Friday, October 5, 2012

A checklist of 5 things creators could do at the beginning of each month

I like to set various habits at the beginning of the month to get myself in the practice of checking things that bear checking on a fairly frequent basis. If you're a creator, especially an author, here's 5 things that might help you in your work as well as in protecting your work.

  1. Register your copyrights. See more in my guest post on The Digital Reader, linked below, for why you should do this. But in a nutshell: if someone rips you off, you'll be glad you did.
  2. Check to see if the rights are reverting in any of your old titles. One good suggestion: make a chart of what books revert when, and cross-reference against your royalty statements to make sure that you're not missing any territories or activities.
  3. Check to see whether any new sales territories or channels have opened up and you've missed it. Example: rumor has it that Amazon is about to add Kindle stores for Japan and China. Do you need to do anything to authorize those territories if that happens?
  4. If you work in historical genres, ask yourself whether anything fell into the public domain this year that might be useful to you. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may not be your bag, but Seth Grahame's decision to remix one of the most famous works of fiction sure turned out well for him. This is different for different countries and I've put a good reference source for dates below. (Yes, things fall into the public domain based on the year and not the month, but it's still a good habit...)
  5. If you work in sci-fi, technothrillers, or other invention-happy genres, maybe take a look at the database of the US Patent and Trademark Office to find some new inventions that might inspire you. Another interesting prospect is the USPTO's new Ask Patents site, where members of the public will be invited to comment on things like pending patent applications. It's already turning out to be a great source for knowledge about how inventions work as well as discussions about new technologies being created today for use tomorrow.

My post on The Digital Reader about registering copyrights:
Cornell Law School list of dates for public domain:
USPTO new Ask Patents beta site:


  1. Oh wow, I didn't know you could actually formally register copyrights. That's good to know!

    When I was talking to a few other iOS developers, I was told it's always a good idea to trademark your creations' names as well.

    Another fascinating blog post! Thanks Don!

    1. Thanks for the comment TiM.

      I don't know that it's always necessary to register trademarks around the names you give to your creations. Remember that trademarks (like copyrights) are registered nationally so you only get the benefits of registration in the country where you're registered. You also lose a bit of flexibility in how you use the names. But it's definitely good to think about.

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Thanks for commenting. Posts and comments aren't legal advice; requests for legal advice in the comment probably won't get answered. Sorry to have to do this but someone someday is going to make me glad I did...