I am no expert on this subject, but I’ve saved a few notes about it with a ‘get to this someday’ tag.
It’s not something we like to think about – dying – but for the sake of our family and friends, we really should bite the bullet, so to speak.
Please be assured nothing morbid has happened to me recently, but in this climate of uncertainty about the dreaded virus, and the fact someone shared this particular piece from Neil Gaiman on Facebook, I thought I’d bring the topic up for those of you who’ve never considered it.
Many years ago, a sad event first brought this to my notice: one of the founding members of our long-lived writer’s group passed away most unexpectedly (he choked on his food). He, at least, had appointed a literary executor – another member of the group, who still manages the large body of work that survived him.
And that’s the point – unlike many other things, when you die, your literary work will continue without you. If you don’t appoint someone to be its legal guardian, who will benefit from subsequent royalties, or continue to keep your catalogue in the public eye? It’s likely your family won’t know what to do with it, even if you have left it to them along with your other worldly goods.
And if you haven’t left a will at all? Hmm. I’m not entirely sure where it will go – that probably depends on what country you live in – but it most certainly won’t benefit anyone you would like it to.
I have a basic will. As someone with no dependants, everything I leave (at the moment) will go to a selection of animal charities. However, I really should get around to appointing a literary executor (this can be someone completely different to the executor of the will). Ideally, this will be someone who will manage my IP and my catalogue of works such that it will continue to produce income that can then be distributed to whomsoever I want to benefit from it. This means the best choice is someone who has at least a basic knowledge of how a literary business runs.
Failing that, someone who is interested enough to learn quickly when the time comes.
Neil Gaiman’s piece includes a downloadable will template with advice on how to use it that you may find useful, and here’s another article, which also touches on the complications introduced if you have any projects you share with other authors: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/author-business-estate-planning/
I know its not a cheery subject, but I think it IS a necessary one: I would like for my work to continue benefitting my chosen charities long after I’ve gone. Now I just have to take my own advice and get around to it!
What about you? How many of you have made some sort of legal provision for your work? As indies, we will likely have a large catalogue by the time we trundle off to that great library in the sky…
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of the concluding book in The Five Kingdoms series, out on December 14th https://books2read.com/PrincesHeir