aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Don't try this at home/Do give someone a home

I went running today. As I crested Vermont, I looked for Paul, the homeless guy I've been trying to help since Thanksgiving, when I found him sleeping in his car in 25 degree weather. My i-pod played Layla.

Did you know you can only quote a couple of words of a song in a book before you have to pay rights - even for Happy Birthday? I had a main character, Dante, sing Layla in the shower in my first book, Circles of Confusion. I thought it spoke to the plot.

DON'T do this. It was a bad idea. First, someone has to figure out who owns the rights to the song. (In this case, my agent got someone in her office to do it.) Then you have to approach the lawyer. Lawyers don't like to sell the rights for you to use song lyrics in a book (because it doesn't happen often, it takes work, and they don't know what to charge) so they drag their feet. They also sometimes think they are dealing with a deep-pocketed publisher, and price accordingly. Nuh-uh. YOU are the only who has to pay.

You also have to send them the pages where the lyrics are going to appear and a portion of the text before and after, so they make sure it's not objectonable.

In 1998, I was dumb and ponied up a $1,000. I would never do that now. By the time Learning to Fly came out in 2002, I knew how to work the ropes a bit better, and I got rights for $125.

Now I try not to need song lyrics at all. And never fore more than one song.

On the DO do this side, I've learned Paul is now sleeping in the basement of some people he knows - two deaf-mute guys. He sleeps on a couch (after more than four months sleeping across two bucket seats), has access to a bathroom, they let him cook, and even loaned him a TV. On Monday, he's going to go stand in line to be one of the first four people who NW Pilot Project may be able to help.

I'm very releived.

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