Every fiction author dreams of a sell-book-to-filmmaker deal, right? One thing might stand in your way.

It depends on what publishing route you took. Traditional publishers pretty much extinguish an author’s rights to the story world and its characters. (Unless this has changed in the past decade or so, which I seriously doubt.)

A movie deal is made with the copyright owner, in this case the publisher, not the author.

If you haven’t signed a publishing contract yet make sure you read and understand all the details. A lawyer will be worth his or her fees if you avoid a contract you can’t live with later on.

If you self-publish in the traditional sense—set up your own printing press and do all the work yourself—you won’t have the same copyright issues. If you use a self-publishing service such as or Lulu you’ll find varying degrees of copyright ownership. Some services leave your rights largely intact. It’s in your own best interest to understand the fine print.

Avoid vanity presses, which offer what I call the garage deal; usually there’s a single print run with varying degrees of quality and no ISBN. The artwork on the cover may not be what you expect. Then they abandon you to sell your book all on your own. Can your garage or car trunk safely store thousands of unsold copies?

If you don’t know what an ISBN is you’re nowhere near ready to publish. Without one stores cannot carry your book nor will it register as having been published. You’ll have very limited copyright protection, if any.

Filmmakers who purchase book rights to make movies need to deal with the copyright owner. If you’re a published author make sure you still own the copyright before you try to sell your story to a screenwriter or filmmaker. If you’re bluffing about who owns the rights they will find out. They have to. They don’t want to get sued.

My publisher is I’m very pleased they’ve made my novels available as Kindle editions. To purchase my second novel, Martian Blues follow this link:

About Scifialiens

Author of the Martian Symbiont series: three titles, so far; Been Blued, Martian Blues, Martian Divides. Currently writing screenplays. 'Mating With Humans' can be found on her account. Enjoyed writing from the start. Also a Star Trek and Doctor Who fan. Canadian so far. Paternal grandparents were American. Feels more at home in the States. Loves dogs and most other animals. Loves cats from afar--allergies. Plays flute and saxophone; 'messes with' keyboard and electric guitar. Single so far. Not really looking at the moment. Age: irrelevant. Not to be confused with the fictional comic book character, Phyllis Twombly, who lived for 600 years in the American Midwest.

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