Friday, May 02, 2014

Query question: novel is part of a libary's holdings

My college keeps an archive of all senior projects. Prior to turning in their projects, the student authors submit a release, detailing what level of access to the project the college is allowed to provide. Here's my dilemma: my senior project is a novel and I am about to start submitting it to agents. I am concerned that allowing my college to provide somewhat public access to a draft of the novel could be problematic if I do find an agent and a publisher.

The release form includes four options (directly quoted from the form):

A. (college) may provide access* to my (project) to third parties, including but not limited to students, employees, and members of the general public.

B. Access to my (project) is restricted until (date), after which time copies may be provided by the College to third parties, including but not limited to students, employees, and members of the general public.

C. (college) may provide access* to my (project) only to students and employees of the College.

D. Access to my (project) is restricted until (date), after which time copies may be provided by the College only to students and employees of the College.

*“Provide access” means that the Library will hold the (project) in its collection and make it available to users as defined in each level of access. Access may be provided in any format or medium, including via the internet, and may be provided for a period of time determined by the College.

I can also stipulate that my adviser is allowed to change the level of access after I graduate.

Please let me know if you have any advice about how best to protect myself and my novel's future.

You don't need to worry this will hinder you in the search for an agent or in the publication process. Lots of people have early work in their college libraries. Having the work held in a library's collection is not the same thing as having it published.

If you were a client of mine, I'd choose option B which restricts access for the present but will allow people to see the work at a future date. When you become a famous novelist and biographers are writing about you, you'll want to make sure they can see your early work.

It's interesting that there's no way to opt out of the work being in the library at all.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Interesting question because I have a project (part of a memoir class I took a few years ago) posted on a museum website. When entering the piece in a contest recently I wondered if its posting disqualified me from the contest. The short piece is actually some of my best writing, and like it out there, but it makes me wonder what the publishing rules actually are when it comes to on-line availability to written works.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the only two "online, available to the public" offerings I have are never found. Both are case studies, one a whitepaper published by the company I used to work for (a 114 yr old company, gone, sold in bits and pieces)about Webcasting. The other? A business case for my undergrad degree on.....wait for it........Hydroponic Farming. Yep, I know how to grow lettuce and tomatoes - and write papers on how to make money doing it. Which might come in handy if I never see publication.

Karen McCoy said...

Academic libraries (like the one I work in) are migrating toward these things called "institutional repositories". The purpose is to have a digital database full of university research freely available to other institutions, so professors (and students) can prove that they're contributing to their professions.

Of course, it doesn't take into account creative writing projects for MFA programs and other works, which are not research based (as in, adding to the research of a particular field). But universities prefer a one-size- fits-all model, so everyone has to comply.

But I'm glad this question was asked--I'm hoping to eventually publish the novel I'm working on for my MFA master's thesis...and it's good to know what the restrictions might be.

Anonymous said...

Inside Higher Ed tackled this a couple years ago, and it's still an issue of concern for many MFA programs.

Rochelle said...

Wow. That's quite bizarre. I'm not sure how they can make that a requirement, since students most definitely have copyright over everything they produce. It's not as if they work for the institution and everything they do on the company dime is owned byt the company! If you can't require students to use turnitin, I can't imagine you can require them to let anyone, even a college library, distribute a copy of your work.

As a librarian, I'm a disturbed by that wording. But then I'm in Canada, maybe things are different here.