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sissybaby
09-21-2009, 05:40 PM
I'm stumped as to where to post this, but it's something I've been wondering about for several years now.

Years and years ago my mother, who is now deceased, wrote several stories for my daughter. They are lovely stories that would make delightful picture books, and I begged my mother to try and have them published.

She never did, but I was wondering if I could get them published now. Under her name, of course.

Is that something that can even be done?

Thanks for any helpful suggestions concerning this.

Sissy

sommemi
09-21-2009, 05:54 PM
I know someone who is doing this for a friend of his, but he had to get rights from the children to do it. So I would think that since you are her child, you would have rights to the stories... Were they written down? Did she leave them to anyone specific in her will? Also, you could always put her name down but include your name with some kind of "as retold by" or something like that to cover your butt maybe?

Interested to know what others (with more legal knowledge) have to say about this. Good luck! I think this is something that would be very meaningful to your children! (And obviously you. :) )

Phaeal
09-21-2009, 05:59 PM
I'd consult a lawyer specializing in intellectual properties first, if I was serious about going ahead with the project. Just to be sure what I was getting into.

If you can't afford that, continue research on the Internet. Someone will probably come along here to point you in the right directions. Otherwise, work the search engines. ;)

Terie
09-21-2009, 06:11 PM
I don't know how much this helps, but after a bloke in my crit group died, a group of his friends edited three of his novels and self-published them in a single volume on his behalf. The copyright is 'The estate of (author's name)'. I don't know about the legalities, but since the author's parents supported the project, my guess is that they were the executors of his estate and gave permission to his friends to publish the book for him. I believe that, once the initial investment by the friends was paid back, any further proceeds went to the author's estate.

As someone else said, check with an attorney who specialises in IP law.

sissybaby
09-22-2009, 12:11 AM
Thanks for the comments so far.

For background and clarification - my sister and I were the executors of the estate, and we are in agreement that we'd love to see them published. I realize any royalties would and should go to the estate.

I guess my biggest question is "would an agent or publisher have any problems handling something in a situation like this?"

And yes, the stories are written down - I'm sure my sister has hard copies of them. I have them on a tape, and I intend to transpose (transfer)? them to a disc when I have the time.

At the time my mom wrote them, I begged her to try and get them published, but she didn't have the confidence. Many of her poems were published in the newspapers, but she thought the stories were only good enough for her grandbaby. Like, come on, now that I finally have a grandbaby, I know they deserve only the best!

Honestly, they're pretty cute, but maybe I'm just partial.

Sissy

Puma
09-22-2009, 03:01 AM
Hi Sissy - One of my Dad's novels was published posthumously, but by the same publisher who had published his works while he was alive. All rights and royalties were handled by his estate - namely, we four kids. There were no problems.

However, I have seen in a few places recently that agents / publishers will not even look at unpublished works by the deceased. This may be because the market's currently gluted or there may have been some bad apples that spoiled the possibilities.

All you can do is try. Be sure to check agents or publishers websites (and Preditors and Editors) to see whether things look possible before you invest much time and money into it. Unfortunately what you may have to do is self-publish them for family and friends - but you won't know for sure until you dig into it. Puma

colealpaugh
09-22-2009, 04:15 AM
Heck, I think it's more of a casual situation...

If you are in possession of your mothers letters and papers, then they are your belongings, especially if it was never challenged. It would be my opinion -- as a matter of common sense only -- that you'd be able to publish "Stories from my Mother" with no legal worries whatsoever.

I see it as a personal family matter and a lovely tribute, and easily worked into a query letter.

Good luck, Sissy.

ideagirl
09-23-2009, 05:31 AM
I'd consult a lawyer specializing in intellectual properties first, if I was serious about going ahead with the project. Just to be sure what I was getting into.

That's overkill here. At the risk of oversimplifying, intellectual property is just another kind of property--so whoever the OP's mom left her estate to is the owner of the mom's intellectual property. If the mom's estate was simple (like if she left a will that said "I leave X to so and so, Y to so and so, and everything else to my children"), then the children own her intellectual property. If the mom died without a will, then she died intestate and the OP just needs to look up the intestacy laws of her mom's state--but most likely the result of that will also be that the children own the intellectual property, except that if the mother died before her husband, the husband might have inherited it. If the mom's situation was more complicated--like if she left some of her estate in trust--then the OP has to look at the trust documents.

Note that if the estate (or trust) went to her children, then the intellectual property would now be owned by her children--all of them--and all their permission would be needed to publish.

So, in short, (1) read the will; (2) if there was a trust, read the trust instrument; and (3) if there was no will or trust, then read the intestacy laws of the state where the mother lived. And if she still feels uncertain or like she can't figure out, then the kind of lawyer she needs is not an IP lawyer but an estates and trusts lawyer.

But this kind of thing is perfect for self publishing. I mean, once you're clear on the ownership you can submit it and see if you get any bites, but self-publishing is the easiest and fastest way to make a tribute to your mom and get those stories into the hands of her grandchildren.

ideagirl
09-23-2009, 05:38 AM
For background and clarification - my sister and I were the executors of the estate, and we are in agreement that we'd love to see them published. I realize any royalties would and should go to the estate.

Well, not anymore--the estate stops existing once you finish probate and all the paperwork (which can take years in complicated cases, but there is a point where it comes to an end). It's like, if your mom left you her car in her will, once probate etc. was all done, that car is yours--so if you sell it, you keep the money. And if she left her house to you and your sister, when you guys agree to sell the house, the money you two make from the sale is yours. Same deal here: if you sell those stories, the royalties go to whoever inherited the stories. Do you have any reason to think that wouldn't be you and your sister?


I guess my biggest question is "would an agent or publisher have any problems handling something in a situation like this?"

No, not once you get clear on who owns the stories (i.e. who inherited them). I'm assuming your mom didn't mention the stories in her will, so if she did have a will, there are probably only two possibilities here: (1) her will left "everything else" (or words to that effect) to somebody, so that person or those people are now the owners of the stories; or (2) her will left it up to her executors to decide who got the stuff she didn't name, so you and your sister get to decide who owns them, and you can decide that you two own them.

scope
09-23-2009, 07:49 AM
[QUOTE=ideagirl;4069592]That's overkill here. At the risk of oversimplifying, intellectual property is just another kind of property--so whoever the OP's mom left her estate to is the owner of the mom's intellectual property. If the mom's estate was simple (like if she left a will that said "I leave X to so and so, Y to so and so, and everything else to my children"), then the children own her intellectual property. If the mom died without a will, then she died intestate and the OP just needs to look up the intestacy laws of her mom's state--but most likely the result of that will also be that the children own the intellectual property, except that if the mother died before her husband, the husband might have inherited it. If the mom's situation was more complicated--like if she left some of her estate in trust--then the OP has to look at the trust documents.

Note that if the estate (or trust) went to her children, then the intellectual property would now be owned by her children--all of them--and all their permission would be needed to publish.

So, in short, (1) read the will; (2) if there was a trust, read the trust instrument; and (3) if there was no will or trust, then read the intestacy laws of the state where the mother lived. And if she still feels uncertain or like she can't figure out, then the kind of lawyer she needs is not an IP lawyer but an estates and trusts lawyer.
/QUOTE]

And don't you think that what you are proposing may be well out of the understanding of most individuals without your knowledge? I know it's not something I would feel capable of understanding or that I would want to try and understand. I can only speak for myself, and given the scenario presented by the OP I would definitely hire an attorney or contact The Authors Guild Legal Department, or that of some other organization I belong to, before doing anything.

sissybaby
09-25-2009, 04:57 PM
Wow! This sounds much more complicated than I anticipated, but it doesn't surprise me.

I think it's probably a simple answer, but that's why I posted in the first place - sometimes there's a great discrepancy between what I think and what are the facts.

My mother passed months before my father. She left no will, but she left specific belongings to each of us kids. She didn't see the stories as having any value, so they weren't mentioned, unfortunately.

My father left no will. As stated earlier, my sister and I were appointed executors of his estate, which, I supposed, included Mother's stories, since no mention of them was made earlier.

All properties were divided amicably between all siblings.

So at this point I guess we need to discuss the stories, and how to proceed with them. We have already discussed self-publishing as an option, but I wasn't even sure if that was a possibility.

I really appreciate all the valuable information you've provided for me regarding this. I didn't know where to even begin looking for an answer.

Thanks so much to all,

Sissy