Tag Archives: the future

Publishing from beyond the grave

Note: this post has been triggered by a blog entry by one Joe Konrath and the question:

What happens to our IPs when we die?

I have dozens of self-published books, and I’ve spent years learning how to maximize revenue on these titles. There’s more to self-publishing than simply pressing “publish.” and there’s a lot to know about this business in order to succeed.

Which made me realize something important; my heirs aren’t the ones best suited to run my literary empire after I die.

The full article can be found here and the Passive Voice also had some interesting points. Obviously most of what’s there relates to the USA and the law relating to inheritance and will be different in every country but the core question is interesting for any writer anywhere.

Okay let us go to back to ancient times – say ten to twenty years ago – if a writer got a publishing contract their book would be printed, it would hit the shelves and hopefully sell. If the market seemed to warrant it, there would be reprints but with the exception of the odd classic, sooner or later a book would drop out of print. At that point the only examples that would remain in circulation would be a diminishing number of second hand copies – which would have no direct financial advantage to the author. Eventually all of an authors books would go the same way. When the author themselves passed beyond the veil and obviously stopped writing (or at the very least went beyond the reach of any communication with their publisher) then the flow of royalties would come to a close.

Now bear in mind out of print and out of copywrite are not the same thing. Here in Ireland, copywrite extends seventy year after the author dies1), so the book does not enter the public domain until in all likelihood the authors grandchildren are receiving their pension. But in equal likelihood the average book has ceased to produce money long, long before that time. 

E-publishing, particularly self-e-publishing has changed that. In theory at least, once a book hits the digital shelves, it could stay there forever2) and that even if for most of the seventy year copywrite period it earns a very small amount per year, with enough years that could add up.

When it comes to inheritance royalties are a bit of an odd one. Mostly when a person dies, revenue streams (pay or pension) stop. All that remains are their assets which will then be liquidated with funds or goods passed on as detailed by the will, once done that’s that. Royalties will be different in that they will remain a revenue stream that could just keep going.

Now I will point out I am Not qualified to give formal advice on wills in any country. But I can say this. If there are royalties then the big word here is Managed.

At the very least I would assume that to keep a book available it will have to be occasionally moving forward into the next file format. I would guess that to leave detailed instructions is fairly pointless, the march of time will likely render the authors knowledge obsolete in short order. Fifty years ago Amazon was just a big wet thing in South American, fifty years from now… it probably won’t exist in exactly the form we know it now. So instead the best the writer can do is ensure someone – with emphasis on ‘one’ – is granted the authority to make decisions, including choose their successor (seventy years remember).  After all who knows, maybe someone will look to make a film version of your book and if that day comes, would it be nice to think that family/friend/worthy charity could be looking at a payday with your name on it.

I case of new opportunities bringing new problems but this is one that is pretty solvable.

1) It maybe different in other countries, I honestly have no idea.

2) With the usual qualifier that no one knows the future. Not many people would have predicted the rise of e-readers and e-self-publishing. Who knows what the shape of publishing will be twenty years from now.

The Nameless War, available on Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and paperback.

The Landfall Campaign, available on Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords and paperback.

The Job Offer, available on Kindle  Kobo and Smashwords

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Filed under Ireland, Random Rants, Self Publishing, Writing

The fate of Science Fiction Writers

This post is a bit of a return to something I previously mentioned: The at times surprisingly swift progress of technology. I recently came across this story on the BBC News website.


In case the link fails I’ve included the text below. Now readers of my second book will be aware that the concept of a laser based defence system is mentioned, in fact it’s quite important to the storyline. They’ll also be aware that my book is set about half a century into the future. But if this system does as promised, then fifty years from now – when we actually reach the dates I’ve given – then any future reader might laugh at my delightfully quaint laser defence grid. In the same way we laugh at SF of fifty years ago with it futuristic computers that are only the size of a house and can do ten thousand calculations a minute. (gosh! let me just use my mobile phone to tell people about that one on facebook [right after I finish looking at funny cat photos]).

Still it is interesting how fast technology can move and yet at the same time aspects of technology can fail to move forward at all.

In 1805  HMS Victory was pretty much at the pinnacle of naval technology. A little over a century later, HMS Dreadnought was so much more powerful she could have sailed straight through Nelson’s flagship. A yet in this time of huge technological development, in at least one area, Dreadnought enjoyed no significant advantage over her predecessor. Namely the means to detect other ships. Like Victory, Dreadnought’s crew relied on the Mk I eyeball and bits of curved glass.

So what am I saying. Two things I think.

1) The phrase ‘nothing dates faster than the future’ is a cliche for a good reason.

2) If as a writing you are still being read fifty years later you have nothing to complain about anyway.

Until next time.


Rheinmetall demos laser that can shoot down drones
Laser weapons system The laser weapons system can cut through a steel girder
A laser weapons system that can shoot down two drones at a distance of over a mile has been demonstrated by Rheinmetall Defence. The German defence firm used the high-energy laser equipment to shoot fast-moving drones at a distance. The system, which uses two laser weapons, was also used to cut through a steel girder a kilometre away.

The company plans to make the laser weapons system mobile and to integrate automatic cannon.

The 50kW laser weapons system used radar and optical systems to detect and track two incoming drones, the company said. The nose-diving drones were flying at 50 metres per second, and were shot down when they reached a programmed fire sector.
High energy laser system The weapons system was used to shoot drones out of the air

Weather trials

The weapons system locked onto the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by using radar for a rough approximation of the location of the targets, then fine-tuned the tracking using an optical system.

The high-energy laser system was used to cut through a 15mm-thick steel girder, and to shoot out of the air a steel ball designed to mimic a mortar round.

The company has tested the laser system in a variety of weather conditions, including snow, sunlight, and rain.

Rheinmetall plans to test its laser weapons mounted on different vehicles and to integrate a 35mm revolver cannon into it.

A number of governments and defence firms are in the process of developing weapons that use or incorporate lasers. For example, Raytheon unveiled a 50kW anti-aircraft laser at the Farnborough Airshow in 2010, and in June 2012 the US Army released details of a weapon that can fire a laser-guided lightning-bolt at a target.

Copywrite acknowledge as belonging to the BBC Corporation


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January 14, 2013 · 3:25 pm