RIP Jeremiah Healy
My words this week are fragmented, but that’s the kind of week it’s been. To begin with, I was stunned to learn the devastating news that fellow author Jeremiah Healy took his own life a few days ago. Jerry was one of the good guys, one who made me feel most welcome when I attended my first US convention in Florida.
Severe depression is a terrible illness for all affected – and by that I mean those closest to the person as well as the one suffering. A bad way to put it, I know, but if someone you love is depressed, everybody around them suffers the agonies of knowing there is nothing they can do to make it right. My every sympathy goes to Jerry’s wife, fellow author Sandra Balzo. To quote her on the late Robin Williams earlier this week: “Severe depression is as far away from ‘the blues’ as Ebola is from a cold.”
We remember people by the size and shape of the hole they leave behind them in the world. Dammit, Jerry, you’ve left a big hole.
|Jeremiah Healy and Sandy Balzo|
Something For Nothing
It seems a minor point, after that, to move on to the subject I was intending to bring up this week – the subject of torrent sites and illegal free downloads. It bugs me, but not enough to go stalking those responsible, wearing a ghillie suit and camouflage cream. If a site offering freebie downloads of my books comes to my attention, I’ll do something, but I don’t go trawling the Tinterweb looking for them.
Likewise, I don’t add DRM (Digital Rights Management) to most of my ebooks. DRM is supposed to prevent the user from making copies of the work, but I’ve always gone on the theory that for those people tech-savvy enough to want to do it, bypassing DRM is no barrier, and for the rest of us it’s simply annoying. I recognize that this is a similar argument to not locking your doors at night, on the grounds that professional thieves will know how to break in anyway.
So, is it time I rethought the whole DRM thing and added it to my backlist titles? What is everyone else’s view on this?
Signing It All Away
And finally, months ago I was asked to contribute to an anthology for the benefit of a particular writers’ organization. I’d contributed to a similar type of book here in the UK, and when I received my invite I asked the editor if the same piece would be acceptable, even though it had been published previously. I received assurances that this was just fine.
But when the contract arrived from the publisher the organization was using, it demanded that I sign away exclusive rights for the entire term of copyright. Not only that, but also that I agree to indemnify the publisher against any legal action taken over the piece (the content of which was entirely non-controversial, by the way). I baulked at this, and eventually – as publication loomed – was told by the editor to re-word the contract to something I was happy with and they would run it by the publisher. I did this, adding ‘non’ to the exclusive part, and striking through the indemnity clause.
To cut a long story short, the publisher rejected my changes and my piece was pulled from the anthology. Disappointing, but preferable, in my view, to setting a dangerous precedent by signing away all rights to my work.
Again, what are your views? Should I stop being so precious and accept that sometimes you have to let go of work forever and set it adrift in the hopes that it does some good because someone else happens across it, or stick to my guns? Or should I look at it as good advertising?
That’s all from me, except for my Word of the Week, which is tristifical, an adjective meaning to cause to be sad or mournful.