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. 🙂