A Lawyer’s Perspective on Why Copyright Infringement is So Hard to Fight

Terence Ward over at The Wild Hunt wrote a great piece, “You call it sharing but pagan authors call it stealing,” on copyright infringement in the pagan community and more specifically, pagans thinking it’s okay to upload the entire books of pagan authors and sharing it on Facebook.

A Facebook group called The Wiccan Circle has uploaded the digital files to hundreds maybe thousands of books by pagan authors and are disseminating those copyrighted books for free download. I wanted to get to the bottom of it on my own, so I put in a request to join the group. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been let in, hehe, so truth be told, at this point I don’t actually have any personal knowledge of the allegations. I’m relying entirely on Ward’s reporting of the facts.

For this particular post, I want to address why copyright infringement claims under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) are so difficult to follow through with, from a lawyer’s perspective. I’m a corporate transactions attorney who works in-house at a venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, so I know my way around intellectual property law. I’ve tried major copyright infringement, trademark, and patent suits in both state and federal court, some of those cases making headlines in the news. I’ve worked in entertainment law and represented independent artists and writers against major production companies in Hollywood, major cosmetics companies, and more. That’s the background context I’m coming from in writing this post.

Continue reading “A Lawyer’s Perspective on Why Copyright Infringement is So Hard to Fight”

Writing and Publishing Nonfiction: The Complete Course

FREE

For those who follow the blog, you’ll know that I had been releasing the Writing and Publishing Nonfiction course module by module. This post provides all five modules of the course on one easy-access page.

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In this five-module multi-media course, learn about writing and publishing nonfiction books in the spirituality, New Age, occult, metaphysical, or mind-body-spirit categories. Through audio lectures, handouts, and workbooks, this course is a wealth of resources and information that the aspiring author must have in his or her arsenal. Learn how to get started on your book writing aspiration, how to establish an author platform, how to finish your book, how to prepare a book proposal, all about both traditional publishing and self-publishing, and how to promote and sell your book.

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Overview

In this workbook-centered course, I’ll cover the writing and publishing process of nonfiction books and impart what I know about both traditional and independent (self) publishing. The focus will be on nonfiction under the Spirituality category. That includes books on New Age, New Thought, alternative religions, and esoteric or occult topics. However, the core of the course content applies to any nonfiction book that is seeking either placement with a small to medium size publisher or through print-on-demand channels. We will also cover basic legal knowledge, from author-publisher contracts and entity formation for independent publishers to intellectual property law, which every author should be familiar with.

The course material will be multi-media in format, but focused on the workbooks that will guide you from outlining your idea for a nonfiction book to querying traditional publishers, preparing your manuscript for independent publishing and even marketing and promotions.

Course Objectives

  • To provide an aspiring author with insights into publishing nonfiction books in the Spirituality category and the day-to-day logistics of finishing your manuscript
  • To provide an insider view of both traditional and self-publishing
  • To provide an aspiring author with the beginner tools needed to complete a first manuscript and take it to publication, either by traditional or independent channels
  • To get personal and share my thoughts and experiences from an insider’s perspective
  • To be realistic, and give you real information and hard numbers, not the glossed-over, polished, and exaggerated fluff you often get from would-be insiders

BW Old Chunky Necklace

About Your Instructor

benebell wen is the author of Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth (North Atlantic Books, 2015) and The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Traditions (North Atlantic Books, forthcoming September 27, 2016). Wen has also served as the editor-in-chief and managing editor of various literary journals, assisted authors with line-editing, formatting, and releasing self-published books in the categories of spirituality and religion, and has represented independent artists and writers in both the traditional and self-published categories. Wen is also a full-time practicing corporate attorney who specializes in business organizations, business law, corporate mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, and intellectual property law.

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Key:

  • AUD = Audio File (M4A)
  • ESS = Informal, blog-style essay (PDF)
  • WBK = Workbook (DOCX, PDF)
  • HDT = Handout (PDF)
  • WEB = Website Reference (LINK)
  • VID = Unlisted YouTube Video (LINK)

Note: Whenever possible, work off the DOCX file, not the PDF. Sometimes the conversion from my original DOCX file to PDF causes the PDF to look a bit wonky. The PDF is provided here just as a backup, in case you want a quick view for reference (since they load more efficiently on a computer or smartphone than DOCX files).

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Module I: Introduction

Let’s start at the very beginning.

Module 1 is an introduction to the world of publishing nonfiction books in the New Age and Spirituality category. Let’s start by talking about you and what you want. Workbook A covers the elements of successful nonfiction and walks you through prompts to help you establish a strong foundation for your book. We’ll talk about what it is exactly you want to say through your book and who you want to say it to, or your target audience. We’ll also cover current trends and together, reach important deductions about the authors publishing in this market category. Even at this early stage, you need to be thinking about your author platform. Workbook B will help you brainstorm and build your author platform. Handout 1 dovetails on Workbook B that walks you through the process of structuring, preparing for, and organizing public speaking engagements to help you establish your author platform.

There are four audio files that consist of lectures (total play time just shy of 40 minutes), two workbooks, and supplementary handouts. Follow the work in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

HDT Introduction PDF
AUD Current Market Trends M4A (10:18)
AUD Why Write and Publish a Book? M4A (09:46)
WBK Workbook A – Examination of the Seed DOCX | PDF
AUD What Are You Sharing? M4A (06:44)
WBK Workbook B – Establishing Your Author Platform DOCX | PDF
HDT Handout 1 – Brainstorming a Speaking Engagement DOCX | PDF
AUD Birthing a Book: My Story M4A (10:20)
HDT Note Taking Template (Cornell Method) DOCX | PDF

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Module II: Completing Your Manuscript

Module 2 helps you grow your seed of a book idea and walks you through the process of nurturing that seed to full bloom, achieving a completed book manuscript. Let me tell you how I managed to stay on track and finish my books while working full-time and tending to family responsibilities. Let’s talk about the daily grind. How do you structure the chapters of your book? How do you schedule your weeks to make sure you get your target writing done? What are some of my personal tips and tricks? The handouts in this module will help you to track your progress. Also, how can you tell if a work is in the public domain? What exactly constitutes fair use? I’ve got handouts for both questions.

There will be four audio lectures (for a total of about 35 minutes play time), two workbooks for you to complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

HDT The Logistics of Writing Your Book DOCX | PDF
AUD Does Word Count Matter? M4A (09:43)
HDT Manuscript Progress Log DOCX | PDF
AUD Basic Theory: The Form and Function of Nonfiction M4A (08:38)
AUD The First Sentence M4A (09:59)
WBK Workbook C: Profiling Your Book and Getting Started DOCX | PDF
WBK Workbook D: Outlining Each Chapter DOCX | PDF
AUD Making Time to Write & Tracking Your Progress M4A (04:27)
HDT Getting Started DOCX | PDF
HDT Flowchart for Determining Public Domain Works DOCX | PDF
HDT The Basic Considerations for Fair Use DOCX | PDF
HDT Sample Permissions Query Letter DOCX | PDF
HDT Word List DOCX | PDF

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Module III: Traditional Publishers

Module 3 accompanies you from drafting your book proposal to querying traditional publishers. We’ll cover the big publishing houses (and how you’ll need a literary agent if you want to approach these publishers) and also the small to medium publishers (where you won’t need a literary agent).

There will be 5 audio lectures (total run time about 40 minutes), 3 workbooks, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below.

Here’s your course outline:

AUD Preliminary Notes for Module III M4A (04:43)
HDT Who are the traditional publishers? DOCX | PDF
AUD The Book Proposal M4A (04:18)
WBK Workbook E – The Book Proposal DOCX | PDF
HDT Log of Publisher Queries DOCX | PDF
HDT Sample Manuscript Submission in Standard Format PDF
AUD The Submissions Process M4A (11:39)
HDT Template for Submissions Query Letter PDF
HDT My Query for Holistic and Publisher Responses PDF
HDT Book Proposal for Holistic Tarot (Sample) PDF
HDT Evolution of a Manuscript PDF
HDT Traditional Publishing Timeline (Query to Release) PDF
AUD Revisiting Why We Write and Publish M4A (08:07)
HDT Theoretical Earnings Comparison Chart PDF
WBK Workbook F – Publishing Contract Review LINK
AUD Traditional Versus Self Publishing M4A (09:29)
WBK Workbook G – Deciding Between Traditional and Self DOCX | PDF

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Author Publisher Agreements: Understanding Your Publishing Contract

If you’ve just received a book deal offer from a traditional publisher and you are not represented by an agent, then you had better get your hands on this document.

Read more about the workbook here.

This workbook is a 50-page, 19,000+ word checklist, term by term explanation, sample contract term negotiation and counter-offers, and tips written by a corporate contracts lawyer to help you navigate the author publisher agreement. Please note that this workbook is for educational purposes only and since I do not know your case-specific situation, the workbook cannot constitute legal advice. It is recommended that you seek legal or professional counsel for case-specific matters.

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Module IV: Independent (or Self) Publishing

Module 4 will cover basic pointers for self-publishing. There will be 5 lectures, 1 workbook that you should complete, and supplementary handouts that you will want to go through in the order noted below. I’m also providing a few unaffiliated external links, so you have someplace to start shopping around for printing presses, getting price quotes, etc.

In the previous modules, the lectures were provided as audio recordings, but my laptop went kaput and I’ve been recording the audio with an app on my laptop. I don’t know how to do it with my desktop, so instead of mp4 files for download in Module 4, we have text–the audio lecture transcripts I would have read off of.

Here’s your course outline:

WBK Workbook H: Self-Publishing Logistics DOCX | PDF
HDT Template for Self Published Manuscript DOCX
AUD Introduction to Self-Publishing PDF
AUD Why Self Publish Your Book PDF
WEB AuthorCentral (Amazon): Register an Account LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Publisher: Lulu.com LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing LINK
WEB Print-on-Demand Royalties Calculator [CreateSpace] LINK
WEB Printing Press: Lightning Press [Book Printing Instant Price Quote Calculator] LINK
WEB Printing Press: Heidel Print [Book Printing Instant Price Quote Calculator] LINK
WEB Printing Press (China): Shenzhen Jinhao Printing [Minimum Order Quantity: 500 copies] LINK
HDT US Copyright Office Form-TX (Registration for Literary Works) PDF
HDT US Copyright Office Online Registration of Copyright PDF
WEB Electronic Filing of US Copyrights LINK
AUD Optional. Publishing Tarot or Oracle Decks PDF
WEB Optional. Tarot Deck Creators Facebook Group LINK
AUD Understanding ISBNs, Bar Codes, and LOC Listings PDF
WEB Buy ISBNs and Bar Codes (U.S.—Bowker) LINK
WEB How to Register a U.S. Copyright LINK
WEB About Library of Congress Catalog Listings LINK
WEB LOC PCN: Application to Participate LINK
AUD Why You Need a Copyeditor PDF
AUD Where To Go From Here PDF

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Module V: Promoting Your Book and Post-Publication Strategic Plans

The final module of this course will cover the enormous amount of work that comes after you’ve produced a book and it has been launched into the public arena aka published. If you thought that meant you’re done, then oh boy, you’ve been sadly mistaken. You’ve only just begun. Module 5 is about covering some realities about publishing and selling nonfiction books in the Mind, Body, Spirit category, the nuts and bolts of promoting a book and how to captivate the attention of your target audience. We’ll also cover post-publication strategic plans for actually making some real money off your book (you thought you were going to make money off your royalties? *chuckles to self*).

Please note that Module V is part of the Closed Circuit, and is therefore password protected. For context about what the Closed Circuit is, read here.

ESS The Author Platform and Public Relations
WBK Preparing Your Media Kit
HDT Media Kit Template
ESS Promoting a Book: What Works and What Doesn’t
WBK Drafting Your Marketing Plan
HDT Template Query Letter for Market Exposure
ESS Book Blurbs (or the Author Endorsement)
HDT Log of Endorsement Queries
ESS The Book Trailer: Should You Create One?
ESS Hiring a Publicist: Pros and Cons
ESS The Author’s PR Schedule: Sample Timeline
HDT Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
HDT Self-Publishing: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
HDT Traditional: Author Sales Log Debut Year One
HDT Traditional: Author Sales Log Subsequent Years
HDT Traditional: Gross and Net Sales Detail Log
ESS Dealing with Criticism
ESS The Nom de Plume
ESS Where Is the Money?—Optimizing Author Earning Potential
ESS The Dark Side of Publicity
ESS Post-Publication: The Afterlife
WBK Expanding Your Business Model
VID Write and Publish Spiritual Nonfiction: Closing Remarks

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2018 Metaphysician’s Day Planner [Pre-Order]

$25 USD

PRE-ORDER

The 2018 Metaphysician’s Day Planner

The first, debut Metaphysician’s Day Planner came out last year, so if you’re curious about this planner’s origins, check out what I wrote in 2017 about the product’s conception.

This year’s day planner is better. Okay, well, I think it’s better. Who knows what you think of it all. Ephemeris tables, charting sign transits for the Sacred Seven for each and every day of 2018, and also, this year’s day planner comes with a 200 page Guidebook. Yep, that’s right. The day planner has its own operation manual.

And in that operation manual you are going to find loads of folk magic, astrological data, and also all void of course moon dates for 2018 in case that’s something you look at for spell-crafting. It’s got forecasts for 2018, step by step instructions on how you can do your own forecasts for 2018 per your natal chart and solar return chart, reference tables galore, and so much more. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting in that Guidebook that you ultimately decide to integrate into your own craft.

Short Summary (aka TL;DR)

You’re getting the digital files to a day planner calendar book that’s part organizer and part grimoire. Then you can upload the day planner digital file, along with your choice of a front and back cover design (many options provided for you to choose from!), to a third party printer (I give you illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to do that), and get your day planner printed and bound. And if you lose your book midway through the year for whatever reason, you can always print out another copy for yourself, since you’ve got the digital file.

This day planner is keyed to a metaphysician with eclectic leanings, and a keen interest in both the sacred arts of the East and the mystery traditions of the West. It presumes the importance of transits astrology in your practice, and so moon phases, ephemeris tables, and key astrological events are noted.

Continue reading “2018 Metaphysician’s Day Planner [Pre-Order]”

The Badgers Forest Tarot: Animal Lovers Rejoice

The Badgers Forest Tarot by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven, who is also the creatrix of The Rabbit Tarot, The TaRat (Tarot of the Rat), The BlueDogRose Tarot featuring domestic animals, and The Riderless Tarot, a horse-themed deck. I think she is an animal lover, but I’m not sure. You’ve got to check out all her tarot decks, which are self-published and listed through Etsy.

This is my favorite animal spirit deck, for sure. When I read with this deck, it’s less tarot and more oracle deck, and more specifically, I’m checking out the animal spirit depicted on the cards drawn. Typical tarot card meanings come secondary. And if you’re looking for an animal spirit oracle deck, even though this is tarot–and it does fit what I consider to be the parameters for a tarot deck–this is really a great one. Continue reading “The Badgers Forest Tarot: Animal Lovers Rejoice”

The 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge #ytpaganchallenge

Now that I’ve completed the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge on the grimoire, I thought I’d consolidate the three videos I made in response to the challenge and also throw in some additional commentary. This year’s theme: the personal grimoire or metaphysical journaling. For your reference, here is a PDF reference to all question prompts for the 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge that I was going off of for the video responses.

I’m going to be making references to the question prompts by number. So, for instance, when I say Question 1, I mean the “Show and Tell” prompt, or if I say Question 45, I mean, “What kind of pagans were your ancestors?” and so on. Number to question references are on that PDF.

In retrospect, Part 3, my last video, should have been Part 1, the first video, so for those who haven’t seen any of them, oh good. Now you can actually watch them in the better order. In this post I’m going to be featuring the final Part 3 first, since it makes more sense that way, and then you’d move on to Part 1.

Then, of course, it turns out there were a whole load of questions I totally missed, so I’ll try to answer any that seem relevant to my path at the very end, via blog rather than another video upload.

Part 3: Pagan Practice, Opinions, and the Personal

I start this video by addressing the question of whether I am even considered pagan. Then I address my go-to divination techniques, Question 6, how it’s not recorded in my grimoire but elsewhere in separate journals, ritual work or Question 8, my answer to Question 12 is implied in some of what I say in this video, and Question 13, where I talk about a code of ethics for spell-crafting. Here I also talk about the religions that influence my path and give glimpses of my witchy rooms or…more accurately, witchy house.

Continue reading “The 2017 YouTube Pagan Challenge #ytpaganchallenge”

Sirian Starseed Tarot by Patricia Cori and Alysa Bartha

The Sirian Starseed Tarot by author Patricia Cori and illustrator/designer Alysa Bartha is premised on the esoteric (some would say New Age) belief that walking among us humans are a handful of aliens, or aliens-that-look-just-like-humans, or ancient aliens (?), and I think it’s different from what Scientologists believe but I can’t be sure because to an ignoramus like me, they sound the same. Both indigenous Native American and esoteric Buddhist belief systems include an idea similar to starseed people, so maybe there’s a grain of truth in it all somewhere.

The Sirian Starseed Tarot was channeled to Patricia Cori and there is a fascinating workshop she did, hosted by North Atlantic Books, the deck’s publisher, that you can watch here on YouTube. I highly recommend that you check out the webinar, especially if you will be working with the Sirian Starseed Tarot.

The Major Arcana in this deck is breathtaking to view and eerily accurate to work with. Check out Keys 0 through XIII above (Death becomes Transition…I know some old school tarot readers aren’t too fond of the “Death becomes Transition” interpretation of Key XIII…). However, what you need to do when working with this particular deck, especially if you’re a seasoned tarot reader, is to check your tarot knowledge at the door and work with this deck within its own universe of a system. You’re going to have a much more enriching experience with the Sirian Starseed if you do just that. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of hang-ups, biases, and cognitive dissonance.

Continue reading “Sirian Starseed Tarot by Patricia Cori and Alysa Bartha”

Why Some Posts Going Forward are Password Protected

Like so many of my colleagues, I come from an earnest place and share what I believe will be valuable resources, for free, and just like so many of my colleagues, we experience this: those you’ve fed come back to bite you in the hand. Each one of us deal with that in our own ways. For me, this will be my approach.

Here’s why certain posts are under lockdown going forward. People readily acknowledge that they’ve been enriched by the content I provide, take from it freely, exploit it, but then–forget “thank you” that’s just asking too much–they can’t even restrain themselves from hurling ad hominem attacks at me in public forums. How do you acknowledge you’ve benefited greatly from someone’s work and then in the same breath, say that you actually hate that person? It’s okay to hate my personality, but then you should avert your eyes and not keep coming back for second, third, and fourth helpings of my content.

It’s as if you’re standing out in the town square cheerily handing out free cookies and on an ongoing basis, certain folks keep coming back for the free cookies but immediately after enjoying the cookie, punch you in the shoulder. Or, as they walk away with your free cookie, smirk and say to anyone within earshot, “Man, isn’t she such a horrible human being? The rest of you don’t seriously like her, do you? I mean… look at her. Horrors. Plus, her cookies are shit. Munch, munch, munch…” What do you do? Most people call it quits and just stop handing out the free cookies. I didn’t want to go that route, since I enjoy baking, but I was also getting fed up.

Continue reading “Why Some Posts Going Forward are Password Protected”

Llewellyn’s 2018 Tarot Calendar

Llewellyn has just come out with its Tarot Calendar for 2018 and it is a thing of majesty. Tarot nerds, enthusiasts, and aficionados: rejoice! This is your monthly calendar that you’re going to want hung up on your wall at home or in your reading space. It’s simply marvelous.

The calendar features cards from so many tempting decks that just gives the calendar such magic. It’s vibrant, well-produced, and after 2018 has gone and passed, you’ll want to hold on to your calendar for memory’s sake.

Continue reading “Llewellyn’s 2018 Tarot Calendar”