This post, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, originally appeared on her The Business Rusch.
So, you want to be an artist. You want to be one of those writers everyone has read, even though you’re long dead. You want your work in libraries, on bookstore shelves, and in digital format. You want professors to assign your work, or kids to sneak that “crap” that everyone decries but everyone loves.
There are two very simple ways to do this:
1. Write a lot of good stories. Not beautiful words. Good stories. Remember, fiction gets translated into a variety of languages, and in those languages, your original words get lost. Only stories get translated, stories with great characters, great plots, and unforgettable moments. I wrote a lot about this over the summer. Start with my post titled, “Perfection.”
2. Establish Your Estate Long Before You Die. Your copyrights will outlive you. That’s how they’re designed. If you don’t know what I mean by this, then get yourself a copy of The Copyright Handbook, and start reading it now. You don’t sell fiction; you license copyright. Learn what that means, and learn how it will impact your estate, your heirs, and your legacy.
You’d be surprised how much of the entertainment news you consume is about estates. You’d be surprised how much of the books, movies, games, and television you consume exists because someone handled an estate well or someone handled it poorly.
Or didn’t have an estate at all.
Don’t be like our friend Bill Trojan who, long before he died, would say about his (considerable) estate, “I don’t care what you do with it. I’ll be dead.”
My husband Dean Wesley Smith fought Bill for years to get a will, because Bill had some very collectible books and extremely rare pulp magazines, things that had only one or two copies left in existence. Dean thought it a crime for those copies to die with Bill, and badgered Bill into getting a will.
Bill finally executed one, an annoyingly inadequate one, that caused us a lot of legal problems just to get validated. Dean blogged about this entire saga (including the legal issues) earlier this year. If you want a scare story about estates and what you might leave your heirs with, read this.