PERMISSIONS (part two)

Permission to use copyrighted materials must be obtained in writing from the individual or company that holds the copyright. When writing to request permission, you must include the following information in the letter.

  • title of the original work from which you are borrowing
  • name of author/compiler/editor of that work
  • edition of the work (if other than the first)
  • copyright date of the work
  • exact identification of what is to be reprinted. (Page numbers of textual citations must be included; for illustrative materials, include photocopies of the material or the table/figure number.) Your letter should also indicate what percentage of your book the material constitutes.
  • information about your book (title/author, binding [hardbound or paperback], number of printed pages, publisher, date of publication, press run, and list price). Most of this information will be supplied by the publisher after the manuscript is complete and under contract.
  • type of rights requested. Your editor will give you guidance on this matter.

Send two copies of the letter to the copyright holder. Ask the copyright holder to sign and return one copy, noting any fee or special provisions required. The other copy is retained by the copyright holder.

When Do You Obtain Permissions?

Permissions need to be sought at the earliest possible date. This is particularly true in the case of anthologies or heavily illustrated books. Obtaining permissions may take months. In addition, permission may be refused, or the fee may be too high. A book cannot be finalized until all permissions have been received.

It is essential that all permissions be obtained in writing. Photocopies of these documents should be sent to the publisher, who will file them and honor any special provisions contained in them.

At the very latest, you should begin to seek permissions as soon as the manuscript has been accepted for publication and the publisher has supplied the necessary information about your book. You may wish to begin inquiring about permissions prior to manuscript acceptance so you can know in advance who holds the copyright and how much you will have to pay. These considerations may cause you to decide to rewrite certain sections.

Acknowledgements Are Required

Acknowledgment of the source of reprinted material can be made in an internal text reference, a footnote, a table source note, a credit line in an illustration, or on the copyright page. In the case of multiple credits, a special acknowledgments section may be included in the front matter or back matter of the published book. The copyright holder often provides specific guidelines concerning the placement and phrasing of the credit line.