Getting Permission to Use Song Lyrics in a Novel


You know what I love about blogging?  On the days/weeks when you are too busy or exhausted to think–you don’t have to!  There is absolutely no obligation to be original.  Back when I was a journalist, one of the hardest things was trying to come up with story ideas.  So glad I don’t have to worry about that ish anymore.

And with that, for this blog post I refer to another person’s blog post on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio’s site (I’m not ashamed to say that the pic is theirs too).  It’s called “How to Get Permission to Use Song Lyrics in Your Book.”  I was shocked yet not surprised to learn that to reproduce song lyrics (or a painting, poem, photo, etc.) you had to get permission.  You would think that, as a lawyer, this would have occurred to me, but it didn’t.  But the post certainly got my attention because one of my favorite scenes that I wrote takes 2 stanzas from a Faith Evans song (of course I threw some 90s R&B into my novel!).  Anyway, this what I learned about using song lyrics in novels:*

  • it’s the author’s responsibility to get permission (as opposed to the agent’s or publisher’s)
  • but you might not have to get permission if it falls under the doctrine of “fair use” (::shudder:: legalese)
  • you can probably find the person you need to contact for permission at, or
  • you may have to pay a fee

No wonder novelists don’t make any money.  Everybody is trying to get in your pocket before you’ve even written the book!  Anyway, got to get back to work, but I thought I’d share.  Have a great weekend!

*Trust me when I say this is NOT legal advice.  I got this from a blog post not case law.**

**I’m sorry about the asterik.  It’s so lawyer-y of me.

Today is My 1 Year Blogiversary!

One year and one week ago I decided that I would write a novel.  Exactly one year ago today I TOLD THE WHOLE WORLD by starting a blog about it.  Let me tell you, I was really nervous about it.  I knew nothing about blogging or noveling.  BUT I did it anyway because I wanted to start writing on a regular basis.  Even if it wasn’t literary or fiction, at least it wasn’t legal writing.  Hence, the blog’s name Illegal Writing. 🙂

In honor of my blogiversary I decided to update my blog design (you like?).  I also created a Facebook Page (scroll to the bottom of this post and “Like”!)  I would like to thank anyone who has ever read a post on this site.  A special thanks to anyone who has ever commented or liked a post, asked me how my novel is going, or referred to one of my blog posts in a conversation.

Below is a list of what I have accomplished since May 9, 2012:

  • Wrote 4 short stories
  • Completed 2 creative writing classes at the Writer’s Center and, more importantly, established a creative writing network
  • Adopted cutie cat Jack from a member of my former writers group
  • Met Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin and Terry McMillan!
  • Tweeted with authors JW, Terry and Catherine McKenzie!
  • Designed a novel using Snowflake Pro
  • Wrote 45,000 words of my future novel (45,000 to go!)
  • Published 54 blog posts
  • Generated 6,281 views

And here are my 10 personal blog faves from Year 1:

  1. Bethenny Frankel Did It, So Why Can’t I?
  2. A Writer Writes: Jennifer Weiner Wisdom
  3. Olympian Samyr Laine and the 5 Steps to Turning a Dream Into Reality
  4. My Evening with “Waiting to Exhale” Author Terry McMillan
  5. Inspiration: Shonda Rhimes and the Depiction of a Diverse World
  6. An Author Shut Down My Senior Thesis (Thankfully, No One Cares)
  7. Love is a Drug
  8. How to Get It Done: 10 Tips From A Lawyer to an Aspiring Writer
  9. 10 things I Know About Creative Writing that I Didn’t Know 6 Weeks Ago
  10. Snowflake Pro Review and the Grand Reveal of My Novel Plot

Thanks again everyone and don’t forget to “Like”!! 😀

Everybody’s Doing It!

Apparently everyone is writing a novel in D.C.  I’m serious, the first line in a Washington Post article yesterday about a novelist/state department analyst is “This being Washington, every wonk has a side project.”  And I found about the article because of friend of my friend is also writing a novel while working AND blogging about the experience.  I’m not mad though, I embrace it–which is why I linked  The Manny Diaries for your viewing pleasure.

Anyway, so back to the novelist/state department analyst.  She is named Miranda Kenneally and she writes books for teenagers.  I didn’t really find the interview that helpful in terms of advice for me and Manny except for maybe this part:

Does your day job make you a better writer?

D.C. gives you a lot of structure. You don’t succeed unless you work really hard, and you don’t get anywhere if you don’t have drive. But after working a 12-hour day on some summit, coming home and writing a book for teens is relaxing.

The rest is about life in a small town somewhere.  I don’t think she or her books are my style, but I commend her anyway.  Adios!