rec.arts.sf.composition Frequently Asked Questions

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Content changed since last update will be marked {this way}.
Last updated: 11 Jun 2008

1. Introduction

This FAQ has been written by Michelle Bottorff based on comments and suggestions from various members of the group, and is maintained and posted by Michelle Bottorff ( and Zeborah ( The general purpose of the FAQ is to inform newcomers and to serve as repository for useful information.

The FAQ will be posted bi-weekly to rasfc and maintained online at

If you have any comments, questions or contributions, please post them in the newsgroup or send them to the FAQ maintainer (see above).

Table of contents

1. Introduction

Table of Contents

2. What is on topic in this newsgroup?

3. What posting formats are acceptable?

4. How does one start posting to rasfc?

5. What do the group members mean when they say...?

6. Where else can I go for help?

7. What do I need to watch out for?

8. What do I need to know about the business of writing?

9. What legal issues should I be aware of?

10. Additional resources (our links section)

Appendix A: Newsgroup Charter

2. What is on topic in this newsgroup?

What we are here to talk about

This group is for the discussion of the writing of speculative fiction, (hereafter shortened to "sf"), or in other words fantasy and science-fiction. (It is NOT for discussing music composition in San Francisco!) The writing of any work of another genre that has strong fantasy and/or science fictional aspects will probably also be considered on topic.

Appropriate topics of discussion include the process and details of developing settings (world-building), the business of selling the stuff once it's written, the physical environment in which one writes and how it affects one's writing, and, of course, the writing process itself. The posting of actual sf works is NOT on topic. (see Critiquing policy below.)

{Off-topic and controversial discussions}

Sometimes topics are introduced that seem insufficiently sfnal in nature or that would be better addressed in another newsgroup, in which case it is commonly requested that the discussion be moved elsewhere (and not everyone who makes the request will do so politely). If you are not familiar with the group, please check section 6 "Where else do I go for help?" before posting, to make certain this is the right place for your query/comment. Also read Section 4. "How does one start posting to rasfc?"

{Often a thread will begin on a sfnal topic but veer into non-sfnal territory. When this happens, particularly if it is likely to be a controversial topic, either a participant or bystander may request that the discussion be moved to rec.arts.sf.misc instead.

A request by a bystander may consist of a post on rasfc saying words to the effect of, "This discussion would be better suited to rec.arts.sf.misc", with followups set to rasfm. A move by a participant may begin with a short statement in rasfc that "I disagree, but am going to present my arguments in rec.arts.sf.misc".

Reasons for the move need not be given in rasfc itself (and probably should not be, as they are likely themselves to be controversial); nor should the arguments themselves. If they are presented there, a responder may ignore the followups and post a short reply to rasfc saying words to the effect that "These arguments should not have been posted to rasfc, and I will be posting a rebuttal in rec.arts.sf.misc", with followups set to rasfm.}

Critiquing policy

This is a discussion group, not a publication venue or a critiquing group. However, it is difficult to discuss writing in detail without the posting of illustrative examples and it is hard to discuss the cures for a problem unless we understand what the problem is. Short examples (two or three paragraphs) of your own composition may be posted freely as part of a discussion of writing technique. (We frequently see, for example, story beginnings posted with a "does this catch your interest or not?" or an interior paragraph or two with a "does this sound too much like an info-dump, how else could I convey this information?" This sort of posting is quite welcome.)

It is also allowable to post not more than 500 words worth of something for general critique if they are posted under a subject header that begins with "CRIT". These works must be "in progress". If you are not intending to change them based on the comments you receive, do not post them here. Even then it is strongly recommend that you find another source of critiques. There are many online and in person critique groups available. This subject is discussed in more depth in Section 6.

Announcements, URL sharing, and advertising policy

Officially all advertisements are off topic. Be warned, "advertisement" also includes postings saying "I just wrote this book, it's available at [url] go check it out." Anything that is posted with the intent to get people to go look at a particular website, or just to spend time on the poster's behalf, without a commensurate offer of recompense is treading on dangerous ground. Only the following specific types of "ads" are ever welcome here:

If an ad, announcement or URL posting does not meet one of these three criteria, it will be treated with contempt, and may result in a complaint to the poster's ISP.

URL postings should contain a summary of what is there that people might want to look at, providing enough information to determine whether or not one wishes to do so, and whether the site is connected in any way with the poster.

3. What posting formats are acceptable?

The posting conventions of this group are as follows:

Use only ASCII, no MIME or HTML.

Replying from Google Groups:

When you're looking at a message, instead of hitting "reply" at the bottom of that message, hit "show options" at the top of it. Then hit "reply" from the list of options that brings up, and it will give you proper quoting and even attributions.

{Please also be aware that the "hide/show quoted text" option works only inside Google Groups. Make an executive decision whether a given chunk of text needs to be quoted at all -- see below.}


Quote the relevant portion of the text you are replying to, and place your comments beneath the quoted section. If what you are replying to is long, snip out unnecessary portions of the quoted text, and interleave your own replies between the quoted sections. Try to leave the attribution headers intact, so that people will know who said what in your quote portions.


If you wish to discuss something in more than one newsgroup, please post separate messages to each group instead of crossposting by sending the same message to more than one group at a time. When replying to a message that has been posted to more than one group, please remove all groups from the posting header except the one you are in, or the one that your reply would be most relevant to.


Try to always use proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. It makes your postings easier to read and sets a good example. Keep in mind that many group members speak English as a second (or third or fifth) language. It also makes a better impression on the professional writers and editors that participate here.


Please observe this and other 'netiquette' conventions and be courteous and considerate in your conduct. If you are not familiar with proper net etiquette and conventions, we will be providing a list of netiquette resources in Section 11, "Additional Resources".

4. How does one start posting to rasfc?

How not to introduce yourself

The accepted custom for joining in the discussion is to simply start contributing to one of the threads already in progress. If you have an experience to share that is relevant to something other people are talking about, share it. If you are having a problem with something you are writing, ask us a question about it. If you have advice to give or information about something under discussion, tell us. Introductory messages telling us your name and background are not required.

Red-flag topics that might best be avoided

If you share a new "rule" of writing you have just discovered, or suggest that something that works for you will obviously work for someone else, you will have pointed Kipling quotations jabbed in your general direction. "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, And every single one of them is right!" ( see "In The Neolithic Age" at: ) It is safer to say something on the order of "this technique may be helpful...", or even "this technique was helpful to me..."

If you say that you have just written a great book and it is available to be read at such-and-such a location, you will likely be ignored, and possibly even flamed. (See "Announcements, URL sharing, and Advertising policy" above.)

If you use the term sci-fi you will start a long argument over whether or not this term is derogatory and demeaning. The short form 'sf' is much safer, if somewhat ambiguous, and writing "science fiction" out the long way always works.

Using someone's name as the subject line of a post is usually only done in the rec.arts.sf.* hierarchy to announce their death or serious illness. Please don't frighten us! If you want to talk to someone, preferably email them; otherwise please include "ping", "paging", "attention", or some similar word in the subject line.

Although it is allowable to start out by posting something under a CRIT header, you will usually get more responses to such a posting if you have been around for a while and people recognize your name.

Also, please remember, if you ask a question and you are told to go elsewhere for the answer, it isn't because we don't want to be helpful, but because we think there are sometimes better places to find answers than rasfc, even when the question itself is on topic.

5. What do the group members mean when they say...?

If you are not familiar with general usenet terminology and common acronyms, please check the links in section 11. This listing only includes terms common here, but relatively uncommon elsewhere. To save space, I have removed all referents to group in-jokes, however I am collecting these and hope to get them up on a web-page (after the FAQ itself is completed).

footnote symbol. A request for further explanation on a subject. Originated at Minicon; for full details see David Goldfarb's explanation at message ID <ehctvo$6a8$> (here on Google Groups).
'I agree', 'ditto', 'likewise', 'me, too'. Derives from the practice, supposedly common (or once common) amongst unsophisticated AOL subscribers, of quoting a whole post just to say 'me, too'.}
As you know, Bob. A reference to the technique of passing on background information to the reader by having a character tell another character something he already knows. This is a part of the Turkey City Lexicon (see TCL below).
Butt in chair. Also sometimes lengthened to "Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard." This is a frequently recommended method for getting past a variety of writing problems. Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
An activity that pretends to be useful, but is actually being done so that you can avoid writing.
A story that is exactly 50 words long. At the time of this writing, cinquentas by rasfc participants are being collected at If you wish any of your cinquentas to be included in this collection email them to Neil Barnes at
dancing rodents
(and variants): a synonym for conga rats, i.e. "congratulations".
Extruded Fantasy Product. This generally refers to highly derivative fantasy epics.
Eight Deadly Words
"I don't care what happens to these people!" (coined by Dorothy Heydt)
Eye of Argon
A story so badly and yet boldly written that it stands as a classic. Eye of Argon reading sessions are occasionally held at sf conventions, with the rule that you can only read for as long as you can keep from laughing. Available online at: eyeargon.html and eyeintro.html {Also now available in book form from Wildside Press, ISBN 0-8095-6261-8, complete with the long-missing ending.}
International Write Something Month, an alternate to NaNoWriMo (see below) for those who think that slower is sometimes better. See
A term coined by Jo Walton, referring to the process of scattering background information and other hints throughout the text, rather than placing it all together in a lump. (see info-dumping below.)
Writing a large segment of expository information on historical background, technology, or other aspects of the setting, rather than conveying the same information by using scattered references. (See incluing, above.)
A term coined by Alfred Hitchcock, referring to something that is central to the plot, and motivating to the characters, but doesn't actually mean anything in and of itself. The quintessential example is the Maltese Falcon.
A term referring to the overall character or personality of a story. Some writers come up with a mode for their story first, and choose a narrative voice, structure and mood to match. Other writers start with the narrative voice, structure, and mood, and end up with an overall mode. This is another of Jo Walton's terms, and she says the definition here isn't quite right. A google search of the term will reveal extensive discussion on how to define it.
National Novel Writing Month, which encourages aspiring writers to take part by attempting to write a 50.000 word novel in the month of November. See
the activity of discussing the plots and characterization in general terms, usually with the intent to solve some kind of problem that one of the participants has been having with a particular work.
Point of View, a technical writing term referring to the apparent position of the narrator in relation to the story he is telling.
let it stand, used to mark passages in the manuscript that the line editor wants to change, or that you think the line editor will want to change, such as words spelled wrong on purpose.
Turkey City Lexicon, a compendium of terminology compiled by the critique group "Turkey City". Opinions about the usefulness of this lexicon vary widely. Some rasfc regulars find its overall tone snide and feel that it dismisses techniques that can be used effectively in the right circumstances, and others think that as a list of "common errors" it can be most helpful in evaluating manuscripts. See turkeycity.html
Work in Progress (WIR: Work in Revision, WIS: Work in Submission), a shorthand way of referring to one's current writing project.
This is the process of creating new worlds for your stories to be set in (see links in Section 11). Really elaborate world-building occasionally gets in the way of actually producing the stories themselves (see cat-vacuuming, above).

6. Where else can i go for help?

Other newsgroups:

(!) These groups are subject to frequent flame-wars. Be wary.

Critique groups online and in person:

Critique groups are a useful tool in improving your writing. But you need to find a group that suits your needs, because a group that is helpful to one writer can be a waste of time, or even damaging to another writer. If participating in any group seems to make you write less often and enjoy it less, that probably isn't the right group for you.

To find a writers' group local to you try asking at the local book stores, libraries and sf fan clubs. Go to local conventions and ask around. Most large metropolitan areas will have a writers' group for science fiction and fantasy writers, but in less populated areas there may only be general writers' groups, or even none at all. Some sf writers find that they can work well in a general group, but others find that all the other participants respond to their work with total bewilderment, and can't find any useful advice to give.

Another source of critiques is to join an online group. The various groups have different formats and policies. The one totally vital thing to keep in mind is that any writing posted to a public forum is considered published, so all legitimate groups are private and require that you sign up. Here are a few of the bigger, better known ones that you can try.

Reference librarians:

Many large libraries will have a reference librarian on staff who can help answer your research questions. If you are not local to such a library you can still make use of these resources by contacting such a librarian via mail, or you can try the Stumpers mailing list which is primarily for library employees faced with questions they can't answer from their own resources.

To make use of the Stumpers list, simply send your question via email to: If you are not a subscriber, your message will still be answered, only with a slight delay for authorization. Make the subject line of your email descriptive and precede it with a question mark. Something like "How many lefthanded policemen are there in Chile?" is what's wanted, rather than something vague like "Question about South America". Include in the body a description of where you've tried to find the information, and what you already know about the topic. This saves responders from wasted efforts. More information about the list, including archives, is available at (Information on Stumpers provided by Dan Goodman)

There are a wealth of resources available on the internet. Learning to use websearch engines will help you make good use of this material.

7. What do I need to watch out for?

Regional specific advice

No matter how well intentioned and no matter how expert the advice you are given, it's not likely to be good advice if it applies to the publishing industry in another country, or if it applies to a different segment of the publishing industry. There are participants in this group from all over the globe; always verify where, what and whom people are talking about, before deciding to follow advice that might not apply to you. If you want to know about science fiction publishers in the UK, don't read up on mainstream publishers in the US and think the same rules will apply.

Writer scams

There are nasty people out there who prey on innocent young writers (and even, occasionally, not-so-innocent older writers). Beware of anyone who is "particularly eager to work with new writers". Beware of any editor who offers to "doctor" your manuscript for a fee. Beware of any "agent" who goes out looking for clients. Beware any publisher who asks you for money. In short, keep Yog's Law in mind: In real publishing money flows *to* the writer, not from the writer. For more complete details on what to watch out for, try the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's "Writers Beware" pages at

Copyright issues

There is still a lot of confusion over how copyrights apply to electronic mediums. Never assume that because something is freely available online that you have the right to copy it or distribute it. However, if you post your own material to the web, or in an open forum, many publishing houses will consider that a "publication" and you have therefore just used up your "first publication" rights to that material, and you may find it very difficult to sell it later on, so be careful about what you yourself make available to the world. For more information on copyrights see Section 9.

8. What do I need to know about the business end of writing?

Manuscript format

Most of the publishing world still runs on paper. Do not send electronic submissions to any publication unless their writer's guidelines specifically state that they accept electronic submissions. There is no industry wide standard format for electronic submissions yet, so the same writer's guidelines that say they accept electronic submissions, should also indicate which formats are acceptable. Follow those guidelines precisely.

Hardcopy (paper) submissions are standardized, and to use anything other than the standard format will make you look unprofessional. Even though the rules seem arbitrary there are reasons for every one of them.

Word count calculation

The publishing industry is mostly interested in the amount of space the story takes up, rather than the actual number of words. If you are going to plug in the word count from your word processor, round it off to the nearest hundred for short stories, and the nearest thousand for novels.

If you use standard manuscript format you can often estimate wordage based on your page count.

Submissions process

1. Finish the story.

Only previously published writers can sell an incomplete story. However, multi-volume stories can often be sold on the strength of the first volume, so you don't have to finish the entire series to sell it.

2. Do market research

to determine which houses/imprints publish the same kind of story you have just written. (Even if your writing is off the wall and unique, you still need to discover which houses publish off the wall and unique.) The best way to do this is usually to browse the bookstores. When you find books that are similar to yours make a note of the publisher, and then check the author's acknowledgments page -- sometimes they thank their editors or agents, in which case you should make a note of those names. You can also find out which editors buy which kinds of books from a study of industry magazines such as Locus and Science Fiction Chronicle. Make a list for future reference of everyone you identified as a potential market.

3. Obtain the writer's guidelines

for the markets you have identified. Often they can be found on the publisher's website, or you can write to the publishing house for them. The editorial addresses of publishing houses can be found in The Literary Marketplace (often found in the reference section of libraries), and in Writer's Market. The writer's guidelines will tell you whether your next step is to send a query letter (step 4), a portion and outline (step 5), or the complete manuscript (step 6). If the guidelines say "no unsolicited submissions", you can still send a query letter. If it says "no unagented submissions, make a note, and (assuming you don't have an agent) cross them off your list. (More information on agents can be found below.)

4. Write and send a query letter.

A query letter is one page long. Start out, if at all possible, by addressing the letter to a specific editor that you know is interested in the kind of story you have written. Tell the editor the title and wordage of your story, and possibly the genre/subgenre. Then in three paragraphs or less describe the story in such a way that it will sound interesting to the editor without: praising it, sounding like a back-cover blurb, or keeping the surprise ending secret. Next mention any relevant experience you have, writing or otherwise. If you have published professionally, mention either the latest 2-3 sales, or the 2-3 most relevant sales. If you have a degree in a subject, or work professionally in an industry that is directly relevant to the book, mention that. If you are a graduate of Clarion you can mention that, but do not mention any other writing courses or workshops you have taken. Do not list your hobbies, family members or pets.

{Sound impossible? My commiserations. Writing queries is hard. For more advice on how to do a good job of it, try:

Include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for their reply. You may send this letter out simultaneously to as many editors as you desire, and they will generally get back to you in two weeks to three months. If an editor responds saying you may send them a portion and outline or manuscript, continue on to step 5 or 6. If an editor says "no thanks" cross them off your list for this particular story, but you can still try again with your next one. If two editors respond at the same time pick one to send your story to first. You may not send a manuscript (or even part of a manuscript) to more than one editor at a time, unless the writers' guidelines for both editors said that they accept "simultaneous submissions". Most sf publishers do not.

5. Prepare and submit a portion and outline,

also called the three chapters and a synopsis, and other similar variations.
The editors (unless they specifically stated otherwise) want the first part of the book. Three chapters is an estimate, if you write exceptionally long or exceptionally short chapters, you will need to adjust. Try to send about the first 10 000 words.

There is no set format for a synopsis or an outline. The basic idea is that the editor has read the first bit of the book, and has an idea of your style, and your ability to grab the reader, and now they want to know if the rest of the book is likely to live up to that promise. Structure it in a manner that suits your story, explain the basic plot twists, and character growth, and anything else relevant. The synopsis/outline should cover the entire book, including the portion you are submitting.

Use a full sized envelope so that you do not need to fold anything. (Manuscripts with creases are harder to read.) Do not use an envelope with little metal tabs, because they are hard on fingers and get caught in mail sorting machines.

If at all possible, address the submission to a specific editor that you know is interested in this kind of book. Include an SASE, and a brief cover letter which includes the title and wordage of the book, and any relevant experience (see query letters above). If the portion and outline are being sent because of a positive response to a query letter, say so in the cover letter, (if the positive response was not a recent one, say when it was,) and put the magic words "solicited material" on the envelope.Do not send the portion and outline to two editors at once unless they have both indicated that they don't mind. (see above)

Editors will take from two weeks to a year to respond. If you haven't heard from an editor in four months it is generally allowable to send a self addressed stamped postcard saying "I sent you my manuscript 4 months ago and haven't heard from you since. Did you A) never get it?, B) send it back already, or C) are still looking at it. Some editors don't mind you phoning them; check their writer's guidelines to see. If there is no reply to the postcard and the second postcard sent a month or two later, you may wish to withdraw your submission. This is done by sending a polite letter to the editor in question saying that you are withdrawing your submission, and the title of the book and the date you sent it to them. Don't get snide or angry, you may someday want to send this editor a different manuscript. Once the submission has been withdrawn (or is rejected) you may send the portion and outline to a different publisher.

6. Send the complete manuscript.

This is just like sending a portion and outline, except that it tends to be bulkier. You can send it in a manuscript box, or in an oversized envelope with cardboard stiffeners to prevent crumpled corners and unwanted folding. (Elastic bands to hold everything together are optional, if the envelope is a good enough fit they shouldn't be needed.) If you want the manuscript returned, you need to include another oversized self addressed stamped envelope (this is handy, even if you are using a manuscript box.) If the manuscript is disposable, include an ordinary sized SASE for the editor's response. Do not over-wrap the manuscript. Editors really hate having to search for a pair of scissors to cut through layers of packing tape and so forth.

7. What if they say yes?

The editor will probably ask for the name of your agent. Getting an agent to negotiate your contracts for you is considered a good idea. (More on agents below.)

The editor will probably also ask for revisions. Unless everything on that list is something you agree wholeheartedly about, you should discuss these with your editor. You make the changes that you and your editor have agreed upon. And then send in a copy (or two or three) of the revised manuscript. Publishers may also print ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) at this point which are sent to reviewers and bookstores.

When sending in the final manuscript it can be useful to include a style sheet -- this indicates the variations that you were attempting to stick to, 'grey' rather than 'gray', or whatever. It may also include a list of foreign and invented words, proper names, nicknames etc. List these in alphabetical order for ease of use.

Depending on the contract you may have a chance to review the copy-edited draft. This is where you get to use "STET" or 'let it stand', and you may use it so much that you will want a stamp.

The last step is the proofs, sometimes still called galley proofs. These are your last chance to correct errors so make sure you can meet the deadline.

It can take up to two years from having the editor say yes, before you actually get to see your book in print.


An advance is the upfront money you get from selling a book. The amount of advance received varies widely based on how famous an author is, how much the editor liked the manuscript, and so forth. It is difficult to give a "likely amount": simply assume it won't be enough to pay you back for the time and effort that you put into the book in the first place.

Advances are only one of the three kinds of money it is possible to make from selling books. After your book is published, it will begin to earn royalties. The more copies are bought, the more royalties it earns. After it has earned sufficient royalties to cover the cost of the advance (if it ever does,) then you will start receiving royalty payments. Odd bits of money may occasionally appear from the sale of "subsidiary rights." Added all together it is still unlikely that the money will add up to enough to pay you back for the time and effort that you put into the book. Writers are one of the most notoriously underpaid segments of the workforce.


The job of the agent is to negotiate your contracts. Agents will also market books for you (but not your short stories, you have to market those yourself) but that is not their primary purpose. Therefore you do not need to have an agent to sell a book. In fact it is demonstratively easier to get an agent after you have already sold at least one book.

There are, however, some markets that are closed to unagented authors.

If you want to get an agent before you have sold any books, the technique is very similar to the one described in the section on the submission process, simply replace the word "editor" with agent.

If you have just sold a book, you will probably want an agent in a hurry, so you can try the sped up version, where you call all the agents on your list, explain to them that you have just sold a book, what the book was about and who you sold it to. This will hopefully get several interested responses.

The Association of Authors' Representatives has a searchable database of member agents. Its UK counterpart is the Association of Authors' Agents Another useful listing of agents is at

WARNING! Beware of any agent who asks you for money. Agents are supposed to take a proportion (usually 10-15%) of the money you get from the publisher, and by getting you better contracts, they actually end up paying for themselves. Any agent who asks you for money upfront may be a scam artist. (see Section 7 and "Writers Beware" at

9. What legal issues should I be aware of?

Your copyright

As a general rule, as soon as you record a work in any medium, you own the copyright on that work. You do not need to register the copyright or to mark the copyright on the manuscript in order to be protected by copyright law. These rules (Berne Convention) took effect in the USA about 1978 and in most of the rest of the world much earlier.

However, in order to sue for damages in the USA, you do need to register the copyright. Unless you are self-publishing, your editor should do this for you.

Other authors' copyright

Works written before a certain year (which varies according to country of publication) are considered out of copyright and can be freely quoted.

Under "Fair Use" provisions, it is usually acceptable to quote a small part of a work that is still in copyright, as long as it is quoted accurately and correctly cited. "Fair Use" provisions are rather vague about how much can be quoted; it's best to err on the side of caution.

To quote from very short works such as poems and songs, however, it is usually necessary to get permission. This is because even a few words can make up a large percentage of a poem or song. Some copyright holders will be happy to grant permission; many may charge a smaller or greater fee; sometimes the fee is not affordable.

In any case, it is the author's responsibility to follow copyright law and to obtain any necessary permissions.

This FAQ is not an intellectual properties lawyer, nor are the posters on rasfc. You can find some official information on copyright law at:


Copyright law doesn't protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. It is possible to protect these as a trademark, which involves paying fees. For most authors it's simply not worth it.

If you're writing a story and want to mention in passing someone else's trademark, it's probably not a big deal. If you wanted to use a trademark in any way that might even conceivably be confusing (for example, calling your story "Star Wars", your spaceship "Death Star", or your character "Luke Skywalker") you would probably have problems. There may also be problems if you use the trademark in a derogatory way.

In any problematic case, it is safest to either invent your own names or obtain permission to use the trademark; and it is always safest to get real information from an official website (belonging to the appropriate country) or even advice from an intellectual properties lawyer.

Assignment of rights

When a work is accepted for publication, the author is selling some particular rights to the publisher. Typically these will be first publication rights, meaning that the publisher has the right to be the first person to publish that work. "Serial rights" are to do with publication in a magazine or other periodical; "electronic rights" are to do with publication via the internet.

Other rights include foreign rights, audio rights, dramatic rights, reprint rights, movie rights, among others. Publishers' contracts may ask for more rights than is strictly necessary; agents can in these cases be invaluable in knowing what clauses should be cut out before being signed.

Some more information about contracts and electronic rights is available at /contracts.htm

10. Additional resources

Writers' resources


A good up-to-date resource is "Playing nice on usenet" at unice.htm.

Lost in Usenet at is a thorough and more traditionally oriented resource.

Appendix A: Newsgroup Charter

(Note that the following is included primarily for context and historic interest. Where the charter disagrees with sections of the FAQ above, the sections above are more representative of current preference and custom, and should take precedence.)

Before discussing the newsgroup, one must define 'sf', for which I refer to the original CFV for the group that created the rec.arts.sf.* hierarchy: "Both science fiction and fantasy, as well as that vast blurred mass of material in between." This charter mirrors the position of the HWA: Horror is an emotion, not a genre. If the Horror takes place in a speculative fiction book, it can be discussed in an sf newsgroup. The rec.arts.sf.composition newsgroup would include, but not be limited to the following types of discussion:

This newsgroup is not meant to replace or significantly overlap other groups. As such, topics that are on-topic and useful in other groups should be kept to those groups. That would include, but not be limited to the following exclusions:

As well, the charter specifically excludes the posting of work unless that posting is specifically related to a topic that is being discussed, and is used in that context, and quoted briefly. Posting of work to be read and/or critiqued is excluded from the charter of this newsgroup, for a number of reasons. For those who wish to avail themselves of the group's resources, a specially marked header, "CRIT: " will be used to post short requests for critiquing or reading, with all followups directed to email, the poster's web page, rec.arts.prose, or any other valid forum, rather than the newsgroup.

As for advertising, overt advertising is excluded from the group, particularly off-topic overt advertising (the kind that doesn't care what this charter says anyway). Tactful, brief, infrequently posted references to information that can be found elsewhere will be tolerated, but advertisers must tread that fine line carefully if they wish to avoid flamage from ad-hating regulars.