This is a followup to my previous article, “Creating Your Own Characters is Creating Your Own Future“. It turns out there’s much more to say about the matter based on a few things I’ve read online.
It’s well and good to create your own characters, but great care must be given when looking for a publisher. There are still plenty of “old world” beliefs in the world of Philippine publishing including the belief that the publisher owns whatever you create.
For many decades creators simply were not aware that they were entitled to such ownership, considering what they do simply as a “job”. They write, they draw, the draw a paycheck and that’s it. A few creators probably don’t even think about it. They’re happy enough to have a paying job. And I think that’s perfectly all right. People didn’t know they were entitled to so much more for such a long time.
Now in 2014 though (and for many years now), creators can demand the right to own the stories and characters they create. And I think it’s really up to them to demand such things from their publishers. You can consider this a job if you want, but if you want a legacy, you have to demand it. I understand that you might not want to ruffle feathers, you just want things to go on as they are, but if you want something more for yourself, buckle up, ride the storm, and grab what’s rightfully yours.
For my entire career I’ve always avoided working for publishers who demand ownership of my creations, even if they say they simply own only 50%. I always refused. I own my work, 100%. In my view, the publisher only has the right to exclusively publish and distribute your work. All other rights belong to you. This includes movie and tv rights and other adaptations to other media.
There are publishers out there who are willing to accept such terms, but there are others who won’t. More often than not, I end up publishing my own work because that’s one of the ways I can ensure that I have complete control over what goes on with my creations.
And if you ever do find the right publisher for you, make sure you scrutinize your contract very well. It might help to consult a lawyer to help you understand completely what’s being offered.
Just make sure that the publisher only holds publishing and distribution rights. Other media adaptation rights belong to you. Make sure that you ask for a time limit to how long the publisher has your work. Three years, six years… whatever works best for you. Just make sure it’s in there.
Also pay attention to what’s written down with regards to their commitment to promote your work. Do they schedule signings, panels, and invite you to join conventions, festivals, etc? Promotion is one of the things that the publisher needs to commit to. You can help by doing promotions yourself. Every little bit counts.
And lastly, the contract works both ways. If they do their part, you also need to make sure you uphold your commitment to the terms of your contract. I think that’s only right and fair.