Friday, January 6, 2023

Every Author Should Make This Resolution

One thing I know for sure is that today each of us is one day closer to taking our final breath than we were yesterday. When we take that final breath, we no longer can make life easier for our heirs.

As an author, you leave behind words. Thousands of words, maybe millions, collected in an assortment of books, stories, blogs, poems, articles, etc. Some you may have published. Others not. Yet copyright laws in most countries mean your words can still have value after you die.

If you’re thinking, oh criminy, my novel isn’t published, this doesn’t apply to me. Let me whisper John Kennedy Toole’s name in your ear. His mother found the manuscript Toole, which had desperately tried to get published, hidden in a drawer. She finally got Confederacy of Dunces published, and it won a Pulitzer. Unlikely? Sure, but hey, you never know.

These days a novel or memoir or non-fiction book is more likely to be on a computer hard drive than printed out sitting in a drawer. Would whoever takes care of your estate know where to find it?

Or if you are traditionally published, where are your contracts? Who gets continuing royalties? If you are self-published, where are your books published? Where are the most recent “final” manuscripts (which if you are like me, may not be the ones listed as “final” on your computer)?

Who is going to decide how (or if) to keep your author business going? Where are the passwords to your accounts?

I could go on, and for a class I’ll be teaching in March, I do go on. However, I’ve covered enough ground to give you the idea. Even if you have everything organized and know where it all is, good luck to the person who must find it and figure it out.

Which brings me back to the resolution all authors should make (and then follow). Create a detailed roadmap so the right people can easily find everything about your creative works they need.

Here’s my promise to my daughter (who will inherit my writing business, including copyrights): I will make it as easy for you as I can. I won’t try to accomplish this in one day or one week. But I will chip away at it day by day. And once I have it done, I’ll continue to maintain it.

That’s my resolution. How many of you authors are with me on this for 2023? (And if you’ve already done it, please crow about it in the comments.)

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James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series. Full of mystery and suspense, these thrillers explore financial crimes, family relationships, and what happens when they mix. You can sign up for his newsletter and find more information about Jim and his books at

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