In the 25th century a mysterious group of humanist philosophers rose from among the ranks of those Underground Archivists. They came to be known by the collective name “Mythmakers.” They composed works of rare beauty and symbolic power from which emerged a new behavioral code, a new system of morality based not on arbitrary prescriptions of religious dogma but on the humanist tenets of respect for life, the unity of humankind, and personal responsibility. [from The Termite Queen]
For Indie Publishers: Who Gets All the Loot after You Die?
Of course, that title is delivered somewhat tongue-in-cheek, especially in my case since so far my books have hardly been best sellers. However, every author needs a literary executor and especially (as in my case) if they are no longer spring chickens and they have a large body of manuscripts and computer documents that have not been edited or published yet. I want my material to be preserved and treated with respect after I die, and I would hope somebody would like my books well enough to want to take on the task of continuing publication.
Unfortunately, I have no relatives or friends who would want to do this or even know how to attempt it. My present will has no provision in it for a literary executor, and I had better get on the stick and at least discuss the situation with an attorney. Maybe reading the following article will get me started. The links included in the article and the comments on those links are also valuable, particularly the first one cited.
A series by Susan Uttendorfsky – Owner of Adirondack Editing –
(10 What Happens When You Die?)
Wait, wait, don’t run away. This is not a religious post. This is a practical, necessary discussion about your writing, your books, your accounts, etc., when you bite the dust.
It’s going to happen to all of us, sooner or later, and writers have additional details to worry about—or their heirs and estates, if the writers don’t address it. What happens to your copyright? What happens to your accounts? Who can keep selling your books? There are lots of questions to answer, and it’s best if you think about it ahead of time. You’ve learned a lot through your journey of writing, publishing, and marketing. How many years did it take you to get where you are today? Are your heirs going to have automatic knowledge and know what to do? Probably not.
First, let’s learn the language. What we’re talking about are your “literary assets” and “literary estate.” Your writing can also be called your “intellectual property” (IP) and “intellectual property assets.” The person who manages these things after you’re gone might be called a “literary trustee.”
So what does happen to your IP after your death? That’s up to you, so start thinking. Who is going to be your trustee? How will royalties and income be distributed? Will there be any provision for extending your copyright, which expires 70 years after your death?
This article is fairly big on questions and fairly skimpy on information. That’s because each country, state, and family is different. What works for one author might not work for another, so you have to make your own decisions. I can only offer places to start. A lawyer will be needed to set up the trust and other arrangements. A will is a definite necessity!
Here are the blog posts from which the ideas for this theme were taken:
Along these lines, I mentioned accounts. Passwords will be needed by your trustee in order to manage your assets, so be sure you keep a list—somewhere, offline, frequently updated!—of your important passwords. Your Amazon.com password, CreateSpace, private printers, etc.—anywhere you do business on a regular basis. Your trustee will be able to find account numbers and usernames on the subscribing emails, if you kept them, but passwords change. Without the passwords, your trustee’s job will be much more difficult. Many companies, not just those involved in publishing, neglect policies and procedures for transferring accounts to an heir or trustee. They just don’t think that far ahead. So you need to.