Self-publishing and copyright

Some authors have a pathological fear that their work will be stolen and the next time they see it, it will have someone else’s name on the cover, the book will be picked up by Steven Spielberg who will then turn it into a summer blockbuster and the original author will still be at home in their spare bedroom, tapping away at a keyboard trying to recreate the words that became the biggest hit since ‘The Thursday Murder Club.’ It is the most ridiculous fear any author can have. The publishing world is a close-knit one and if any publisher did this, they would quickly lose the reputation they have.

Nobody knows anything. The market knows everything

William Goldman was once asked ‘How do you know which movie is going to be hit?’ His answer was concise and is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s. ‘I don’t. Nobody knows anything. The market knows everything.’ It is as true for the book business as it is for the movie business and the same as the music industry. Who could have predicted ‘Gangnam Style’ when it came out? How about 2018's big book hit? ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman. A brilliant book about a damaged girl trying to make sense of her life and life itself. Completely different from anything I’ve ever read. Box office success isn’t always the latest Avengers or Star Wars movies either. In fact, Star Wars is a great example of a film that almost everyone in the industry thought was going to flop.

The copyright belongs to the author

With this in mind, I’m never impressed when someone tells me they’ve written a book which is a guaranteed bestseller. There’s no such thing. We’ve often found that those that doubt their ability are usually the best writers. All of which brings me to the issue of self-publishing and copyright. We have always seen it in very simple terms. The copyright belongs to the author. They did the work, therefore the work belongs to them. Other companies may have a different view, but that’s ours at 3P Publishing.

It makes perfect sense

If you think about this for a moment, it makes perfect sense. We want all of our authors to be successful, but whether by luck, talent or good marketing some books sell better than others. Either way, if an author publishes with us and we treat them well, then we’d like to think that they would publish with us again. When they do, it’s because we’ve had a successful book and they retain all the copyright and the profits that go with that.

How we do it

We recognise that some companies operate in a different way, but that’s how we do it. If you are talking to a company and they demand the copyright to the book and your characters (usually a novel in this case) you have to decide if the deal they offer is good enough for that to happen. If you’re getting a good advance and a substantial percentage of the profits, then it might be worth it. In self-publishing this would rarely, if ever, happen. Therefore, if you’re paying the publishing and marketing costs why would the copyright be anyone else’s other than yours?

As always if this has inspired more questions contact us at 3P Publishing on 01536 560410 or email We look forward to hearing from you.

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