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Pull Quotes From Rejection Letters?

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    Cool Member

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:44 AM

Here's a general question:

I have several novels which, over the years, have been rejected by agents. Of late, instead of the old form rejections, I have been getting comments such as 'Great dialogue, great storytelling - but we don't think this will be an easy commercial sale.' (similar comments, but all saying roughly the same.)

Now, I am about to start looking at doing the self-publishing route - setting up a PoD and ebook press (I used to do semi-pro and small press publishing back when it was still a hands-dirty business) - and rather than let the postential pass by, I was wondering if I couldn't use those pull quotes to my advantage?

They are in letters addressed to me specifically - rather than some general release - and as such I feel that as I have the originals I can take a verbatim quote from some in order to help advertise the finished product.

Does anyone know differently? Is there some rule/law which forbids me from doing so?



    Gay Dad

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:00 PM

That's an interesting question, but I don't know the answer. The answer may also differ from country to country, as we don't have universal copyright laws. I'm assuming it will be a copyright issue - the person who sent you the letter owns the copyright, but I don't know what rights they've given up by sending the letter to you....

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John Doe

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:20 PM

Regardless of the responses you get here, it'd be best if you get an opinion of an attorney, a currently licensed one that is. This goes into the realm of legal advise and most of us can't give legal advise. We can only speculate.
John Doe



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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:56 PM

"Business letters can be protected by copyright and forwarding them to others can be an infringement, the High Court has ruled. The decision could have implications for email communication because the same principles will apply."

The case mentioned concerned use of an entire business letter and you only want to quote extracts but the principle still holds.

However you need to consider a few points:
1. quote but don't attribute - if ever challenged [not gonna happen!] you've got the letters as proof
2. if you want to attribute why not just ask the letter writer(s) for permission to quote extracts?
3. if you don't would they realistically take action - they would have to show financial loss that made the costs and risks of litigation worthwhile
4. are their comments worth quoting e.g. would I - a potential reader - really become motivated to buy a book just because someone has said "Great dialogue, great storytelling" or would I assume those qualities and be looking for some USP about the book, you know "this is an edge of the seat roller-coaster ride from page 1" type stuff
5. could you get others to give you a friendly review that you could then quote unattributed?
Hope this helps

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 12:08 PM

It helps a lot.

I suspect I could write around saying I intend to use the following pulls from letters, and should there be any objection then notify me by <date> otherwise I'll assume conscent.

Apart from the fact I get a little tee-d off with comments like 'Absolutely Fabulous, darling - but not commercial enough in the UK at the mo!' (the one from one agent actually reads like she's breaking up with me after a long relationship - it's an email I'll always treasure, and take with me to my grave :) ) the use of quotes also gives me the possibility of text balancing on the likes of covers, etc, where the title and byline fail to give the cover the correct image weight.

Of course, there is also an element of flipping the bird, a la Stephen Leather...

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