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Using Your own Words

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Tolkien, May 8, 2022.

  1. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    What is the policy about using your own words in a future self-published book that is already published in a self-published book of yours?


    TY.
     
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    uh....you need to be a bit more specific. Are you talking like a speech by one character that resonates into related books (a 'call to arms' type thing), or simply dropping a random chapter or scene from one book into another?
     
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  3. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    Sorry for being vague. It would be more like taking a few paragraphs and copy-pasting them.
     
  4. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    I believe you still have to cite the work even if its your own if that is what you are asking.
     
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  5. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    Why would you recycle the same few paragraphs in a new book?
     
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  6. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    It is a rare case indeed, but it applies to both just as well. View it as a short description of an object.
     
  7. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    Can't you come up with an alternative way to describe the object? Maybe a paraphrase of the original description?
     
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  8. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    I can, just being lazy and wanted to know about the legality of it.
     
  9. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    It's not illegal, since you're the owner of the original copyright. You have to have the author's permission to use copyrighted work. If you're the author and you give yourself permission, who can argue?

    But it's likely to turn readers off. If I read multiple books by the same author, self published or otherwise, and saw the exact same paragraphs repeated verbatim in more than one of them, I would see it as a sign of bad writing. It would feel like a cheat.
     
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  10. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Like I said, it'd work if it was a famous speech or prophecy that provides motivation across multiple books, but apart from that...

    Now that I think about it, I do have one character who overheard a conversation in book one, relays it to another character in book 3, then dwells on it in subsequent books. However, it's also rather short - under 100 words, and is critical to understanding what is going on.
     
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  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Let me put it this way. If the books weren't self published, there's a chance it wouldn't even be legal. It is entirely possible to plagiarize yourself when selling first publishing rights, and a publisher could potentially take legal action against you.

    Since both works are self-published, there's no legal issue, but it would be viewed much the same way by a large section of the audience. You will get eviscerating one-star reviews for it.

    Obviously if one book is clearly quoting the other, that's okay.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2022
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  12. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    Would a large section of the audience be aware of the legal issues?

    Personally, if I saw an author repeat their own words verbatim in more than one book (which I occasionally have, but not a whole several paragraphs long passage), I wouldn't think they were plagiarizing, I would think they were a lazy writer. What's the author going to do, sue him/herself for copyright violation?

    The only time I wouldn't think it was lazy would be something like this...

    Or this:

    But not a description of an object. Unless, that is, a character is reading the description out of a book, and it's the same book both times. Or a character in the first book wrote that description down when they saw the object, and in book two, another character reads the book one character's description. That kind of thing can provide a neat continuity. But it doesn't sound like that's what the OP has in mind.
     
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  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Maybe they wouldn't see it in legal terms, but absolutely it would go way beyond "lazy," depending on how large the passage is. It wouldn't take much to get killed in the reviews, at the very least.
     
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  14. Tolkien

    Tolkien Minstrel

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    Great point, Ty.
     
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