Seeking Publisher Permissions, Part II

copyrightBack in early February, I wrote about my experience with seeking out permission from publishers to use various lines of poetry and lyrics in my novel, Truest.

By now, I’ve heard back from all the licensing departments, and I wanted to give you the final results:

One line of an E.E. Cummings poem: free. 

Two lines of a Billy Collins poem: $290 for the first run of 10,000 copies of Truest, after which I’ll need to reapply. I agreed.

One entire E.E. Cummings poem: $560. I eagerly agreed, as several scenes hinge on this poem.

Two lines of lyrics from a Pink Floyd song: $1000 for five years, after which I’d need to reapply. I declined. These lyrics were going to be the novel’s epigraph, and while they’re beautiful and fit the novel perfectly, I thought $1000 was too much to pay for two lines that don’t appear in the actual manuscript.

All told, I paid $850 for permission to use what I wanted in my novel. In a perfect world, I’d have also used a line from C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength and the refrain from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, but with frazzled nerves and empty pockets, I took them out without changing the story.

In the end, my advice is to use material from the public domain or else make it up yourself. I’m doing both in Mill City Heroes.

P.S. I read a YA book recently that used quotes like they were breadcrumbs. While I read, all I kept thinking was $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. This author’s eyes have been opened. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Seeking Publisher Permissions, Part II

  1. So did you not inquire about the copyright for the C.S. Lewis line? I’m just curious since I would like to include a quote of his in my book that I hope will be published one day.

  2. I had no idea about this, and never really thought about it before you brought it up, but it is very interesting. It was also mentioned at a writer’s festival I went to recently. The author talking about it advised to make it up yourself as well as it can be costly and the author has to pay for it. Thanks for sharing the figures, it is a real eye opener. I haven’t put any poems or song lyrics in the book I am about to query, but it’s good to know for the future.

  3. Pingback: Ashley Brooks Editorial Services The Creative's Guide to Copyright: Why It Matters and What to Do About It - Ashley Brooks Editorial Services

  4. hi!
    im self-publishing a book and we refer to disney as an influence (and their movies, etc).
    as long as we don’t quote the movie or lyrics or claim ownership of any of the characters (we refer to “Beauty And The Beast” a lot), its safe, yes?

  5. OK I have a question, What about quoting from an online dictionary? What kind of permission do I need to get for this? Thank you for all your good information.

  6. Hi, what about naming a character of mine after a famous pop culture character?
    Like someone asks his name, and he tries to make up a name, and the only thing he can come up with at the moment is of a famous cartoon character. And so, a few times throughout the book he would be called that name.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s