Today, Bookpleasures is pleased to have as our guest Gini Graham Scott. Ph.D who has authored over 50 books with major publishers and has also published over 30 books through her own company Changemakers Publishing and Writing.
Gini also writes books and proposals for clients, and has written and produced over 50 short videos through her company Changemakers Productions.
Her latest books
include: Living in Limbo: The Beginning Of The End, The
Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget
Short Film, The Very Next New Thing: Commentaries on the
Latest Developments that Will Be Changing Your Life and Want It,
See It, Get It: Visualize Your Way to Success and Book
Piracy: How Writers and Publishers Are Fighting Back and What You Can
Do If a Victim?
Gini holds a Ph.D. from Berkeley, a J.D. from the University of San Francisco Law School. She is a college instructor and an award winning screenplay writer. She is also an official blogger for the Huffington Post.
Good day Gini and thanks for participating in our interview
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
I started writing in college, basically papers for my classes. Then, I had ideas for books and began submitting book proposals.
My first was for mysterious houses and sites in the Bay Area. Though it never was published, I turned my Ph.D. dissertation into a book which was published by Greenwood Books as Cult and Countercult.
I then continued to come up with other ideas. I kept going because I could write about whatever interested me at the time, and since I had a lot of interests, the books varied widely.
I started off with books on lifestyles and social issues, since I received my Ph.D in sociology. Subsequently, I began doing business, success, and self-help books, when there was growing interest in business topics in the 1980s, and now I’ve moved back to my roots in social issues and trends.
I understand that you have taken on a campaign against Internet book pirates. What is this all about? As a follow up, could you tell us something about your most recent book The Battle Against Internet Book Piracy: How Writers and Publishers Are Fighting Back and What You Can Do If a Victim?
I began writing the articles and book which are the basis of the campaign about three weeks ago in the beginning of June 2013, after I discovered about two dozen of my own books on a book piracy site and soon after found a few other sites with some of my books.
After I started with a single article, I realized the scope of the problem affecting millions of writers and publishers, where pirates are earning over $3.5 billion from the industry, according to one research study on the extent of the problem.
As a result, I began writing a series of articles that became chapters in the book – about two or three a day, and then I combined them together into four major themes – the extent of the problem and the efforts of the music, publishing and software industries to go after the pirates through litigation, the protections provided by copyright law, what various law enforcement agencies are doing to go after the pirate as criminals, and what writers and publishers can do now to protect themselves and fight back.
What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read The Battle Against Internet Book Piracy: How Writers and Publishers Are Fighting Back and What You Can Do If a Victim?
I think that people need to understand the scope of the problem and what they can do about it. Currently, many writers and publishers are unaware of the problem, since they don’t know their own books have been pirated until it’s pointed out to them or they are encouraged to go looking.
And even then, writers and publishers currently feel they can’t do much except send out a take-down letter, and then they commonly don’t follow-up. If they did, that’s willful infringement, and there are penalties of up to $150,000 per violation; plus when website owners and others pirate books on a large scale, this becomes a criminal offense.
The music, film, and software industries have been successful in both litigation and getting law enforcement agencies to go after the violators. If writers and publishers organize and seek assistance from lawyers and law enforcement they can similarly take action.
My book describes the problem and helps people understand the laws and various actions they can take. Individually, writers and publishers can find they are losing thousands of dollars to pirates on a single book; that should be a good motivation to read my book and learn what they can do.
The book also includes a listing of many pirate sites where they can check if their book has been pirate and resources where they can find legal and law enforcement assistance.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
If you are referring to the piracy book, the most surprising things I learned were:
The extent of the problem amounting to billions of dollars in lost income to writers and publishers;
The lack of awareness and action by both writers and publishers in the face of this situation;
The many law enforcement agencies involved in going after the intellectual property pirates now that this has been made a national priority to stop IP theft by President Obama and others;
The way the efforts to fight IP theft as a crime has largely ignored the problem of book piracy;
The need for a one-stop ombudsman to help writers and publishers navigate the process, as well as take their information so it goes to all agencies and others involved in fighting against piracy.
Other than that, the other surprising thing I learned is how dramatically the publishing industry has changed in the last 5 years. Now it has become very difficult for writers and anyone else who isn’t already famous to publish a book with a mainstream publisher, because the industry has become so celebrity driven.
At one time, the mainstream publishers used to help most writers with publicity campaigns for their books. But now the publishers do little. They look for writers who are already high-profile or want books about high profile news stories. So it is hard now to build a career or following based on publishing a book.
Also, surprising is the vast number of writers now publishing their own books and writing articles and blogs for free, so it is increasingly hard for professional writers to earn a living, since the value of writing has gone down, except if it’s written by a celebrity.
For example, if my book on piracy was written by Johnny Depp, who starred in a series of Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I’m sure it would be a best seller by now. People wouldn’t even necessarily read it; many would just buy it because it was written by Johnny Depp.
When writing your books, do you work from an outline?
I often write as the ideas come to me and develop an outline to organize the material in my head. If I have to write a proposal for a book publisher, agent, or client, then I do write up a formal outline, such as a Chapter by Chapter outline, and then I follow that for the most part, although as I write I may find new topics and material to include in the book.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I get my ideas mainly from what I’m reading about in the papers, in magazines, or from the news on the Internet, and from my own experiences. For example, I wrote TRANSFORMATIONS: HOW NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS, AND SOCIETY ARE CHANGING YOUR LIFE after writing a series of articles for Huffington Post, where I am regular columnist on some amazing new developments I read about, such as chimps and other animals using video cams to take pictures and the new technology enabling the mind to exercise mental control over computers and objects.
After I wrote about two-dozen articles I grouped them into a book. I also wrote about my experiences in dealing with the mortgage meltdown that led me to eventually sell my house in LIVING IN LIMBO: FROM THE END TO NEW BEGINNINGS.
I also have several books on being successful as a filmmaker due to my experience in writing and producing over 50 short videos which you can see HERE.
These are THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WRITING, PRODUCING, AND DIRECTING A LOW-BUDGET SHORT FILM and FINDING FUNDS FOR YOUR FILM OR TV PROJECT, both published by Hal Leonard.
What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?
The most difficult thing now about being a writer, which affects most professional writers today, is getting paid appropriately for our writing by publishers and clients, due to the glut of books and material being published by non-professional writers and the emphasis on celebrity.
Also, many would-be clients now thing they can write, so they don’t hire professional writers to write, edit, or polish up their material, resulting in a lot of poorly written material that gets published, much of it because self-publishing is so easy now.
What do you think of the new Internet market for writers?
I think the market opens up a lot of opportunities for anyone to get things published, but it also makes it easy to steal books, articles, and other materials with a few clicks to create or download a PDF file or copy and paste something from one website to another.
The Internet has also contributed to the difficulty of professional writers to earn a living, because there is such a glut of material out there, much of it for free or low costs, which has led to the decline of the publishing industry generally, due to less pay and profits for everyone.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The first writer who comes to mind is Isaac Asimov, because he was incredibly prolific. He wrote over 500 books listed in 9 our to 10 of the major dewey decimal categories. He was also a professor at Boston University. I similarly have been prolific in writing over 50 books on numerous subjects, and I have been an assistant professor at various schools.
In fact, I will be getting an additional M.A. in Communications starting in September at Cal State, East Bay. However, at the time he wrote from the 1950s to 1990s, it was a great accomplishment to write many books, whereas today, people read less and publishers and the media much prefer the big blockbuster written by a celebrity.
Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they?
I would suggest setting aside some time to write each day, and if it’s hard at first, just focus on writing something during that time. Also, writers should divide writing into two phases – the first creative phase where they write whatever comes to mind on a chosen topic; and then the editorial phase, where they go back and tighten up and edit their material.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have some readers who contact me about my books on Facebook and LinkedIn. Generally, they just write a line or two saying they liked something or send an endorsement rather than having an extended conversation. More generally, I consult with writers who want to write their own book and are inspired by reading one of their own books to hire me.
Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
I think writers should be writing what readers want to read about; and ideally there should be a good match between what they are interested in and what readers want to read about.
Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Here is the information about my latest books, which also have Kindle editions: The Battle Against Internet Book Piracy: How Writers and Publishers Are Fighting Back and What You Can Do If a Victim
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
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