Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness
The road to publication still had a few twists to ride out, starting with the final proof having problems that needed fixing before I could check the accept box. A Perfect Blindness is about, on the surface, two close friends and their escape to Chicago to finally make it with a band. They found a new band called Mercurial Visions, and much of the narrative backbone unifying the three interweaving stories follow the fortunes of the band. Music is the milieu, and as such, the text is drenched in music: songs play when they are in their loft, when they go out to the bars, and clubs, and even in their thoughts. Sometimes references spill from their mouths in phrases or entire sentences, either verbatim lines or riffs based on lyrics of songs from the era. Mostly. A couple of references are anachronistic, coming from songs after this time, but they are kindred.
When I was going over one particular moment in a long gone bar called Artful Dodger, a song comes on, and Jonathan rushes to dance to it; two or so lines of lyrics add to the mood. When I was going over the final proof, I realized I had misremembered the actual words, conflating a couple of lines, and was a concerned that a fan of the band would get annoyed at the error. So I started fixing it. Then, the concept of “fair use” started bothering me, so I looked up what is considered fair use of song lyrics. I’d vaguely recalled reading that two lines are okay, but the lines I was using in that scene are actually credited to the band, so I wasn’t sure if that mattered or not. I had in mind 2 or 3 lines, a couple of dozen words. Enough to evoke the song if a person knows it; enough to give an impression if someone doesn’t.
Yet after an hour of searching, I could find no one able to give a hard rule. Some gave loose guidelines, others ways to ask for permission, and how it probably wouldn’t cost much to ask the band for use. One person commented that if you use one line of a song that has one line of lyrics, you’re using 100% of a song.
Vagueness and uncertainty were not what I sought.
Next, I asked iUniverse. They responded that they had already gone through the manuscript, but that if I was concerned, I should send them a marked up version, indicating every line that worried me.
Thus, more work, which then would lead to more waiting for a decision, which might then lead to yet more work.
Does this process ever end? How does anything ever actually get published?
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