology. There is no such a thing as ‘One Standard to Rule Them All.’ Anyone who says that is talking rubbish. It’s not exploitation if a party states its terms clearly in a contract prior to agreement on both sides. Exploitation is taking advantage of the contracted writer’s ignorance. You see, I didn’t mislead anyone about what’s standard or not. You’re the one who’s creating something that’s not there.
However, since I’m not a publisher myself, please, please anyone who’s an actual publisher correct me if I’m wrong.
Anyway, what’s important is that a writer knows all his rights. Read the fine print. If you’re willing to agree with the terms, go ahead with it, and live with your decision, good or bad. If you’re not, you can always pull your work out of a project. Again, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
About James Franco’s story…Amir said it all. All reviewers wonder if Esquire published the crap only because James Franco wrote it. Well, except for John Ling, of course.
“On one hand, you are finding it difficult to come clean because you haven't received a contract from CCC Press. And on the other hand, you are committing in principle to a contract you haven't even seen. It's not a good look, and it doesn't set a good example for newbies.”
- Are you sure you don’t want to be a lawyer? You’re good at twisting people’s words. I cannot comment on CCCP’s contract because I haven’t seen it. I won’t consider myself working with them because I only submitted a story that’s still under consideration. Since the story’s not remotely literary, I don’t think I even have a chance. I have no ties to the company. But as I said, each house has its own requirements, and it’s up to the writers to agree to terms they deem well and good. If a house wants to buy my story for full, indefinite distribution right, I’ll ask them if I can adapt the story into other forms, or use it for a novella or a novel. I’ll ask them if I can imitate the story without breaking the contract.

Fadz said...

You said: “Secondly, writers of all creeds and all genres will encounter the slush pile at one point or another. But I reject your assertion that within the slush pile itself, newbie writers are unfairly discriminated against. This is untrue. Editors have a range of issues to consider before they accept or reject a manuscript, and rejecting a newbie for the sake of rejecting a newbie is not the main agenda.”
But before that, you said: “…MFA writing programmes provide instruction and guidance so that writers can achieve a polished, literary standard of writing that is acceptable to agents or publishers. …Franco has chosen to educate himself by being committed to a rigorous programme of writing, writing and rewriting. Therefore being published is a natural progression. …The only question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Do I write with the skill and flair and subtlety of MFA graduate?’ Well, do you? If not, do not be so quick to attack those who choose to pursue an MFA.”
You also said as an editor, you don’t discriminate writers, and claim that the writing itself is what you look for. However, you show that you have a preconception that MFA graduates write well. I’m not saying you’re wrong, because MFA, as well as previous publication records give weight to a submission, however little. Editors/agents/publishers who see this credential in a cover letter prepare themselves mentally to read at least decent writing without glaring errors, even before they begin reading. With someone lacking those credentials (new writer with no publishing/writing background), editors will think, “Is this one good enough? I hope there aren’t any typos. This better wow me.” Before even reading, they’ve set their mind to reject a work after the first 2 paragraphs because they need to go through over 100 more submissions in one night. They’re looking for an excuse to reject a work.
But I never said a newbie is rejected for the sake of rejecting a newbie. Those are your words, mate. If a newbie has no chance at publication, I wouldn’t have sold my stories. I am nameless in the SciFi world – heck, writing world in general, but when I submitted my story to COSMOS (premier Australian Science magazine), the fiction editor, Damien Broderick (veteran SciFi novelist) said he liked my writing, style, and voice, but the science behind my story was absurd – he was right, of course. He invited me to write something else, and I did. My second submission is still under consideration (93 days and counting).

Fadz said...

Your conspiracy theories aside, here’s what I can do to help newbies:

Writing and publishing are two separate entities, and never let the thought of publishing tarnish your writing. If the reason you write fiction is for publication (works for hire are a different story, hear?), you’re likely to get disappointed. Publishing a story/novel is hard! But if you write for the love of it, because you have the urge to write, because you want to share your thoughts, your passion, you feel this undeniable elation every time you finish writing a story, especially if you think it’s good.

But it doesn’t mean it’s any good. I know writers are artists, and most artists are fragile creatures. But toughen up. Grow a thick skin. Do not expect only praises, be prepared to be criticized. If you cannot accept criticism, you’ll never grow as a writer and as a person. Don’t let your mother criticize your work; she’s bound to say she loves it, just as she loves you no matter how screwed up you are. If you can get a Trusted Reader, you’re lucky. If not, join a group. With the advent of the internet, this cannot be any easier. Websites like Writing.com are littered with writers and enthusiasts, but bear in mind that there as many good ones as there are bad ones. Join groups that will help you, but be prepared to give as much as you receive. Don’t be so kiasu. Polish your work. Write more. Edit other people’s work, and you’ll learn to edit yours.

Now, when you truly believe your work is publication worthy, look for markets that suit your needs. Again, Duotrope.com is truly a boon for writers. You don’t have to buy the thick, expensive market database. Always work your way from the top. Don’t settle for obscure, unknown markets. Start with professional markets; if they reject your story, work your way down (semi-pro, token payment, non-paying). This is important: DO NOT give a reason for publishers to reject your work. READ THE GUIDELINES carefully. FORMAT YOUR MANUSCRIPT well. Most of them will lead you to this link: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html, but some will have their own preferences. WEED OUT THE TYPOS AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS. First impressions play an important role.

Choose your market, and please, protect your rights. I’ve provided a link to the U.S. Copyright Protection Stature somewhere above. If you think a market is not suitable for you, if the publisher is dodgy, you have the right to go somewhere else. You may regret not placing it there later, but always do what your heart feels is right.

Fadz said...

Okay, this is important: if publishers reject your work, it DOES NOT mean they’re rejecting you. They don’t even know you enough to care. Editors have a certain mindset about their readership. They have their own target audiences to cater to. Most of the time you get form rejections, which aren’t helpful at all. Sometimes, though, you get personal rejections telling you why your story is rejected. Pay attention to these. Otherwise, keep on finding other markets! The latest story I’ve sold had been rejected 5 or 6 times. I’ve just received a proof today for my perusal, and it looks good! It’s a print anthology, by the way.

Good luck, and if anyone wants me to read and edit a short story, just email it to me. I don’t spare a writer’s feelings, though. Some of the members in my group even called me an obnoxious know-all, once (as if you guys don’t think the same).

Hope this helps, and keep on writing!

Preets said...

Aiyo Greenbottle, I know exactly what you mean lah! My grandmother's second cousin's nephew, Chinnappan s/o G. Muthumaran, thinks _One Hundred Years of Solitude_ is rubbish. I wish more people would be honest like him when talking about "Latin American writers."

Kokyee said...

Harry Potter, Da Vinci, Sith Lord, Spiderman,James Franco..

Who needs an anthology when the comments here are so interesting?

David said...

@ Fadz
"About James Franco’s story…Amir said it all"

Amir Muhammad specifically did not comment on the quality of James Franco's Esquire story: Amir Muhammad merely wrote that James Franco looked hot in Spiderman 2. I just wonder whether you were reading between the lines when there was nothing to be read
and FYI I have read James Franco's story- I think it is rather insubstantial, but thats my opinion. Would Esquire have published it if it wasn't written by a celebrity? Unless we address that question to the editor at Esquire and get his/her answer, we really don't know. As a magazine they have the prerogative to fill their pages as they see fit. Editors have other factors to consider.

Well Fadz it looks as though you have been doing the right thing in getting your work out there and reaping the results; your persistence and diligence is admirable and you even got some encouraging feedback from the editor of COSMOS, so I really don't understand why you took issue with another who only patiently and cogently presented their opinions here. You are doing your best as a writer so forget about the rest.

Fadz said...

@John Ling: "Finally, 90% of lawyering consists of clerical work. So being a lawyer is definitely out. But may I suggest a new career in PR and spin-doctoring for you? After all, you already spend more time doing that as opposed to actual doctoring. Which is odd. The doctors I know who work in neurology barely have time to answer their phones, let alone go online and engage in arguments with a prickly outsider named John Ling. I suspect, multiplied many times over, this may be the reason Malaysian palliative care is ranked 33 out of 40 in the world. Ergo, you must have a very relaxed job in the public healthcare system, Fadz. Either that or a non-existent one."

- Wow. Personal attack. Nice. Here you are, telling me not to pass judgment on MFA students/grads, and several sentences later you passed your judgment on me. Every person is allocated 24 hours per day, yes? Have it ever occurred to you that I may be working from 7 to 5, then go home and write (or browse and comments on blogs when I'm procrastinating), and then sleep about 5 hours a day, whenever I'm not on-call? Have it ever occurred to you to call my hospital and ask my nurses and patients about my work ethics? Nice journalism there, mate.
- If you've forgotten, I have a story published at Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (keyword: literary). I also have a literary SciFi published.
- Lemme ask you this: most journalists go to journalism schools. Are all of them good, since they've chosen the path and the educational road? I know quite a number of excellent wedding photographers who did not take formal photography courses, or even a degree in Arts and Design.
- Have you really, really read that short story? Coz there's a 258-word sentence in a paragraph, containing this line: "And before I even know it, or can enjoy the new look on Joe's face, like a blubbery peekaboo face...". I may not be formally trained, but that is SO not literary.

Fadz said...

@David

I don't know if you watch American Idol, but whenever Paula Abdul talked about how good a contestant looked that night, everyone knew she had nothing good to say about the singing, but too nice/cowardly to be blunt about it. But you're right, I may be reading between the lines regarding Amir's comment. Sorry bout that.

If you had followed the thread closely, you'd notice I did not start the argument. But it doesn't matter. But you said this: "You are doing your best as a writer so forget about the rest."

Yes, I can definitely not contribute anything, and just keep my opinions and suggestions to myself. Keep my head down and publish quietly. But here's the thing: when I started writing (and I write fiction only in English), I thought Malaysian English literature communities were almost non-existent; if there were, they were underground. It wasn't until I entered the Alliance-MPH short story competition that I found out about Sharon and the rest of the community. But I learned the ropes of publishing from international new writers at WDC, and from reading books on writing.

I did not think I was doing anything wrong by sharing my knowledge and experiences, and proper (educated) legal advises. I just want to tell people that even though writing is a lonely profession, no (new) writer should be alone. If that offends you so, then forgive me.