Saturday, 27 June 2009

Fine. So I'm paranoid after all...

Reluctantly, I learnt a lot about copyright in the eighties because my jewellery designs were comprehensively ripped off. It's very easy to take a rubber mould and make as many copies as you like by the lost-wax process. The counterfeiters got them cast in Thailand mostly, where labour is cheap, and wholesaled them here, in silver, for less than I paid just for the casting.

Some unpublished authors worry they might have similar problems with their novels, and it's no good suggesting to them that if they can't sell the darned thing, there is no reason to suppose anyone else will be able to, and that they really have nothing to lose by making it available on the internet.

Titles, I think, are a different matter. Anyone who has struggled to find a catchy, evocative title will know just how hard it is. You come up with something good, check on Amazon Books and it's been used, often many times. One gets an insight into why some of one's favourite books have quite dull or strange titles.

Since Jade Goody used my title, Catch a Falling Star (a title that's been used before, but not for a notable book) I've been brainstorming for a new one. Yesterday, I think I found it. And no one has used it, ever.

So what is it? Well, here is where my paranoia comes in. Suppose a publisher has agreed to publish a novel, but doesn't like the title? It's up to the writer and agent to find a good new one. Fast. Go on a site like Authonomy, and you will find literally thousands of novel titles, all unpublished. Steal a title there, and it's the perfect crime; no one can prove you did it, that it wasn't just coincidence. And in any case, you can't copyright titles.

I think I'll just keep quiet about it for now.


  1. Oooh! I know! I know!

    The Bible.

    I'm right, aren't I?

  2. Maybe you are, Alan...and then again, maybe you aren't.

  3. Well, if it's not "The Bible", then it's got to be "Jeeves Takes a Bullet for Bertie".

    Never understood why Wodehouse didn't use that particular storyline.

  4. In the USA, titles aren't copyrighted. I've found several books with the same title, "Crimes Against Nature" being just one example of different books sharing the same title.

  5. As some of you will know, I am writing 'Book Three'. Unquestionably a scintilating title, I'm sure you will agree, original too, I suspect. Comfortingly, it is most unlikely to be stolen.

  6. I wouldn't be too sure about that, Anna.

    *twiddles moustache*

    A quick twist, and I have the title of my next opus - Book Four!


  7. "Book, a novel in Chapters"


    "Chapter, a novel in book form"


    "Novel, a novel"

  8. Now you're just being silly, Alan.

    Why can't you be serious and grown-up like Anna, Norm and me?

    Tsk tsk.

  9. Okay, how's this.

    A Serious Novel, Seriously, Damn it All

  10. Okay, okay, I'm just getting warmed up.

    Gimme some time

  11. Heatwave in London, and my brain is hardly functioning.

    IQ going d-o-w-n...

  12. Let's try 110 degrees for Phoenix today. According to the online converter thingie that translates to 43.3 degrees Celsius.

    Blast furnace.

    But we're nowhere near the 122 degrees we had back in I forget what year. 1988? Anyway, it was so hot the planes couldn't take off at Sky Harbor airport.

    Yesterday evening the clouds built up on the edges of the Valley, just like I describe in the last part of "Boomerang". Huge clouds soaring waaaay up there. Blindingly bright in late afternoon, shading to grey and then ominous black as the sun sets. Promising rain and often as not failing to deliver.

    Anyway, it's hot.

  13. That sounds punishing.

    I've just driven the Fledgling to Kensal Green, and creeping back in traffic along the Euston Road was HOT.

    Back to the good old bike tomorrow.