The Worms Crawl In . . .


We’ve talked about change a lot here on Magical Words. Over the years, you’ve seen a lot of changes happening in terms of the publishing industry, and every time you think you think you know what’s what, what changes again. The ground is like the sand under your feet when you’re standing on the shore with the waves washing over your feet. It just . . . goes away. If you aren’t shifting and stepping, you are going to fall on your ass. Sooner or later.

I’m in the middle of estate planning. I’m late on this one, insomuch as I have kids who are teenagers and should have had a lot of things in place just in case. The man and I are remedying that now. But it raises an issue. I have published 15 books, plus some short stories and essays. If I were to die today, would my family know what to do with them? Would they know in five years or ten? What will the industry look like then? Even if I teach them all I know, will that be like the first pc in a world of high power gaming machines? Useless?

The answer is yes, in case you didn’t know. That leaves me with the question of what to do and I don’t have the answer. Certainly my agent could help, or even manage my entire book list for the family, but you can’t just dump it all of on someone else. You have to be informed and educated about the business, and you have to stay current. Anything else is just plain stupid. I’ve taught the man a lot about the industry, but he starts to look a little cross-eyed these days and there’s a lot of, “but wait, didn’t you say before . . . ?”

I can make a literary executor for those materials, but really, I don’t know who wants to do that, even though they’d get paid, and the same issue of being informed still applies.

Then there’s the issue of what I want done with things. How I want my writing legacy to be handled. Whether I want unpublished things to see the light of day and all that sort of thing. I’ll be honest, at this point, if it makes my family money and helps them, I couldn’t care less what happens with my stuff. I’ll be dead, after all. Maybe reborn as a slug. But this sort of thing is important to other people and if it’s important to you, you need to think about it and plan for it.

One thing I can do is keep everything organized. Things like contracts and reversion dates for stories and such. I can keep a summary for each work of which rights have been sold and when and to whom and all the contact information for editors and agents. I can keep files on the computer carefully so that each book’s manuscript and mobi and epub versions are available and back those up on flash drives or cds. I can keep spreadsheets of earnings and make sure that all my self-pub stuff can be access on the different websites by the fam (which is to say, record usernames and passwords for them).

I know there’s plenty more I haven’t thought of yet–feel free to make suggestions here–but the point is, planning is important. Thinking about how to keep your work generating income for your family is important. I’m not planning to die soon; I expect I’ll have a lot more writing out there before I kick the bucket, unless I’m wrong, of course, which I’ve been known to be. I won’t have the kind of vast writing estate that Nora Roberts has, but there will definitely be some volume to handle. I was reminded yesterday that nobody cares about my work as much as I do. It’s up to me to make sure it ends up the way I want it to, and most importantly, it doesn’t make life hell for my family or friends to deal with.

So that’s the message of the day–plan for death and also, take care of yourself so it doesn’t come any sooner than it has to. But I’m still going to have blackberry pie for breakfast because I plan to enjoy life, too.


TheIncubousJob-FJM_Low_Res_500x750Diana Pharaoh Francis writes books of a fantastical, adventurous, and often romantic nature. Her author pic francisaward-nominated books include The Path series, the Horngate Witches series, the Crosspointe Chronicles, and Diamond City Magic books, and the Mission:Magic series. She’s owned by two corgis, spends much of her time herding children, and likes rocks, geocaching, knotting up yarn, and has a thing for 1800s England, especially the Victorians. For more about her writing, visit She can also be found on twitter as @dianapfrancis.




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