The Digital Project

Source: iStock photo/Pixabay

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

Four weeks ago, I sustained injuries from a fall at work to my right shoulder, low back, and left hip. I then missed days here and there from the pain. I stubbornly tried to keep working in a modified status but that didn’t help and the pain worsened. I’ve been out for almost a week now and am finally healing. I’m catching up on sleep, reading, and all-around relaxing (that one took awhile to become reacquainted with).

I decided to attend to some digital projects to keep me busy (and seated in one place):

project number one

My first digital project is based on a Xmas gift I received early. I wanted to wait until Xmas morning but the gifter stubbornly wouldn’t let me and I couldn’t understand why until I unwrapped it: an HP printer/copier/scanner. I didn’t realize it was a scanner as well until I read the box more closely. I was excited; for years, I’ve been wanting to digitize all my family and personal adventures photos (over two thousand).

Now I have the opportunity – and the time – to scan the photos onto my computer and then to a cloud account where they’ll be safe and easily shared with family members. It’ll probably take until mid-next year (at least) but I’m excited about not having to drag a large storage bin full of photo albums around with me anymore. I’ve been taking them with me everywhere for the last thirty-plus years. Digitizing those photos is going to be a huge space saver. I love the idea of lightening my load, of letting go of items that are no longer relevant or necessary.

I’ve never understood why more people don’t do this. If you live in an extreme weather area (ex: Tornado Alley in the Plains region), digitizing your photos is a must-do to protect your family’s heritage. If you haven’t done this, it might be a good digital project for you, as well.

project number two

My second digital project is related to my last post on preserving one’s Digital Assets. Taking my own advice, I downloaded free legal documents (Last Will and Testament, Health Proxy, Power of Attorney, etc.) the other day from a website that offers free downloadable forms in Word format (pdf docs cost $ and I can edit the Word docs to my needs). You can find the free forms at http://www.freeprintablelegalforms.com (did I tell you they’re free?). Downloading was easy; now I have to sift through my digital information (passwords and their accounts) and my assets to decide what goes where, who gets what, etc. It’s a sobering experience, as I wrote in a blog post last May about writing your own obituary:

“I attempted this exercise once and found it difficult to decide who got what (if anybody actually wanted any of my crap to begin with, they have enough of their own), to parcel out my “stuff” to people, some who aren’t in my life all that much and others who are. It actually scared me, as if I’d suddenly gotten a glimpse of the universe, less me.” Excerpted from Skills Building: Write Your Obit May 6, 2019

a digital project for ebook authors

Here’s a big question to those writers who have self-published eBooks – are they safe or not? I recently read an article in The Book Designer email I receive weekly written by a female author touting the so-called ‘benefits’ of e-Books being pirated (wtf???). She actually wrote that the one benefit of having your e-Book pirated (illegally downloaded for free by persons not legally allowed to offer it) was that it created word-of-mouth advertising and that, in and of itself, is good business for your book. Her point was that people who would download the pirated, free version were not likely to pay for your book to begin with – is she serious?

In my opinion (remember, I’m an expert on that), this is a naïve attitude lacking in principle. Why anyone would or could support book piracy AT ANY LEVEL is beyond me. Is that kind of word-of-mouth advertising worth losing royalties or credit for your work? If piracy is good for books, then where do we draw the line? Do we draw any line? I realize it’s an uphill online battle to protect your work.

~ Which is why it’s paramount in these crazy times that you get your Digital Assets in order. NOW.

~ If you’re a writer, you’re not too young or too old to do this. Preserve your works, your memories, the history of YOU.

#DigitalAssets #WriterBeware #MestengoBooks #intellectualproperty #fictionwriters #nonfictionwriters #ebookpiracy

A Writer’s Legacy Part 2

photofunia-last will

In November 2016, I posted a blog, A Writer’s Legacy in a Digital World, where I discussed the importance of planning for the future of your digital and intellectual property. I recently read two blog posts on the same subject but with a few more bits of information, like appointing a Literary Executor (separate from the Estate Attorney) to protect your intellectual property (IP).

To reiterate, it’s vital you prepare for the inevitable. You must decide what kind of legacy you wish to leave, if you wish to leave one at all. In this new digital world, our lives are complicated by our dependence on many devices, each with its own password and accessible only by you. The first step in the process is to take an inventory of your digital (online world) and intellectual properties:

  1. Do you have a Paypal, Google Pay, or any account, in addition to personal banking, with monetary value? Who will have access in case you’re incapacitated, or worse, if you die? What happens to the money? Whom will you designate as your beneficiary?
  2. What about personal and business email accounts, blogs, and podcasts? Personal and business websites? Do you want them up and running for people to read your when-you-were-a-breathing-starving-artist work?
  3. Do you keep a list of logins and passwords to all of your online accounts? I keep an updated copy in one of those many cloud accounts, just in case. Update it regularly and make sure your designated Estate attorney has the most recent copy on file.
  4. What electronic devices do you own that need a password for access? Do you have a laptop, smartphone, tablet, DVR/Tivo, Ring, or a home burglary system? How many apps do you access from your phone?
  5. Do you bank online? What about mortgage payments, investment banking, utilities, and airline (or other) memberships? Which memberships automatically renew online? You’ll need to spell out which to cancel and which to keep active for your heirs/estate.
  6. Do you have any online accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube? Any accounts to e-commerce sites (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Ebay, etc.)? Check the policies of these companies regarding access by another person. You’ll need to legally designate someone if you want that person to clean up your online life.
  7. How much of your work is unfinished? Do you want someone else to finish it? Or would you prefer your Executor/Executrix just heave every incomplete project, every potential novel/poetry book/best-selling short story into a shredder? What will you do with the work you have completed? Who gets the royalties?
  8. Do you have translations of your book? Movie deals? Audio books? Who will oversee these if they become options after your death? Who will make the decisions about maintaining and growing your work after you’re gone? (Think: Elvis Presley estate.)
  9. Will you leave the option to own, sell, or operate your business and control your intellectual property? Or will you decide so your heirs don’t have to? One option is to designate a micro-publisher to oversee your work so that royalties will be properly paid to your heirs.
  10. What about cleaning up your personal information collected by those data-mining companies? If you think it won’t matter once you’re gone, you’re wrong. Someone could use your identity and gain access to your intellectual property and online life, and then your hard-earned money. This can affect any heirs you designate and their ability to oversee your IP or pay any monies owed. One site, My Life, mines all sorts of personal information; you’ll need to sign up and join to have access to your personal information and request they delete all of it.
  11. You need to be concerned with writer scams popping up all over the web offering unauthorized copies of authors’ books or scamming writers out of money. Writer Beware is one of many sites that track predatory sites and unscrupulous people trying to steal our IP. Make sure all is good before passing it on to the heirs.

I don’t have children so I’ve been thinking about how to ensure my IP is safe so that whomever I designate as heirs (charities most likely), they will benefit properly. It’s mind-boggling for sure, but getting started is the hardest part. Start with making a list for numbers 1-4; those alone will take some time. Once that’s done, you’re more than halfway to protecting your IP. Nolo.com is a good site to find Estate and Literary attorney recommendations; you can also call or check online with the Bar Association in your state. You can find Last Will and Testament forms (as well as Healthy Proxy, Power of Attorney and other estate forms) online and at Nolo.

I’m not trying to be morose; this is a necessary part of owning a business (yourself) and smart business owners/independent contractors prepare for the worst. How many famous people left no Will for their estates, tying up legal proceedings for years in probate with family members each trying to get his share? Don’t let this happen to you – or your heirs.

Some links to good articles on this and other subjects:

Anne R. Allen on Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
New Writing Scams to Look Out for in 2019
“As long as there are writers, there will be writing scams. Hungry predators will always be lying in wait, ready to pounce on any tender young scribe who strays from the safety of the mainstream herd.”

Maggie Lynch on Self Publishing Advice From The Alliance Of Independent Authors
Why Indie Authors Need Literary Executors & How to Appoint One
“Today I’m going to address how to make sure your heirs (whether that is family, friends, or a nonprofit) benefit from that and who makes the decisions about licensing future intellectual property rights (eg translations, movie or TV deals, audiobooks, etc.) that may not have been licensed at the time of your death.”

Chris Syme on Smart Marketing for Authors
Why Word of Mouth Marketing Will Sell More Books [Research]
“In this episode of the podcast, Chris reviews the 2018 Word of Mouth Marketing Report from Convince and Convert Consulting and how it can help authors sell more books.”