What It Costs to Include Lyrics in a Book
July 18, 2013
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… If you try to do the right thing. What follows is a new note I’m adding to Weed Therapy.
A SECOND NOTE TO THE READER
You are holding in your hand the second version of Weed Therapy. The original version, purchased by six souls, was the way I wanted to tell this tale. In Chapter 23, Kelvin thinks back to his wedding and remembers the song he wanted to sing to Holly that day. Originally, I included the lyrics from that song because they are critical to understanding how he felt about Holly way back when.
I made some efforts over the months to acquire permission to print the lyrics. The week before I published Weed Therapy, I finally made progress reaching a representative of the artist who recorded the song. The artist was fine with it but indicated I should contact Sony since they hold the rights to the song. So I did.
To be able to include the lyrics in this story, I would have had to pay $150 to a corporation. The artist wouldn’t have seen a penny of that. And what was that amount based on. They estimated I would have a “print run” of 500 books. I pointed out to the Sony representative that I’m a self-published writer and most such writers are lucky to see 500 sales. But even if I reached that total at the prices I had set for the book, I would produce $1,000 in revenue, of which they would expect 15%. For the lyrics of a song spread over three pages of a 218 page book.
Sony’s response. Delete or pay. I would love to think I’ll sell enough copies of Weed Therapy for the cost to make sense, but I just can’t do it at this point. This is the cost of doing the right thing. Of seeking the legal right. Corporate greed wins. My apologies to you that the version of this story you hold in your hands is not the one I intended.
I had this great idea for The Irrepairable Past, what I expect to be my next novel. Each chapter would begin with a few lines from a song that fits the mood of the chapter. I guess not.
I think I need some of Father Santos’s tea and homespun wisdom just about now.