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Author Topic: A short story in your novels' universe?  (Read 5735 times)

Offline Wizard Police

A short story in your novels' universe?
« on: June 20, 2012, 11:30:04 AM »
I have a planned series of novels that I would like to release in the future and I decided my anthology entry will be based in the same universe. I never really thought about it now, but if my entry does happen to earn a spot in the anthology, would that create trouble if I decide to publish my novels, whether if I get published by a publisher or self published?

Offline AnneLyle

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 12:15:56 PM »
No.

:)

If the story's good enough to be published, it's not going to hurt your situation one jot. You own your ideas, you can do with them as you wish (unless you signed an unfavourable contract to the contrary). Novels have been published that are not just set in the same universe as earlier short stories, but are actually based on the story itself...
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 12:20:14 PM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Seven

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Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 12:33:25 PM »
@ second post - don't be so hasty. Have you ever heard of a series called The Salvation War? The author claims he can't get published because he put the first book online and it was torrented. He'd been posting it, in draft form, to a forum. That was fine with his publisher, apparently, but someone then copied all the text of the story into a PDF and torrented it. The author claims that publishers will no longer touch the series because torrenting is a form of distribution - so posting your original work to a forum is okay, but if someone else distributes it, publishers won't touch it.

I can't say if any of this is true or just a mediocre author's excuses and he really can't get published because the work isn't good enough. It could be anything. But I'd still be very careful about posting online anything you want to make money from.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 12:44:26 PM by Seven »

Offline xiagan

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Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2012, 03:24:04 PM »
@ second post - don't be so hasty. Have you ever heard of a series called The Salvation War? The author claims he can't get published because he put the first book online and it was torrented. He'd been posting it, in draft form, to a forum. That was fine with his publisher, apparently, but someone then copied all the text of the story into a PDF and torrented it. The author claims that publishers will no longer touch the series because torrenting is a form of distribution - so posting your original work to a forum is okay, but if someone else distributes it, publishers won't touch it.

I can't say if any of this is true or just a mediocre author's excuses and he really can't get published because the work isn't good enough. It could be anything. But I'd still be very careful about posting online anything you want to make money from.
Well, he's not posting anything online - he's submitting a story to an anthology.
And it's not the first book of a series but a short story in the same universe. Which is a big difference.
It may (or may not) help, but it will definitely not harm.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 03:44:46 PM »
I'd had quite a few stories published about the MC of my novel before the book was accepted or published.  As long as the story's not specifically part of the series of novels you're hoping to get published, it certainly won't do you any harm - it might be an advantage, in fact, for a publisher to know that the world's had some exposure.

Offline Seven

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Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2012, 03:59:00 PM »
Well, he's not posting anything online - he's submitting a story to an anthology.
And it's not the first book of a series but a short story in the same universe. Which is a big difference.
It may (or may not) help, but it will definitely not harm.
Oh I see, I thought OP was asking if he could later publish something he's released online. If it's supplemental to the actual publication candidate I can't imagine it being an obstacle.

Offline Wizard Police

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2012, 08:31:46 PM »
Sorry I was not nearly clear enough both in my question and concern. The novel and anthology entry are separate, however they share the same universe, like the cities, creatures, etc. I always hear of legal troubles with authors who use the setting of one universe whose rights belonged to another publisher, often is the case with the Dungeons and Dragons universe. I was wondering that if I do happen to get a spot in the anthology, and I do get my work published later on, by virtue of it being in the same universe would I run into any legal trouble then?

Offline xiagan

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Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2012, 10:12:24 PM »
Our answers are still valid. :)
You don't give any rights to a publisher (or an overlord ;)) if your story makes it to the anthology.
No worries, even if your universe becomes as vast, famous and successful as the D&D universe - without you signing a contract which gives the rights away, it's all yours to do with as you like.

Ever noticed that there is no Calvin & Hobbes merchandise? Watterson didn't want any and nobody, not the newspapers who printed his strips, not his publishers nor anybody else could do something about it (they tried) because he held (and still holds) all the rights.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Wizard Police

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2012, 10:19:49 PM »
Our answers are still valid. :)
You don't give any rights to a publisher (or an overlord ;)) if your story makes it to the anthology.
No worries, even if your universe becomes as vast, famous and successful as the D&D universe - without you signing a contract which gives the rights away, it's all yours to do with as you like.

Ever noticed that there is no Calvin & Hobbes merchandise? Watterson didn't want any and nobody, not the newspapers who printed his strips, not his publishers nor anybody else could do something about it (they tried) because he held (and still holds) all the rights.

Thanks for answering! I feared that I may have had to switch some things up a little bit, but my fears are subsided.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2012, 10:26:31 PM »
I always hear of legal troubles with authors who use the setting of one universe whose rights belonged to another publisher, often is the case with the Dungeons and Dragons universe.

That's because D&D is a trademarked product, as are Star Wars, Harry Potter and most big media franchises. Trademarks are taken out by publishers once a property becomes big enough to spread into other media such as movies and merchandising, and can only be applied to the names of characters, settings, titles and other distinctive elements of the property.

This is a whole different kettle of fish from an individual author's copyright of their written works, which remain with the author.

I have heard of one author (Holly Lisle) who is no longer able to write books in one of her early settings because of the contract she signed with the publisher, but this is highly unusual. I don't know if she had an agent at the time, but it's certainly a good reason to get one if you are offered a novel contract.

Short fiction contracts are normally very limited in scope, e.g. you get all rights back one year after publication, so you can in theory sell your story to another market that accepts reprints. Otherwise "best of" anthologies wouldn't exist!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 10:30:02 PM by AnneLyle »
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Wizard Police

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2012, 10:50:32 PM »
I did have a feeling I was worrying over nothing, though the anthology deadline is etching near and it's actually making me a little excited, and nervous haha

Offline professorbeej

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2012, 11:02:43 PM »
Also, there are many authors such as Tobias Buckell (a SF writer) who publishes much of his work within the same universe, through many different companies and self-publishing. I think Brandon Sanderson does, too, and probably more than I'm even aware of. I know Stephen King did it with his "Little Sisters of Eluria" being a Dark Tower short, and so on and so forth.

Often short stories are seen as a way to test the market for a particular universe, and see if its salable as a novel or series of novels. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But unless you're signing away the rights to the intellectual property itself and not just distribution rights--such as electronic, North American, print, reprint, etc.--then you should be fine, no matter what.

At least, I hope so since my $5 reward for Kickstarter is an in-universe short story. ::) Otherwise, I'm screwed. :P

Offline Wizard Police

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2012, 11:35:36 PM »
So in a way if I do get a top 6 spot, this contest could also help me in the future if I wish to publish my novels :D

Offline professorbeej

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2012, 12:18:42 AM »
On two fronts: not only your world would then be validated and gain exposure, but also, you'd have a win under your belt!

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: A short story in your novels' universe?
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 02:31:38 PM »
The only normal restriction on characters, settings etc (and I don't know how common this is) is that a publisher may ask for first refusal on another connected book-length work, but certainly not short stories.  If the publisher doesn't take up the option, the author's free to go elsewhere.