Monday, March 12, 2007

Basic Info for Beginners

Basic Info for Beginners
by
Carter Jefferson

Recently I've run across a couple of promising writers in the IWW who don't know some things most of us do know. There may be others. This is intended as a remedy for that situation.

Most paying venues, and even non-paying e-zines, won't accept writings that have been "published" elsewhere. Putting your work on a blog or website, or making paper copies and passing them out to strangers on the corner, is "publication." You can, of course, re-work something that's been published, but how much you have to do to make it "unpublished" is a matter for debate.

Submitting work to a critique group limited to members, like the IWW, is not publication. Showing work submitted to such a group to any non-member is always against the rules of such groups.

Blogs are not private; anything you post on the Web can be read by your mother or Hugo Chavez or Dick Cheney, among other people, including your employer.

You hold the copyright (not copywrite) on anything you write, including your grocery list and whatever you e-mail. If someone copies and publishes your work without your permission, it's usually easy to make that person stop doing that--e.g., remove it from a website--but you can't collect monetary damages unless you have filed a copy with your national copyright office. Info on this is easily available on the Web.

Plagiarism is copying the work of someone else and using it for your own ends. It's illegal. Paraphrasing is usually all right if you give credit to the author, and you may use short quotes, properly credited, for "educational purposes." How short, and what "educational purposes" means, can become money in the pockets of lawyers. Those are case-by-case matters. Be careful.

If you eat too much, you'll get fat -- oh, yeah, you already knew that.

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