OH MY GOODNESS! I love this song, “You’re Dead,” by Norma Tanega.

But wait, what if you were dead?

Have you prepared?

Today your writing, or art, is not just your writing, it is your intellectual property.
As such, when you ride off into the sunset someday, and leave your intellectual property behind, there is the very real possibility that someone you are blood-related to, or legally related to, will own this intellectual property.

Your publisher, whoever that may be, cannot just, “Send the checks to my wife!”

It does’t work like that, and you may find your published book is now… unpublished.

(Except that you will not not find it to be unpublished because you’ll be, you know, dead.)


If you want your books to stay available after you no longer are, you will need to put something in writing stating who the book(s) belong to, and whether or not you wish that person or those people, to continue to make them available for purchase. Your publisher needs a copy, and so do your heirs.
If you do not do that….Your book will sunset when you do.
It’s a choice, and you could also choose just to have your books go out of print. But they do not have to.
Here is a great blog post I found on preparing for this little hiccup that mortality throws at us.

We recommend that you check with your own estate lawyer, and your heirs. If you draw something up, and your heirs are unprepared for your daughter to own your books when your son thought he was getting them, again, your publisher will have to just cease the publication. Your publisher can’t make your children, Sue and Edward, love each other after all these years.

It’s an old Philly joke that we’re all going to die by SEPTA bus. Possibly it is an underserved ribbing. IDK, but I do know that now that I no longer live in Philadelphia, the chance of me getting hit by a SEPTA bus has lessened somewhat, but I still don’t feel as permanent as I would prefer to.
We are all the same in this boat.

So, think, for just a small moment, about your books, and what you would like to do with them. Make your wishes notarized, and legal, and known to those who want to own your books, and to your publisher(s), so that no one stops your books from outliving you.

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy weekend, and I do implore you to watch out for the SEPTA busses. SEPTA: you never know when it will make that turn! (That’s my slogan, not theirs!)

A photo of a SEPTA bus
Beep! Beep!