I loathe seeking permissions.
In my previous job as senior editor for an educational publishing company, I spent over six months chasing up people, invoices, copyright lines, even got threatened by some venal French hippies (!). So when I became a freelancer, I decided that I wouldn't do any permissions. My sister though was brave enough to take up the title of "permission editor" and has been working on quite a few things over the past few years.
When I decided to include the lyrics of the PJ Harvey song "The Wind" in my third book, The Right Place, I first thought that it was a terrific idea, as I got the inspiration for the book partly from the lyrics...
My sister has been given the job to seek permission to print the lyrics, and I am waiting with trepidation to hear about the results of her work. In the meantime though, I've found this EDIFYING ARTICLE ABOUT THE COST OF QUOTING LYRICS IN A NOVEL and it's made me slightly worried. Especially the bit below:
I still have the invoices. For one line of "Jumpin' Jack Flash": £500. For one line of Oasis's "Wonderwall": £535. For one line of "When I'm Sixty-four": £735. For two lines of "I Shot the Sheriff" (words and music by Bob Marley, though in my head it was the Eric Clapton version): £1,000. Plus several more, of which only George Michael's "Fastlove" came in under £200. Plus VAT. Total cost: £4,401.75. A typical advance for a literary novel by a first-time author would barely meet the cost.
I am an indie author who publishes her books on her own indie imprint in print runs of about 100 copies, and there is no way I can afford that kind of fee. For The Right Place, I am going to apply for an Arts Council grant, but the chances of my getting it are pretty slim...
I wanted the permission to print the whole song, and if too expensive, just a few lines, but even that might prove to be too prohibitive...
I think therefore I write.
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