Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: Permissions

My story collection, Quiet Americans, begins with two quotations (epigraphs) leading into the larger work. I’ve always wondered if I’d need permission to use them, but until recently, I didn’t have a particularly urgent reason to find out.

Well, now that my book is slated for publication, a reason has arrived! The press that will be publishing my book is too small to have a full-fledged legal department of its own, so my first impulse was to send an e-mail message to a group of lawyer friends. But I soon decided that I should just keep digging on my own. Directly.

Both of the quotations are quite short. One is taken from a translated novel; the other, from a translated Nobel lecture.

A few days ago, I contacted the U.S. publisher of the translated novel (a publishing company which is big enough not only to have its permissions/rights department referenced on its site, but which also requires several weeks to process these requests). So, I wait.

For the Nobel lecture, I simply e-mailed the specified contact in Sweden and explained that I was writing to find out what I needed to do in order to include the line from the lecture as an epigraph for my collection. The response was swift and sweet: “You do not need our formal permission to make quotations.”

Wonderful! Let’s hope that the other response arrives soon and proves to be equally uncomplicated.

I’d love to hear from other practicing writers with permissions tales to tell. Or perhaps some tips or resources to share?

Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post

So, now that I’m in an official “pre-publication phase,” I thought I’d keep you all posted (and keep myself on track with everything on my to-do list) by providing a weekly post about Quiet Americans. Some weeks I’ll be seeking help, but I’ll try not to deluge you with infinite requests.

This week, I’ll start things off simply by saying a bit more about the book’s general theme. All of the stories in this collection are in some way influenced by the experiences of my paternal grandparents, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s, and/or by my own identity and preoccupations as a member of the “Third Generation.” (In fact, some years ago I presented a conference paper titled “Ever After? History, Healing, and ‘Holocaust Fiction’ in the Third Generation,” which is quite relevant in this context; the paper was subsequently published as part of the conference proceedings, and you can download it here.)

Given this background, I decided a long time ago that if this book ever saw publication, I would give over some of the profits to The Blue Card, an organization my family has supported for years. The Blue Card’s purpose is to assist survivors of Nazi persecution in the United States. Our family has been blessed in this country in so many ways, and one of the greatest blessings is that my grandparents were able to live their final years with comfort and dignity. Sadly, not everyone who survived Nazi persecution is so fortunate. That is why The Blue Card is so important.

On Monday afternoon, I met with The Blue Card’s executive director to discuss the book. He was extremely supportive and helpful, providing some excellent suggestions for me to pursue to help get the book to a wider audience. It was a wonderful beginning to this pre-publication period.

Breaking (Big) News About My Story Collection

The news appeared in this week’s Grub Street Rag, so I guess that makes it official!

My story collection, Quiet Americans, will be published by Last Light Studio Books in January 2011.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the coming months. And I know that I’ll be counting on all of you for advice along the way as I prepare for this manuscript to meet the world. Meantime, I just wanted to share the news!