Avoiding One of the Risks in Writing (Never forget to read guidelines!)

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Most of budding writers in a hurry to submit or post their works, forget the most important part of the process in publishing---Reading the guidelines.

In any form of publishing whether its in electronic form or printed form, the first thing to do is to read the guidelines. The guidelines will tell you;

1. If you have the exclusive rights-then the rights of all your works are yours alone; where and when do you wish to submit it would be in your full discretion. And how many times you wish it to be re-published and to have it print or reprinted.

2. If you have only the half of the rights-there are publishing sites or publishing company which offers half exclusivity for writers, meaning the writer could still re-submit the articles in another publishing site but should acknowledged the original site where the piece was first published.

3. If you don’t have the full exclusive rights-the guidelines will warn you not to use the article they published even if its yours. That they exclusively own the rights and you are not to reprint it any form of publishing.

4. If it’s an electronic rights-some of the electronic rights have a duration. Some publishers revert the rights back to the writer after a certain period of time. It could be from 3 months to 6 months depending on the publishing sites. After that duration, the writer could re-submit his/her piece to another site. However, some do not. The rights remained with the publisher whether the writing piece was paid or not.

5. If it’s an electronic rights only-then it means you could still submit the article in another form of publishing. In printed form, be it in another magazine or newspaper, even a journal or newsletter in the company where you work.

6. If it’s an electronic rights except that-the electronic rights will be reverted back to the writer but the right to print the article into a book or another printed form would be exclusively for the publisher alone. Therefore, the writer do not have the right to reprint his/her work in the same publishing form.

7. If it’s an electronic rights but-the moment they pay you, you also give-up the full rights to them in whatever they want to do with your article/s.

8. If it’s an electronic rights and still-do not pay. There are publishing sites that clearly states in their guidelines that they do not pay published articles. That they only offered public exposure for your writing pieces that have passed their editorial submissions or standards.

9. Whether it’s an electronic rights or not and has pay-the guidelines will tell you that if your rights to your article would only be for that particular article and does not entail any royalty fee every time they re-published your works. Well, if the publisher offers a royalty fee then you’re lucky. But not all of them do.

10. Whether it’s a publishing site in the internet or not-would have in their guidelines’ instructions on how many words or characters and how many pages they prefer. What kind of genre they accept; if its horror, science-fiction or drama. What kind of literature they need; if its essay, short story or poem. Or with a specific prose and poetry only. Also if they accept only an original piece or accepts still an already published article.

It is the writer’s responsibility to read the guidelines and make inquiries first if they find the guidelines confusing. It is a necessity if the writer wants to protect himself from unnecessary and irritating debate particularly with the publishers in the future.

Being aware of your rights as a writer also protects you from being taken advantage of. Like for example, if someone stole your work, or idea, you have an evidence to back you up. A form of security, a warning to anyone who wants to plagiarize your work to back off.

By declaring at the end of each piece if that article is already published or printed somewhere else. Or if its in original form, therefore anyone who wish to copy it should have the courtesy to seek your permission first. Or if that footnote in each of your article asks to be acknowledged if used in another publishing site or printed form.

But the long and short of it, there's still a lot of ground which remained uncovered and still yet to be discussed when it comes to rights or copyrights, particularly in the Philippines. When it comes to rights; it is the IPO’s or Intellectual Property rights Office job to protect the writers or artists. However, IPO cannot safeguard every writer and artist.

That’s one of the risks in the writing world. And the writer first and foremost should have the initiative to take care of his hard written works. *****

E. Ruth Borromeo is a freelance writer; writes essays, short stories, feature articles and other forms of writing.