Monday, April 23, 2012


by Maria C. Ferrer

ATTENTION:  This is not legal advice. These are just some basic legal terms writers should be familiar with. RWA National has lots of great legal articles in their archives, which are available to all members. (  Plus, there are plenty of legal websites for writers to browse through. Please do your research.

Advance: Money the publisher will pay up-front for your book. You will need to earn this amount in royalties on sales before payout of royalties begin.

Copyright: This is the right of ownership for a work. The author always retains copyright ownership. The publisher registers the published work for a separate copyright, which includes the artwork and book design. The duration of a copyright is the author’s lifetime plus 70 years. If you use a pseudonym, its 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation of work, whichever is shorter.

eBook: A book ―published online or digitally, like in a PDF format. No print copies. These books are printed for e-readers, computers, electronic devices, etc.

Non-compete clause: Be wary of this one. It states that you cannot write another book in the same genre or style as the one they have bought from you so it doesn’t compete with theirs. Negotiate to be specific with this clause. Limit the genre and the time period.

Piracy: The act of stealing published works and loading them onto ―free‖ distribution sites. If you see one, tell your publisher. If you’re your own publisher, write them and tell them to stop immediately. Most piracy sites will but they may just change their name and pop up elsewhere. Be vigilant.

Plagiarism: Using or declaring another author’s writing as your own.

Print-on-Demand: The publisher will only print the exact number of books requested. There will be no inventory of books.

Pseudonym: The assumed name under which an author writes. Also, referred to as a pen name.

Publication date: A clause in your contract that says that the Publisher will print/issue your book in said amount of time. If they don’t, your contract should provide that your rights revert back, that you do not forfeit the advance, and can re-sell the book elsewhere.

Out-of-Print: When your publisher is no longer printing or distriuting your books (to a contractually denoted quantity for a contractually specified time), then the title is deemed to be ―out-of-print.‖ You can then request reversion of your rights (see below). Again, be specific with this clause. For example, your book will be considered out-of-print unless total sales –in any format – total 300 copies a year.

Reversion of Rights: This is the clause in the contract that says that if the publisher stops reprinting/reissuing your book in said amount of time, then you get the right to your book back and you can sell it elsewhere. See also out-of-print.

Right of First Refusal: This is an option clause in your contract that grants your publisher the right to see your next work BEFORE you show it to another publisher. You want to be very specific with this clause. Make sure your contract states that the clause refers to your next book in the same genre as the first, and that they have a set time frame in which to review the option book and offer for it (say 90 days), otherwise you will send it elsewhere.

Royalties: The amount the publisher will pay you (in allotments) for sales of your book.

Self-Publishing: In this case, you are your own publisher. You do the edits, pick the paper, the format, the cover, the marketing, etc. You find venues where to sell your book or eBook.

Subsidiary Rights: Rights granted to publisher usually for book clubs, foreign sales, movies, audio books, etc. RWA recommends authors hold all their subsidiary rights, just in case.

Subsidy Publisher: Also referred to as a Vanity Press. These are publishers you pay to publish and distribute your book. Most do not offer a royalty. RWA does not recognize these publishers.

Vanity Press: See subsidy publisher.

Work-for-hire: This is just what it says; you have been hired to write one specific book or series for a set amount and you will not see a penny more, nor will you hold any rights in the work.♥

Reference Books
Author and former lawyer, Anna DePalo, recommends KIRSCH'S GUIDE TO THE BOOK CONTRACT, KIRSCH'S HANDBOOK OF PUBLISHING LAW, and THE WRITER'S LEGAL GUIDE (CRAWFORD). All books available at or through your library.

Maria C. Ferrer writes contemporary romances under her real name, and erotica under the pen name of Del Carmen. Visit her at or


Friday, April 20, 2012


by Maria C. Ferrer

Cosmopolitan For Latinas.

The new Cosmo is aimed at American-born Latin women who are bicultural and bilingual. There will be two issues this year – Spring and Fall – with a print run of 500,000+ copies hitting newsstands in heavy Latino states, like New York, California, Florida and Texas.

The whole of the Latino community is excited over this magazine. “Everyone can’t wait to see our first issue. I think there are a lot of young women out there who have been looking for a cool take on being young, hot, and Latina today,” said Editor in Chief, Michelle Herrera Mulligan.

In terms of the direction of the magazine, their tagline says it all: “Cosmopolitan For Latinas, Cosmo’s fun, fearless spirit takes on a Latina voice. The magazine will be an insider’s approach to everything Cosmo with the Latina sensibility—from beauty and style to dating, relationships, family, the hottest celebrities and the coolest parties—Cosmo Latina will cover it all with an extra dash of spice.”

11 days and counting!

To read the original launch article, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012


by Lise Horton

Have you ever found yourself reading a romance and experienced one or more of the following: Teariness? Knots in your stomach? Smiling? Arousal? Heartbreak? It could be that the author of that novel was just THAT GOOD. Or it could be partly because of the physical experience of being a reader. It may seem odd, but science and fiction go hand in hand and romance fiction, in particular, in understanding the way people read; which can in turn guide us in how we write.

In Shakespeare’s day science was ruled in large part by superstition. Yet even without a Sigmund Freud to parse the human psyche, he wrote complex characters and timeless stories that continue to be beloved the world over. But what would he have created if he’d had access to the information we have today? Information provided by constantly advancing technology which has uncovered wondrous information about people, the human sexual and romantic experience, and how readers read?

How much time do you devote to the study of human physiology, neurobiology, psychology and sociology when you craft your stories? It is not as far-fetched a question as it sounds. We research sex and relationships, certainly, to ensure honest portrayals of what we write: love. But there is so much more to be discovered; discoveries that can add richness and astute detail and at the same time, be created to be read with the greatest impact.

How much thought do you give to the experience of a reader’s reading of your novel when writing? Not just the craft questions like plot, pacing, grammar and myriad other details: Do you think of how readers read? How the physical act of viewing words becomes recognition and how they engage, and are translated in, a reader’s mind?

In past workshops I’ve discussed the fact that the average reader “hears” the words she is reading, and how that knowledge can help author craft successful passages by choosing and arranging words to maximum effect. In another workshop on the five senses, I pointed out the difference in the way scent is interpreted by our brains from touch, sound and sight; scent is translated in a combination of brain activity, one linking the sensory experience with memory and feelings, making scent an exceptionally powerful sensory detail to use. I am purely fascinated by this kind of revelatory reading, not just for the science but for how I can apply this information to my writing.

Two recent articles in The New York Times, “Your Brain On Fiction” by Anne Murphy Paul (Sunday Review sec., 3/18/12) and “The Brain On Love” by Diane Ackerman (Sunday Review sec., 3/25/12) offer amazing theory and research.

In Paul’s article, fascinating details are revealed. For example, the choice of descriptive words being read alters the neurological response in a reader. Words that invoke touch sensations “rouse the sensory cortex”. So a choice such as “the singer had a velvet voice” evokes a more potent response than does “the singer had a pleasing voice”. Further, words like lavender and cinnamon and other scent descriptors elicit a response not just from the expected areas where language is processed, but other areas devoted to scent interpretation. Additionally, words describing motion “stimulate regions of the brain distinct from language-processing areas”, leading to revelations that these words incite activity in the motor cortex – the area of the brain involved with movement. Final observations indicate that the brain “does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life”.

In addition to the physical, there are the social implications. One psychologist uncovered that “there was substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals”, and as readers we “identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers”.

Other scientists have shown that readers learn from their reading and, particularly in social situations, put this learned experience into play in real life (the “theory of mind”). Contrary to the British doctor who was certain that reading romance would make women have unreal expectations, could it be romance novels actually lead to healthier and more successful loving relationships?

Beyond the understanding of a reader’s physical perception, there is also the psychology and sociology of love, sex, romance and human relationships to explore.

Esquire magazine’s April sex survey issue revealed some startling (to me, at least) results: Men actually prefer smaller (albeit “perky”) breasts to more bountiful bosoms. And the preferred sexual position with 30% of the vote is cowgirl (or woman on top) which beat out the old standard missionary position by 2% points. The author’s own informal survey showed that 8 out of 10 men prefer giving oral sex to receiving it. Another source’s study showed that the first thing a man notices about a woman is a gorgeous head of hair (legs, lips, face and body lag behind). And yet another study showed men react most strongly to women in red.

A past NY Times article discussed studies which provided new information about men, women and physical attraction; information that challenged commonly held thoughts about attraction and desire. Science continues to uncover challenges to long-held beliefs in numerous areas, which shed light not just on human physiology, but on the human experience itself – and how the two are interconnected.

In Ackerman’s article she delves into the new field of “interpersonal neurobiology”, in which studies have shown that people are actually neurologically changed in the course of relationships. Lovers bond in a fashion similar to the bonding of mother and child, and literal physical changes occur in the brain. Science, too, has actually explained the “whys” of the feelings following break-ups that our heart is “breaking”, or you can feel physically ill. Just as a disastrous romance can do that, being in a happy relationship changes the partners’ stress levels, fear reactions and actual physical perceptions. Women in happy relationships were given shocks to the ankles while alone, and their physical reactions gauged. They were then put together with their partner, holding hands and this time the shocks produced much reduced pain responses in the women. In another study, partners viewing a picture of a loved one experienced a “lighting up” of the reward centers in their brains. Ackerman concludes that “Loving relationships alter the brain the most significantly”.

Articles and books on these subjects can prove wonderfully enlightening for a writer who seeks to imbue her human characters with as much complex subtlety as possible, while engaging her readers on every level, from the conscious to the subconscious. So the next time you spy an article on science – don’t automatically pass it by. You never know what you’ll learn!

Can you imagine what amazing use Bill S. would have made with this knowledge?♥

Lise Horton is currently writing in her two favorite genres, and keeping abreast of the fascinating changes in the world of publishing. Find out more about the industry on her blog, The Publishing Game,  Lise also blogs at

Monday, April 9, 2012


By Maria C. Ferrer

If you are itemizing your taxes and want to take writing expenses, you are going to need to file a Schedule C with the IRS. Note that if there is no income, the IRS will disallow all expenses unless you can show proof of a profit motive—that you are writing so you can make money. (Aren’t we all?) Also, remember that not all expenses are deductible. Be honest and be prepared to defend your expenses to the IRS. Here are some tips to help make tax time easier:

  • Keep good records and keep them in a safe place.
  • Keep all receipts. When in doubt, keep it.
  • Keep log of expenses. For example, membership dues paid to which organizations; conference fees; contest fees; research books; etc.
  • Keep track of contest entries, queries and submissions. For example, what you sent to what publisher and when. This log shows proof of profit motive.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence especially from agents and editors.
  • Keep business cards from conferences as they are proof that you are working on your writing.
  • Document everything! When in doubt, keep it!

NOTE:  This year, the deadline for taxes is Tuesday, April 17.  Good luck.♥

Maria C. Ferrer writes contemporary romances under her real name, and erotica under the pen name of Del Carmen. Visit her at or